Hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend, but most importantly, were able to reflect on those who have served and lost their lives for our beautiful country!
And speaking of our beautiful country, I am so excited to share with you my weekend! I don’t even know where to begin. First of all, if you’ve been following the nation’s forecast, you’ve probably seen that the Midwestern and southern states have been FLOODED with an abundance of rain droplets. It has been so bad, that roads and neighborhoods have been blocked off. Oh, and not to mention all the tornado watches and warnings we’ve been receiving. Yikes! Thankfully though, nothing too serious where I live in Oklahoma. My boyfriend and I were also very blessed to have been able to escape from all the depressing weather for the Memorial Day weekend! Although, surprise surprise, we did encounter some rain and snow on our little getaway…. but you will soon find out that it was totally worth it!
When I first moved to Oklahoma, I had discovered that there was a military base located in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Since my boyfriend is in the military, all I could imagine was being able to live there, surrounded by the scenic view of about a trillion mountains. Unfortunately, living there isn’t in the cards for us right now, but who knows, maybe someday. Post researching and googling pictures of Colorado Springs, my passion for exploring the state grew tremendously. For a year and a half, I begged and insisted to my boyfriend that we should go, but there hadn’t really been a good time to go with our busy schedules and my former, low income job. Turns out, we couldn’t have picked a better weekend to go than the one we did.
Prior to making the trip, I knew for sure, that I wanted to visit a mountain. I went on TripAdvisor and found a few places and hotels to stay at. We left Friday around 5:30 pm because I had to work. The car was fueled up, bags were packed, and we were on our way! The drive from Oklahoma to Colorado was about 8-9 hours for us, but I decided that we would drive 5 hours halfway to New Mexico and then drive the last 3 1/2 hours to Colorado Saturday morning. We arrived in a very small town in New Mexico called, Clayton. When I say small, I mean one gas station, 2 hotels, and a few houses. We stayed at a Best Western hotel, which was perfect for one night. If you’ve ever been to New Mexico, you know how stunning the architecture is there! We cozied up in our bed and rested for a full 7 hours to wake up at around 5 am to finish the drive to Colorado. Before venturing off, we enjoyed a lovely, complimentary breakfast by the hotel; scrambled eggs wrapped in warm tortillas, topped with mouthwatering jalapeño peppers, salsa, and cheese. That is breakfast New Mexico style!
We were absolutely graced by the breathtaking scenic views of the drive to Colorado. All thanks to my boyfriend who drove the rest of the way, so that I could snap photos of the view, as well as, take in the stunning scenery of endless mountains! After driving through the flat lands of Oklahoma and Texas, I ensured my boyfriend that the scenery would get much better as we entered New Mexico and Colorado… And that it did!
Since we couldn’t check into our hotel until 3, I decided our first stop would be at Pikes Peak Mountain. I had found this destination on TripAdvisor. It was listed top ten of places to visit in Colorado. It is located in a town called, Cascade, which is only about 15 minutes from Colorado Springs. Rising from the Rocky Mountains, Pikes Peak elevates at about 14,000 feet. It is North America’s most visited mountain and is known as America’s mountain. Pikes Peak was also the inspiration for the words of the song, “America the Beautiful.” You can hike the mountain, but it would take about 2 days to do it and you would have to camp out over night. I would have totally done that if we had more time and the weather wasn’t as chilly. The other alternative is to drive up the mountain, which offers many spots to park and overlook the scenery. However, we were only able to get up to 11,300 ft because we were informed that it was still snowing at the very top, but still, very high up! We were so high up in the mountain that I could feel the pressure in my head, my ears were popping, and my eyes felt like they were bulging out of their sockets. Ok, it wasn’t really that dramatic though.
