The bus backfired and sputtered up the foothills of the Rockies as we neared Colorado Springs. Our first stop: Garden of the Gods. I saw giant red fins in the distance and squealed with excitement as we neared our first mountain destination. It was mid-afternoon as we approached the park, so we stopped at the visitor’s center across the street to learn about these alien-like rock formations. Conclusion: sandstone does some pretty amazing stuff. Time to explore! we headed to the park to play on some big red rocks. Giant fins and “No Climbing” signs seemed be be everywhere I looked. I found myself thinking that this was just the beginning of a wonderful summer. After we felt satisfied jumping on every rock in the park, we decided it was time to find a place to sleep.
So we headed out of town and into Pike National Forest where we would stay the night. The sputtering didn’t stop, though and we made a judgment call to pull over on the side of a curvy highway until the traffic slowed down a bit. Our luck prevailed again! Just as we were hanging out upstairs, Conrad spotted the tail lights of a fellow Westfalia. Jake introduced himself and offered to help us out since he noticed the engine flap was open. He gave us a great recommendation about where to camp for the night and sent us on our way. Dusk was falling over the mountains as we chugged uphill.
“Hey look at those rocks!” we seemed to be yelling in unison with our hands pointing out of the windows.
We became more and more nervous as the bus tried to make it up the mountains in the National Forest. Once we pulled into the campground, we realized it was all full. Of course, it’s Fourth of July weekend, I thought. So we climbed further up the road and pulled off in a clearing next to another young couple who had made camp there for the night. As we soon found out, the bus is very fragile and things break pretty easily. Just as we pulled in, the driver’s side window fell all the way down and wouldn’t roll up again. Time to take the door panel off. Without the right tools to fix it, we resorted to taping a plastic bag to the frame so the bugs and rain wouldn’t get in. But, we figured that we may as well explore the campsite and not let it bring us down. It had a beautiful path that lead to a meadow of wildflowers and big boulders. Conrad played on the rocks below while I took in the view in front of us. At that point, the PB&J lunches had worn off and we started to get hangry (anger due to hunger). We hurried inside to make dinner just as rain poured over head. The rain brought more cool weather and I tried to keep the feeling in my toes as I drifted in to sleep.
Morning came around and we laid in bed for a few hours more than usual. It was cold and damp and we really needed the sleep. I eventually mustered up the energy to roll out my yoga mat and stretch just as the morning clouds began to burn off. I heard the leaves flutter around me as my toes wiggled in the damp earth and I was happy. Later, when we had the bus packed and ready to go for the day, we found ourselves stuck for a few hours. It had gotten pretty cold overnight and Conrad was worried that the battery was shot. We were lucky again because few hours later, we were on our way to Pike’s Peak.
It was a warm afternoon as we hung out in the parking lot to get aboard the train up to Pike’s Peak. Conrad was frustrated because he couldn’t get the window back up, but I reassured him that it would be alright once we got to our friends in Boulder. We saw some hikers come down off Manitou Incline, which is 2,744 steps gaining 2,000 ft elevation. Then it was time to board the red trolley to the top of America’s Mountain. We sat across from a sweet couple originally from India, but now living in Texas. The train twisted and turned up the mountains as we climbed to our destination. During some parts, we were able to spot the road where cars race to the top (and even some bikers/runners).
“Why didn’t I bring a jacket?” I thought as I stepped off the train into the 30 degree air (wearing shorts & a tank top). I guess our luck finally ran dry because we stepped to the edge of the mountain, expecting to see thousands of miles ahead of us. Rather, we stood in the middle of a cloud, seeming as if we may fall off the edge of the earth. I think I liked it better.
We made our decent back down the mountain with grumbling tummies and sleepy eyes. The cool night air made for a perfect drive, though, as we started to battle more inclines to drive north towards Boulder. A beautiful sunset and a few hours later, we finally pulled into our friend’s home with the promise of a real shower and a warm bed to sleep in for a few nights as we celebrate the holiday weekend.