Saturday, August 27, 2011

About That Colorado Springs, Part Two (August 21 - 27)

Dear Family and Friends,

We are into our second week in Colorado Springs. We try to start each day with a bike ride that is truly memorable. The scenery is gorgeous but the hills and altitude offer lots of challenge, hence the memorable!

 The Tour interior has to be cleaned occasionally, so Sunday was that occasion. It took about an hour to clean our coach. That is one of the pluses of going from living in 3400 square feet with lots of things to dust to 350 square feet with very little to dust. Surprisingly the things in the coach that I thought were unnecessary (washer, dryer, dishwasher and fireplace) have turned out to be much appreciated and useful. Living in the Tour is a pleasure!

Everyday turns out to be an adventure! We never know who our neighbors will be, but they all turn out to be very social and there are great happy hours all most every night. It is truly educational to hear other people's opinions about the state of our nation. I must admit that I learn so much from these chats and feel that they are well balanced. Most of all, I am impressed with the patriotism of the Americans I am meeting.

Permit this proud mother to take a few moments to let you know that Michael Radcliff won the CAT 3 Arizona State Road Race Championship on Sunday.  His hard work and dedication to his sport culminated in this very special victory. Roger and I are thrilled for him. Yeah Michael!!

Michael at at the finish of the race in 110 degree heat!!!

Monday was the start of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge held here in Colorado, that luckily for us began in Colorado Springs. This professional cycling race lasts seven days with many mountain pass climbs. The prologue (start) of this race began in Garden of the Gods and ended downtown for a total of 5.2 miles. The 130 cyclists are sent out alone in one to two minute intervals. The winner of this time trial wears the yellow jersey for the next leg of the race. Roger and I stood a few feet from the finnish line and were so excited to watch this caliber of racing. Below are some pics that capture the moment.
Working on the finish line before the start of the race. We stood several yards behind the finish line.

A shot of the street that the cyclists came down before crossing the finish line. You can see Pikes Peak in the distance.

Cyclists do not get better than this. They wear special kit, helmets and use a different bike from their normal race days for the time trials.

On Tuesday morning, Roger spoke to an econ class about investing. He enjoyed seeing the Academy again from the inside, but this time he was standing on the other side of the lectern. 

After our longest bike ride yet on Wednesday morning (40 miles of hills and altitude), we headed out for a drive into the higher mountains of Woodland Park. We enjoyed watching the temperature plummet 20 degrees. On the way back into town, we stopped at a German deli that has been in the area for over 50 years. We saw so many things that reminded us of our years in Germany and Austria. Not only the food, but German newspapers and magazines were available for purchase.  Later in the evening we enjoyed eating bison at Ted's Place in Colorado Springs. This restaurant was new to us, but apparently there are more in other parts of the country. 

The rest of the week found us hiking, biking, running errands, and watching the televised pro cycling race in the afternoon. On Saturday we headed up to Denver to see our friends from Ft. Collins, John and Ann.  

Roger and Bear hiking on Falcon Trail

Bear takes a break on the hike.

Roger and Bear hiking on Chapel Overlook Trail.  The pointed pinnacles of the Chapel mark this  easily recognized landmark of the Academy.

Thank you for reading the blog. We appreciate your interest in our adventures.  Next week will find us in week three at the Academy.  In addition to more bike rides and hiking, we are looking forward to having my brother with us for the week and a visit from Stockton, Missouri friends. Saturday marks the first Academy football game and they play South Dakota. Thanks to our friends John and Ann, we will be in the stands.

Friday, August 19, 2011

About That Colorado Springs (August 14 - 20)

Dear Family and Friends,

We left the beautiful tall grass prairies and sunflower fields of Kansas for the hills of Colorado on Saturday.  Sunday found us in Limon, Colorado for one night with a 90 mile drive into Colorado Springs on Monday. We are staying at the Air Force Academy family camp for a month where Roger intends to have a better time playing in this area then he did as a cadet from 1966 until 1970.

Two paws on the wheel Bear, if you are going to drive the Tour.
Our RV is parked at the Family Camp that sits on the edge of the Rampart Range of the Rocky Mountains, among the pine trees. How wonderful it is to have cooler temps and the lovely smell of the pines. Summer rains happen in the late afternoon. The mornings are gorgeous with sunshine and a beautiful blue sky.

We are thrilled to be back on the bikes! Riding around the Academy gives us lots of hill practice at a much higher elevation.

This is our RV site for the month we are at the Academy! The stadium is across the street from us  and we intend to go to two football games.  GO FALCONS!!!

Wednesday found us going for an early morning cycling ride around the Academy. Later we took Bear and drove to Garden of the Gods for some easy hiking.  The rock formations are truly beautiful to see. Finally we drove to nearby Manitou Springs for lunch and a bit of shopping in the historic area.

