Day 11 - 13: Co. Springs, Garden of the Gods, Dinosaur Nat. Park
We arrived safely to Colorado Springs and we stayed with our friends "The Plankeel's". They live right in the mountains! It was so nice spending time with them and their twin daughters (one of them is named Lela!). We feel blessed to have such great friends. Lela did our laundry for us, we stocked up at the grocery store, and relaxed. Jeff and I went on this awesome mountain bike ride for an hour our last night there. It was incredible biking up the mountains. We also went to "Garden of the God's" while we were there (thanks AKinKS). This place is awesome. The land was purchased for about $10,000.00 in the early 1900's by a business man. He and his family gifted the land to the city of Co. Springs and required that it must remain a free park.
We left the Plankeel's and started making our way to Dinosaur National Monument. This is a federally protected area in the north west corner of Colorado and also shared by Utah. The trip there was very interesting. We actually had to pull over a few times because the van struggled to make it up the very steep hills of the Rocky Mountains. We had to blast the heat and roll down the windows so that the van would not overheat. Lela did a great job driving during this very stressful terrain. Going down the hills was a problem too because you have to make sure that your brakes don't overheat as well. Even with all the minor problems, the drive was completely incredible. We went up and down, up and down, c
onstantly. Other cars were flying by us, but we are use to this now and don't pay it any mind.
We went through a few really cool places. We went throu
gh Routte National Forest and it felt and looked like we time warped back to Februa
ry. There was snow all over the ground and it was freezing. Using the heat now was actually needed to keep us warm, rather than using it to cool down the van. We stopped through this really nice town called Steamboat where the skiing is apparently "killer" (per the locals). We quickly fueled up at Sinclair and ate at Quizno's. Along the way to the park we saw countless mountain and road bikers along with some people white water rafting.
We had to take a dirt road to get to the National Park. It was really cool and fun (and bumpy). The road was a little wet. It was the first time I longed for my Jeep instead of the Vanagon. Upon arriving at the camp we went for a shor
t hike to the "Gates of Ladore" which is this big break in the mountains where Green River runs through. It was beautiful. We then made friends with some great guys from Steamboat, CO named Caleb and Greg. We talked about city life vs. rural life, desk jobs vs. field work, giving blood, and so much more. We found the Little and Big Dipper and remarked over the stars. I actually saw a shooting star as well. They were also nice enough to let me eat one of their cherished "Hebrew National" hotdogs (thanks guys, it was good). It dropped down to 43 degrees so we layered up to sleep. Long underwear was required.
This morning we had pancakes and set out around 11am (late start). We traveled on dirt roads for about 40 miles before making it to pavement again. Although it was bumpy, we wouldn't have had it any other way. We went through some of the most picturesque scenery that you could ever lay your eyes on. We drove through this huge canyon called "Irish Canyon". We are now stopped at the McDonald's in Wyoming and have a few more hours left before we make it to Grand Teton National Park.