Thursday, January 7, 2021

Exploring Colorado Springs

This morning we set out to explore Colorado Springs. We had a few detours along the way, but ended up having a great day. However, as the day started, I realized something significant about the group dynamics had changed. Three of the more extroverted members of our group flew home this morning, so we had a pretty quiet drive to start the day.

Our first stop was the post office. Yes, the post office. We had purchased our lift tickets for skiing on Friday from some friends who were unable to use them. The only difficulty was getting the tickets from Kansas and into our hands within a couple of days of us leaving Blacksburg. After striking out with both the Airbnbs, we decided to make use of US Post Office service called “general delivery.” You can have an item sent to a particular zip code with the street address of “General Delivery” and the person who it’s addressed to can pick it up at the local post office. However, when we stopped at the post office, they didn’t have it. Thankfully, it was only because the general delivery post office for this zip code was across town. We drove over there and picked up the envelope with no trouble. I love it when a plan comes together.

Next was Pike’s Peak, where we were told the top seven miles were currently closed due to ice, but were likely to be open later in the day. Deciding to wait it out, we made our way to Garden of the Gods. This park with beautiful large red rocks is owned by the city of Colorado Springs and is open free to the public, which was a stipulation of the family who donated the land the park consists of. We did a lot of walking and a little bit of climbing as we explored the park.

After that, we made two false starts with the US Olympic Training Center and US Air Force Academy (both closed to visitors due to COVID-19), before settling on the newly built US Olympic and Paralympic Museum. This was not our first choice due to the cost of admission and the likelihood we wouldn’t have time to do it justice, but it ended up being my favorite part of the day! This is not your grandparents’ museum. A large part of the experience is an RFID badge that you carry around that allows the exhibits to recognize you and tailor the information to your interests. The whole museum is very high-tech and engaging.

The final stop of the day was the 20 mile drive up Pikes Peak Parkway, gaining ~7,000 feet of elevation in the process. The roads had been cleared by the time we made it back to the mountain, and it was an amazing drive to the top. We stopped at several points along the way to explore and take pictures, and we noticed the elevation difference had a significant effect on our breathing. Most of the peak itself was under construction, but we managed to at least get a group photo.

A second divide (besides introvert/extrovert) has been evident in our group this week. A striking difference between “young” and “old.” Four of our group members on this trip are age 23 or younger, while the rest of us are… older than that (by a margin of several years). This has led to quite a few jokes about the “boomers” as the younger members of our fellowship don’t seem to have some of the same aches and pains the rest of us are experiencing. Kids these days.

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