I am sorry it has taken so long for the update. Internet has been sporadic and poor.
We left Palo Duro and headed across the Texas Panhandle through the northeast corner of New Mexico. We stopped for the evening at Raton Pass, New Mexico just at the border to Colorado. The next day we headed on to Colorado Springs
Even though Colorado Springs is the state's second largest city with defense and high-tech as its major industries, it is still a tourist town, and a lot of stuff happens there and in its tourist-trap suburb, Manitou Springs. The towns are at the base of Pike's Peak and the Cog Railway to the mountaintop.
Colorado Springs is home to the Air Force Academy, the world-famous Broadmoor Resort, a park of unique rock formations called Garden of the Gods, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, the U.S. Olympic Training Center and a variety of museums. There is a lot to see and do there, and a lot of people come to see and do it.
It is sort of a rite of passage. If you head west and go through Colorado, you are expected to go to the top of Pike's Peak, either by driving a twisty road or riding the Cog Railway. Well, there are also some adventurous (crazy?) types who actually hike to the peak. We spend plenty of time driving and we're certainly not going to walk, so the Cog Railway was our choice.
Since the mountain is steep, a normal train would not be able to gain traction. To overcome the problem of steep grades, railways designed for steep slopes use a "rack and cog" system with a third rail that is a toothed-rack and a large gear on the train - the cog. This provides a positive, non-slip, drive for steep grades.
My only complaint is that you travel in the same seat going both up and down the mountain. That means you see the same views both ways. The good news is that the scenery is pretty much spectacular.
The ride up Pike's Peak climbs some 8,000 feet and the temperature drops about 35 degrees over the course of the ride. Girls who get on the train with spaghetti-strap tops were wearing their guys' hoodies by the time we reached the summit. We were there only about 15 minutes when a thunderstorm with HAIL chased us all back to the train.
When we reached the top of the mountain we could really feel the altitude. They tell you to drink plenty of water and we did, but it does not fully prepare you for the thin air. Linda and I both felt a bit shaky and lightheaded when we left the train car and began walking around.
Rather than trying to describe everything, I have put together a small gallery of photos.
There are two main driving loops through the park along with a number of short hiking trails that allow you to get up close and personal with the rock formations. It is spectacular, and it is also busy. We actually drove through the park on two different days and thoroughly enjoyed both visits.
There is so much more to tell and so many more photos to show, but it will all have to wait until later.