Bikes on Terrain at home
Sunday, September 4, 2011, Destination: Mesquite, TX
We loaded up the car, complete with the two bicycles and headed out around 8:00 am. The drive to Mesquite has become routine, but there were a few differences this time. First, there was an incredible amount of wind which made for a very interesting drive with the bikes loaded on the back of the car. We had to make several stops to tighten up the straps on the bike rack. The wind was creating quite a drag and vibration of the bike rack. But the most interesting difference this time was the chicken in the road.
Outside of Ennis, we saw a chicken in the center of the northbound I45 trying to cross the freeway! This of course raises the question of why did the chicken cross the road? We look forward to the day when the motives of chickens will no longer be questioned.
After visiting family in Mesquite, we headed out again.
On towards Colorado Springs
The goal was to continue towards Colorado and stop when we got tired. We headed north and entered Oklahoma. Oklahoma has lots of Indian casinos. We passed a huge casino in Thackerville, OK, and we stopped at the Riverwind Casino outside of Norman, OK. To Cheryl, it was just another casino. Jay, however, took a tour to satisfy himself that all gambling was futile.
We continued our trip west toward Amarillo. We pulled over once for a catnap. Cheryl parked at a closed gas station. Within 15 minutes we heard two motorcycles roaring out of a nearby parking lot. About ten minutes later a man pulled into the station and kept trying to buy gas. I heard the pump beep five times, once for each attempt. Was he drunk or just stupid? We decided to drive down the road and found a dark country road where we slept for about an hour and a half.
At about three in the morning we continued toward Amarillo. We listened to a great program on Sirrius XM 60’s on 6. Around four in the morning we pulled into a Waffle House and had a hearty breakfast. We continued past Amarillo and pulled over to take another nap, this time on a full stomach. We watched the sunrise and continued north into Lamar, Colorado.
West Texas Sunrise after our cat nap
At about 10:00 a.m. we picnicked at the visitor center which is in the historic train station still used by Amtrak today! The woman at the visitor center was very helpful in planning the rest of the route to Colorado Springs. She also gave us a nice ball cap with a Colorado logo on it. In exchange we gave her our e-mail address. We figure it is worth it since we plan to return to Colorado.
Lamar, CO R.R. station, AMTRAK
Lamar, CO R.R. station, lunch
Lamar, CO Courthouse
Through Pueblo to Colorado Springs
We then followed Highway 50 thru farming country. There were corn fields, tomato fields and melon fields. There were at least two stock yards that stank. We stopped at a couple of farmers markets but decided not to buy anything then.
We stopped at a trailer park under a tree and took another cat nap. We then went to a nearby McDonalds for refreshment. As we pulled in we saw a roadrunner cross the road and dive into a bush. Why did the roadrunner cross the road? Why did the chicken try to cross the road? What is it with these fowl creatures?
We continued toward the city of Pueblo. There were several industrial parks on the outskirts. This is a fairly large city. Cheryl spotted a branch of Colorado State University. We continued to Colorado Springs and arrived at the hotel around 3:00 p.m. Monday. We hit the pool and did some aqua aerobics and then went to the hot tub to ease the tension from driving. We went to the hotel eatery, Judge Baldwin’s. We ate some great beef brisket with beans, coleslaw and great onion rings. We went to bed by 8:30 p.m. and slept till morning.
We entered a church in Colorado Springs
Detail of the Alter
Tuesday September 6, 2011, Colorado Springs bike tour
We decided to eat breakfast at the hotel. The manager selected us as guests of the day and gave us a free breakfast. We fueled up on oatmeal, fruit, the best carrot cake muffins ever and a bagel sandwich.
We dislodged our bikes from the car and headed north. Stop one was St. Mary’s Cathedral. It was orange brick on the exterior and pink walls on the interior. It had the requisite statuary and beautiful stained glass windows. Cheryl was especially impressed by how the addition to the old historic building blended in so well. Stop two was the Colorado Pioneer Museum in an old historic courthouse. Unfortunately it was closed. We made a loop and headed to the campus of Colorado College and saw some great old homes along the way. This area has some historic single family homes that were in excellent condition. We stopped to see the Shove chapel on the campus and got separated.
