Colorado, Camp Smalltalk, and Rhode Island

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Wednesday June 5th 2002

The vacation starts today

Everything is packed and all plants are watered. I am waiting for my "taxi" (my father) to the train-station.

Traveling today will be long: starting at 9:00 European time and arriving past 22:00 US Mountain time. 8 hours of time difference, 21 hours traveling in total.

I tried to sign up with a WiFi provider in the US yesterday to be able to connect easily to the Internet from different locations. It was the usual pick a user name and password thing, enter a contact address, but on the third registration page where you enter your credit card details they suddenly told you that you must have a billing address in the US. Duh!

Thursday June 6th 2002

Checking email in the library

I reached Colorado Springs yesterday evening without any big problems. The plane from Düsseldorf to Amsterdam was about 20 minutes late, so I had to hurry to the new gate. I just made it in time, but I was fearing that my checked luggage would not make it.

Due to some extra checks and some seating problems in the plane, we had to wait at the gate. This was enough time for the luggage to arrive. However, because of the late loading of the luggage we missed our scheduled slot for take-off and had to wait another half hour at the gate. The result of all this delay was that I did not have to kill 3 hours in Minnesota/St.Paul but only two.

The plane to Colorado Springs made up for all the delays somewhat by arriving 20 minutes early. After picking up the rental car I drove to the first motel, got a room and went to sleep right away.

Temperature at 8:00 in the morning here: 21 degrees Celsius, no clouds in the sky.

After my breakfast, I went to the public library to check my email and write this entry. So far I don't have any pictures to post.

Manitou cliff dwellings and Cripple Creek

I drove out of Colorado Springs on highway 24 West and visited the Anasazi cliff dwellings in Manitou Springs. These old Indian "houses" are preserved and open to the public since 1907. Next to the cliff dwellings a pueblo in the style of the Taos Pueblo Indians was built.

       

From there I went on to Cripple Creek, a town famous for the gold found there in the late 19th century. At the height of the Colorado gold rush, more than 13000 people lived in Cripple Creek and the town had 3 stock exchanges, more than fifty stockbrokers, 3 banks, and 68 saloons. The whole area is full of old gold mines.

   

I left Cripple Creek in the direction of Victor, another mining town, and then took a scenic byway, part of the Gold Belt tour, towards Cañon City. This byway was 30 miles (about 50 km) of unpaved road suitable only to cars shorter than 25 feet. The scenery was awesome!

Friday June 7th 2002

Buckskin Joe and the Royal Gorge

From Cañon City it is only a short drive to the Royal Gorge bridge, the "world's highest suspension bridge". On the way lies Buckskin Joe, an authentically restored frontier town where several Westerns were filmed. I recognized a sign on one of the houses from the Western Cat Ballou that was recently shown in Würselen at the movie breakfast. The photo shows the "world's most photographed bathtub" in which John Wayne, Lee Marvin, and others took a bath.

The Royal Gorge bridge is built over the "Grand Cañon of the Arkansas". This amazing building was completed in 1929 in only 7 months! Next to the bridge is with an angle of 45 degrees the worlds steepest incline railway that brings visitors down to the river.

The gorge is here over 350 m deep. The photo was taken through a gap in the planks of the bridge. The dark line is the shadow of the bridge.

Great Sand Dunes

The Great Sand Dunes in Colorado are the tallest sand dunes in North America. They are up to 230 m high and cover an area of 101 square kilometers. It is quite an experience to walk in the dunes for a while.

The dunes were created during the last 12000 years from sand that was carried down by the Rio Grande from the San Juan mountains. When the river changed its course the winds picked up the sand. The Sangre de Christo mountains form a barrier for the wind, trapping the sand in their shadow.

Despite the constantly blowing wind, the dunes are quite stable due to their moisture content from rain and snow. Only the surface dries out and can be blown away.

Saturday June 8th 2002

Taos Pueblo and Taos

From Alamosa, Colorado, I headed straight south into New Mexico. A few miles before the state border in Conejos, I visited Colorado's oldest church. It dates from 1806, not even 200 years old.

   

On the way to Taos I had to cross the Rio Grande at the Rio Grande gorge. It is similar to the Royal Gorge but not as deep.

The Taos pueblo is about 1000 years old. Individual families are responsible for the upkeeping of their adobe houses which need to be replastered every year or two depending on the weather. Originally, the entrances into the pueblo where via ladders through the roof. This was done as a protection against hostile tribes. In more recent times, doors where put in.

   

The town of Taos is full of art galleries, just like Santa Fe. The landscapes of New Mexico, the Enchanted Land, seems to inspire a lot of artists.

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Michael Prümm