Thursday, July 25, 2013

Go West, Day 10: Adventures in Colorado Springs

Correction: THIS has been my favorite day of the trip.

Remember when I said that I had wanted to move to Colorado when I was a teenager? Well, when we arrived in Denver, I appreciated its beauty… but I didn’t have that overwhelming love that I remember feeling when I had visited Colorado before. But today… oh, today. My first visit to the state had been to Colorado Springs, and this is where we spent our day… and now I remember why I wanted to leave Ohio behind.

I. LOVE. Colorado. Springs.

Our first stop was to the Focus on the Family headquarters. FOTF is a great ministry and does lots of great things, but we were there for one reason: a little town called Odyssey. “Odyssey?” you say. “I thought you were in Colorado Springs!” Oh yes, we were. But in the basement of FOTF, there’s a magical land called Odyssey. “Adventures in Odyssey” is a fantabulous radio program for kids. It started when I was a kid, but I didn’t ever really get “into” it. My kids, though, were introduced to it about four years ago, and we are AVID fans. We listen to it almost every day. If you have kids between the ages of 5 and 12 or so, PLEASE check it out. I really, really love it. I mean, my kids really love it. I mean, I don't want you to think that I would be so silly as to listen to it when my kids aren't with me... or that I have ever cried at an episode... or told my kids to "shush" so I could hear it better... that would be exactly what happened ridiculous.

If you’re not familiar with “Adventures in Odyssey”, some of these photos will not make sense. If you are, you’ll know just how cool some of this stuff is!!!!!!!

The Imagination Station! (aka, the elevator--so clever!)

Or if you take the stairs... they're all decorated too!...
Scenes from around Odyssey...

McAlister Park! 

Whit's Office...

They even had a "Little Theatre" (also from the show) with costumes, puppets, and a stage...

Lamb tried out being lots of different characters...
Monkey found Whit's vault on a scavenger hunt...
 The big guy himself: John Avery Whittaker (aka "Whit")
We had lunch at Whit’s End! I know, right?!?

And I had a “Wod Fam Choc Sod”—World Famous Chocolate Soda. It’s sort of an inside joke for AIO fans.
OH! And this was so exciting. Remember when I said that we started reading The Chronicles of Narnia together? Well, they had a Narnia Room! And check this out...

You walk through the wardrobe!
And yes, if you haven’t already guessed, I had as much fun in Odyssey as the kids.

Full disclosure: It wasn’t all fun and games. They had a toddler play area (called “Camp What-a-Nut”, for you fellow fans), and I took Roo for a little while.

A very little while. Apparently, Roo doesn’t play well with others. He did NOT wish to share his play area with anyone else. Also, he’s used to tackling his big brother and sister, and didn’t understand why he maybe shouldn’t do this to everyone. The other moms were understanding to a point, but it was obvious they felt it would be best if we didn’t try to grow his social skills there. I was mortified. We left.

And here was the best part of our trip to Odyssey:

We got to record our own episode of the show! WHAT?!? There are two speaking parts (requiring a 3rd grade reading level) and an additional opportunity for someone to do the special effects. You get a script, and the voices of Whit and Connie (the two main characters, for those of you not familiar with the show) are piped in as you record your parts. So Lamb and I got to be characters, and Monkey was our “Foley” (special effects).

It was SO. MUCH. FUN!!!!! And at the end, we got a CD of our episode!

When Mr. Fantastic finally dragged us all out of there, we went to another Colorado Springs gem: Garden of the Gods.


Is this place gorgeous or what? I came here the last time I visited Colorado Springs, too, but I appreciated it immensely more on this trip.

Mr. Fantastic is pointing to this...

...a formation called "Kissing Camels". Let me tell you how much I love my telephoto lens. That photo is completely untouched--no photoshopping or cropping or editing of any sort. Here's how far from us the formation really was...

There was a really nice couple with some cutie-pie pups who stopped to let our kids dote on their furbabies for a while.

Miss Lamb has developed a new way of being a total ham...

And my Lamb spotted the outline of an actual lamb in this formation. Can you see it?

Ummmmm... yeah, I had no idea that the sign behind me was there. I hadn't seen it at all.
Mr. Fantastic thought this was hilarious.

Balanced Rock. So cool!

