Friday, August 28, 2009

What I Did On My Vacation (Part 1: Text)

I am now back from my travels, although still very tired and a bit behind on things, and Mom has been dispatched on her way home. (She wasn't sure whether she was going to be leaving today or tomorrow, but decided she really wanted to start back so she'd have time to rest up and take care of some things before having to go back to work.)

We basically did two trips. The first was a day trip to the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument. Mom picked this out as a spot she wanted to visit because it was a part of New Mexico she hadn't been to yet and she thought it looked interesting. Poor Mom; she got a bit of a shock when she realized just how mountainous and remote it was and just how many miles of very, very twisty mountain roads she was going to have to drive on. (Sorry, Mom! I thought you knew! Oops.) Harrowing as it may have been, though, it was still a gorgeous drive. We saw quite a few mule deer, both on the way out and the way back.

The cliff dwellings are well worth a visit, too. (I'd spent some time in the area back in college, camping and hiking, but never had gotten around to visiting the ruins, so was kind of glad to correct the oversight.) It's the remains of a fairly elaborate structure that was built into a high mountain cave about 700 years ago by a group of a few dozen Mogollon people. They were only there about thirty years, though, before a major drought forced them to relocate. Poor bastards. That must have been a lot of work for a home that turned out not to be permanent after all.

Anyway, that was Monday. Tuesday, we headed off on the second and main part of our trip. Originally this was going to be a much longer and more ambitious vacation. My sister was intending to join us, and we were going to take a full week or a bit longer and drive around Colorado and Utah, and I'm not sure where else. But my sister ended up having less vacation time than she'd expected and bowed out, Mom realized she needed to go somewhere else with someone else the week we'd originally planned on taking, and with one thing and another our road tour of the Southwest's national parks turned into a plan that, basically, consisted of "Well, let's just drive north!"

Now, a comfortable day's drive north from here takes you to Colorado Springs, which features a number of interesting attractions, so that's where we went. (For the fannish types in the audience: I kept my eyes open for off-duty Stargate personnel and/or aliens while we were there, but if there were any about, they were well disguised.) We got into Colorado Springs Tuesday evening, despite the best attempts of a truly apocalyptic rainstorm to kill us just before we got there. (Between that and the Winding Roads of Doom, I'm sure my mother is so glad she volunteered to drive. Heh.) We then found a restaurant featuring what I can quite confidently state must be the most transcendently delicious cornbread in the entire known universe. In fact, it was so good we had to go back the next day and have more of it. Mmmmmm.

Wednesday, we visited The Cave of the Winds. This is a smallish cave system, at least by Carlsbad Caverns standards, but it was interesting and the tour was fun. I never get tired of caves. I just find something wonderfully pleasant about the kind of cool, damp, dark atmosphere you get in caves. (So naturally, I live in the desert.) We then went to the Manitou Cliff Dwellings, which were a bit disappointing in their tourist trappiness after the Gila, but kind of fun to crawl around in. Then we drove around the Garden of the Gods park, which features some amazing rock formations, and had a nice little picnic. After which, unfortunately, Mom was feeling pretty tired, so we called it an early day.

Thursday, we took a ride on a cog train up Pike's Peak, which is a trip well worth making. It's about a three hour round trip, counting an hour's stop at the top of the mountain. Very pleasant ride, with some interesting commentary on the way up about the scenery and the history of the area and of the railroad. We were lucky enough to be sitting in the front row, too, so we got a great view out the front window. And, needless to say, the views from the 14,000-foot summit were spectacular.

And then, since it was still early enough to make the drive and get back here at a semi-reasonable hour, we got on the road again and were back in Socorro by about 10 PM.

I'm not sure whether that quite qualifies as a road trip or not, but it was a nice little mini-vacation. And since I took this weekend off, I'm not actually scheduled to go back into work until next Thursday, which is awesome.

And, yes, there will be pictures, after I bother getting them off my camera.


  1. Glad you had a good time! Wish I'd been there.

  2. For any of Betty's readers that read the cog train link, I'll gloss over the typos but let you know that they use the word "timberline" but the definition for "treeline". (Trees do grow above the timberline, but they are scrubby and not suitable for, well, timber. Trees don't grow at all above treeline.)

  3. I only saw a few feet worth of scraggly little trees before they stopped entirely, so maybe in this case they're close to the same thing? :)