At 14,110 feet, Pikes Peak is one of Colorado’s “fourteeners,” mountain peaks reaching 14,000 feet or higher. Although not the highest, Pikes Peak is the country’s most visited mountain, with more than a half million people reaching the summit each year. While hiking is how many people choose to brag about their reaching the top of these dizzying mountains, Pike’s Peak is one of only two fourteeners that can be reached via car. You can take the 19-mile Pikes Peak Highway, which offers excellent views and many lookout points. Moreover, there are companies, like Pikes Peak Mountain Bike Tours, that allow you to cycle down from the summit.
A journey to Pike’s Peak, which is over 200 years old, will take you above the clouds, where you can look down over surrounding mountains, the “Garden of the Gods,” and the city of Colorado Springs. Additionally, you’ll be able to check out the historic Cog Railway, the world’s highest cog railroad. Built in the late 1800’s, the train was constructed during a time when people would ride a mule for two days to reach the summit. Wildlife viewing is also an option, and you can see what animals have been spotted that day at the entrance of Pike National Forest. Some common sightings include black bears, ewes, rams, marmots, deer and elk.
To reach the summit in a more adventurous fashion, many visitors also park at the 16-mile marker on the highway, and hike four miles to the top from there. There are also various hiking trails off the road. On the day I went, I chose to hike around the Catamount Reservoir for beautiful lake views and a peaceful retreat in the woods.
For a more visual experience, check out the gallery below.
Recent visitors to Pikes Peak, near Colorado Springs, Colorado, have been surprised to find an unexpected creature wandering the slopes of the 14,000 foot mountain. According to this story from The Gazette, an escaped llama has been prowling the area for the past three weeks, avoiding capture, while posing for photos, and trying unsuccessfully to join the local herd of bighorn sheep.
Llamas are found in the wild in South America’s Andes Mountains, but have become popular domesticated animals all over the world. This lone llama has obviously escaped from someone’s farm, and its natural instincts have led it into the mountains, where it is reportedly eating well, and thriving. Llamas also happen to travel in herds, and this one is no exception. He has tried, without success, to join the herd of sheep that lives atop Pikes Peak, but so far his high altitude neighbors have shown little interest in letting him join their community.
Local authorities say that for now, the llama is safe and doing well. But they fear that as winter moves in, and food becomes scarce, he will become an easy target for predators. They have alerted local ranchers about the out of place wanderer, but so far, no one has claimed him.
For now, the Lone Llama of Pikes Peak continues to enjoy a life of freedom while frolicking in the high mountain meadows. But those care-free days may well be ending soon, and for his own good.
As soon as I saw that long Seattle layover on the bid sheet, I knew I had to have it. I can’t even remember the last time I had a whole day anywhere, let alone a layover with enough time to eat, sleep AND shower! This layover, I knew, would be like the good old days when flying was fun, which is why, I’m sure, several of my colleagues laughed when I told them I had bid for it.
“You’re going to need at least twenty years seniority to hold that!” three different flight attendants informed me.
Undeterred, and with only fourteen years at the airline, I bid for it anyway. Not only did I hold it, I held the princess position – coach aisle! As soon as bids were finalized I sent out a tweet to announce the big news. Two seconds later someone tweeted back, “Want to meet for breakfast?”
The invitation came from mommy blogger extraordinaire, Debbie, of Deliciousbaby.com. If you have kids and love to travel, but would rather skip the Disney vacation, do yourself a favor and check out her blog. She makes traveling with kids enjoyable and easy.
And that’s how the layover began. I met Debbie, as well as two of her three adorable kids, for breakfast at Belle Epicurean, a charming spot known for their freshly baked pastries and buns. As I sat outside waiting for Debbie to arrive, I couldn’t help but notice all the people popping in and out before heading off to work. Not that I was surprised, considering I’d done a little research early that morning and knew the place was going to be great. I also knew exactly what to order – a potato rosemary brioche bun ($3.89). It did not disappoint. Of course the coffee was fantastic, as well. The company, even better!
Everest, a bright four year-old, has a passion for trains, so he could not hide his excitement when I asked about his favorite thing to do in Seattle. If not for him, I wouldn’t have known about the ride on the rail to Sea-Tac airport starting in December. After Everest told me all about the underground train system, he offered to take me on a little tour…
After the train tour, we made a quick stop at Daiso, a Japanese dollar store, where I could have spent the entire day just staring at everything inside the store. There was so much to look at! Thank goodness Everest was there to help pick out a few items for my three year-old son, because I was quite overwhelmed. And I had no idea that mini soy sauce bottles could make a good toy. But Everest assured me they would. Guess what, he was right! My son not only loved the tiny squirt bottles, he spent half an hour playing with them – along with everything else that somehow, I don’t know how, ended up in my basket….
Bento box (for school lunches)
Glow in the dark bracelets
Animal / number stickers (for our long flight to Hawaii next week)
Kids apron (to protect clothing while cooking and painting)
Fire truck spoon and police car fork
plastic cups (to make Play-Doh cupcakes)
Star cutter (to make pancakes and eggs a little more exciting)
Because Everest had to get going to space camp later on in the afternoon, we said our goodbyes and I walked down to Pikes Place Market. You can not visit Seattle without visiting the market and grabbing a cup of clam chowder, which is exactly what I did after wandering around and taking in the hustle and bustle on the waterfront. If you’re looking for something else to do, try jumping on the ferry to Bainbridge Island. I highly recommend the 35 minute scenic ferry ride. Just don’t forget your camera. You’ll want to photograph all that beauty surrounding you.
In case you can’t tell, travel, for me, is all about finding great places to eat. When I mentioned on Facebook I’d be laying over in Seattle, Flo, a flight attendant on my crew, reminded me that Bob, the singing pilot, had recommended the restaurant Black Bottle a few months ago. We decided to check it out.
Now Bob isn’t like most pilots, he’s got style. I’m not just talking about his layover outfit. Which is why I knew I wouldn’t end up at a sports bar, like so many pilots do. That said, I was a bit shocked to find that not only does Bob have great taste in food (at affordable prices) he appreciates a cool modern vibe. The food is served family style. Flo and I shared bacon lemon scallops and frizzled kale ($12), roasted vegetables verjus ($9), and fresh arugula, tomato, and pesto flatbread ($8). After that amazing meal, it is I, not just Bob, who highly recommends the Black Bottle next time you’re in Seattle.
Like all good things, the layover came to an end, and before I knew it we were flying back to New York. I can’t wait to bid for the trip again! Maybe, just maybe, I’ll actually hold it – 20 years seniority or not.
…on America’s map. The Seattle Times covers an awesome happening this year surrounding the 14,110-foot summit along the eastern slopes of the Rockies known as Pikes Peak in Colorado. The peak was placed on American maps 200 years back after Zebulon Pike spotted the peak, never reached its top, had a horrible time in the Rocky Mountains, was eventually captured by the Spanish and taken into Mexico. To celebrate these fine details in history the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum and other organizations will run lectures, reenactments and hikes over the year. The events scheduled will illustrate Zebulon Pike’s 1806 journey and images of the mountain in art and advertising. Very cool!
As a teen living in Colorado Springs I never gave a whole lot of thought to the beauty or the story behind ole Pikes Peak. For the most part it made for fun family outings except the one time my father thought he knew the gas tank better than he did and we ran out of gas up yonder. Though it may be a bit smaller in comparison to Pike’s troubles, I’ve still got my own stories to tell about that very same mountain. In any case the real explorer’s tale sounds much worth trekking to Colorado sometime over the next year to experience the all the activities.