Friday, December 11, 2015

Colorado Springs, part 1 of 3

This is part 1 of a 3-part blog post of our time in Colorado Springs (links to part 2 and part 3). There are just too many pictures, and too many wonderful things that we saw and did to contain it to one mega post. And now, as they say- on with the show:

I barely know how to start Colorado Springs. We spent 2 weeks there and went from one amazing site to the next! On top of that, we had a personal guide for most of it in Mandie's Uncle Don. Other than never quite getting used to the thin 6,000' air- we had a great time.

I love that this trip has let us visit with family that we don't often see.
The trip really isn't just about us!
First up, we stayed at Mountaindale Cabins & RV Resort. We got checked in pretty quickly and the folks were friendly. They escorted us to our site and we got lined up. Fortunately he was nothing like the fellow at the Sycamore RV park - he got us mostly lined up in the site and said, "Welp, holler if you need me." And rolled out. Thank you- let me do my thing without feeling like I'm being babysat. He was friendly and very likely would have stuck around if I wanted him to (but I didn't!).

Our setup.
When you can't reach, use the tools available to you.
The site was nice. Everything was stones, but it was very nicely done. The stones let me test the Claw tie downs with seeing how they would perform; there's no way that I would have been able to get a dog anchor in. I broke the head off of one of the stakes/nails but otherwise, with a big enough hammer, I was able to pound all 6 stakes in the ground. I also found that regular 10" nails from Home Depot are a perfect match as suitable replacements.  The sites were pretty uniquely laid out, but it gave you a fair amount of privacy. The only negative was a telephone pole's position prevented our awning from coming out fully.

We always seem to have a trip to Home Depot in the cards.
The campground itself was very nicely manicured and beautiful. During our stay, we saw deer and turkeys in the campground. An online friend of mine even saw a bear back towards the back a year or two ago. The laundry room was pert near spotless and the bathrooms were all individual rooms with their own showers. There were quite a few stationary fulltimers there and everyone that we met was very friendly. One even invited Paige and Logan to come do crafts with a couple of other kids. BUT- we almost had to leave. Cellular service was all but non-existent; in fact, without a booster- I couldn't make/take calls or send/receive texts. Before I got my booster, I literally drove down to a "recreation area" that is part of the base to participate in conference calls.

1 dot of 3G was the closest to service I had;
most of the time it just chuckled when I looked at it.
The mountains are beautiful, just kind of hard on cell signals.
My conference call view from the Turtle Creek Recreation Area of Ft. Carson.
Logan's craft - a Halloween necklace.
It accelerated my booster purchase (weBoost Drive 4G-X) and meant that my phone had to live in my truck (and I used a Bluetooth handset to make the actual calls). Their wifi was passably slow, but it did allow us to receive iMessages and Facebook messages. And, it was about as far away from site-seeing destinations as you could get and still have a "Colorado Springs" address. The phone service situation even had us go drive through Cheyenne State Park to see what we thought of it and try to find an open site (nothing was open through the weekend and we were into moving a couple of times). These negatives make me question if I'd be able to be back; which is a shame because it's really, really nice.

Our site is just so pretty.
My first use - just setting the booster on the ground and antenna magneted to the pin box.
Despite what the picture implies, this did not work.
Nice clean laundry facilities.
Other side of the laundry room.
Now, onto the site-seeing! First up, was Pikes Peak. My goal was to always drive up it, but Mandie was concerned with the dually having enough space. She posted on a Full Time RVing group asking if I was crazy or if it was possible and most people came back with a crew cab/long bed dually would have no issues. And they were right! The switchbacks towards the top were a little cozy, but nothing extreme. The truck's exhaust brake and gearing made coming down easy (in fact, I had a hard time accelerating up to the 25mph speed limit and generally came down between 17 and 19mph). The drive and scenery were stunning.

Entry gates
Quick potty stop right after we got inside the park
"it is extremely difficult to remove" ... no words.
Tree graffiti.
Up-close. I wonder if they're still together after 20 years...
Did we see Bigfoot? You'll have to read on to find out!
Biking back down. There was a lot of this, most had a chase vehicle.
One of many turns.
We stopped about 1/2-way up for a picnic lunch.

We picnic lunch everywhere.
Paige worked on her Junior Ranger booklet.
I found this beautiful woman just wandering the woods.
He's all boy. What can I say?
The very polite sign.
I wish I knew Pike's Peak back when it was gravel. That had to have been cool.
This is just a back road near the picnic area.
The guide website that we found said to drive straight up and save your sight-seeing for the way down. So that's what we did.
Up, and...
.. up, and ..
.. up we go.
I've never been so high in my life.
Once on top of the mountain, we parked and walked around for a while. We actually spent enough time up there to see 2 different trains come and go. I was thankful for the extra time that driving allowed. Though I hear the train is pretty cool, too. (Let's not mention the crazy handful of folks who HIKE to the top!)

My pretty girl.
Her beast.
Looking out.
Panorama, click it to see full-sized.
We do occasionally ask strangers for help. Logan didn't cooperate!
Gift shop!
Cog train.
Cog train rail line.
More of the views.
My beautiful daughter.
Rock hopping. Why take the easy path?
Rocks and lakes.
Just soaking in the sun.
These folks had the setup- pool table, EZ-up, free candy van.
Time to drive back down.
Heading down, it's hard not to stop at every pull off. Unfortunately, Logan zonked out shortly after leaving the summit and Mandie and he stayed in the truck. The pictures end up being a little repetitive until we got down to the lake. Unfortunately by that point, it was pushing/after 6pm and the shop was closed up. But we still got out and walked the water’s edge and took a few pictures.

I believe that these are Bighorn Sheep.
She had a death grip on my arm.
More scenery.
You just can't make this stuff up. Totally awesome.
It's a rare event when he picks sleep over iPad.
Don't drive off the road.
One of many hairpin turns.
Brake temperature check about 1/2-way down.
Looking out Mandie's window.
The lake in the distance.
Crystal Lake Reservoir panorama.
Crystal Lake Reservoir.
And, with that- we were leaving.
Dinner must not have impressed me, but Logan was like a kid in a candy store!

This is part 2 of a 3-part blog post of our time in Colorado Springs (links to part 2 and part 3). As usual, these blog entries contain a lot of pictures but there are even way more on Flickr (300+ photos and 6 videos - seriously).

1 comment:

  1. Doug,
    I'm using a Wilson cellular booster similar to your weBoost:
    To provide service inside the RV, I use an external antenna mounted to the top of my ladder:
    I don't travel with it on, but not a huge deal to stick it up there when needed.