Friday, May 1, 2015

Day 20- Colorado Springs

Glad to say we got a better nights rest last night, we took the memory foam topper from Shane's bed, and put it on top of the air mattress; I offered to sleep on it, but he declined. I didn't even hear him leave this morning, getting up around 9-9:30. I decided to head to Pike's Peak since it was the furthest away, it was a gorgeous morning already. The drive was about 20 minutes away, and I crossed under the "Pikes Peak Highway" sign. I had to pay $10 to enter, and here I learned the top was closed due to snow; I should only have to pay $5 if I couldn't go all the way to the top, what a rip off. I started driving up the steep road, and the views were amazing. I couldn't have asked for a better day to do this either, it was already 65 degrees at 10:00am, and the skies were a brilliant blue color with puffy white clouds. As I drove up, I saw a few cars passing here and there, but it wasn't too crowded. The highest mountain I think I have been up was around six thousand feet, Pikes Peak was around fourteen; though I wouldn't be able to go all of the way. I got a kick out of the Bigfoot Xing sign, and realized that they take it quite seriously up here when I got to the reservoir and saw a wooden carved Bigfoot. The scenery was unlike anything I had ever seen, when I think Colorado; this is what comes to mind. It was the most picturesque landscape I had ever seen; the mountains shades of blue and purple, the water reflecting the mountains and blue sky, and the green pine trees that surrounded it all. I quickly pulled over the rental, stood balancing on top of the guardrail, and started taking photos. I drove up further to a parking lot where there was a visitor center which was not open today. There were however trails; I walked down one that took me by the water, and gave a better view of the surreal mountain range. After taking a substantial amount of photos of the same thing, I took it all in for a moment, and wished I could just drop my house right here and never leave. After realizing that I was on state land and that would never happen, I headed back for the car. I was already feeling winded and off from the elevation change. I drove up further and ended up stopping in the gift shop/eatery quick, but didn't spend much time inside. I couldn't tell if the elevation change was in my head of the symptoms I have heard about, or if it was really effecting me. I drove on, and the roads became more narrow, and steep. The temperature was also dropping, it was about 45 degrees now but still sunny and blue skied. As I drove further up, the snow accumulated more and more, I even saw someone snowboarding a slope up ahead which was pretty awesome, I saw some lines coming down the mountain, but it was cool to see someone out there as I drove by. I got to my "top" for the day, where a ranger blocked off going any further and there were a bunch of cars parked. There wasn't much to do there, it was a nice view; but I much rather see the reservoir where I was earlier. I got out and it was around 42 degrees give or take, so I grabbed my jacket in case it was windy. There were kids playing in the snow, and a lot of people taking photographs. I still felt disorientated, I walked around for a minute or two taking a few photos and then decided to head down since the views were better from lower on the road side anyways. Heading down, I put the car in manual so I could shift between 1st, 2nd, and 3rd gear on the way down. The car in front of me was going very slow and I had to keep downshifting, I wasn't sure if the smell was from my car or theirs (I'm guessing theirs since it was older than the 2015 Chevy I had) but I popped the hood just in case to get more airflow as I descended. I couldn't get over how beautiful everything was, and how fake it looked. I spent around two hours at Pikes Peak between driving up, and down, and exploring/photographing things. As I got to the access road, I pulled over into a restaurant parking lot to secure the front hood and type in Shuga's a place I wanted to go for lunch into my GPS. It was only about 14 minutes away or so getting me there around 12:30pm, luckily it was a weekday because it was prime lunchtime. I parked on the street right out front, and noticed a guy sitting outside at a table with a guitar. There was a waiter talking to him, so I asked if I could sit outside and he said sure sit anywhere (there were only two tables, so I grabbed the empty one.) I put down my backpack and wondered if you had to order inside or if someone would come and wait on you. I went over and asked the guy with the guitar and he seemed out of it, and gave me some elaborate answer that did not help; something along the lines of he waited, and then went inside, but the bartender seemed flustered. At that point the same guy came out with a menu and I asked if I ordered here or inside, he said he would take my order out here and gave me a minute to look it over. I saw online they had a nice Italian board, and a soup everyone raved about including some of the people Shane knows. I decided to go with a Lavender Lemonade, Mully’s snack board which was: herb marinated goat cheese in olive oil, salami, prosciutto, radish with salt, apple slices, strawberries, grilled pita, and toast. Also a cup of shrimp soup which was spicy Brazilian style shrimp, coconut milk, ginger, jalapeno, peanut finished with cilantro & lime. Everything was amazing, I not only travel through places; I travel through cuisine. I had a couple things left