Monday, August 29, 2016

Cheyenne Mountain State Park

We had to return to Colorado Springs to take care of some personal business and medical appointments. It seemed to be the perfect time to spend time camping at Cheyenne Mountain State Park. Each roomy site is on the hillside overlooking the city to the east and NORAD to the west. We wake each morning to revelry in the distance from Fort Carson and turkeys in the campground.

This area has received more rain than usual this year. The gambel oak (scrub oak) have an abundance of acorns and plenty of wild turkey to enjoy them. There were 14 in this group.

There are 21 miles of trails to hike or mountain bike in the mornings depending on the weather. The first day we were out by 7:30. The sun was shining and going to heat up. We wanted to get our important stuff, DMV and banking, done in the afternoon before the week got away from us. The next morning, after a stormy night, we got our hike in between rain drops.

Cheyenne Moutain and NORAD

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is a United States and Canada bi-national organization charged with the missions of aerospace warning and aerospace control for North America. Aerospace warning includes the detection, validation, and warning of attack against North America whether by aircraft, missiles, or space vehicles, through mutual support arrangements with other commands.

There are two 23-ton blast doors between the main tunnel and the office buildings complex. During the cold war, one door was always closed. That meant workers had to enter through the first door, wait in a middle room for the door to be closed and sealed, then wait for the second door to be opened.The doors were permanently opened in 1992.  However, they were closed for a few hours during the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 and they are closed once a day for testing to make sure they still work, just in case.

Aerospace control includes ensuring air sovereignty and air defense of the airspace of Canada and the United States. The renewal of the NORAD Agreement in May 2006 added a maritime warning mission, which entails a shared awareness and understanding of the activities conducted in U.S. and Canadian maritime approaches, maritime areas and internal waterways.

The trails were pretty peaceful in the mornings.


For every climb of 1000 feet of elevation the intensity of the sun increase by 4%. No wonder we both deal with skin cancer. 

We tried our hands at some geocaching but the first one was in poison ivy. We left the cache in place but enjoyed using the GPS.

Choke cherries
When we were girls, my sisters and I liked to see who could eat the most choke cherries. Aghhhh! I think Patty would win. But she was the tough one.

We missed riding with the Colorado Springs Cycle Club and were glad to have the chance to catch the Monday Dinner Ride and catch up with friends. Fortunately, the afternoon clouds rolled in, cooling us down for the ride. 

It was fun to catch up with a few friends and family between appointments. We could have spent much more time and were sad to miss some people we would have loved to spend time with. Colorado Springs has so much to offer.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Chatfield Resevior

It wasn't too difficult leaving Summit County, even if we did have a washer and dryer at our fingertips. I was excited to see my grandsons, Kyle and Tyler. They seem more grown up every time we see them. We headed out by 9:30 after packing and moving everything back into the trailer from the condo. The 90 mile drive was slow going up to Eisenhower Tunnel and then easy downhill to Chatfield. We were all setup by the time the rain and lightening started.

The view across the lake in the mornings from our campsite.
Slocum Cabin for the trappers of the 1800s along the bike path overlooking the lake.

One fat great horned owl

We started our bike ride to the Audubon Center with the intention of riding up Waterton Canyon. The Center's building was closed and a singletrack we hadn't ridden before was beaconing us. It was an easy rolling path along the North Platte River. At one point, I noticed we were going right through a thick patch that looked like poison ivy. I don't know if it was but we didn't get a rash. Thank goodness. 

Chatfield is such a nice place to spend some time with all its trails and close proximity to the city. We usually enjoy riding along the North Platte River into Denver or just stopping by the coffee shop at Hudson Gardens.  It would have been nice to spend more time in the area but a bit too warm for us and we had things to take care of in Colorado Springs.

Kyle is ready to hit the water.
It was a toasty day, perfect for some time on the lake. Kyle had a good time chasing minnows and riding on the paddleboard while his dad took him around.

Tyler loved the kayaking. I think his arms were tired after taking a few trips around the lake.

What a good weekend with a couple of good guys.

Adios Three Amigos!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

A condo in Breckenridge

Moving into a  condo for a week after living in our little trailer for the past year felt like moving into a mansion with all of this space and amenities. As we were packing up our things to move over, I thought this is more work than it is worth. Looks like I was wrong. I don't want a sticks an bricks yet but a week is pretty good. Now that much of our stuff is out of the trailer, we can take some time and do some good cleaning. We thought we were down to just what we needed but threw out more as we weeded thru our cabinets.

