Christian Kemp's USA travelogs

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Just outside Colorado Springs, I visited Garden of the Gods. I'm sure the place would have looked more spectacular in sunshine, but unfortunately the overcast conditions dulled everything down somewhat. The proximity to the city also meant that there were too many roads and trails used by too many people - I prefer the more remote places.

Pike's Peak and Crystal Creek Reservoir Pikes Peak

My main destination for the day would be Pike's Peak - a mountain that tops out at over 14,000 feet (4.000 metres), and whose claim to fame is that an unpaved, but wide and easily driveable road, winds right up to the top of it. Once per year, race drivers gun their cars up the mountain; the rest of the time the speed limit is 25mph - and it is enforced, as far as I could tell.

I stopped a few times on the way up, but was disheartened to realize that by the time I got to the top, it was covered in clouds. Consequently, temperatures dropped somewhat, and the views weren't as spectacular as they could have been. Still, the valleys below weren't covered in clouds, so I still managed to get a few pictures.

I didn't spend much time on the top due to the weather conditions, and on my way down it began raining pretty soon; and wouldn't stop until the end of the day.

The famous Pike's Peak Toll Road, going right up to the 14,110 feet summit I was surprised to find that there was a control station somewhere around the middle of the downhill drive, and an officer checked the status of my brakes. Had they been too warm, I would have been forced to do a mandatory rest period until they had cooled down. Fortunately, I had used the gear brake as much as I could, and as such my brakes weren't a concern.

The constant downpour was unfortunate, because I would have liked to spend more time outside in the other destinations that I visited throughout the rest of the day. But the one time I tried to venture outside, my clothes quickly soaked up the abundant rain, and I would have been soaking wet if I had stayed outside much longer. As such, I little choice but to take pictures through the open window of my car while driving around; and even then I had to constantly wipe dry the lens of my camera.


Random view in Victor, taken from the window of my car because it was raining too much I took quite a few pictures in Victor, an old mining town that was somewhere inbetween boom and bust - although maybe more towards the "bust" than the "boom". Still, it was much more authentic than nearby Cripple Creek, which had been taken over by casinos and other people digging for gold... in the pockets of tourists. By comparison, Victor still looked like a "real" town, and as such ranged much higher on my appreciation scale.

The surrounding area is said to be the World's Greatest Gold Camp, and active mining is still going on

"Torrential downpours"

The rain got even worse as the day progressed, and there was lightning all around; so I decided that rather than stay in the area, I'd head North, towards Denver and Rocky Mountain National Park.

I was listening to one of the Denver radio stations when an emergency message was broadcasted: "torrential downpours" was the official word, and I was in the middle of it. And sure enough, the interstate through Denver was flooded and pretty soon traffic came to a stand-still.

After some very slow advance, I finally managed to get off the interstate, and zigzagged through Denver's suburbs in a rough north-westerly movement. It didn't occur to me to stop and switch on the laptop and mapping software, so I just followed the compass, and eventually ended up outside of Denver.

Meanwhile, it had become quite dark; and I didn't know what the status of the roads ahead was, so I decided to get another hotel room (this would be the third and last night on the trip spent in a motel).

Miles driven: 231mi (372km)

Motel/Hotel Accommodation: Quality Inn (West Denver, Colorado): $58.99