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ON TO COLORADO

A Change in the Landscape

all seasons in one day 59 °F

Good Morning;

It was a bit of surprise to me to witness the change in topogaphy from New Mexico to southern Colorado. We drove through mountain passes for about 50 miles and when crossing the stateline the landscape became vast prairie extending for miles. One could just imagine our ancestors crossing these prairielands on the Santa Fe Trail. Then, coming upon the mountains of New Mexico just having crossed the mountains of Colorado, I am sure they were in a state of shock! Our travel day from Sante Fe to Colorado Springs was about 300 miles long and took about 5 1/2 hours in the 90* heat. Approaching Colorado Springs we admired the mountain ranges of Colorado. Pike's Peak is prominent and majestic at 14,100'. We learned at the Visitors Desk that the Cog Railway to the top of Pike's Peak is not operating due repairs. An alternative was to drive the winding 14 mi. gravel highway to the summit. We chose not to for the top 1/3 was obscured with cloud cover, not very conducive to sightseeing!

Sunday started by a visit to our campground laundromat at 0600. Early morning is a good time for doing laundry for it is quiet, no competition for the machines, and pleasant to read a book while waiting for the process to finish. The weather changed overnight with a temperature drop from 90* to 55* and dark ominous clouds hanging in the valley. Rain was predicted for the afternoon. Our KOA campground has a little diner to accommodate guests so breakfast was enjoyed there among other campers. A large campground of 209 sites, it is family-oriented with splash park, bubble park, wagon rides, horseshoes, playground, pool, etc. Very nice.

After lunch at a nice local spot we drove to the US Air Force Academy for a tour. The US Air Force was founded in 1947 after WWII. Before then the service branch was the US Army Air Corps in which my Father served during WWII. When a US Air Force Academy was proposed in the 1950's over 500 possible locations were considered. In 1955 the Academy was established at Lowry Air Force Base in Colorado, and when the campus was finished in 1958 it was moved here. The Academy covers 18,500 acres with an elevatioin of 7,258'. Its most famous feature is the Cadet Chapel with its 17 spires that reach 150' toward the sky, a truly spectacular site. The thin air bothered me with short-windedness as we climbed stairs and walked across acres of plaza. The Visitors Center showed an 18 minute film on cadet life and their 4 yr. journey toward becoming Second Lieutenants in the US Air Force. Interestingly, all cadets were required to ride aboard and fly airplane gliders as part of the program. Those with the desire and appitude toward flying are introduced to flight. All are required to have parachute training, as well, (just in case!!) As in all service academy programs academic excellence, sports, and leadership training are the rudiments of the university. I have had the honor to have visited West Point, NY (Army), Anapolis, MD (Navy), New London, CT (Coast Guard), Colorado Springs, CO (Air Force), with only King's Point, NY (Merchant Marine) yet on my bucket list to see. Each one is very proud of their traditions, of course and represent America's best.

Another curiosity visible in the distance is Cheyenne Mountain where N.O.R.A.D. or the North American Defence System in buried in its mountain tunnels. Top Secret, but one can see its entrance.

"Garden of the Gods Park" is an attraction of the area. A geological wonder created millions of years ago when the earth's plates shifted vertically it created majestic sandstone pinnacles jutting skyward. A Registered National Natural Landmark, we visited the Guest Center for a lesson on geology then drove through the winding roads of the park observing the spectacular scenery. Very interesting.

Posted by dixter 07:20 Archived in USA Tagged springs colorado

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