To my friends who have been requesting this blog for a while now, I do apologize. You know how life runs away with you sometimes? These past four weeks has done that for me! So, per your requests, I am going to do my best to share my Colorado experience…hopefully you’ll walk (or click) away with a good idea of what my vacation in the Rockies was like.
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Thirty-six days ago I set out on a trip, an adventure of sorts. Some would have chosen to fly to their destination, but did I? No way. I drove the 1100+ miles to my destination which was in the southern portion of the state of Colorado in the Rocky Mountains (to be exact the Sangre de Cristo range). In the 18 hours it took me and my fellow companions to arrive at our destination, I had the opportunity to see much of this beautiful country that I am blessed to call home. A touch of Illinois farm country, on to the wooded hills of the Ozarks of Missouri, then into the prairie land of Kansas…I must stop here for a moment because one of my favorite parts of the trip was here in this state. The Flint Hills.
Any vision I had in my mind of the “Old West” as a child growing up was brought to life when I reached this national park of sorts. To try to help you picture the Flint Hills, think of this: miles upon miles upon miles of easy rolling hills covered in green grass dancing in the soft breeze with herds of cattle scattered here and there. Not a tree in sight, but oddly enough trees just wouldn’t be appropriate here. No, instead, as you look westward into this peaceful land you see the sun beginning to set…reds and oranges filling up the sky creating the most perfect sunset you have ever seen…now this, this is the old west that I dreamed of. It didn’t take much imagination on my part to picture a horse and rider (maybe two or three) riding atop one of those hills…heading to who knows where…maybe it is Marshall Dillon traveling to catch a outlaw, or Wyatt Eryp to bring in real American history traveling to avenge the death of his brother…who you picture does not matter...or instead of a horse and rider, picture a wagon train traveling west to the unknown…or even picture a band of Native American hunting bison for supper…each of these imaginings are quite fitting for the Flint Hills… …
Through the Flint Hills we drove, on to Dodge City. Have you ever been there? If you are a fan of the old West and old westerns, it is a must visit. I did my best, but sadly I could not find Marshall Dillon, Miss Kitty, Doc, Chester, or Festus anywhere…they may not have been seen, but they were there…to me they will always be engrained in Dodge. Forever a part of it.
On from Dodge we went…west toward our destination. Finally! We arrived in Colorado (at this point we were wondering if we’d ever find it…LOL!). On we drove west until finally we begin our ascent upward into the foothills of this majestic range…BREATHTAKING. It literally took my breath away. You can see pictures of the Rockies and think you understand just how huge and regal and magnificent they are, but you truly don’t get it until you stand in the valley below them looking up. Seeing the clouds hover at their peaks, the snow lining their caps, their ruggedness just overpowering you…my words cannot do them justice.
Up we went…up, up, up…9400 feet is where we found our destination. We climb out of the vehicles and look east. Wow. If I thought the view looking at the Rockies was amazing, nothing could prepare me for the view looking out while standing in the Rockies. To say you can see for miles is understatement. Views of the valleys below…you feel as though you are standing in Heaven looking out to the Earth below… …and your slightly breathless as well…not only from the view but from the fact that you are 9400 feet above sea level and the air has gotten thinner making it harder to breath.
Enough of the scenery you say? On to your adventures? Ok, ok, ok! I filled my days with not only enjoying the views and panoramic view but also with things such as hiking/climbing, traveling to enjoy other views, and yes, my friends I went rafting as well.
Can I just say that hiking at 9000+ feet is much harder than it is here at home at lower levels? I’ve done my fair share of hiking, but had never experienced an actual mountain hike. It does wear you out, but boy is it worth it! The sense of accomplishment you feel when you reach your destination is unparallel…at least for me at this point in my life it was. It was interesting to watch the landscape change as I went upward. Trees changed and became fewer and the rocks even became different. And the wind at the top…well let’s just say that there is nothing blocking it, lol! Blow ya over strong. Too cool my friends, just too cool. Did you ever play the game "king of the mountain" growing up? Well, I truly felt like a king of the mountain!
A few days we hopped in the car and ventured out to see new places and views. An abandoned town (caused by the moving of the railroad). Everything was just as it was left in the 1920s. Boarded up and closed with the same items inside. From desks to benches to chairs to curtains...everything just left. Talk about feeling like you've been transported back in time! Pretty interesting and at times a tad spooky...do you believe in ghosts? lol, good thing it was daylight when we were there!! We drove up different mountains to see new views, and on one of these mountains we came across some cascades flowing down the mountains--pretty darn cool! We stopped to take some pictures, and as we opened our doors the rush of the water was so loud we had to shout back and forth to be heard even when just standing a few feet away from each other… …can you imagine the power of the current of the water in those cascades? Truly awesome my friends. Just awesome.
And finally, the rafting on the Arkansas river. I had a blast, I really did...but I have to admit, I was a little let down. The river was down, which made the rafting easier and not as adventurous. But, nevertheless it was fun. There is something cool about traveling down a river in just a raft with paddles. Not on a boat with an engine and nice comfy seats, or in a canoe. No, the raft makes it a completely different experience. Somehow to me it makes it more dangerous and exciting. Gotta make sure to watch out for rocks and paddle the right way and be alert…fun my friends, fun. But my next rafting adventure has begun to form in my head…a repeat experience is in my future and the next time it is my hopes that the water levels are higher…I like challenges J
Sadly, our stay came to an end and we headed back down the mountains and east…towards home and reality. But what we had just experienced was something that would not soon be forgotten… …
…a longer blog than usual, but even so I had to scale myself back or I fear I might have written a book! This by far is in the top five of my favorite vacations ever…I’ve seen the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone and Mount Rushmore and New York City and the Badlands…and at this point I would rate my trip to the Rockies at #1. Being up there in the mountains away from the hustle and bustle o life just enjoying nature changed my perspective on a lot of things. When we get bogged down with work and constantly being on the going and doing this or that we tend to forget to stop and yes, smell the roses. We forget the simple things that bring peace and happiness…it somehow gets lost, and when we lose that what we get in return is stress and more stress…sometimes we need a remind to just slow down…no friends, life has been changed for me…for the better. J