We independently saw the Episcopal and Methodist Churches. Jay stopped at an Oriental rug shop. After about four hours we both ended up at our hotel room exhausted. We had a BBQ sandwich made from the leftovers from the night before.
Refreshed, we drove to the Garden of the Gods in Manitou Springs. We wound our way to the visitor center and found a great view from the terrace. We continued to meander around and stopped so Jay could hike the Palmer trail. We spotted two Pinon Jays.
Next we went to Old Colorado City and had dinner at an Italian restaurant, Rustica Pizza. We shared a thin crust Napolitano style pizza and had chocolate gelato and an Irish coffee for dessert. As Nancy used to say, there is always room for gelato! This is an excellent restaurant and we highly recommend it. We returned to the hotel and crashed.
Colorado College Administration Building
Home near Colorado College
Statue on campus
Colorado College Chapel
Garden of the Gods, Manitou Springs
The sandstone contains iron, so it turns red.
Story of Balancing Rock
Picture of Pinon Jay
Wednesday September 7, The Broadmoor Hotel
The Broadmoor is a five star hotel and very impressive. We decided to use the free valet service and tour the building. The architecture is outstanding. It has painted ceilings and beautiful wood paneling. We spent a couple of hours strolling the grounds. There is a fabulous pool area, a nice lake and the landscaping is superb. We can see why it is such a famous, renowned hotel.
The Broadmoor entrance
Fountain in front of entrance
Ceilings were coffered and painted
Front desk and chandelier
Broadmoor grounds and the lake
More grounds and lake
One of the sitting areas
Leaving the Broadmoor, we went to Seven Falls. It was raining slightly and the ticket booth attendant told us the upper falls were closed due to the weather. We decided to not pay the fee if we could not see everything and the attendant thought that was the best decision. So we went to Helen Hunt Falls which is a city park that we saw on the map. Those falls were very nice. As Cheryl was dressed in nice work trousers and shoes, she opted to not do the trail. Jay, wearing shoes that were sturdy, made the trek up to the top of the falls.
The trek up the falls is only 200 feet in elevation and about .6 miles. This may not seem like much but at high elevation it is intensive. Jay pressed on and found a great view of the valley below. The falls themselves were small, but the walk was worthwhile for the view.
We returned to the car and decided to take the High Trail over the mountain. This trail is one way with sharp turns. The road was not a paved road and did not have guardrails. It was scary for Cheryl to drive but it was beautiful. We descended safely and meandered our way back to the hotel.
Back at the hotel, we walked over to Tejon Blvd and ate dinner at Jack Quinn’s. Jay had a Gaelic steak and Cheryl had a roasted vegetable sandwich. Both were excellent. Naturally we had leftovers of the steak to take back to the hotel.
Trail to Helen Hunt Falls
Further on the trail to Helen Hunt Falls
Sign announcing the falls
Helen Hunt Falls
Helen Hunt Falls close up
We took the High Drive road for grins
High Drive Trail, view
Another view from trail
This is the trail
Looking back at trail
Curve in trail
Thursday, September 8, 2011
After packing the car, we walked back to the Pioneer Museum. We discovered that biking to it was much better! It was open today and we spent about 2 hours checking out the exhibits. Cheryl’s favorites were the old photographs of Colorado Springs and the restored district courtroom. The building was originally the county courthouse. The restoration of the building is superb. Jay’s favorite part of the museum was the Henry Rifles and the carriages as well as the court room. We learned that General Palmer founded Colorado Springs. Is this a relative of Cheryl’s? Our hotel was in Palmer Center.
Leaving the museum, we meandered our way through the city to the US Olympic Training Center. Cheryl took us on a long loop around town because we missed the sign. A kindly saleswoman at a Subway gave us excellent directions. We discovered the signs for the OTC are white. We were looking for green or brown.
