We must add a bit of an addendum to the last post to cover a few interesting items omitted in the rush to get to press on time. If your trip through the Panhandle of Texas is during the winter months you will see lots of ducks and those magnificent Canadian geese. Every large cattle tank or lake along the highway will have them. It is surprising since we normally think of them being much farther South during the winter but I assure you they are there in their thousands. Those vee’s against a gray sky are quite awe inspiring and an assurance of the timeless flow of nature in spite of the doomsayers. Also on the route from Clayton, NM to Raton you will see two other neck-turners. Just west of Clayton if the sky is clear you will see no less than a dozen contrails of jet aircraft. This is a natural confluence of the air routes for so many flights moving east to west or vice versa. Around big cities you will also see a few of those if you watch the sky but here you are in a very remote part of the country and the modern intrusion is a stark reminder of just how large and diverse our nation is and the amount of travel people make. Also on the drive between Clayton and Raton you will come across a few herds of Pronghorn antelope. You will usually be right on top of them before you notice them. That tawny color of their hide blends in so naturally with the open spaces and the brown grasses and that arid tan earth. Often they will be close enough to the highway that you can get a good photo of them. The bucks are easy to spot because they are so much larger than the does.
Now back to Colorado. Just north of Pueblo is a highway that goes west and will take you into the heart of ski country if you are there for winter sports. You will pass Florence and Canon City where they have prisons. The one in Florence is the Federal facility and is in a fairly remote location surround by mountains on three sides. The one in Canon City is the state prison and hugs the highway and is in the mountains and surrounded by forest and steep defiles and canyons. The one is Florence is where the newspapers have talked about the high level terrorist being held. I have never been inside so I’ll take their word for it.
Next you approach Colorado Springs. It is a real peach of a city. It snuggles up very close to the mountains immediately to its west. They tower over the city. The first place you will pass is the special military facility that is the strategic headquarters for the air force and other military command and control centers. It has been featured in numerous movies over the years. You can’t just drive up to the front entrance but it is there only a couple miles west of the Interstate 25.
Then you will come to one of the most famous and scenic resorts in the US. The Broadmoor at Colorado Springs. It is pricey but you should take your sweetheart there at least once. It is big and rambling and up a bit in the foothills to the Rockies so there are some tremendous views from there. In fact the views are so good that they inspired “America the Beautiful”. The song was written there and you will be able to see why. Those fruited plains stretch out to the east for miles and the towering mountains are right behind you, including a view of Pike’s Peak. Their Sunday brunch is something special as are the other restaurants. For golfers there is a course right at the resort which is maintained impeccably and only a mile away is another designed by Arnie Palmer which is a great one with vistas and views to die for as you play your round. It ain’t easy though I warn you. The area around the resort is very, very nice with large homes on big lots. They have an ice rink there where many of our Olympic hopefuls train.
As you get to the north side of the city you will pass the Air Force Academy on your left. It also backs right up to the foothills of the mountains. Once while driving in the mountains behind they campus we came across a group of cadets on a training mission to learn map reading and navigation. Immediately across the highway from the campus is an airport that is used to train the cadets to fly. Sometimes you will see one small trainer after another taking off or landing as they go through their basic drills of flight school.
As you are almost out of town you will come to the highway that lead’s to Pike’s Peak. You can stop and take the train up to the top if you like. The ride is a little less than an hour and the scenery and views are terrific. Be warned that the altitude is really up there at 14,000 plus so the air is thin and the weather can be quite different than that back down in the valley where you begin the journey. Take your jacket. I have been there in July when it was snowing on top of the peak.
There are other wonderful areas to cover out west in your car. Wyoming, Montana and Utah all have their beautiful area as does Arizona with the Grand Canyon. Maybe someday will visit them.
Kiss your child bride, hug your kids and make a real effort to do a kindness to someone you don’t even know. When times are good it is easy to be good. We are tested and measured by our response to difficulties. “If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.” Proverbs 24, 10. http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com