Monday 7/25 – Seven Falls, Cliff Dwellings, Pike’s Peak, Buena Vista

I decided not to spend the money and time to go into the Seven Falls fee area.  Seemed like a tourist trap and there’s plenty of falls I can see for free.  I drove through the state forest area and stopped to hike a couple of paths and saw some of the falls on the way.  It was a nice drive.  Then I went to see the Anasazi Cliff Dwellings in Manitou Springs.  That was very cool.  Since my return I’ve learn that these are replicas built for tourism.  The Anasazi’s never lived in Manitou Springs.  Later in my trip I saw Mesa Verde, which is the real thing, but I still enjoyed the replicas in Manitou Springs.  As I was leaving there, I saw a sign for Cave In The Winds and drove up to see what it was about.  Nice view of a huge canyon but when I got there, it too was a tourist trap.  They wanted a bunch of money and it was too crowded so I skipped the cave and got on to driving up to the top of Pike’s Peak.  Pike’s Peak is one of 54 “14ers” in Co.  That means they are over 14,000 ft high elevation.  It’s quite an experience to be up that high looking down on the huge Rocky Mountain Range.  It’s cold up there and a little bit hard to breathe.  I had acclimated myself to the altitude and drank plenty of water though and I didn’t get altitude sickness!  At the end of the trip to the summit and back down there is a mandatory brake check and I passed!  You have to use your gears and not ride your brakes, I guess. 

After that, I took Rt 24 west through the mountains that eventually turned into grasslands.  I think they call that area “The Parks.”  It’s the plains or prarielands of Co.  Flat and grassy with a few hills popping up here and there.  It’s pretty in it’s own way, but I prefer to be in the mountains.  I stopped at an old pioneer farm in Florissant Fossil Beds but I didn’t see any fossil excavating.  After Florissant the scenery changes and you start climbing back into the mountains.  I got a beautiful view of The Collegiate Peaks on the way into Buena Vista.  Buena Vista is appropriately named.  The town sits in a little valley with the most awesome view of the mountains on both sides and the Arkansas river flowing nearby.  (At least I think was the Arkansas.)  I got into town around 5:00 and went straight to a little bar in the downtown area.  I had a great time in that bar!  I was chatting with the bartender and her boyfriend who was sitting next to me.  They helped me plan a more scenic route towards Durango than the one I had planned.  They invited me to stay the night at their place and then a group of young good-looking rafting guides came in!  lol!  I drank some beers and played a couple of games of pool.  I really enjoyed my time in Buena Vista!  What a cool little town!

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