Onward to Cheyenne

We left Manitou Springs yesterday morning, first visiting Miramont Castle.

Built in 1895 with a west wing being added in 1897, it was built as a personal residence for Fr. Jean Baptiste Francolon and his mother. Might I add right here and now – this place is huge just for two people to be running around in!!

Miramont has 4 floors, with 30 rooms covering 14,000 square feet. It features 9 styles of architecture designed by Fr. Francolon – shingle style Queen Anne, English Tudor, Romanesque, Flemish stepped gables, Venetian Ogee, Byzantine and half timber Chateau.

Being originally from France (then to New Mexico), I guess if he had travelled often through various parts of Europe before arriving in America then he would have seen many styles, thus incorporating his favorites into the castle.

Having been built in the late 1890’s and having some wealth, the castle included such luxuries as indoor plumbing, steam heat and electricity.

Fr. Francolon’s first house (located above the castle) was donated to the Sisters of Mercy for use as a sanitarium. They named it Montcalme.

Miramont means “look at the mountains” and when you reach the Queen’s Parlor Tea Room and feast your eyes on the stunning windows and view to the mountains you can understand why it was named so.

Hitting the road we make a quick stop into Manitou Springs Cliff Dwellings. Man these people must have been tiny! Either that or they lived with hunched backs all their life! No room for you to stand normally.

The Anasazi cliff dwellings, built more than 700 years ago, can be touched, you can go inside and there is a 3-story Pueblo-style building housing the Anasazi Museum. Worth a visit!

From here we headed out to Garden Of The Gods, taking the one way road in. It was busy given it is summer holidays here but we managed a park at the Visitor Centre and got that spectacular view of the rocks.

Leaving Clancy at that point we all set off for our next destination – Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Kat xo

The Law West of The Pecos

Well actually we are headed NW, passing Villanueva, El Pueblo, San Miguel, crossing the Pecos River a couple of times.

The landscape is once again changing, with hidden ranch’s amongst a very green landscape and red rock cliffs.

With Clancy in tow, we are headed for Manitou Springs. Others have headed for Deadwood, the Turquoise Trail or back to Australia today.

Our first stop would take us into Las Vegas, NM where a brief trip into the Rough Riders Antiques store saw Clancy buy a gorgeous silver barrette and my score was a nickel silver Mexican hat pin that simply was just too unique to pass up.

We found that the Castenada Hotel is now open with 7 rooms and the bar for afternoon drinks. The ceiling, floors, windows are still original and yet there is still a lot of work to be done in getting the rest of the Hotel open. I look forward to a future visit to see her in all her glory!

Oh, and my fascination with the Castenada? She was the first Fred Harvey track-side hotel built in East Las Vegas that fed and watered passengers who journeyed the Santa Fe railway routes. When it opened in 1899 Teddy Roosevelt held a reunion of his Rough Riders here. The Rough Riders Museum just up the street is closed Monday’s but we did get to visit it last year.

As per the brochure (and having read the Harvey Girls book) Fred Harvey civilised the west. He developed and ran all the hotels and restaurants of the Santa Fe Railway, eventually controlling a hospitality empire that spanned the continent. He introduced linen, silverware, China, crystal and impeccable service to railroad travel.

We made a stop at Charlie’s Spic n Span Bakery – not for cream puff’s! – but a donut or key lime selection and coffee. We got a view of the mural whilst there. The mural is a documentary of South West and American History. Spanning the decades of time, it was created by some 300 students and additional community members.

We took a short trip past gorgeous Victorian houses and out to Montezuma Castle. Now and International school for students you can not visit the castle as its student use only now. It is truly magnificent in its size and presence set atop the hill in a secluded section of Montezuma.

We left New Mexico over the Raton Pass at a mere 7834ft and into Colorado. We are now in Manitou Springs.

As evening sets on this tiny town of Victorian charm, pubs, and shops, we enjoyed a couple of margarita’s and some dinner before retiring for an early night.

Some sight seeing tomorrow before getting into Cheyenne for the duration of the week!

Kat xo

Like A Kid At Christmas!

Oh wait, but that is me!! Hee hee hee

I got to go to the North Pole! Colorado that is.

Santa's Workshop, fun park and gift shop. Jack took me to the gift shop where we spent nearly an hour drooling over the gorgeous decorations and listening to Christmas music. (Was fun for me anyway!)

That's it! Didn't go on the rides in the park but looked good and plenty of families were starting to turn up for the day. Check it out.

