Sunday, June 26, 2016

Pikes Peak, Cripple Creek and Red Rocks

Colorado Springs sits at 6,035 feet in elevation and is at the base of Pikes Peak mountain.  You can't stare at that mountain without wanting to go on top so we boarded the Cog Railroad for our ride.  The Cog Railroad is located in Manitou Springs and is a cog system railway.


The trip lasts about 3+ hours with 30 minutes up top and believe me that's long enough as it is cold up there!!!

Pikes Peak is the highest summit of the southern Front Range of the Rocky Mountains of North America.  14,115 feet high and is one of the fourteeners in CO located in Pike National Forest.
It was a little cloudy but the views are awesome!  
OK, enough of these cold temps lets get back to 80 degrees so I can pack that winter coat away.


Next stop was a must as well, Garden of the Gods.
It was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1971 and is a free public park.

This photo was taken from the visitors center looking down on the park with Pikes Peak in the background.
Popular for hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking and horseback riding.

The top right picture was taken at Kissing Camels with Pikes Peak in the background.  What a beautiful park!


The next adventure lead us 40 miles west of Colorado Springs to Cripple Creek which sits at 9,494 feet in elevation.  From 1890 to 1910, more than 22,400,000 ounces of gold were extracted from 500 mines including the neighboring town of Victor.  The district produced 30 millionaires while the hands on miners made $3 a day.

In 1896 the town suffered two fires within four days but was rebuilt in a few months.  The current  one mine is operated by Cripple Creek and Victor Mining Company, running 24/7 365 days a year. In 1970-1980 the town was almost a ghost town with only 200 people living there until 1991 when the CO voters allowed legalized gambling.  It is now more a tourist attraction with casinos occupying the historic buildings.

Interesting fact - Cripple Creek is home to the root beer float?
Also known as the "Black Cow" invented by Frank J. Wisner in August 1893.  

There is an Elk Lodge that is located in one of the old buildings that we had to check out.  It was instituted on July 7th, 1895 in the Gold Mine Stock Exchange building.  This place was huge and had tons of history.  There are 5 sleeping rooms available to members with a shared bathroom.  We have stayed at alot of Elk lodges but none have had rooms for rent!

I bet alot of men can relate to this!

Five miles southeast of Cripple Creek is Victor.

In 1894 the Woods brothers discovered gold when they were digging a foundation for a building!  Although Victor was overshadowed by Cripple Creek, many of the best mines of the Cripple Creek District were located in Victor.  Half of Battle Mountain's gold was extracted by the Portland mine, which was called the "Queen of the District".  Did you know the heavyweight boxing champion William Harrison "Jack" Dempsey was a mucker at the Portland mine?
A mucker removes waste material after blasting, guess that's where he got those strong arms.

The above sign tells you one of the Portland mine shafts descends 3,300 feet, almost to Colorado Springs!  Imagine working that far below the surface...scary. 


We moved north to Lakewood at the Bear Creek State Park campground where we met our friends Kate and Roger.

This is a very popular campground as it is located a couple of miles from Red Rocks amphitheater, better make reservations for the weekend months in advance.  Kate, Roger and Jen attended a concert at this awesome amphitheater.  6,450 feet above sea level with 868 acres, this park is a geological phenomenon, the only naturally-occurring, acoustically perfect amphitheater in the world.  When a musician performs here they know they have made it to the top.  

Breweries are very popular and in Colorado they are everywhere.

Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project.

We will move to the Elks Lodge in Westminster and met up with Kate and Roger later.

Thanks for following our travels, stay tuned!

Check out my Etsy shop Wandering Designs Artisan Jewelry

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Florida to Colorado Springs CO 2016

We left Brandon FL on the 20th of April with our summer destination being Colorado.  We like to do around 200 miles on a travel day and stay usually 2 days.  First stop was the Elks Lodge in Perry FL. $15 a night for elec/water and dump station.

Onto Navarre Fl where we spent one night and visited with friends Mario and Jeff.  No Elks lodge so we had to stay at an independent campground to the tune of $58, ouch.  

We left Navarre headed to the Elks Lodge in Metairie New Orleans.  Six spots with electric and water, no dump station.  You may get bored with my pictures of our sites but it helps me to remember for future reference.

