Air Force Academy and Garden of the Gods, NOT

Trip Start Aug 29, 2013
Trip End Sep 15, 2013

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Flag of United States  , Colorado
Friday, September 13, 2013

We got up today at 7:00 had bags out shortly after 7:15.  We went to breakfast which was in the Clancey Restaurant at the Inn.  We had green tickets which allowed us to order from the breakfast menu.  I got a ham and cheese omelet, Derek had a Denver omelet, and Larry had two eggs over easy, sausage and toast.  We left about 8:15 and headed east on Rt. 160.  Mark showed us some videos about his grandfather and his family.  It was very interesting to hear about the Warther family, the carving and the knife making.  Mark does carving but mostly in the winter months when there are no tours.  We headed north on I-25 and stopped at the Cuerno Verde rest area for our break today, the same one Larry and I had lunch at last week.  After our break Mark showed another video on all the things to do near Colorado Springs.

We got off of I-25 at Garden of the Gods Road and headed to the Visitor's Center.  It was closed and so was the park.  There is structural damage on the bridge going into the park.  So we went to the other side of the park and went to the Trading Post in Garden of the Gods which is the largest tourist trap/gift shop in Colorado that also has a restaurant.  Natalia, our tour guide from Belarus, joined us for lunch.  Most of us got buffalo burgers for lunch.  We got two lunches and split it among the three of us.  Derek isn't feeling well and may be coming down with a cold.  We looked around at the gift shop and Derek found Huckleberry Jam to take home.

After lunch we headed north to the Air Force Academy. Natalia told us some of the details about the Academy on the way there, and also a lot about the Colorado Springs area.  As we drove up the road to the Academy we saw a B-52 beside the road.  Our first stop was the Visitor's Center and had a little time in the gift shop until the introductory movie started playing.   We watched the movie on what it is like to come there as a cadet.  After the movie we walked to the Chapel, about 1/2 mile.  First we toured the upper chapel which is the protestant chapel.  It seats over 1200 people.  It was beautiful inside and out but the roof was leaking in many, many places.  It had the largest organ I have eve seen.  Next we went downstairs to the Catholic Chapel, the Synogogue, and the Buddhist worship space.  Then we walked through a plaza filled with miniature replicas of airplanes and other Air Force memorabilia.  Then we walked under Harman Hall, past the Planetarium, to the parking lot where the bus was waiting.  We drove back to the Trading Post and dropped off Natalia who will join us tomorrow for either a tour of the Garden of the Gods or the Olympic Training Center.

We then headed to Cliff House in Manitou Springs.  The flooding was evident all the way into town and we could see it bubbling up from manhole covers and flowing right beside houses.
We got unloaded at the hotel, got our key and headed to room 219, the FW Woolworth Celebrity Suite, and it is sweet!  We have a two poster bed in a turret room with a fire place.  We have a sitting room with a pull out couch, two Queen Anne chairs, coffee table, and a  large desk and chair.  There are two sinks with granite counter tops.  The toilet and tub are in a separate room and the toilet has a heated seat and the tub is a jacuzzi.  We rested for a few minutes until our luggage arrived.  Then we headed out to see Manitou Springs.  About half of the businesses were closed due to the flooding.  There is a stream which flows through town that is raging with water from the mountains.  We saw it at several places on our walk.  When we reached the other end of the downtown district we stopped at The Keg Bar and Grill.  Larry and Derek had local beers and I had my usual margarita.  Then we walked back to the hotel for dinner.

The dinner was excellent.  Almost all of us had filet mignon with all the trimmings: salad, great bread, mashed potatoes, carrots, asparagus and chocolate cake for dessert.  We sang happy birthday to Mike who celebrated his birthday during this week.  During the meal I asked Mark what time we leave for the airport on Sunday.  When he said 9:00, I informed him that our flight is 11:15.  He said there was someone else with a flight at 12:00 and he would get us a shuttle to the airport earlier than everyone else.  We sat with Steve and Carolyn, Dave and Marian who were our bus mates at the back of the bus and Mark Warther.  Mark made announcements at the end of dinner.  Larry and Derek went to sit on the patio around the fire pit and drink beer.  I did the blog.  We leave at 8:30 tomorrow for Pike's Peak.  Pike's Peak or Bust!
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