Friday, December 11, 2015

Colorado Springs, part 2 of 3

This is part 2 of a 3-part blog post of our time in Colorado Springs (links to part 1 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:

The next day, we met up with Uncle Don. He had a great little breakfast spot in mind for us. And he was right- very yummy!

This made me laugh and sigh- I was parked first AND my tailgate was down before the white car parked behind me.
Apparently we inhaled our food as I have no food pics, so here's their sign.
Leaving the neighborhood, none of us believed Paige when she said she saw a "huge deer".
After that, we drove by where the cog train departs for the trip up Pike's Peak. And we headed to Garden of the Gods. Don told us stories of taking his boys there when they were little. Mandie and I explored a bit. Paige's ankle was acting up and Logan wouldn't leave Don's side. They were fast buddies.

First look. Do you see the "Kissing Camels" formation?
So many different types of rock formations.
Best buddies.
Walk way.
This hotty keeps joining up with me!
I not not a technical climber, have gear, nor a permit. Sadly, sidewalks for me.
These folks had the right stuff.
That's a person in the middle, not a smudge on your screen. Click and see.
Don't know what they were looking for, but they were serious.
The Garden of the Gods visitor center was a beauty. We didn't take in the movie, but did check out the other exhibits. They did a real nice job.

Whatcha doin? People stuff.
The kids.
Afterwards, we went and checked out the Balanced Rock. Don and Logan stayed in the truck, mostly because Logan feel asleep. It's tough to be a kid, I guess! We hiked around the rock a bit- it was pretty wild to see. The middle part really is surprisingly small for such a large boulder on top of it.

Balanced Rock.
Balanced Pre-teen. (LOL, like that exists!)
This pretty lady keep following me around!
So artsy. And so smooth- many people have grabbed this branch.
My adorable kid.
We wrapped up with dinner at Carrabas and dessert at Dairy Queen where we watched the start of the lunar eclipse. After dropping Don off at his car, we went up to Cheyenne State Park to watch the disappearing and reappearing moon.

Both kids really enjoyed Don. Paige said he was her favorite part of Colorado Springs.
Eclipse from Dairy Queen (and a homeless guy).
Yep, that's my one almost acceptable eclipse photo.
The next day, Mandie caught up with new Fulltime Family friends, the Denkins, at the Ghost Town Museum. It seems like a tourist trap kind of place, but it sounds like the kids had a good time.

Annie (err... Logan) get yer gun.
At least she's using it right.
We, in fact, did NOT find millions of dollars while panning for gold.
 A couple of fun little purchases:

A storage box for my bumper for sewer accoutrements (elbow, wye, donut, and empty 2-gallon sized bags). Yes, it's held on with zip ties. Yes, they're UG resistant. Yes, I know you think I'm going to lose the box very quickly. (You'd be surprised, though- as of writing, I have 1,200 miles and no sign of any loosening of the 4 zip ties.)

Sewer stuff box. I pity the fool who steals from it.
And, speaking of donuts- staking claim is very important!

Donuts are serious business in the Setzer house.
And finally, channeling my inner teenage girl; I broke down and bought a selfie-stick. Having something for a full-family picture without having to depend on strangers (think back to my nice picture with someone's thumb in the corner). I feel like a total tool while using it, but I'll be danged if it really doesn't work well for what we intend.

Our first selfie.
We got together with Don again and this time we headed up to Cripple Creek. First, we went on a train ride. This is an old coal fired steam locomotive. They told us about all of the old mines in the area. They're mostly gold mines. They've capped off all that they know of, but people find new abandoned mines still. Apparently, after 100 years, they're incredibly dangerous. Whodda thunk it?

Coal fired steam engine.
Nose picking at its finest.
A rare "Mandie with her hair down" sighting.
Don't worry, we were sitting still.
Next up, we visited the Cripple Creek Visitor center while we waited for our tour time for the Molly Kathleen Mine Tour. Again, very well done and very informative of what the area used to be like. They even had a scale model of the Molly Kathleen mine that we would soon be descending 1,000' in a rickety little box. We ran out of time before really getting to fully digest everything that they had to offer.

Their facade is pretty cool.
Model of the Mollie Kathleen Mine.
World's tallest peaks.
The mine tour was nothing short of VERY COOL... if you could get past getting down into the mine. They load 8-12 people into the double decker cage. The lucky ones are in the bottom cage with the guide; he has a light and tells you about the mine as you go down. The unlucky ones are in the upper cage, are in the dark, and can only sort of hear that he is talking. We were lucky, thankfully!

Unlike Fight Club, the first rule of mining is NOT "Never talk about mining."
Clean is a bit of a misnomer...
It's like a cartoon moment in the making.
My gosh, we're gorgeous!
The cage wasn't full yet, the guide got in with us.
Once at the bottom, he took us on a tour through time from the early days of mining to the slightly more modern days of mining (up to about the 70s). First and foremost, the early days- they worked by candlelight! Two guys, one kneeling and holding the drilling iron next to his head and the other guy swinging a sledgehammer to hit it- all. by. candlelight. Oh hells to the no. About the same time, they used donkeys for pulling wagons and whatnot. Because of the dark and because it was such a hassle taking them up for fresh air, the miners would leave the donkeys down in the mines. The donkeys would eventually go blind. Otherwise, the machines that were eventually used were extraordinarily loud. Mandie read about this ahead of time and we took hunting/shooting ear muffs for the kids. Paige doesn't deal well with sharp loud noises (like fireworks) and Logan likes to be like sister. I won't lie- being macho on the first machine or two, even I plugged my ears for the later demonstrations. All told, the guide did a great job and the tour was very interesting. The cage ride, let's just call it the thrill ride portion of the day!

Models showing the manual drilling.
Headphones were invaluable for the kids.
Such a charmer.
Drilling machine.
He's a big guy - checking things out like the rest of us.
He took a liking to the guide.
My little miners.
After the mine tour, we headed into Cripple Creek. It's a little casino town, but has a handful of shops. Most of which were closed by that point on a Thursday afternoon! Fortunately, the candy shop was open and they made the zaniest fudge. Can you imagine a carrot cake fudge? No? Maybe sounds a little disgusting? IT WAS AMAZING. Literally tasted like carrot cake! Before we wrapped up for the day, we grabbed dinner at a casino restaurant that the candy shop keeper suggested. Not bad, not great. But we were hungry.

Cripple Creek sign & trolley.
Asses in the street.
Truffles were WONDERFUL as was the unpictured fudge!

This is part 2 of a 3-part blog post of our time in Colorado Springs (links to part 1 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).

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