Back on the road again!

It seems like a month since I last posted on my blog, but it has actually been about two weeks!  Ahhhh…. how time flies when you are battling the monsters of the universe (squirrels) on one hand, while vicariously continuing our westbound trip.  Most of you already know that when I went back to Virginia for a few days I discovered that we had the Invasion of the Squirrels at our brick and stick house– and it wasn’t a pretty picture!  Actually, it was a disaster–chewed electrical wires, flooded rooms, A/C not working since the Squirrel Family (from you know where!) that had moved in decided the wires leading to the upstairs air conditioner were pretty tasty–I had to roll up my sleeves and do battle along with an army of repair people.  So I was back in Virginia twice as long as anticipated and am still keeping an eye on repairs from afar, thanks to the assistance of family and friends!

Meanwhile, back at base camp in Colorado Springs, Bob was fighting his own battles.  A sneak attack of snow, ice and deadly cold hit the I-25 corridor where we had set up our base camp while I was in Virginia, which forced Bob to discover just how well insulated our motorhome actually is under adverse conditions.  After this unexpected experiment, Bob said the INSIDE was “snug as a bug in a rug” with the fireplace, 2 furnaces, and the heated floors going full blast.  However, RV life requires a few excursions outside relatively frequently to attend to tanks, make sure all is well, and ensure nothing has blown off overnight.  Well, between plucking icicles off the Baby every morning, scraping snow with a broom (who knew to bring a snow shovel?–after all this is our summer trip!), and trying to stay warm in freezing temperatures with less than heavy duty winter clothes, Bob completed his survival challenge with flying colors.

The day before the storm hit, Bob was still enjoying very pleasant weather when he visited the Garden of the Gods on a mission–get some great photos of the amazing rock formations.  I have to say the picture below was a great example of the wonders of this very special place!  (If you don’t mind being bopped on the head, you can ask Bob someday what happened to all the other pictures he took.)

Amazing monoliths seemingly dropped from outer space in all kinds of fantastical formations, the Garden of the Gods is a registered National Natural Monument in Colorado Springs planted within walking distance of our campground.

With my instructions that he get some great pictures in mind (I suppose), Bob decided to tackle 14,000 plus feet Pikes Peak.  No–he didn’t climb it!  Well, actually he did, but he was in a cog train going about 7 MPH, which is much more efficient than walking!  He was able to get some super pictures, even though it was snowing and visibility was not the best.  I did Pikes Peak a few years ago and let me tell you–even taking the train up is a challenge!  As you get closer to the top the lack of oxygen makes you think seriously about every next breath.  So taking pictures takes second place to breathing…  So here’s Bob’s Pikes Peak adventure in pictures:

Bob took the cog train out of Manitou Springs, CO heading for the top of Pikes Peak. At 7 mph, slow and steady wins the race. This little train attempts the Peak every day of the year although there are times it doesn’t happen. It didn’t make it all the way up the day before Bob went up, and the people working at the Visitors Center at the top were taken down early in the day.

DSCN7166DSCN7157DSCN7051 The trip up starts with wooded hillsides, boulders, and a few snowflakes.  As this “little engine that could” chugs on up the mountain, you begin to wonder if it can really make it.  And it starts getting colder and colder.

DSCN7049DSCN7070DSCN7062DSCN7102DSCN7105DSCN7107 The train trip takes well over an hour and the scenery gradually unfolds from treed forests to lunar landscape–with MUCH snow for this time of year!  The trees become sparser until you realize you are looking at Arctic tundra!  Then you start dreaming of another jacket, more socks, a thicker hat…..

Hikers sometimes hike up to this level and catch the train to the top–or vice versa.

Windy Point is an apt name for this lonely outpost!  there is nothing up here (almost at the top–just 2000 more feet!)  to break the force of the frigid winds that blow on this Martian landscape.

Workers live up here in the tundra area to help keep the tracks cleared and the train moving.


You are looking down on the other peaks in this chain of giant mountains.


Moon rocks, anyone?

DSCN7116DSCN7121DSCN7129DSCN7130DSCN7135DSCN7123 Good thing the train knows where he’s going–those tracks seem to be disappearing.   Aha–is that the Visitor Center at the top?

The train has arrived–and in one piece! Now if you could only breathe you can walk up to the  Visitor Center and get something good and hot to eat and drink!  And if you are really doing well–a little shopping.  Suggestion: A t-shirt with the statement “I survived Pikes Peak!”


All aboard! A mad scramble for homemade doughnuts made at the top with a special recipe adapted for the altitude–and something HOT–VERY HOT–to drink!


Glory be! We are going to make it safely down to Manitou Springs! Trees in sight once more.


Home sweet home!  The Pikes Peak train station comes into sight again.  You done it!

While I was dealing with a continuing series of squirrel-related challenges, Bob was also multi-tasking, trying to keep our trip on schedule while ensuring the RV didn’t freeze into a solid chunk of ice.  Remember a few blogs ago that we had a slide out roller awning quit working after going through a particularly windy stretch of the road in Kansas–and we had to order another part at the repair facility in Denver?  Well, the “just a few days” to arrive turned into a “Mission Impossible” due to the VERY SLOW delivery folks who used everything from snow to ingrown toenails for not delivering the part across town–in fact, the part didn’t arrive until the day after I returned to Colorado over two weeks later.

We were a little unglued about that, especially since Bob picked me up at Denver Airport on Wednesday, rushed back to Colorado Springs where we hooked up the RV and then headed back to Denver in evening commuter traffic—yuck!  Visions of Northern VA traffic jams endured during 25 years of commuting to DC and environs gave me the heeber-jeebers, which was not eased at all by my jet lag–so it was a good thing Bob was driving! The next day the repairs were finished late in the afternoon, and we headed down the road toward Taos, New Mexico.  Since it was so late we stopped at Rotan, NM.  The next morning, we went on to Santa Fe for a couple of days camping on a mesa overlooking Santa Fe.  Great, heavenly views, with a quirky, comfortable campground (called Santa Fe Skies RV Resort) I would love to visit again.  Art sculptures, a display of antique farm equipment, solar power panels, great walking path–it is very appealing. Unfortunately, while setting up camp yesterday one of our 4 slide outs got stuck so we had to start the whole rigamarole again.  So tomorrow–off to a new repair facility in Albuquerque!  Wish us luck!

I don’t want to exhaust you trying to catch up two weeks in one blog.  So Installment 2 will be posted tomorrow.  The highlight for today was the High Road to Taos we drove today and the places we stopped to “mess around” and explore along the way.  And what amazing scenery–tune back in tomorrow! We have some great pictures!  Good night, family and friends!  Happy Trails!

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