We were having our morning coffee when someone knocked at the door and "housekeeping". We passed except a couple of new towels.

It was a treat to just hang around the resort for a couple of days which  is ski in/ski out in the winter, taking our morning walk on the mountain along the stream before heading in to binge on the Olympics, internet and a little hot tub time.
McCullough Gulch Trail

We have our go to trails that we like while in Breckenridge. This time, we thought we would try a new one. Without much parking at the trailhead, we made sure to turn around to make our exit easy which was a good thing. People had parked in the turn around area causing anyone who drove to the end to have to backup along a big ledge. I guess they didn't want to walk to their hike.
The hike began at 10,800-feet on an old mining road and immediately ascends a steep grade through wildflowers and boulder fields.  The surrounding mountains would occasionally peek through the pines. As we climbed  above tree line the forest gave way to open tundra and expansive views of the valley. At 1.3 miles lies Upper Blue Reservoir at 12,000 feet, where we spotted mountain goats on ledges above us.

We must be acclimating to the altitude since my heart was not pounding in my ears and no sucking air this time as we passed an old mine site.


The short detour to White Falls Loop brought us right up to a set of steep waterfalls with various flowers lining the banks of the falls.

We made it to Upper Blue Reservoir and were glad we got an early start. There was a steady flow of people coming up the trail.


As nice as it has been staying in such a nice place, we feel  sad to see the continued development and destruction of so much of the natural area. As the new condos are added and increased number of people, we see the affects of the over use of the mountains. I do have to give the town of Breck credit for all of the efforts that have been made to clean up the mining destruction of the 1800s.
Historical Tourism
Who knew? We just like to learn about the history of the areas we visit. We learn so much from the docents. We visit Breckenridge for the outside activities often without thinking about the history here. This time we decided to visit some of the local museums and were pleasantly surprised.
We started at the Ski Museum which was a small room with plenty of things to look at and a good video of some of the people that helped start the skiing industry here.

The Barney Ford House was our favorite with his interesting story.  Barney L. Ford, an escaped slave who prospered and became a prominent entrepreneur and black civil right leader in Colorado. Born into slavery in 1822, Ford was instilled with the importance of learning to read by his mother, who inspired his lifelong quest for education.

Born in 1822 to a Virginia slave and a white plantation owner, Barney L. Ford grew up in South Carolina where he learned to read and write from another servant. Ford escaped slavery at age twenty-six when his master hired him out to work on a Mississippi riverboat. He simply walked off the boat in Quincy, Illinois and fled to Chicago when he was told that he was a free man as long as he was in Illinois which did not recognize slavery. He never returned to the South.

Edwin Carter came to Breckenridge in 1868 seeking gold and fortune, but his goals changed when he saw the devastation mining had on the environment and local wildlife. Carter became a taxidermist and collected Rocky Mountain animal specimens in his museum, which doubled as his home.
Baker's Tank Trail
This trail does not have a great deal of elevation gain if you start at the top and connect with the Mountain Pride Trail to an old mining community. Mountain Pride Trail begins on Baker's Tank Trail and was used historically to haul ore from the Mountain Pride Mine to the rail line along Boreas Pass. The out and back trail is about 5 miles round trip depending on which route you take.

The railroad would use the water from the stream going into the tank to make steam for its engine. The tank is at 11,100 feet and start of the trail if starting at the north end is 10,000 ft. We have enjoyed mountain biking this trail in the past but decided to walk this day.

Circle the Summit

This 18-mile, 1,100' climb ride around Lake Dillon has one significant climb and descent over Swan Mountain on the south side of the lake. A definite heart thumper. The clouds were building when Mike suggested riding to Keystone before we hit Swan Mountain. I used the clouds and possible thunderstorms as an excuse to cut it short. I hate lightening. You can see the rest of the climb ahead. We had just completed the first half.

Sapphire Point (the top of Swan Mountain)
When we don't have a hike or bike ride planned, we take a morning walk. Today, we were half way up Peak 9 before we realized how far we had walked without water or anything else. I guess, we  just get lost in our thoughts and conversation on such a great mountain. It made us a bit itchy to ski.

Cuenca, Ecuador

An Expat Destination The morning after returning to Quito we boarded an hour-long flight to Cuenca. Driving up the winding roads would have ...