Last year I went on an auto trip to the state of Colorado. After crossing the flat nothingness of Kansas, we had our first glimpse of the Rocky Mountains, which seemed to spring up out of the plains like a blue mirage. Honey, who had never been west before, was so excited by the vision that he tried to take pictures and drive at the same time, running off the edge of the road onto the safety warning strip, which didn’t go over too well with me or the other passengers.
Arriving in Colorado Springs, Honey wanted to drive to the top of Pikes Peak. But I’ve done that before and I promised God that if I got down alive I would never go again, one promise I intend to keep. My sister felt the same way as sudden changes in altitude made her sick. So Honey decided to drive up by himself and leave us chickens behind to stew in the motel’s hot tub. This was fine with me as in my book no view is worth risking the dangerous mountain roads and sharp drop-offs — and I’m happy to be a chicken instead of an eagle.
I always thought Tennessee was “Old Rocky Top,” but Colorado has outdone us. We saw rocks and more rocks. One gigantic drive-through rock garden near Colorado Springs was called Garden of the Gods. We didn’t see any Gods there, only large red rocks with unusual shapes and long geological explanations. Different formations had different descriptive names, such as, Three Graces and Sleeping Giant. I liked the one called Kissing Camels. It took a little imagination, but if you squinted enough, it did almost look like two camels.
We saw many mountain bikers, hikers, rock climbers, and old people galore. I was wandering around on a trail taking pictures of various rocks and probably appeared lost. An old guy who looked about 90 was hiking with a group and stopped to ask me if I needed help. I must look older than I thought as the old man looked to me as if he should be the one needing help.
The next morning we went to Royal Gorge, which is a deep rock canyon made by the Arkansas River. It was something like the Grand Canyon except not as large. Like many scenic attractions, it has been commercialized. We rode a gondola over it, which was not too scary as it was all enclosed. There was also long suspension bridge across it which was 1250 feet high, the highest bridge in the U.S. It was rather long to walk across, so my crazy sister rented a golf cart and drove us across. “Woman at the wheel. Watch out,” we laughed. The most recent claim to fame for this particular amusement was that the entire place had burned down in a wildfire, everything burned except the bridge.
Later in the trip we visited another canyon called Black Canyon of the Gunnison, 2250 feet deep, no bridge. It was similar to Royal Gorge, except the rocks were gray. It too was rocky and deep with a river at the bottom. The road was along the canyon rim, not too close to the edge. It was interesting but very wild and remote. Unlike Royal Gorge, it is a National Park and has not (yet) been commercialized.
Now for the rant. Too many scenic places have been fenced off, made into commercial attractions, and admission is charged to see them. It seems to me that natural resources should belong to everyone and should not be developed as private property. Any charge should not exceed the reasonable cost of maintenance.
I have no idea how this can be accomplished as even our National Parks are threatened by entrepreneurs, greed and over development. Guess this is another one to write my congressman about.