over; so I boxed them up, squared away the check, and put in Garden of the Gods in the GPS. After about 5 minutes of driving, I got a text from Shane that he would be out at 2:00 but to take my time. I was still about 15 minutes away from Garden of the Gods and it was around 1:00pm, I decided to go back to base to meet him and we could go after together. It took me about 20-25 minutes or so to get back to Gate 1, and jump through hoops to get back inside. I handed him all of my information, opened the doors and then he asked where I was headed. I told him the barracks, he asked which one, I said I'm not sure I am going to visit a friend. He said "your staying with him?" I said no, he is at work and I am meeting him after. I said he was EOD if that helped as to which barracks it was but he said it didn't to give him a call. I called Shane but no answer, luckily he finally got off his high horse and let me in without telling him where I was headed. The funny part was, I didn't know where I was headed. I knew I went left at the first light, and right at the second; but didn't know which way to go first in the roundabout. I ended up going the wrong way needless to say and ended up in like the residential area, and then by a Pizza Hut, and eventually by commissary. Shane finally texted me back telling me which street to put in my GPS and in 6 minutes I was back in the familiar parking lot to where his room was. I parked, struggled with the key a bit, and started to upload the photos from today before he walked through the door. I told him I wanted to get a photo with his uniform on so he huffed and puffed and I took two shots quick with my camera, and one of the two of us with my cellphone. We waited a little for Shane's phone to charge once again, and give people some time to leave the shop so I could go see where Shane worked. Before we left, Shane gave me one of the best presents ever. He has a lot of patches he collects, and he dug out a "road tripper" patch for me. It was the coolest, and most relivant thing for me right now; I was in love. I gave him a big hug in excitement. We took my car to his shop on the other side of base and there were a few guys still in the shop, but not everyone. I met a few guys, and then Shane got embarrassed by my fascination and love for the humvees. After, we dug out one of the bomb suites to put me in, 85 pounds of awesomeness was about to be put upon me. I give the EOD guys and girls so much respect for what they do in these suites. Mine was a medium so it was a little big, but I felt like the little brother from a Christmas Story in the suite barely able to move. Shane asked if I wanted to run around, or do push-ups and I have him the are you kidding me look. My goal of the whole experience was an awesome photo of course. It was amazing how much heat gets trapped inside, and I couldn't imagine being in the desert inside one of them. Luckily, I was just trying it on, and didn't have to spend a long amount of time inside. After leaving the shop, we stopped by a military surplus store to pick up a tactical ball cap for me so I could stick my patch on the front. They carried Oakley hats with Velcro on the front and didn't have a black one in small, so I chose the green. I was so excited to start wearing my patch. After, we went to gas up my car; and then headed to Garden of the Gods. I have seen my fair share of red rock formation, but was happy to go check out this place with Shane. He has done some outdoor climbing here which is pretty awesome. We drove around, and parked at a lot to get out and walk around. We saw quite a few climbers already climbing, or coming in to climb. I took an obligatory climbing photo on the rock, and a few others of me since most of my photos have been selfies recently. We watched a climber at the top of a formation untangle his rope, Shane wondered if he was in a bad position with what was going on. After walking around a bit, we decided to head back to the car, and drive the remainder of the park, and then grab dinner. Shane's friend Kyle had called earlier about meeting up after we were done, but didn't pick up when he called him back. Instead, we decided to go to a nearby BBQ place. We tried samples of the brisket and turkey, and then decided to both get pulled pork sandwiches with cream soda. I got a side of potato salad, and Shane got a side of coleslaw; we also got a jalapeƱo sausage to share. The BBQ was really good, the place shared a location with a gas station and seemed like an odd combination, but it was pretty good! The sausage was too hot for me so I only had a couple bites. After, we headed back to base so Shane could finish packing and do laundry for his month long training course starting tomorrow morning at 5:00am. I sat and uploaded photos while he packed, and we listened to music simultaneously. We pretty much just hung out and did our thing the rest of the night, the room got super hot for some reason and that was uncool. I almost miss the fresh air of sleeping outside! I wouldn't see Shane in the morning since he was getting up at 4am and I wasn't until 7am, but we talked a little in bed before calling it a night and me pushing him off onto the air mattress. It was so great to spend the time with Shane that I was able to, after awhile you start to see who your real friends are, and who you will keep contact with forever over the years no matter what happens. Tomorrow, I head 8.5 hours to Kansas City to see another one of those friends!

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