Yesterday was a busy day for us. We started by wandering around Manitou Springs. It is a quaint little town on the outskirts of Colorado Springs full of little shops. The little shops are full of all sorts of gew-gaws and trinkets. I saw lots of things I would love to have. But then I thought of how many pieces they would be in after a week around Topper. 🙄 So I settled for just a couple of Topper-safe goodies. We had a lite lunch at the Heart of Jerusalem cafe.
After lunch we went to the Cliff Dwellings. These cliff dwellings are not actually original to the area, they are replicas of some from the southwestern part of the state; but interesting nonetheless. The Anastazi who built the cliff dwellings never occupied this area.
After that little excusion we boarded the Cog Railway that runs from Manitou Springs to the top of Pikes Peak. We had been to the top before, but we had never ridden a Cog Railway. The “train” is two cars built in Switzerland each powered by diesel engines that drive the cog wheels up and down the track. The cog rails are centered between two standard gauge rails. The outer rails are just there to keep the train cars from tipping over. There is a driver position in each car; one on the uphill end and one on the downhill end. The train never turns around; it simply goes up and down the mountain with the engineer driving from the uphill car going up and the downhill car going down. Its speed is about 10 miles an hour both ways. The whole trip, up and down with about a half hour at the top to take pictures and buy souvenirs is about 4 hours.
We had made our reservations online and didn’t get to chose our seats. Imagine our thrill at finding out we had front seats on the downhill car!!! WHEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!! The views were great and the conductor was informative and entertaining. The trees and rock formations were beautiful. We also saw lots of birds; a small herd of bighorn sheep just above the timberline; and some furry little marmots scurrying among the rocks near the top.
The altitude of the peak is 14,115 feet above sea level. The air was thin, and we were a bit woozy. But the views at the top were spectacular. We had gorgeous weather, brilliant blue skies, and could see for literally hundreds of miles.
The trip was kind of rough on Richard, so today we took it easy. I did laundry in the morning. In the afternoon we went to the Museum of Mining and Industry. They have some well maintained old mining equipment and we got to watch several great big engines run for a couple of minutes each. They were very impressive!! They flywheel on one of them looked to be about 16 feet in diameter.
Tomorrow we head for Cripple Creek and Victor.