I think we could have stayed there for hours, but it started to rain (Yay for the people of Colorado!), so we headed back to the truck. Within a few minutes, though, it stopped again, which led to our next adventure...

As we were driving to Colorado, we had debated whether or not to take the time to explore Pike’s Peak. Now that we were in Colorado Springs, it seemed too close to pass it up. There are two ways to get to the top, either on a cog railway or up a toll road. We decided to drive up in our truck.

At the toll station, the ranger gave us some tips for the drive, things like no A/C (too hard on the engine), stay in a low gear on the way back down, etc. We turned the air off and rolled down the windows. Although it was 87 degrees that day, the temperature at the top was just 59. Beautiful.

It was such a fantastic and beautiful trip! Now, friends, before I start posting photos of the trip up and down the mountain, there's something you need to know... I took a RIDICULOUS number of photos on this road. A HUGE amount. I have tried to go through and pick out my favorites. There are still a lot. They're all gorgeous. And none of them does justice to what it really looks like. But I'm posting them anyway. Deal with it.


This was a mile or so along the road (which is 19 miles long).

As soon as we saw this, Monkey started begging us to roll the windows up. Silly boy.


So... we stopped at a little gift shop, and Mr. Fantastic bought ice cream bars for himself and the two big kids. (I didn't want one.) Then he handed his to Roo and asked if he wanted a bite. Roo, of course, refused to return the ice cream to its original owner. Mr. Fantastic was flabbergasted and kept repeating, "He took my ice cream!" What did he expect? On what planet do you buy ice cream for two out of three kids? And do you really think you can hand ice cream to a toddler and expect him to give it BACK? Um, no. Roo quite enjoyed his borrowed ice cream bar, thankyouverymuch.

We're getting higher!

Check out those turns!



We kept seeing these little creatures. I have no idea what they are, but they were pretty darn cute.

It was chilly up there!


The view from (or of?) Pike's Peak inspired Katharine Lee Bates to write "America the Beautiful." 

There was a rainbow up there!!!! Gorgeous.

The railway & railcar...

We could see The Garden of the Gods from up there! Wow!

So, we all got altitude sickness up there. For real. Well, Roo seemed to be fine, but the rest of us were definitely affected. I thought poor Monkey was going to lose his lunch--or at least his ice cream bar. It was super cool up there, but we didn't stay for long because we were all feeling pretty sick.


Does this seem like an awesome day or what?!?
OK, so one funny story. About 2 miles up the highway, I told Lamb and Monkey that it was their job to make sure that Roo didn't throw anything--like his shoe--out the window as we drove up. (Remember, no A/C!) Lamb immediately said, "Um, Mommy? He's only wearing one shoe right now." Are you serious? I glanced quickly in the back seat and didn't see anything, but I figured it was back there somewhere. In the meantime, I decided to take off his remaining shoe, both of his braces, and his socks, and put them up front for safe keeping. :-) Welllllllllllllll... when we got back down to mile 2, we decided to keep an eye out for a little boy's shoe just in case... and sure enough! We found it, laying on the side of the road--just around the corner from the ranger station! The minute we were on that highway, that stinker tossed his shoe right on out! I can't believe he did that--or that we found it.
The day may have taken a bit of a downward turn on the way back to the RV. In our excitement to go up Pike's Peak, we didn't pay much attention to the time--or think about what time it would be when we came back down. By the time we got back around civilization, it was 8 PM (which would have been 10 PM at home). The kids were starving and EXHAUSTED, and my dear hubby and I were not far behind. I had given Roo a Nutrigrain bar in his car seat, and apparently he had decided to smush it into every crevice of his seat and body rather than eat it. It was not a pretty sight. And we had an hour drive back to the campground. So we did a quick run-through at McDonald's and settled in for a tense ride "home." By the time we got back, though, our tummies were full and we had relaxed and reminisced about the day enough to be happy again.
Speaking of exhausted, though, I need to get to bed. Another big day planned for tomorrow! 

1 comment:

Becca said...

Wow, beautiful!! I'm a little sad I didn't make it out of Denver when I was there for the conference last weekend - the mountains would have been fabulous to visit! Sorry about the altitude sickness - I saw several people who were sick at the conference. But how awesome that you found the missing shoe!