We arrived just in time for a tour. We began with a fifteen minute movie and then a walking tour by a para-Olympian swimmer named Mark. He has a gold medal from Sydney and a bronze from the Beijing games. The para-Olympics are for handicapped athletes. We went by the natatorium and saw a group trying out for synchronized swimming. We also saw a gym with three courts for such games as basketball. We saw boxers working out on the second level. The wrestling gym was kept hotter than the other gyms. The shooting range was for air guns and at most .22 caliber rifles. Jay commented on the shooting style of one of the athletes. He was using a pistol one-handed at arm’s length. This is the style taught at the Olympics. We concluded the tour and set off for Avon.
Cheryl drove (of course) through winding mountain roads and scenic canyons to Leadville. We decided to come back to Leadville and do the Mineral Trail by bicycle. We continued on to Minturn, taking many breaks along the way, and found the same spot where Jay walked to the riverbank the year before. It was at a bus stop. A bus arrived and Cheryl noted a bicycle on a rack on the front of the bus. A girl dismounted and took her bike off the bus and peddled off. We continued on to Avon. In total, we took 4 .5 hours to make the 3 hour trip! We checked in and had dinner in the room. This consisted of the leftovers from Jack Quinn’s.
Olympic Village exterior
Olympic Hall of Fame Exhibit
Our guide was an Olympian
Long gun shooting
Weight training room
Martial Arts bags
Sculpture on campus.
To Avon, Vail Valley
Mountain cliffs going to Avon
House on the byway to Avon
Here is Jay at same spot as a year earlier.
Daytrip from Avon to Leadville
Friday, September 9, 2011
Fueled with oatmeal and bananas for breakfast, we headed out to Leadville. This is a historic mining town located about 37 miles away but it takes an hour to drive to it. We stopped at the Forest Service office to get directions to the Mineral Belt Trail and discovered it was across the street!
The Mineral Belt Trail is one of the abandoned rail lines around the country that the national recreational trails organization has converted into hike/bike pathways. The trail was designated as a national trail in June 2002. The trail is 12.5 miles in length and makes a complete loop around the town of Leadville. The pathway is very good and we saw several groups of people using the trail. What the information we had doesn’t mention is that the trail is at an elevation of 10,400 ft and has a definite grade in it! All the info Cheryl found on the trail rates it as an easy, very accessible trail. Yeah, for those who are used to that elevation!
We made it about a mile in one direction towards town before we cratered. We could hardly breath at this altitude. We turned around and went back to our starting point. From there we went several hundred yards in the other direction and explored the abandoned original general store for the town and an abandoned mine entrance. We are glad we went to the trail and at least rode a very small piece of it. Who knows if we will ever get the chance to do that again?
We secured the bicycles and parked in the town. We walked down Main Street and decided to eat at a Chinese restaurant. We had lemon grass chicken and it was excellent. The waiter was very friendly and talkative. He told us this was his vacation. He worked at the restaurant in return for room and board. He used his time off to sight see.
We walked back the other side of Main Street and stopped in a bike shop. Cheryl found quality merchandise at a good price but we did not buy anything. Jay petted the shop dog. We continued to an old saloon and then an antique shop. Then we went to the Mining Museum. This museum is jammed full of rocks, crystals, etc. Also inside is the national mining hall of fame. This is an entire floor of plagues and bios of people who have been instrumental in the development of the mining industry in the US. They also have a walk-through mine which Jay said would make a great Halloween haunted house! We also discovered a cave they made which opens into a room with special lighting to show off minerals. We both mentioned that it reminded us of the display at the Houston Museum of Natural History’s gem and mineral display. Overall, the museum was excellent. But we were exhausted by now and we headed back to Avon.
