[Ken 08/26/2017] Our son, Robby, tends to peg the Adventure-Meter every-once-in-a-while (a couple weeks ago he rode his bike to a wedding in Chicago – since he lives in Denver, he started in Toronto). It kinduv keeps Deb and I on edge, as we often hear of his daring-dos without notice. More than once we have nervously discovered his whereabouts by seeing posts on Instagram from Istanbul... and on another time, Dubai.
So, when he offered to include us in one of his venturous afternoons, there was just a tad of apprehension in our acceptance. Today, he showed us how he climbs rock faces and cathedral-like spires. We met he and his roommate, Tim, at Montezuma’s Tower in Garden of the Gods Park near Colorado Springs.
We were transfixed. At times, petrified. And praying a bit, I admit. But he and his roommate did fine. It was impressive to watch, but I sometimes wish he had become a chess mastermind or an actuary. Any hobby with a pocket-protector would be fine.
Click on any of the images below to see the full slide.
...Until we pulled into the RV park at The Navigators / Glen Eyrie campus in the foothills just west of Colorado Springs, Colorado.
We are surrounded on three sides by rock formations, and inside a scenic canyon, to boot. I guess this is what I should have expected since The Navigators' campus is immediately adjacent to the famous Garden of the Gods, -- known for its canyons and towering spires of red and white rock monoliths.
With scenery comes compromise, sometimes. In this case, we are so deep into this rock canyon that we have no Internet or cell phone service for the month. To make a phone call, we are told, we will have to drive into Colorado Springs; the closest cell signal is at the Loaf-N-Jug gas station (and that is where I write this post). Oh the sacrifices that we must make!
Ken put her down and now she was on her own! As we followed her from one animal pen to another, we saw her excitement and delight. There was a pig in a muddy hole and Ellie said "I'm sorry." As she got closer she said the pig was "yucky." The sheep was gentle, but Ellie kept her distance. She checked on the sleeping goat several times. Running round and round looking, watching, smiling, and pointing. Oops, watch out for the puddle!
After we exhausted all of the corners of the petting zoo we headed to the train station. A train on a real track with a whistle, a couple of trestles, and a tunnel. She sat next to GB and held onto his leg at first, after all her familiar car seat wasn’t there, but once the ride started her self-confidence kicked-in and she sat tall without holding tightly.
At creekside, she pointed at her shoes telling Ken to take them off. Then she pointed to Ken’s shoes. Those shoes need to come off, too, GB! Bare feet exposed, they headed into the water. Ellie was first in, of course! They walked hand-in-hand back and forth over the slippery rocks. Ellie was surprisingly sure-footed; GB wasn’t far behind as they waded in the clear stream.
After a while the two of them sat on the bank and dangled their feet in the cool water. Ellie discovered pebbles next to her and began dropping them into the water. Plop! The size of the stone did not matter. Pretty soon, GB was scooping the pebbles back out of the creek so that they could make another splash. Plop! Plop! Plop! We had a hard time keeping up with the demand! Ellie loves to toss rocks when they make funny sounds!
We made up for lost time and became fast friends today. I think we enjoyed it more than Ellie. I especially liked the moment when Ellie clung to Ken’s leg and the looked up at him and smiled.
My heart is full. Ellie knows Ami and GrandBumps! Hugs and kisses were shared by all when we said goodbye. Today was a precious day. Looking forward to more moments that can be just as special. Thank you, Lord!
taking the lead?
[Ken 08/18/2017] The sign over this 1876 mining town's cobblestone street said, "Welcome to Lead." In Colorado, this town name would be pronounced "Led." But in South Dakota, the name of this town is pronounced "Leed."
I guess I can say that I finally got to Lead, huh?
Even though the sign proclaims an elevation of 5280 feet, I think it is a bit high-handed for the town to call itself, "THE Mile High City." I guess that is what you get from a town full of Leaders, huh?
Our trail to the summit(s) required that we negotiate steep switchbacks, rock stairs, and even boulder-scrambling as we snaked our way through and trekked ever-higher into the needles region of the Black Hills National Forest. The needles are large granite and schist monoliths that stretch like cathedrals toward the heavens. Hundreds and hundreds of feet tall, some stand in groups and some stand solitary. At each turn of the trail there were photogenic shots of rock needles posed against a mature forest under a dramatic sky.
At the summit of Harney Peak stands an abandoned stone, fire tower. This is the highest point between the Colorado Rockies and the Pyrenees of western Europe. From this 7242 foot acme, we could see four states and a very small section of George Washington's nose on Mount Rushmore. The sky was hazed from forest fires in British Columbia and Montana, but it was still an awesome view. From the top we descended a bit, crossed a saddle, and bouldered our way to the top of "Little Devils Tower."
This is the most popular hiking trail in South Dakota. No motorized vehicles or bikes are allowed, only horse and foot traffic. We call the trail by its former name, as that is the way it is listed on most maps and on all of the trail signs in, Custer State Park, where the Harney Range is accessed. A couple years ago, the name of the mountain and the trail was changed to "Black Elk." What ever the name, this trail is definitely in the TOP TEN on the 'Adventures in Faith' list of trails we have hiked. Simply spectacular.
the black hills
Wyoming's unmistakable Devils Tower marks the official, northwest corner of the Black Hills' region.
Jewel Cave - the 3rd longest cave system in the world. Do you know what caves are longer?
Surrounded by Borglum-sized rock formations, Deb checks out a watery crevice while kayaking in Custer State Park.
Deb experiences first-hand the rugged Black Hills' scenery at Cathedral Rock -- here she shows off on a day hike.
Black Elk Mountain -- at 7242 feet in elevation, it is the highest peak in South Dakota. We could see four states from up there!
Rapid City is The City of Presidents (there is a life-size statue on every downtown corner). James Madison insisted on wearing my Colorado hat.
The Needles region of the Black Hills features distinctive rock formations and picturesque mountain lakes.
The national treasure and iconic Mount Rushmore sits proudly on the outskirts of touristy Keystone, South Dakota.
The George S. Mickelson Trail follows streams and valleys through the heart of the Black Hills on an old railroad bed.
Many of the historic towns in the area offer fun entertainment. For our anniversary we enjoyed some chuckwagon grub and music at Fort Hays.
Mountain biking at at Chuck Lien Park (aka "Cowboy Hill"). At the bottom of the Hill is Rapid Creek, namesake of Rapid City.
Art Alley. An entire Rapid City block where nothing has escaped the lively and coordinated artists' brush.
Perched atop some "bad land" at Badlands National Park on the eastern edge of Rapid City.
Hundreds of ICBMs were once hidden in underground silos throughout the Midwest. We got to see one at Minuteman Missile National Historic Site.
Ken investigates the uncommon shoreline of Sylvan Lake as he paddles by a bigger-than-life "beach pebble."