In 2015 when we were planning for our first year on the road, I asked the children to give us some ideas of places they would like to see. They all agreed that they would love to go see where Focus on the Family records their Adventures in Odyssey show. Unfortunately, we were unable to make the trip the first year because of the weather. Colorado Springs was just too far north so, we decided to put it on the list for another time.
This year we decided to travel across the mid-US during the spring to see parts of the country that would be too cold to visit in the winter, including Colorado Springs. I had pre-booked our stay at Cheyenne Mountain State Park prior to us leaving Vancouver. Unfortunately, I missed the part on the reservation booking where it mentioned there would be an additional charge for the vehicles. So, we ended up not only paying for our camping fee ($30/night) but also an extra $14 per night for the two vehicles. We didn’t know this was going to be our big splurge this trip, but I guess it ended up that way! Oh well. We all really enjoyed having hook-ups after 12 days off-grid. We are assuming that the park is so pricey because of its proximity to Colorado Springs city center.
The campground is on the side of Cheyenne Mountain which is home to NORAD. It is also across from Fort Carson. Each day at 6:30am, the loudspeaker could be heard playing the Reveille and again at 5:30pm and then Taps at 10:00pm. I found it quite hilarious and it was a clear reminder that we were in a military town.
Our stay in Colorado Springs coincided with Easter. Like most kids, our children love looking for candy Easter morning. Since the weather was compatible, Jeremie and I woke early in the morning and wrapped our trailer and vehicles in seven different colours of yarn. Our neighbours must’ve thought we were crazy! When the children got up they were each given the end of one ball of yarn and asked to wind it up to get to their bag of candy which was hidden somewhere around the trailer. This rather silly tradition was first started years ago while we were still in our house. I would wind yarn all through our dining room and kitchen. Now we are in the trailer, we have to get a little more creative. ;-)
After the morning fun, we got ready and drove to Redrock Church (which we found after a rather random internet search). The worship music was awesome, and we were pleasantly surprised when the pastor announced we would be listening to Pastor Andy Stanley via video feed from Northpoint Church in Georgia. It turns out that Redrock Church is a satellite of Northpoint. Our home church in Peterborough also has affiliation with Northpoint (although not a satellite) and from time to time we will hear messages from Andy Stanley. It was a wonderful morning and it made us look forward to our return to our own home church even more.
On Monday we drove to the Focus on the Family headquarters and had a fantastic time touring the facility and exploring the Adventures in Odyssey children’s area. They all took a slide down the three story slide and had fun seeing all the memorabilia from the show. There was even a “Whit’s End” and the kids enjoyed a Raspberry Sunday and “Wodfamchocsod!” At the bookstore we purchased two Audio CD collections: “The Ultimate Road Trip” (no idea why we’d pick that!) and “For God & Country” (American historical fiction).
Tuesday we drove to Garden of the Gods. This city park was originally owned by a wealthy railroad man whose family, following his death, donated the land to Colorado Springs with the condition that it always remain a free park. Although the unique rock formations were similar to what we had seen in Utah, what made it interesting is that it doesn’t seem to fit with the landscape of Colorado Springs.
Jeremie really wanted to see if we could drive up to the summit of Pike’s Peak (elev. 14,000 ft.) and after speaking to some very positive volunteers in the Garden of the Gods visitor’s centre, we decided to give it a try. Well, we arrived at the entrance gate at the base of the mountain and learned that it is not a National Park (contrary to what we had been told). It was already 2:30pm and it would take one hour and 154 switchbacks to make it to the top. Once there, you were required to start making your decent by 4:00pm. That would leave us only a short time at the top. The road up was a toll road and it would cost us $42 dollars to drive it. Yikes! Well, I guess we will just be satisfied with a view from the bottom this time. Haha!
Tuesday night we were woken up by the wind. The trailer shook and it actually felt like it would blow over. Around 3am we noticed other rv’ers, whose units were being hit broadside by the wind, leaving for lower ground. But even though we had such a restless sleep, we still woke early in the morning and made the long drive to The Great Sand Dunes National Park three hours south west of where we were staying. We were leaving the area on Thursday morning, so we couldn’t really put it off. Although it was quite windy and a little bit chilly at the park’s elevation of 8,000 feet, it was well worth the drive. We all had an absolute blast.
We rented two sand boards from a nearby store and while we waited for Jeremie to pick them up, the children and I watched the film in the Park’s visitor centre and Wesley and Rosie completed their workbooks for their next Junior Ranger badges.
In order to reach the dunes from the visitor centre you have to drive down to a parking area and then wade through a shallow creek. It was interesting that walking through the creek on the way to the dunes, the water was absolutely freezing but, after several hours of playing in the hot sand, this is what happened on the way back!
In the warmer months, families bring bathing suits and the kids have a great time playing in the shallow water. There were outdoor showers and flush toilets at the parking area but unfortunately for Wesley and Rosie, they were not yet in operation for the season. Using a jug and water from the bathroom, we were able to get enough sand off the two littlest so they could at least get some dry shorts on before for the long drive back to Colorado Springs. I am so thankful that I threw those extra shorts in as a last minute addition that morning.
We had a great week in Colorado Springs. We appreciated the slower pace and look forward to our next adventure in Missouri!