Colorado or Bust Part 2

In my last post, I shared about the first part of our trip to Colorado. Only, at the end of the post, we were still in Kansas, Toto. Oakley, Kansas to be exact. Actually, inside of the Sonic in Oakley, and if you happen to visit that particular Sonic, please do not forget that the door to the women’s restroom does not lock.

Shortly after we arrived at Sonic, a couple of school buses pulled up. A school about an hour away had taken a field trip to a bowling alley and was stopping for ice cream before they headed back to their town. The kids, though loud, were surprisingly well behaved. Kudos to their teachers!

Speaking of their teachers…I owe one of them an apology. My daughter and I were headed to use the restroom, and the door to the restroom is deceptive: it looks like it’s an outer door to a restroom with multiple stalls. In reality, it is a single restroom. If you’ll remember, the door does not lock, and I happened to open the door a little while one of the teachers was inside. I’m so sorry!! Surprisingly, despite hearing the voices of multiple elementary age students outside, the door remained closed the entire time my daughter and I were inside the restroom.

My parents met us at the Sonic, and because of the number of stops my kids required, they beat us to the cabin. I really thought we were past the stopping every five minutes stage. Silly me!

On our first whole day in Colorado Springs, we visited the Garden of the Gods. We started out at the visitor’s center and crossed the street to the Garden. Little did I know, danger was waiting. Shortly after we made it to the other side of the road, my brother held me back. In front of me, right where I had been about to step, there was a tiny rattlesnake. It was the first rattlesnake I had ever seen. I was terrified and fascinated at the same time. It slithered away, into the grass, before I could get a picture. Ironically, we had hurried through the last half of Rock Town Trail two days earlier because I thought I heard something that sounded like a rattlesnake.

Garden of the Gods was beautiful. It was free. And…it was busy. If I had it to do over again, I would have brought another stroller or two, or maybe our wagon. I brought a double wrist leash for my older two kids, but they were less than pleased to be leashed, and my son sat down on the path, blocking traffic, and at one point turned around and ran into a lady. Better a lady than a snake!

The next day my husband, my sister, and two of my brothers attempted to climb Pike’s Peak. My sister is a travel nurse, and loves to adventure. She has hiked at several National Parks, so my husband and younger brother both expected my sister would be the most prepared for making it to the top.

They left before 6AM, and around 9:30AM, my husband called me saying he was slowing the rest of the group down and he was turning around. He said he was going to call my sister to let her know. When he said that, I assumed he needed to call her because she was so far ahead of everyone else. A few minutes later, my sister walked through my bedroom door announcing herself as a member of “The quitter’s club”. My sister and I drove back into Colorado Springs to pick up my husband from the parking lot they had tried and failed to park in. They both reported the hike to the trail from where they had parked was the hardest part of the hike.

The next day my mom got to cross an item off of her bucket list as they went white water rafting. My kids were younger than the required age to go rafting, so we got to do our own thing! After some searching, we landed on going to Cripple Creek to ride the train.

Our train was engine No. 3 and had been used to haul lead and zinc.

Cripple Creek was an interesting town, and as we learned on the train ride, it had an interesting history as well. The town had been a gold rush town, and half of the town had burned down one day, and within a few days, the other half burned down. As a result, all of the buildings were required to be built of brick rather than wood. Not surprisingly, the town also housed numerous houses of ill reput. We learned of a madame named Pearl de Vere whose family thought she was a seamstress, and when they learned of her true line of work upon her death at age 37, they disowned her and refused to provide a burial.

We saw mines that had produced millions of dollars worth of gold back in the 1890s, an active mine that employs 700 people and currently produces $500,000,000 in gold per year, and we saw some of the most beautiful views of our time in Colorado.

After the train, we decided to take a tour of the Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine. The mine claims to be the “only vertical shaft gold mine tour” in the nation. We descended 1000 ft on a small elevator with a total of four adults and four kids. It was tight, yet the other elevator had either six or eight adults!

Tight spot!

The tour showed us the progress mining equipment had made since the start of the mine, and we learned that the mine was the first mine claimed by a woman in Cripple Creek. At the end of the tour, we were each given a piece of gold ore. My youngest son fell asleep towards the middle of the tour, and amazingly, he stayed asleep through the demonstrations of the mining equipment! The sleepy little guy didn’t wake up until we returned to the surface at the end of the tour!

The next day was our last day in Colorado, and we all went to visit Seven Falls. Going into it, all I knew was that there were about 300 stairs, and there were waterfalls. My little family and I started out following my parents, but we all made a pitstop on the way, and somehow we ended up taking the lead. We followed my phone’s GPS to a parking lot, and I got a phone call from my mom asking why we turned. Their GPS was showing Seven Falls was still thirteen minutes away. We saw signs saying “Seven Falls Parking”, so my parents and sister and my brother and his family all drove to where we were. My dad pulled up next to us and asked, “Where are the waterfalls?” Despite my phone, and every search online, saying the address we were at was the correct address, we followed them to the location that was 13 minutes away. We arrived at Seven Springs and were informed there was no parking on site. Instead, there was a parking lot with shuttles to the falls.

We drove back to the parking lot we had originally been at, and waited for the shuttle.The first shuttle was full by the time we were at the front of the line, so we waited for the next. Once we reached Seven Falls, we made the hike up to the base of the falls. We had heard there was an elevator that took people to the top, and a few people in our group were leaning towards the elevator instead of the 300 stairs. Stubbornly, I decided I was going to take the stairs.

Surprisingly, my daughter also wanted to take the stairs. It had rained earlier that day, so the stairs and rails were wet, which made the trek up feel a little more dangerous than it would have otherwise. Despite the wetness, a slow three year old, and wearing my youngest in a sling, we made it to the top! My husband is not fond of heights, and was more comfortable sitting on a bench, away from the edge, so we rode the elevator back down.

A little farther, there was another set of stairs that ran parallel to the falls. There were more steps than the set we had climbed, and there was one less stopping point than the other set had. Five of us decided to make the second trek up to the top. It was a little strenuous, but I pushed myself when I passed older people who were on their way back down the stairs. If they could do it, I could too.

This is the view of the second set of stairs from the top of the first set of stairs.

At the top, my sister and I saw there was another trail that went farther up the mountain, and we wanted to hike it. Our six year old nephew wanted to stick with us, so the three of us headed up, past the stairs. It was beautiful. I couldn’t help but laugh at the fact that we were hiking up a mountain with a six year old. He did really well!

Also surprising was the fact that walking back down the stairs wasn’t as bad as I had feared! It took no time at all, and at no point did I feel like I was going to fall down, face forward. My calves were tight for a couple of days afterwards, but overall, I would recommend Seven Falls

We’ve been back home for a few days now, and though we liked our time in Colorado, ‘there’s no place like home.’ My four year old keeps asking if we’re ever going to go back the the cabin we stayed in, and my husband is making plans to reattempt Pike’s Peak. He wants to work on doing more cardio, and he’s decided he’ll take less water next time.

Since it seems we will be going back, is there anything we missed visiting that you would suggest we see next time? Let me know in the comments!