Along the drive up, we stopped at a few scenic views to take photos. As we drove further up, we began to see snow, and before we knew it, we were driving through a winter wonderland. We were so high up that it felt as though we were in the clouds. It was snowing so hard and it was so foggy that all you could see were white clouds and dusts of the glistening snow. It was gorgeous. As we reached the highest point we could go, we turned around and made our way back down the mountain. As the snow disappeared on our way down, then came some rain, and then sunshine. I said to my boyfriend that we had just encountered 3 types of weather on this mountain: snow, rain, and sunshine. Oh but it was just so spectacular to have seen so many impressive and awe-inspiring views from the mountain. By the way, I cannot express enough that these pictures do not do any of it justice! Truly, the best way to capture a moment is not by taking a picture, but to allow yourself to absorb the beauty of what you are seeing so that it becomes embedded in your head to last you the rest of your life! There’s nothing I love more than to take photos, but sometimes I have to stop myself, so that I can soak in what it is I’m seeing.
After a breathtaking hour of exploring the mountain, we headed over to our hotel to check in. We stayed at La Quinta Inn Garden of the Gods, which offered a lovely view of Pikes Peak, along with the views of many other mountains. We rested for a bit, but were starving, so we decided it was time for some lunch! We headed into Old Colorado City, but all the roads were blocked off because of an event that was going on. We would have walked, but by that time, it was down pouring rain, so instead, we went to a cute little Mediterranean café right next to our hotel, where we wined and dined, indulging in some of the most delicious foods.
After inhaling our tasty meal, we went back to our hotel and rested some more. I think we were a little exhausted from having woken up so early. I suggested to my boyfriend that we should take it easy tonight that way we can see the rest of the places the next day. That being said, we went back to the Mediterranean café, since it was within walking distance to our hotel, and enjoyed a few drinks, flavor bursting appetizers and a decadent chocolate cake dessert.
It was so nice to sleep in the next morning and by sleep in, I mean 6:30am. I guess you can say our early wake ups for work have set in, but it was nice just to take our time getting ready. We were out the door by 8:00 and headed to Old Colorado City for breakfast. Old Colorado City is located in Colorado Springs. It is basically the downtown, featuring art galleries, boutiques, and restaurants. Come to find out, there was a farmer’s market while we were there, where vendors laid out items and food to sell. We enjoyed a mouthwatering breakfast at Bon Ton’s Café, which is nestled right in the center of the district. After breakfast, we walked around the downtown and explored the market. There were many people out despite the over cast. It wasn’t raining, so that was good!
We left Old Colorado City and headed to our next destination. One of my favorite things about driving around was being surrounded by endless mountains. Everywhere we went, the mountains would follow us. It felt as though we were being hugged by them because they were all around us and it was all up and down, up and down driving through Colorado.Our next destination was the Garden of the Gods. Garden of the Gods consists of red rock formations that were created along a natural fault line millions of years ago. The name derives from two explorers who discovered the garden. One of the explorers suggested that it would be a great place for a “beer garden” and the other explorer suggested it be a great place for the gods to assemble, hence, the Garden of the Gods. This national landmark is located in Colorado Springs and is up on a mountain. We drove up to where the rocks were and stopped to get out to look at them. There were so many tourists climbing on the rocks to take photos, and of course, I was right along with them! It was so fascinating to see the rocks balancing on one another. Although, I found out later, that some of these rocks have been cemented together in place to avoid collapsing. The highlight of this adventure was announcing our engagement to all our friends and family! Yes, my boyfriend of almost 4 years proposed to me there. It was truly a very special moment and one I’ll never forget.