It was a good location close to downtown and a safe area, we stayed here for 5 days waiting for some storms to pass north of us.

Our friends Jenni and John live in New Orleans and are a couple of blocks from a cool pub which is always one of our stops.

I had to stock up on my favorite coffee!

We had a nice visit in New Orleans but stayed away from Bourbon Street,  we learned our lesson the last time we were here!!!


On to the Elks Lodge in Shreveport LA.

Electric and water plus WiFi for $15 a night.  Really nice lodge with friendly folks who told us of a landmark place to eat at.  We drove to the location but I have to say the area was abit scary but we checked it out anyway.

Herby-K's has been a family owned restaurant for 80 years serving Cajun and creole food that is awesome!  We enjoyed it so much we went back the following day.

Next stop was the Great Raft Brewery.

Exploring downtown we found the Strand Theater which I had read about.  In the twenties it was named the greatest theater in the south, sadly we were not able to tour it.  

In the seventies it fell into ruin but concerned citizens saved it and today it is a popular venue.

This is the grandest of all the murals downtown on the AT&T building and is called
 Once in a Millennium Moon.

Meg Saligman and the staff of the Shreveport Regional Arts Council met with more than 75 organizations, interviewed hundreds of individuals about their ideas and heritage, photographed thousands of people for the mural and read every book written about this area!
Meg’s painting plan involved more than 2,600 people! She perfected a “paint by number” grid that is applied to sheets of plastic cloth. Once painted the cloth is “floated in acrylic” on the wall, much like wallpaper installation.  This is done on an 8 story building.

I have to say we weren't too impressed with Shreveport, some places are just better than                        others.  But if you find yourself in the area definitely eat at Herby-K's. 


     Onto the Elks lodge in Dallas TX, 6 sites with electric and water but no dump, $15 a day.

It wasn't a long drive from Shreveport so once we got step up we headed to Gas Monkey Bar n' Grill.

Food was good and it's a cool venue with an outdoor stage.
The next morning we headed to the Gas Monkey Garage, ASM Upholstery and Misfit Garage.

ASM Upholstery and Fired Up Garage are a block apart so we went to ASM first and Kevin from Fired Up was outside and then Sue came out and she was so friendly just as long as you don't bring her junk!

  Next was Fired Up Garage but we couldn't poke around as they were filming.  It was pretty cool to actually see these places.

We were so happy to find out that In n Out Burger was now in TX.  Oh how I have missed their animal style burgers!

One day we took the train to the downtown area to check out the sights.  There is alot to see and do but never enough time! 


On to the Elks lodge in Oklahoma City, water and electric for $15 a day.

One of Mark's customers from this past winter lives here and he told Mark to call when we were in the area.  We enjoyed a wonderful home cooked meal and stories of their time on the road.  They just had a storm shelter installed in their garage.  

It's pretty scary how fast these storms come up.  We were really worried on Sunday (Mother's Day) about approaching storms that were headed our way.  Luckily they passed and we got the heck out of dodge the next day headed to Amarillo TX.


The drive was interesting on Interstate 40
.  About 30 miles outside of Amarillo is Groom with wind turbines everywhere.  I think these turbines are awesome!  Texas produces the most wind power of any U.S. state.

These things are massive!
12% of energy created in 2015 came from wind farms.

This 19 story cross located next to the Interstate can be seen for 20 miles away.  It is 190 foot tall with life-sized statues of the 14 Stations of the Cross surrounding it's base.  One of the largest crosses in the Western Hemisphere.

Amarillo Elks Lodge, electric and water $15 a day.  Mark doing some metal detecting in the mud volley ball courts.  A popular sport out west.

The next morning we went Jack Sisemore RV Museum.

This place was great showing the progression of the RV industry.  The Sisemores began restoring and collecting unusual vintage RVs over 25 years ago.  The museum is free to the public.

Recognize this RV? It's the Bus used by the Gornike family in the Robin Williams movie RV.
It's a 1948 Flxible.
I highly recommend that you put this museum on your list!

