Camp Smalltalk in Colorado Springs

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Sunday June 9th 2002

Glen Eyrie

I stayed over night in Santa Fe and had to drive back to Colorado Springs on Sunday. I took the easy and fast way via Interstate 25. There are not many interesting things along this way, though. One of them is this vulcanic outcrop called Huerfano Butte (the "orphan" in Spanish) that has guided travellers in this area for centuries.

I arrived at the Glen Eyrie conference center around 16:30, registered, and explored the grounds a little bit. Camp Smalltalk has nearly exclusive use of the Bighorn Lodge, which is at the far end of the grounds. About 100 m from the lodge you are out in the wild among amazing rock formations. In the morning and evening you can see deer right outside the lodge. We have all the meals in the Glen Eyrie castle.

   

If you are interested in what is happening here at Camp Smalltalk, read the trip reports by John McIntosh.

Monday June 10th 2002

Garden of the Gods

On Monday morning about 10 campers met at 5:00 in the morning for a short hike to the Garden of the Gods, just south of Glen Eyrie, to see the sun rise. When we set out, there was enough light to see where to put your foot. It took about 30 minutes to reach the Garden of the Gods.

We spent quite some time walking between the rock formations that looked beautiful in the light of the rising sun. Then we had to head back for breakfast at 7:30 in the castle.

       

If you are interested in what happened at Camp Smalltalk, read the report. It describes our struggle to get a shared modem connection to the Internet running.

Tuesday June 11th 2002

Echo Canon Trail

Today after lunch, we decided to go for a short walk. We started from the parking lot for the Bighorn lodge up the Echo Canon trail. It started out as a well recognizable trail but soon got smaller. Suddenly we came to a fork in the trail with a sign in the middle saying "Echo Canon Trail" that did not point in any particular direction. We decided to take the left path.

Soon the trail became smaller, steeper, and more overgrown. It looked more like a dry creek, making us wonder whether we were on a trail at all. We continued upwards and came to a point where we actually had to scramble over some rocks and up a steep incline. It was dusty, but the view was well worth it.

When we reached the top of the ledge we found a toilet without a door facing downwards. A little further were other buildings and a road was coming up from the other side.

We followed the road downwards for about 100 m and suddenly saw a trail going roughly in the direction we wanted to go. We took it and soon found a sign "Echo Canon Trail". Now we knew that the path we had taken upwards was not the trail we intended to take! Further down, we came upon a nice lookout. From there, we could see the way we climbed up and the toilet on the ledge. Turning around, we could look down toward the parking lot, Bighorn lodge, and the Glen Eyrie castle. Only the roofs of the buildings were visible between the trees, though.

   

Following the trail further down, we soon came back to the fork with the sign in the middle, this time from the right.

Wednesday June 12th 2002

Another hike

After breakfast, Martin, David, and I got together for a short session at the whiteboard to discuss how to create our image-file from the existing data structures. We soon agreed on a design, and knowing how to continue our work, we went out for another hike around Fire Road with a look-out to the Garden of the Gods.

According to the map we consulted, the trail should have turned off to the right not too far from the starting point, but we never found this fork. Instead, it soon brought us straight to the Garden of the Gods, though on a different way than on Monday. This was not what we intended to do, so we kept looking for a different way back.

We thought we could see a trail further up and thus headed straight up the mountain side through the bushes. This was very interesting with lots of nice views of the Garden of the Gods.

       

Wearing sandals, one had to be very careful where to place the feet. There were lots of little cacti around which made this a prickly experience.

What we thought to be a trail wasn't and we continued the bushwhacking in the general direction of the castle as it was getting closer to lunch time. We had already missed the castle tour at 11:00. Finally we reached a trail and followed it to Fire Road and on to the castle. We were quite thirsty and hungry and took advantage of being the first at lunch.

Friday June 14th 2002

Camp Smalltalk ends

Friday was the last day of Camp Smalltalk. After breakfast, people started to pack up and leave, even though lunch was our last meal at Glen Eyrie. We lost our server and thus our Internet connection around 11:30.

