Flying Along the Front Range

Along the Front Range, Colorado; May 22 – June 4, 2019

Our trip the past few weeks along the Front Range of the Rockies was a homecoming of sorts for us, as Estes Park was our first big vacation to the mountains as a married couple…some 29 years ago.  Diana had been to Denver with her Girl Scout troop as a teenager and I was there as a 6-year old with my mom, dad, and my sister Judy.  Back then, Dad was the sales manager for Schwayder Brothers in Detroit at their metal chair facility.  You may know Schwayder by the name of their product line: Samsonite.

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Issac Schwayder (right) and his four sons. Jesse Schwayder, second from the right, was my dad’s boss.  The company slogan was “The Samsonite – Strong Enough to Stand On”.

At that time, Schwayder was consolidating their operations to their headquarters in Denver, so we were on a scouting mission to see if that would be our new home.  Mom and Dad chose to remain in Michigan, as the pull of family won out over the Rockies…thus forcing Dad to find a new employer.  As much as I love Colorado, I’m very glad they chose to stay in southeast Michigan.  🙂

As mentioned in our last post, we had to change plans to stay at lower altitudes.  That took us south out of Page through Flagstaff, east on I-40 to Albuquerque and then north.

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While in Albuquerque, we picked up some Oboz waterproof low hikers from REI for our trip to the UK in the fall.  These beauties were field tested by our friends Linda and Steven on their 500 mile walk across Spain on the Camino de Santiago.  Accomplishing that without blisters is a pretty good testimonial for Oboz, which is headquartered in Bozeman, Montana.  We then headed up towards Santa Fe, spending a couple of nights at the Black Mesa casino.  Again, we managed to hit a jackpot on the casino’s free play and walked out the door without spending a penny of our own.  We will take it!  We also paid a return visit to a little Venezuelan restaurant in Santa Fe called Santarepa Cafe.  We went out of our way to eat there again, as it is that good.  The owner is a sweet woman who comes to your table and genuinely inquires as to how you like your meal.

Scooting around the southern end of the Rockies, we headed up the east side and said farewell to New Mexico.

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In the process, our Colorado fifth wheel entered the State of Colorado for the first time!  We continued up to Colorado Springs to spend the better part of a week.  The first morning at the KOA, we noticed what we thought was an early riser playing music on his RV horn as he left the campground.  Nope…we were parked across from Fort Carson, which plays Revelry every morning at 6:30 AM and Taps at 10 PM.  We’re in the Army now!

Here is a spot I had visited with my family when I was a child; Garden of the Gods.  This land was given to the City of Colorado Springs by the children of late owner Charles Elliott Perkins in 1909 to use as a park.  The stipulation was that they could never charge an admission fee or allow ‘intoxicating liquors’, which they haven’t to this day.

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I distinctly remember Balance Rock as a 6 year old. 🙂

We also happened to be in town during the Air Force Academy graduation.  Our first tip-off to that was when we heard a jet approaching our car from behind, only to find out we had been buzzed by…

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…a B-2 Stealth bomber.  We also saw the Thunderbirds practicing. The next day was the graduation, so we set up our chairs in a field across I-25 from the academy.  When the cadets tossed their caps in the air, the Thunderbirds streaked across the field.

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There was a long delay after that first pass, and we noticed that there were no cars on the freeway.  Soon there was a procession of motorcycle police, followed by this:

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There goes the President!  Not too long after he had left, the show resumed.

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It sure is fun to see these planes…

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…especially with Pike’s Peak as a backdrop.

The other place Diana wanted to do visit was the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame, which is located in town.

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She really was hoping to meet Scott Hamilton.  It wasn’t meant to be, but she did get to see his gold medal from Sarajevo.  There was even someone there that I appreciated…

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Frank Zamboni!  Those twirlies would fall flat on their faces if it weren’t for the superior talent of us Zamboni drivers.  🙂  All kidding aside, we both really enjoyed the museum.

From Colorado Springs, we headed up to Denver to meet friends and family.

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First stop was to our college friend Kirsten’s house for a wonderful meal.  Here we are with her mom and her husband Mike.  It sure was great catching up with them.  Mike is an excellent cook!

We also visited Diana’s cousin Abby, her husband Josh and daughter Tara.

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We forgot to get a photo, so Abby let me use this one.  Abby is Diana’s cousin Jerry’s daughter.  We loved getting to spend the afternoon with them in their beautiful home, especially the sidewalk chalk drawings that greeted us, along with Tara jumping for joy at the front door upon our arrival.  🙂

We also visited a place we long wanted to pay our respects at; the Columbine Memorial.

