Monday, October 26, 2009

A very long word about Manitou Springs.

The Campground in Pueblo having proven unsatisfactory, we talked the Admiral into moving along to Colorado Springs, Colorado. We actually ended up moving to Manitou Springs, Colorado, which is very close to Colorado Springs, but is entirely separate. With a town motto of "Keep it Weird!" you know you're in for an interesting visit. We arrived on Thursday, and went exploring downtown. The street is lined with delightful little shops including the Maitou Outpost and Gallery, where we were offered free samples of fudge. It is not often that a salesperson calls a group as large as ours back for free samples, so we were obliged to like the place and buy post cards. There is also a glassblower shop, fine dining establishments, arts and crafts places and much more. After we had perused the shops, we halted at the park. One thing that the younger crew members have missed out on whilst the Admiral has not been at home, is having the Admiral at a park. Though his true specialty is tire swings, he manipulated the strange flying disks that the park offered quite well. Then the crew decided to give him a taste of his own medicine. The Admiral has a long and glorious history of riding rides, but the crew pushing the flying saucer really almost did him in. And of course, in true Admiral fashion, the ride emptied his pockets. (Among the more famous "pocket emptying ride" stories is the time that the Admiral went on a "caged" ferris wheel. He rode the Ferris wheel four times, once with each of us girls. On the fourth ride, he finally figured out the perfect formula for rocking the cage. This resulted in the loss of some change among the crowd below.) After his cell phone, the car keys (we had a rental van) and his work truck keys had been dug out of the wood chips, we decided that it was time to move on. The Admiral challenged the 2nd AB to a (small) rock climbing contest, then discovered a strange spinning wheel thingy at the other end of the park and sent the boys for a ride. After that, it really was time to go home. Except that when we reached the van, we discovered that the Admiral did not have the keys. Or his cellphone. We walked back to the park, and were immediately waved down by a youth with the keys. Fortunately, cellphones can be helpful in the process of locating themselves. Particularly when they are buried underneath a hefty layer of fall leaves.

Manitou Springs, Day 2.

After contemplating a drive to the top of Pikes Peak, we looked at the thick layer of snow up there and immediately came to our senses. (Actually, 8 of the 19 miles were closed because of the snow, so driving to the top wasn't even an option.) We changed our path and headed for the Garden of the Gods. Words really cannot do the scenery justice, so I will not even attempt a description. That's why God invented cameras.

Note: This picture was the result of my figuring out the new button I found on my camera.


I will, however, give a description of our visit to this park. Ahhahem!

Lured from the van like bugs to a zapper light, we walked along the cement pathway. So transfixed were we that even the sign reading "Caution Falling Rock! Stay on the Sidewalk!" was not enough to dampen our adventurous spirits. We moved along, stunned by the wondrous pulchritude of the rock formations. Then, we came to a road. The Commodore believed that the visitor center was near. The 2nd AB just really wanted to walk on that road. The Admiral saw, but thought that the others knew where we were going. I was trying to figure out a button I had just found on my camera, so I was only following the others. Like fools we followed the road through the unknown land, naively believing that it would lead us to the Visitor Center, or at least to the van. After about a mile, the Commodore spotted a path that seemed to lead over what would be a mountain in Alabama, but here it is a mere rock. The 1st AB and I volunteered to scout the path. It moved in the right direction to take us to the van. Just as I was about to call down from my lofty height atop the rock, the path dead ended. For an instant only did the 1st AB and I despair. We had come so far, only to be let down. Despair never helped anyone though, and within a few seconds, we had come to appreciate the value of our climb. There are really excellent photo opportunities atop big rocks. We then descended to the others. Rather sensibly, we then turned around the way we had come. After a few hills, one of which might be mistaken for Kanchenjunga if it were moved to Alabama, we found the cement path again. Then the 2nd Mate happened to turn around. She gasped and wordless dismay and pointed to where the road forked behind us, to the road we hadn't taken, to the Visitor Center. Wearily, we made our way back to the van, where we had stashed semi-refreshing drink. Then, we drove to the Visitor Center.
Actually, not. The Visitor Center/Museum was quite interesting, and the younger crew members, in addition to the tasks they already carry, assumed the roles of Junior Rangers, and had their accomplishment announced over the loud speaker. HAHA.
Before they could become Junior Rangers, though they had to answer a question.

Ranger: What was your favorite thing that you learned today?
1st A.B.: Ummm. That Colorado is prettier.
R: Can you give me a comparison? What is it prettier than?
AB: Uhhhhhhh. I know! Alabama.

R: What was your favorite thing that you learned today?
2nd AB: About the Kissing Camels. 
R: Oh! Can you tell me where they are? (the rock is due north, and visible out the window)
2nd AB: East. (He'd read earlier that the rock was on the East Side of the park.)
2nd AB: Uh, West? North?
R: There you go!

R: What was your favorite thing that you learned today?
1st Mate: That Colorado rattlesnakes are small.
R: Hmm? Maybe compared to Alabama snakes...
1st Mate: Yeah. My dad had to kill a six foot rattle snake that got in our backyard.

Maybe we need to work on the conservation conversation! Granted, the ranger did appear more disturbed at the idea of six feet of venomous snake in the backyard than she did about its death.

Manitou Springs, Day 3.
We had noticed flyers around town announcing the race. We had spoken to a fellow in a shop who was going to be in it. We had looked it up online, and we had decided that we could not miss the 15th Annual Emma Crawford Coffin Race.
The story of Emma Crawford is not one for the faint of heart. For those who can stand to hear it chanted, click here.
Basically, it is this.
Emma Crawford came to Colorado in search of the "cure" for tuberculosis. Apparently this was quite common, and those who did were called "lungers." Emma climbed to the top of Red Mountain, and loved it so much that she wished to be buried there. She seemed to recover though, and was to be married to a young man called Hildebrand. A few weeks before her wedding however, she suffered a relapse and died. Twelve pall bearers carried her to the top of the mountain in  a coffin with a silver plate bearing her name (the plate is important.) and she was buried there. Twenty years later though, she was exumed for the purpose of building a railroad. She was moved to another place on the mountain, but apparently didn't like it there, because during a big rainstorm, Emma returned to Manitou Springs, along with the plate with her name, which was her only form of identification. Although Emma was once again buried, this time safely in the city cemetary, where she has remained ever since, a local business owner thought that it would be a shame to let Emma fade away into history. For this reason he instated the Emma Crawford Coffin race.

                                                        The Champions in Motion.
The race was hilarious, and was won by the Crystal Hillbillies for the seventh year in a row. The award for best entourage went to a team dressed as cannibals. They really deserved it too. For the parade, in addition to pushing their coffin, they carried a poor guy tied to a pine tree.

                                       Emma and Hildebrand in the front, Cannibals in the back.
That wraps upthe first three days.

1 comment:

  1. Yay, you went to Garden of the Gods! Breathtaking, isn't it!

    I am loving this chronicle of your adventures. SO WISHING for a San Diego detour. :)