Saturday, July 21, 2012

Return to Colorado Springs

While sitting in Larkspur with our still-crippled air conditioner, we went in search of a cool, shady spot to kick back and relax while we waited for our next service appointment. It didn't take long for us to decide to return to Colorado Springs. We spent a few days here at Garden of the Gods Campground last year. Since that visit the park has been purchased by a company with a reputation for creating lovely places. We were eager to see how the place had changed. (It was in need of some serious sprucing, in our opinion.)

We checked into one of the "Executive Sites" and enjoyed the spacious, level spot that had plenty of shade, cable and...

...a view of the family pool. Despite the scorching temperatures during our stay, we never made time to take a splash.

Our "fancy" site wasn't available for our entire stay. So, a few days ago, we checked into this "Deluxe" site. With precious little space, no view or cable, we're hard pressed to find anything deluxe about this spot. Actually, it all felt quilt familiar. This is exactly the same site we had last Summer.

The park is just minutes from many attractions. But, it's located in an area of Colorado Springs that's seen better days. This store across from the entrance was one of many medical marijuana dispensaries in the neighborhood. (That stuff is pricey!) And, although this is a quite high-tech town, the park is located in an AT&T dead zone. (Ugh!)

Speaking of attractions, we made time to see a few things we missed here during our last visit. Colorado Springs is home to the United Stated Olympic Committee and one of its three training centers.  In 1978, a former Air Force base was transformed into this state-of-the-art training center for Olympic and Paralympic athletes in track and field, triathlon, pentathlon, wrestling, weightlifting, fencing, gymnastics, shooting, swimming, cycling and judo.

Our free tour started with a brief film that got us fired up for next week's Winter Games. On the 45-minute walking tour of the facility, our guide informed us that the athletes competing in this year's games who trained here have already left for London. We enjoyed seeing future Olympians at work in the pool and weightlifting gym.

The tour ended in the gift shop, where visitors were snapping up all kinds of Team USA apparel. A closer inspection revealed that the garments were designed by an American, but manufactured in China!

After this visit, we are definitely in the spirit. We look forward to cheering Team USA later this month.

Another Colorado Springs landmark we'd yet to visit was Garden of the Gods. But, we took care of that earlier this week. From a distance, this very special garden reminded us of our stay in southern Utah. Gorgeous!

This public park was named a Great American Public Place last year. The honor is well deserved. In accordance with the wishes of the original owner of this spectacular piece of land, admission is free.

The 3,300 acre park is a destination for hikers, bikers and rock climbers. It's also known to attract quite a few folks who like to gawk at and photograph the towering formations. We gawked a lot more than we hiked!

The brilliant red rock makes a lovely backdrop for engagement portraits, too. (Don't they look young?)

Garden of the Gods was threatened by the recent Waldo Canyon fire, which destroyed more than 18,000 acres of national forest and adjacent neighborhoods. Thanks to the hard work of brave firefighters, Garden of the Gods and many homes in the area were spared. Signs of gratitude are everywhere.

The Mountain Shadows neighborhood of Colorado Springs was among the hardest hit areas. We had seen television news reports while we were in Gunnison. But, seeing the devastation in person made it much more real. Blocks of homes were burned to the ground in some areas. In others, like this, one home was destroyed while its neighboring homes were unscathed. Our hearts go out to the many families who were affected by this disaster.

The good news around Colorado Springs is that the much needed afternoon rains have finally returned. As a result, the fire danger has been reduced. These rainbows are most welcome! 

Tomorrow, we head north to Loveland for our Monday morning service appointment. Our fingers are crossed that our air conditioner mess up will be fixed up fast.

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