Monday, August 08, 2011

Colorado 2011

A couple of weeks ago, Kirby and I made our annual summertime trip to Colorado to visit my brother David, see some sights and get away from the oppressive Houston summer. That last part didn't work out too well; Denver was almost as hot as Houston while we were there. But we still had a great time, exploring the mountains as well as seeing some sights in and around Denver and Colorado Springs.
I try my hand at throwing and shaping pottery at the Denver Art Museum. My creation didn't turn out so well, so I think I need a little more practice...
The Colorado River starts out as a stream on the western side of Rocky Mountain National Park. From here, these waters will head down through western Colorado, through Glen Canyon and the Grand Canyon, and eventually end up in Lake Mead on the Arizona/Nevada border.
A mother moose and her baby graze along the banks of the Colorado River. They were no more than ten feet away from the walking trail, but didn't seem to mind all of the humans taking pictures of them.
Snow! Well, okay, slush. But it was good enough for Kirby.
The view from the alpine tundra section of Rocky Mountain National Park, elevation about 11,500 feet.
A male elk makes an interesting post for the camera. We were pleasantly surprised by all the wildlife we came across while in the park.
A yellow-bellied marmot forages along the alpine tundra of Rocky Mountain National Park. Marmots hibernate for eight months of the year; the other four months are spent eating and mating. Not a bad life!
Kirby tests his carpentry skills at the Denver Childrens Museum. We were only there for a couple of hours; I've mentioned before that the museum is only a fraction of the one he is used to here in Houston, so he ran out of things to explore rather quickly.
Impressive sandstone rock formations at Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs.
Another view of the formations at the Garden of the Gods.
Kirby, David and I pose in front of some of the formations at the Garden of the Gods. I had to take this picture to make mom happy...
Not too far from the Garden of the Gods is the Cave of the Winds. It was Kirby's first time inside a cave. He seemed concerned about the lack of light so I'm not sure he was particularly impressed.
Traveling up the Pikes Peak Highway. There is something amazing and perhaps a bit humbling about seeing a sign informing that, even after you've been climbing up the road for a few miles, you're still a vertical mile below the summit of the mountain, or looking ahead of you and seeing switchbacks far ahead and high above you and thinking, "wow, we still have to go all the way up there?" The toll is $40 per car, so bring your money as well as at least half a tank of gas if you go, but the road is almost completely paved now, there are several places to stop along the way, and the views are absolutely stunning.
Another way to reach the top of the mountain is to take the Pikes Peak Cog Railway. which operates diesel multiple units from the town of Manitou Springs to the summit. They were sold out the day we went, which is why we used the toll road, but the train might be a fun thing to do if I ever get the chance to visit the mountain again.
The end of the cog railway almost seems to dangle over the side of Pikes Peak. At 14,110 feet, not only are you well above the tree line, you're also past the point where vegetation grows at all. In Colorado Springs the temperatures were in the 90s, but at the top of the summit the temperature was in the high 40s.
Pikes Peak is Kirby's second trip atop a fourteener (his first was Mount Evans, two summers ago). I was out of breath up there, but the thin air didn't really seem to bother Kirby.
Looking down from the top of Pikes Peak. That's Colorado Springs off in the distance below. After Kirby, David, his girlfriend and I left the summit, we drove back into Colorado Springs for an excellent dinner at the Phantom Canyon brewpub. We then walked around downtown Colorado Springs for a little bit before returning to Denver.
Kirby cools his feet in a man-made waterfall in the new children's garden of the Denver Botanic Gardens. The gardens have completed a lot of expansions and enhancements, including this children's garden, since the last time I visited.
I found Japanese section of the Botanic Gardens to be especially picturesque and enjoyable.
Kirby poses next to another stream in the Botanic Gardens. The plants and flowers might not have impressed him too much, but the water features sure caught his attention...

We had a great time. It helped that this time we spent a few more days in Colorado than we have in the past, and I even got to visit my friend Rebecca, whom I hadn't seen in years. We'll be back soon - hopefully in wintertime, so Kirby can play in the snow and perhaps even learn to ski.

Right now I'm looking forward to my next trip at the end of August. I'm going to Hawaii for the first time. Woohoo!

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