Could say Christmas in July! Xo Kat



Manitou Springs

I jumped the gun a bit, we won't be in Fort Collins tonight we are heading for Manitou Springs on the western edge of Colorado Springs. Jack worked out for us to see the Cliff Dwelling Museum, Cave of the Winds and Pikes Peak Cog Railway.

We visited the antique stores in Walsenburg this morning after breaky at George's Drive-Inn Diner. Found a nice shaped key for the 'liquor cabinet' for future wearing of my Victorian 1886 Reception gown and found a pair of shoe clips for another gown.

Ever wondered where the saying “when your numbers up” came from? Well in Walsenburg all is explained. It was from the mining era and when the miners did not return that had been caught underground in a blast etc.

Coming in to Manitou Springs, the historic district is absolutely beautiful and looking forward to exploring this place. I could just imagine how picturesque it could be during winter and the snow!

We managed to get onto the Pikes Peak Cog Railway on standby for the 1.20pm ride. The cog railway system is actually a Roman invention. It pulls up the mountain quite well considering the elevation. Manitou Springs sits at 6,412ft and at Pikes Peak, finishing at 14,115ft at the summit. At the beginning of the trip it was a little cloudy and 64F/17.7C we had a slight snow flurry on the way up with it gradually clearing to blue skies and sunshine.

After the switching at Minnehaha it hits a 25% grade incline.

Pikes peak at 'The Half Way House' where you could stay for $10 a week and had a post office and a one lane bowling alley in the hotel. Was there in the early 1900's however was burnt down in the late 1800's early 1900's.

The small power plant (a hydro electric plant) used to have a caretaker living in the house, you can just see the plant through the trees, it still serves 200 homes in Manitou.

Pikes Peak is the 31st highest of the 55 'fourteeners' in Colorado. 1.4mill acres forms Pike National Park.

It was a $5 trip in 1895. The original idea for the railway after Zalmon Simmons made a 3 day trek up the peak on a mule to enjoy the views and to see how his invention of insulators for the telegraph were going for the Army Telegraph to the summit. He thought it was so beautiful that no one would want to ride up on a burrow and within 3 years had funded the idea and had the railway built. There've been running the train for 121years now and is still the original tracks. The first train run to the top was August 16, 1890.

At a certain point the trees will not grow, it's due to turbo frost where the ground is always frozen and all you can see is bare hill AND it's claim to fame is the hill in the Sound of Music where Julie Andrews twirls around atop of it. (The hilllllls are alive, with the sound of music – although my version in my head is the Moulin Rouge version)

There is also a gold mine situated here but you can't see it from the tracks, it is owned by foreigners and produces $800,000 worth of gold a day! It is one of the biggest gold mines in the US.

There is only one naturally occurring lake on the side of Pikes Peak. The others are all man made. This is the longest and highest cog railway in the US. The top of the train as it pulls up is 3 stories higher than the bottom. And we are now at 12,129ft at Windy Point. The grass only grows 1-3″ every 100 years. Guess you wouldn't have to mow very often! Lol!

And we thought we had fun just making a dam larger in Canberra, try making one at around 13,000ft! This one is man made. Would have been a job just getting the machinery up here!

Check out the snow too, and a few mountain goats just hanging out!

We finally reached the summit and got a short break for their world famous donuts, recipe perfected at that altitude apparently and I must say the chocolate vanilla cappucino was divine! We felt a little bit 'floaty' due to the altitude but otherwise fine. Fantastic experience and highly recommend it!!! 42F/5.5C with wind chill of 36F/2.2C.

The braking system for the trip back down is good and if the driver goes a little too fast the computer kicks in with the assisted brakes. Phew! Nice to know, although the girl doing the commentary said “if that doesn't work we have two springs at the bottom to stop us – Manitou and Colorado.” Comforting? Not! Lol!

The cloud really rolled in as we were leaving and as the next train pulled up, so we caught a lucky break, maybe it will be sunny at the bottom now.

Found a spot to sleep, Pikes Peak Inn, within walking distance of the shops, shops and more shops and restaurants. We stopped at The Keg Bar and Grill and had a Boulder Beer – Shake Chocolate Porter for me, yum! Hints of chocolate and caramel, like a Guinness thickness. Jack had a Buffalo Gold Premium Ale.

Wandered a few more shops that were open, haa! And just had to take a pic outside the hemp shop, don't worry it's only an unlit cigar Jack has.

Wandered back down the road and we are at the Stagecoach Inn for beers and dinner and only have to stumble spittin' distance to the motel. We have jazz in the park across the road while we sit here as well.

What a great day!

Kat xo