After a bike ride on Thursday morning, we drove to Manitou Springs where we boarded the cog wheel train that took us to Pikes Peak. The peak is over 14,000 feet above Colorado Springs and the scenery is beautiful. 

Roger is ready to go!

The entire climb to the top had us in the pines and aspen trees.

A view from the top with Colorado Springs in the distance.

Sometimes I have to pinch myself to see if I am dreaming these gorgeous views!

Friday was spent checking out Ft Carson. It is one of the largest Army posts in the country. We had lots of walks with Bear and just generally enjoyed our week in Colorado Springs. This coming Monday, we head downtown to watch the finish of the prologue (start)  of the Tour of Colorado. This is a bicycle race that is drawing cycling's elite riders from all over the world. This tour takes place over several days in different parts of Colorado.

Roger and I thank you for reading the blog and sharing your thoughts with us. Next week will find us into our second week here at the Air Force Academy. 

Friday, August 12, 2011

About That "On The Road Again" - (August 4 - 13)

Dear Family and Friends,

Whoo Hoo, we are on the road again!!! How we have dreamed of this during the last two months!!! We learned a lot about ourselves during this period and are most grateful to have such dear family and friends who shared their homes with us during the time our Tour spent getting repaired at Camping World.

We left Camping World and Springfield, Missouri, on Thursday, August 4. The technicians ably put our beautiful home back together so that it looks like new. We will miss their continually positive attitudes when working in the 100 plus degree humid heat this summer.

We travelled to Parsons, Kansas, where we again enjoyed the hospitality of Roger's aunt and uncle. Their daughter Kathryn, joined us as well. Roger loved seeing the sites of his family's farm and hearing more stories from his Uncle Jud.

On Sunday, we drove to Lake Melvern near Topeka, where we intended to stay for a week. At this Army Corps of Engineers park we tried several sites before determining that there was too much slope to level the Tour.  Happily we found an RV park in nearby Lyndon that had level sites. The park was surrounded by soybean and corn fields, making it a beautiful place to live for a week.

Bear says it is time to get on the road again!

What a pleasure to fill up before setting out on our trip to Lake Melvern!

The Carnegie Library in Lyndon.

Roger and Bear posing in front of the Lyndon Court House.

Our RV Park was surrounded by soybean fields.

Bear taking himself for a walk!!!

Our Tour in the RV Park.

Truly "home sweet home."

On Tuesday, Roger, Bear and I drove thirty miles to Topeka, for a day of sightseeing. We enjoyed visiting the capital of Kansas, the Governor's Mansion, Old Prairie Village at Warde Meade and the site of Brown vs. The Board of Education. The following pictures give you an idea of our day.

The Kansas State Capital

The restoration project will take many years.
Corinthian Columns
Can you name the other two types of Greek columns???

The Governor's Mansion

Old Prairie Town Village is a collection of buildings that give you the idea of what it was like to live in small towns on the prairie of Kansas pre Civil War. This is a typical one room school house.

Roger and Bear on the front porch of an inn on the stagecoach route.

Topeka's Botanical Garden

Ionic Columns
Other than Corinthian and Ionic, can you name the third type of column?

Railroad Station

Monroe Elementary which played an important part in the 1954 landmark decision of the Supreme Court, allowing schools to be integrated and paving the way for the civil rights movement of the 1960's. The school houses a museum.

On Wednesday we journeyed to the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve located in the Flint Hills of Kansas. Bear decided to take a break from sightseeing and stay in the Tour. Today less than 4% of North America's tall grass prairie (think 8 - 10 feet high blue stem grass) is preserved with the help of the Nature Conservancy and National Park Service. This National Preserve is headquartered in the Spring Hill Ranch which was a working cattle ranch in the 1880s. 

We also visited the nearby town of Cottonwood Falls where we met KJ, Carolyn and their children, Ian and Kathryn for lunch. KJ is the grandson of Roger's aunt and uncle from Parsons. KJ is actually Father Lackey, an Episcopalian priest, whose parish is located in Emporia. It has been most gratifying to watch him grow from a baby to a very inspiring young man who with his family, makes a difference to many people.

Original barn at Spring Hill Ranch

Tallgrass Prairie (lack of rain finds the grass not as tall as usual)

Spring Hill Ranch

Cottonwood Falls Court House

Father Lackey, Ian, Kathryn is hiding, Carolyn and Roger

Thursday and Friday found us riding our bikes in the surrounding area. For us, it was such a thrill to get back on those bikes and see local areas at a slower pace. 

Cycling in Eisenhower State Park gets a two thumbs up from me.

Saturday begins our two day trip to Colorado Springs. We have had such a great time in this area of Kansas. Bear, Roger and I thank you for reading our blog.