Aug 19, 2013

Colorado Vacation in Pictures

8/19/2013 — cori
 My brother-in-law retired this year from the military.  So we thought it would be fun to make a family vacation out of our trip west since none of us have ever seen this part of the country.  Since so many extended family members also came to support John, it also turned into one massive family reunion.  Luckily I was able to narrow down my 600 pictures to just 35 that captured the essence of this wonderful get-a-way.

We drove through South Dakota specifically to see the Badlands.

They are unlike anything you can imagine.  Beautiful and erie all at once. 

Unbeknownst to us, Sturgis, the annual Motorcycle Rally in S.D was the exact same weekend.  We were accompanied by 600,000 bikers EVERYWHERE we went.  You can read into that all you like.

They were even at Mt. Rushmore with us.  We thoroughly enjoyed the hike at the base of the mountain.  The Black Hills are absolutely beautiful, no wonder it's sacred Native American land.
As we left S.D. we drove through Wind Cave National Park.  This was one of my fondest memories.  It was so peaceful here.  Chuck and I got out of the car and walked down a path and just stood in the silence and soaked up the beauty of the nature around us.  Definitely one of the highlights of our trip.

Apparently Bennett captured us walking back to the car with our hearts full of serenity.

As we were driving through the park, we were stopped by a herd of bison.  
Just one of many of the wildlife we were to encounter on our adventure.

We also saw a gorgeous buck.

These little squirrels were everywhere and enjoyed people watching.

There were so many butterflies in the flowering alpine meadows.

At the very top of the world, we saw a herd of elk lying peacefully on the mountain side.

We also encountered a new animal we had never before seen, a marmot.  They live only in the Alpine Tundra.  They come out of their hibernation for only 6 weeks in the summer.  Lucky us!

This is the top of the world....the Alpine Tundra.  We were at 12,000 feet above sea level here.  The tree line stops at 11,300 feet.  It was cold.  And altitude sickness was starting to wreak havoc with us.

  On our drive through the mountains, it started snowing.  We experienced a
 40 degree temperature difference in one day.  

We explored The Devil's Backbone in Loveland, CO.

We experienced the beauty and awe that is Bear Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

We hiked up to an altitude of 10,000 feet.  We only made a 605 foot increase in altitude, 
but it was definitely felt, trust me!  It was one of the most gorgeous hikes we've ever been on.

By far, our most favorite time in Colorado was spent white water rafting. 
What a thrill ride!  We could do this all day, every day.  We were a machine! 

We got all dressed up to attend John's retirement ceremony.

This is a large group of people!  We went to the Air Force Academy Chapel, Rudy's BBQ and The Garden of the Gods all together.  You can imagine the scene we made.

This is inside the Academy Chapel.  It was specifically designed to inspire an aeronautical feel.
 It was a fascinating place in regard to art and architecture.

We saw Pike's Peak from a distance.

We saw the Kissing Camels in the Garden of the Gods.

And the Three Graces too!

The boys played some serious basketball.  Fun times for all.

We hiked some more in Colorado Springs, this time we were at Palmer Park.

Look, I'm up high and not freaking out!  I had a major revelation on this trip:
I'm not scared of heights, I'm just scared of falling.  I don't know how that helps, but it does.

We played.

We rested.

We visited a site unique to Colorado, Bishop Castle.  This place is built by one man.  There is no architectural plan nor order to the castle.  It just is.  You take your life in your own hands at this place.  It's so fascinating, you can't not go in it.  There are 3 turrets that go up higher than the tree line. The owner has welded all the metal work himself.  It's truly unbelievable.

One of the creepy things about this place is the bridge to no where.  The bridge just ends right behind Chuck and John.  Seriously, it just goes straight down with no guard rail in sight.

The stone and metal work are beautiful.

And here you have a random staircase not supported by anything.
We hiked some more in the San Isabel National Forest near Pueblo, CO.
Notice how Chloe is 'hiking'.  She hurt her knee half way down and had to be carried.  Don't worry, she didn't stay like this long, Chuck was just messing with her.  He was exhausted after walking 1.5 miles down a mountain for 45 minutes with 50 extra pounds on his back.

It made my heart smile to see the beautiful welcome home sign from the neighbors.

There's no place like home.

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