After visiting the garden, my boyfriend suggested we go check out the Cave of the Winds, located 10 minutes away from the garden. Cave of the Winds sits in the Pikes Peak region. We didn’t necessarily go into any caves, but it is located at the top of a mountain, where we had to drive to get to the top. From there, we could see Pikes Peak, Cheyenne mountain, and many others. It was to die for! We parked and got out to walk around and made our way towards the caves, where there were gift shops, zip lining, and bungie chair jumping! Let me tell you, we watched as a couple bungie chair jumped from a 5,000 ft drop, and it was stomach dropping! Oh the adrenaline! It looked like so much fun! Everyone watching them, let out a gasp as the couple took the plunge. The cost to do it was $50 per person. I tried to get my boyfriend to do it, but he refused. Bungie chair jumping is basically like bungie jumping, only you are strapped in a chair. I didn’t want to do it by myself. There was also zip lining, which regretfully, I didn’t do. It was only $20. If you love heights as much as I do and the adrenaline that builds up inside you when taking the plunge from a 5,000 ft drop, then I definitely recommend the above!
We stood on a balcony, overlooking all of mother nature’s beauty; the mountains, the tall pine trees, the red rock walls pasted to the mountains, and the heavenly scent of fresh air and pine. Where we stood, it felt as though we were being devoured by the circle of mountains around us. It was simply delightful. I’ll never forget a particular moment before we left the mountain: On the way down, we stopped at a little spot where we could see all of Colorado Springs. If you look closely at the photos, you’ll notice that many houses sit on top of the mountains and all around. There were a few rocks to sit on where we had stopped. My boyfriend let our dog run around, I stepped out of the car, no phone in hand to take any last photos, and walked over to sit on a rock. I said to my boyfriend, “Hold on, I want to take this all in one last time before we leave.” I sat there in silence, allowing myself to engrave the scenic and tranquil moment in my head, as the cool breeze swept my hair back. There were no sounds, only those of birds… And the occasional growl from my miniature schnauzer, but not even that could disturb the serene moment.
Well, I can’t say I was very thrilled to leave Colorado. As I sit here writing and sipping my hot cup of coffee, I can still envision the mountains in my head. It’s not easy to leave a mountainous state and coming back to flatland state. It was saddening to see the mountains begin to disappear as we drove into Texas and Oklahoma. If I haven’t already mentioned before, my happy place is at the top of any mountain. I like to feel as though I’m on top of the world!
The last photo I took of our trip, was the sun setting behind us as we drove through Texas. It was the perfect ending to our weekend getaway!
If you ever plan to visit Colorado (which I HIGHLY encourage), I’ve posted links to the places we visited, below!
Pikes Peak: this site offers information on all kinds of other places to visit, other than Pikes Peak. It will link you to nearby restaurants, hotels, and other major attractions! http://www.pikes-peak.com
Hotels we stayed at: New Mexico. If you are driving and Clayton is halfway for you, I recommend staying at the Best Western Kokopelli Lodge. It’s inexpensive, pet friendly, offers complimentary breakfast, staff is very friendly, and the rooms are very comfortable. http://m.bestwestern.com/hotels/best-western-kokopelli-lodge-clayton-32093
Colorado Springs. La Quinta Inn Colorado Springs Garden of the Gods, was similar to the one we stayed at in New Mexico and it was also within 10 mins (by car) of EVERYTHING and offered a gorgeous view of the mountains, including Pikes Peak! http://www.laquintacoloradosprings.com
Caspian Café: This restaurant was located right next to our hotel in Colorado and was within walking distance. This four star restaurant offers exquisite Mediterranean and Greek foods. http://mobile.dudamobile.com/site/caspiancafecom?url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.caspiancafe.com%2F#2785
Old Colorado City: The downtown offers many restaurants, boutiques, art galleries, and stunning views of the mountains! http://shopoldcoloradocity.com
Bon Ton’s Café: This all American restaurant is the perfect place to enjoy a delicious southwestern breakfast that offers indoor and outdoor seating! It is located in the center of Old Colorado City. http://www.bontonscafe.com
Garden of the Gods: Go and explore the beautiful national natural landmark of the red rocks, while enjoying the scenic view of the mountains! http://www.gardenofgods.com/home/index.cfm
Cave of the Winds: If you are brave and want to check out the zip lining and bungie chair jumping, this site includes all information on it, as well as, other things to do while visiting the caves! http://caveofthewinds.com/mobile-home