Our little team kept working until the early afternoon, when David left. Martin's flight back was on Saturday and so was my flight to Boston. I had offered him a ride to the motel where he had a reservation. We kept working in the castle until 19:00 and then went to the car.

On the way back across the lawns, we spotted once again the wild turkeys we had seen earlier in the week. This time, they seemed to be fighting. Two of them where blowing themselves up to an impressive size and were chasing a third one.

The way to the motel lead us along the Garden of the Gods and we decided to drive a last time through the park. At the motel, I took a room, too, then Martin and I headed out to have dinner at a Mexican restaurant. Afterwards, we exchanged a few files and pictures, and went to sleep.

Saturday June 15th 2002

Seven Falls

My flight to Boston was only at 14:10, so I had the whole morning to go out and see something. I wanted to go to Seven Falls, the "grandest mile of scenery in Colorado". It is named after the seven connected waterfalls :-)

On the way in through South Cheyenne Cañon are many rock formations with interesting names, such as Eagle's Cliff, Devil's Slide, and Pillars of Hercules.

   

The cañon is very narrow and all parking is along the left side in numbered parking spots. When I arrived, I got number 17, high up the cañon, only a few meters away from the falls.

The falls can be viewed best from the "Eagle's nest" high up on the mountain side. One can either take 185 steps up, or use the mountain elevator. I took the steps.

   

Other stairs with a total of 224 steps besides the falls bring you to the top where you can take two different trails further up the mountains. One is called the "Inspiration point trail" which leads to author Helen Hunt's favorite spot which inspired her to write "Ramona". I have no idea how good her books are, but this place suggested that she's a famous author. Anyway, I can understand why this place inspired her. The view was great.

Close to the inspiration point was a fir that was damaged by lightning two years ago. A big, 3 m long splinter was displayed close by. Other splinters had been found up to 50 m away!

   

The other trail leads to the Midnight Falls, another small waterfall. Along this trail various plants where described on information signs and one could see a clearing where a storm had uprooted several trees 5 years ago. Now a lot of new plants and bushes are growing there. This kind of natural damage helps to keep the forest healthy.

Airport security

In the Minnesota/St. Paul airport people were randomly chosen for an extra security check prior to boarding the plane. This included an inspection of the carry-ons and a body check with a metal detector. Back then, I did not pay too much attention to the procedure. By the time I boarded the plane, enough people (about ten per plane) had been checked. In Colorado Springs, however, I was told already during check-in that I was among the lucky ones to have all their luggage inspected.

The airline assistant took my luggage and accompanied me to one of the security officials to inspect my checked-in luggage. The official told me he had to unpack my suitcase and check everything for anything unusual. While he was busy unpacking, he asked where I was from. He thought my accent sounded Australian. I told him I am from Germany, and he started to talk in German. He told me he had not many opportunities to use the German he had learned more than 25 years ago and thought he had lost quite a bit. I don't know how much he knew, but his German was still pretty good. When he was done with unpacking and checking my suitcase, he told me that he also had to pack everything back in and that I was not allowed to touch it because I had not been cleared. I could however tell him how to pack it. I noticed that he had unpacked it in such a way that he could put everything back in more or less the same way it had been packed originally. So I told him to go ahead, as long as everything would fit back in. Finally he made the proper marks on my boarding pass that the airline assistant was still holding onto, handed me the luggage and the boarding pass, and wished me a good trip.

I spent the hour until boarding time sitting at the gate listening to music. When it was time to board the plane, my carry-on had to be inspected and I had to be searched. While one security official was opening my backpack and inspecting it, another was using a hand-held metal detector on me. I even had to take off my shoes, and the inside of the waistband on my jeans was inspected, too. After this procedure I was finally allowed to board the plane.

The nice thing was, that I had seats in first class all the way to Boston, probably because of my frequent flyer card. But I can also imagine the airline doing that as compensation for the hassle of checking my luggage. That way they could demonstrate that even first class passengers are subject to these security checks, but could avoid inconveniencing the paying first class passengers. Anyway, it is not a big deal, even though it may sound complicated, and the two flights to Boston were quite pleasant.

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Michael Prümm