Muffler Man - Cowboy advertised Amarillo barbecue steakhouse, in 2014 it was auctioned off to an RV park and is know labeled "2nd Amendment Cowboy", reminding folks of the right to bear arms.

Cadillac Ranch
This is not a ranch but a public art installation created in 1974 and funded by eccentric Stanley Marsh.

Floating Mesa
Another creation of the eccentric millionaire Stanley Marsh 3.  The illusion is that the top portion of the mesa is floating, which is fully realized whenever the sky is the right shade of white.  On clear days with no overcast, the line of plywood sheets painted white appears to blend in with the sky behind the mesa.
When asked about his art Stanley Marsh 3 simply replied, "Art is a legalized form of insanity, and I do it very well".

After all the sight seeing we needed some food and a beverage so The Big Texan Steak Ranch was in order.
In 1960, R.J. "Bob" Lee opened the steak ranch on Route 66, the "Mother Road".  Its distinctive architecture soon became recognized across the Mother Road as a good stopping place for great steaks.

If you can eat the 72 oz steak in one hour its free!  The original steak ranch was on Route 66 with the giant cowboy being a landmark.  In the 1970s when Interstate 40 came through Amarillo Mr. Lee bought road frontage and built a new restaurant.  The Cowboy was moved by a helicopter to is new location.  1976 tragedy struck in the form of a fire almost destroying the entire restaurant but the owners rebuilt.  
In 2011 they opened their brewery, the only one in Amarillo.
Rattle Snake IPA and Honey Blonde Lager were very tasty.


We explored Palo Duro Canyon State Park.

The Canyon is 120 miles long, as much as 20 miles wide, and has a maximum depth of more than 800 feet.  Its elevation at the rim is 3,500 feet above sea level.  It is often claimed that Palo Duro Canyon is the second largest canyon in the US.  The largest being the Grand Canyon, 277 miles long, 18 miles wide and 6,000 feet deep.


We moved on to Santa Rosa NM for one night staying in an independent campground.  There isn't much there but the Blue Hole Recreation Center which recently expanded to the Dive and Conference Center. Its one of seven sister lakes connected underground by a vast system of water.  Visibility is an astonishing 100', due to the fact that the water completely renews itself every six hours.

Left the next day headed to Albuquerque NM and stayed at the Elks Lodge, $15 electric and water.

The Turquoise Trail is just east of Albuquerque on I-40 and is a National Scenic Byway encompassing 15,000 sq miles in the heart of central NM, linking Albuquerque and Santa Fe.  The drive is 50 miles along HWY 14 giving you breathtaking views from atop Sandia Crest, then you come into history traveling through the mining towns of Golden, Madrid, and Cerrillos.  The most noted town is Madrid where the movie Wild Hogs was film.  Its a artsy area now with shops and restaurants.

The picture on the right is Maggie's Dinner which was built for the movie.  The owners of the property bought the building after the movie was done and turned it in to a souvenir shop.

On the way home I got a call from a couple that we workamped with in CA at the the Sugar Barge.  They were passing through Albuquerque and had seen on Facebook that we were there.  Dinner was in the crock pot so they came over and ate with us as we all caught up with each others lives.  Plan on seeing Barbara and Larry this winter in AZ.

While we were in town we made reservations at a campground for the Balloon Festival this October.  It is something that we have always wanted to do so this fall we can check it off our list, very excited.


Said good bye to Albuquerque and headed to Las Vegas NM, yes NM.  Stayed at the Elks Lodge in this small town (no pic) for $15 with electric and water.  Very friendly lodge and learned alot about the area.  Plan to come back and stay a couple days and check out this small interesting town that has tons of history including gunslingers. 


Left Las Vegas headed to Walsenburg CO but ran into rain where we would be camping so we pressed on to the Elks Lodge in Colorado Springs, CO.

The first night we arrived they didn't have any spots so we just boondocked in the parking lot and moved to a spot the next day.  $15 electric, water and a dump station.

Yeah we made it to Colorado!!!
Arrived on May 18th.

This is our view right out of our door looking at Pikes Peak.

Thanks for following our travels and stayed tuned for our adventures in this beautiful state.

Check out my Etsy shop Wandering Designs for one of a kind artisan Jewelry.