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Located in a Littleton city park adjacent to the school, this beautiful remembrance moved us.

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Since the thirteen students and staff were killed at this school in 1999, over 140 more have died in our learning institutions.  As the husband of a teacher, I worried about this constantly…as I knew the innocent students’ safety was first and foremost to Diana.  If you can, take the time to visit here.  There are moving tributes to each of the victims, along with snippets of thoughts from the survivors.

From Denver, we moved up to Fort Collins for a couple of days.  That was our lower altitude base to revisit Rocky Mountain National Park and Estes Park.  Our last time there was 1990, and we were driving a regular cab Ford Ranger pickup pulling a very heavy Steury pop-up camper.  The number one hit on the radio that trip was Shenandoah’s Next to You, Next to Me.  One verse stood out in my memory:

“If the Good Lord’s willin’ when we’re old and gray
The kids are grown up and moved away
We’ll be rocking’ here side by side
With the BBQ chicken and the TV guide”

Fire up the grill, sweetie and I’ll grab the rockers.  🙂

This go around our mission was to see Bighorn sheep, something we hadn’t seen since our last time there.

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Mission accomplished!  We actually saw several of them.

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We also saw plenty of elk.  This guy was happy to show off his velvety new rack.

Our special treat was when we drove up Trail Ridge Road towards the Alpine Visitor Center.

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We got to Rainbow Curve, 10,500 feet up, and the road was closed due to snow at the top.  They were allowing visitors to walk up as far as they wanted, so we took advantage of it.

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It was an absolutely amazing treat.  We went up a half mile or so…over 11,000 feet, before returning.  Although out of breath, we did just fine!  Everyone was having a great time…

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…including this young pair.  I’ll bet the road being closed made their day.  🙂

Well, that wraps up our flight along the Front Range!  Next up, we head north to South Dakota to help some friends with a little project.  More on that in our next Saturday morning post.  Until then, safe and happy travels to all!

26 thoughts on “Flying Along the Front Range”

  1. Jim and Diana, another well thought out entry, interesting pictures. Your travels bring back many memories for Barbara and me. Thanks and keep on keeping on.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Had a Samsonite fall out of the trunk on the freeway and survived. Does say a lot for the product. Back then anyway. I wanted to move to Colorado and the Rockies the first time I saw it as a young adult. Maybe someday. That Stealth bomber really is quiet. I had one sneak up on me near Seattle. Your shot of the Thunderbirds and Pikes Peak is amazing. You may be gray, but certainly not old and ready for rocking chairs. Great write up.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Gaelyn! I was hoping like heck that Pikes Peak shot came out, as I didn’t get another opportunity. As for the Prez, my autofocus didn’t cooperate. That’s my second motorcade, as I saw Kennedy zipping into Detroit on I-94 as a kid.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Heck yeah, we’ll take that commission! 🙂 Great hikers, Jim yours are the same as Steven’s, Diana’s look to be a bit lighter than mine. There will be all new selections by the time we’re ready for replacements! Colorado looks great, we did not spend a great deal of time there and not east of the Rockies at all. Guess we’ll have to go back some day!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow great shot of the Thunderbirds with Pikes Peak in the background!
    and so with the Big Horn and Elk !
    Hah!, Steve just bought a pair of Oboz and love them!
    That is an interesting story of how you come around 29 years later and I learned new things too!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Looks like a fun time with family and friends in beautiful Colorado. I’m hearing so much about Oboz—I need to try some for myself. I’m on my sixth pair of Keen boots—maybe it’s time to try something different!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You got some great shots of the planes! Always good to see the real heroes honored at the halls of fame 🙂 Fab photo of you two at GoftheG – tell Diana I love her hair. Songs give us the best memories, that one was perfect for your return.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Diana says thanks, Jodee! ‘Next to You’ was on every FM country station at the time. We’d roll out of range from one city and into the next and ‘There ain’t no place that I’d rather be…” would come on. 🙂

      Like

  7. Very cool that you were in Colorado Springs for graduation, we had a great niece graduating as part of that class, very proud of that young woman, it’s an amazing accomplishment!

    We love Colorado in the summer, our honeymoon was spent in Rocky Mountain National Park, and several family vacations after that!

    Enjoy your time in Colorado, there are so many great hiking trails!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. What an exciting trip with lots of adventures. The photograph of the Thunderbirds with Pike’s Peak in the background gave me goosebumps. It also had to be exciting to see the Presidential motorcade. We are slowly headed to South Dakota with stops along the way to visit friends. Can’t wait to read the next leg of your trip. Safe travels to you guys!

    Liked by 1 person

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