We made a detour, however, on the way back. We remembered that Oktoberfest in Lionshead Village in Vail started at 5pm that night. So we stopped in Vail. Jay saw a shop with a half-price sale and he bought himself a new jacket with Vail on it. He needed it as there was a slow drizzle and quite a breeze and a drop in temperature. We found a table near the bandstand where there was an oompah band playing. We also bought a souvenir mug which came with a free 16 oz of Becks’ Oktoberfest beer. We shared a great bratwurst with peppers and onion sandwich and enjoyed listening to the music. Naturally we did some walking around of the village, window-shopping. The drizzle stopped and the weather warmed up. We had a very enjoyable time and we were back at our “villa” by 9. It was an exhausting but fun day so we hit the sack almost immediately.
Byway nearing old mining camp near Leadville
Cheryl in Leadville, old mining camp
Equipment at old mining camp
Leadville Opera House
Leadville Main Street
Chinese restaurant in Leadville
Street and purple building, Leadville
Leadville Mining Museum, great stop
Pretty yellow house in Leadville
Overlooking Vail Valley.
Car & bikes on road
Another scenic view, just outside of Avon
Oktoberfest in Vail at Lions Head Village
Saturday, September 10, 2011
Cheryl made pancakes and bananas for breakfast and then we headed out for a bike ride. This time we took the Avon to Edwards trail that runs, for the most part, next to the Eagle River. Last year, we walked a small bit of the trail behind the hotel. This time, we took the bikes and made it all the way to the Edwards recreation center. The trail has ups and downs and is in very good condition. We saw many people walking and biking the trial. As we approached Edwards, we passed a neighborhood of very nice, cute houses that are actually affordable! We discovered where the “real” people live!! We would have never seen this neighborhood by car.
The recreation center is a huge park. There is an extensive skate bowl and we enjoyed watching the skate boarders doing their flips, etc. The park also had a bowl for extreme biking. Cheryl could not convince Jay to try it out. The park had soccer fields, a playground, a swimming pool and lots of grassy play area. We chatted with a couple whose son was using the bike bowl. The woman works for Baker Hughes and spent the last 7 months in Houston! She volunteered for JA with Baker Hughes while in Houston. She is now in Denver and is going to work with JA again via Baker Hughes there. She took down Cheryl’s info and is going to email her.
We then turned around and rode back to Avon. We had thought about riding the bus back but decided to start on the trail, knowing we could cut over to catch the bus if needed. However, before we knew it, we were back at the hotel! According to the concierge that Cheryl spoke with at the hotel later that day, we made a 9 mile round trip excursion. It took us a little more than 2 hours.
It was time for lunch so we made pasta (ricotta cheese and spinach tortellini) with fire roasted tomatoes on top. We watched some college football on TV, Jay took a nap and Cheryl took the car to the Walmart in Avon to get an oil change. We have put 1472 miles on the car so far in this trip! Upon returning to the hotel, Cheryl went to the pool and hot tub.
There was a wedding at the outside overlook by the pool/hot tubs. The setting is absolutely beautiful. Cheryl, along with everyone else at the pool and hot tubs gathered around on the lounge chairs and watched the ceremony. The bride was gorgeous and we all enjoyed watching the ceremony. Jay watched the last part of the ceremony from the pool deck area also.
Jay and Cheryl met up at the spa after watching the wedding to have massages. They were great! We followed them up with using the steam rooms and then showering and using the spa lotions, etc. We felt so pampered and relaxed, especially after all the biking we had done. We headed back to our room and watched the Notre Dame/ Michigan game on TV while eating leftover pasta and cinnamon buns for dessert then collapsed into bed.
From Avon to Edwards, CO by bike trail
We and the bikes by Eagle River
Plaque describing the river system
Jay on bank of Eagle River
Our bikes on rocks by the Eagle River
Entry to Avon complex
Avon back to Houston
We had travelled far and had seen beautiful scenery, but it was time to head back. The return trip was pretty uneventful. We remember miles and miles of Kansas corn fields before entering Oklahoma and the Indian casinos. Jay had one conclusion, the only way to win at gambling is by becoming the dealer.