The next day I moved on to my cousin’s place in Westcliffe, CO. Cousins Pam and George have a 35 acre spread with a beautiful western theme house there in a gated community. You had better know the magic password before you get to the gate as there is no cell phone coverage outside of town and happily I had thought of that. Having previously run a campground themselves, she and her husband put in 2 RV sites with full utilities on their property for family and friends to stay with them and the price to stay is really good (free)! While I was there, we added wifi as well since my aircard did not work there either. I had only planned on staying one week but we hadn’t seen each other in so long and were having so much fun that I stayed another week.
I introduced cousin Pam to geocaching right off. My aunt and other cousin had already told her about our exploits in search of hidden treasures worth nothing and she was excited to learn. Westcliffe only had one geocache in the city at the time which we found easily and it appears to be quite popular. I am hoping she can convince others to add many more since it is a great place for it and geocaches can bring in business to establishments with caches on their property such as the hot dog shack with unique wooden furniture and delicious hotdogs that fill the air with temptation all around it. We placed a new geocache ourselves before I left. There are many other caches in the surrounding areas and mountains. We did have fun going after those. One we had to give up on because it requires a jeep to get there as do many others there. I finally ran into other geocachers while in search of one near a castle and joined forces to find it. The minute I saw them way up there on the hill I knew what they were up to and told my cousin to follow the humans. LOL I got them searching in the right spot with my GPS while one of them managed to walk by it at the right angle to spot it.
We went to Royal Gorge Park one day. Supposedly the bridge over the gorge is the highest in the world and many people like to walk the very long expanse. We rode the aerial tram across. My cousin would have liked to go on the sling that swings you out over the gorge but that was a bit much for me physically so she will have to wait for another intrepid soul. We checked out the film on the Gorge then were ready to catch the trolley back across the bridge but that turned into a major endeavour thanks to poor planning by the park which is anything but handicapped accessible due to the steep topography and attitudes. They only run one trolley for a park full of guests and they do not have clearly marked trolley stops. We were told to wait at one spot which we did for half an hour then when the trolley came over the bridge, it dropped riders off on the opposite side of the street from us and allowed numerous others to board there. By the time it got turned around and back to us, it was full. We got the girl running the ice cream stand to see if other transportaion could be arranged back over since the aerial tram was now up a steep hill from us and we could not get on the trolley. What we got instead was a snotty security guard who came racing over to tell us no way and we should wait another half hour for the trolley again in hopes that one would not be full. He also proceeded to tell us we could could have walked across in the time we had waited despite seeing I was walking with a cane. My cousin spotted some other employees who managed to get us across the bridge with them instead and were much nicer. We had just enough time to ride the incline/funicular to the bottom of the gorge and back then we rode the children’s train which has numerous good jokes stationed along the tracks.
After a day at the gorge, we just had to chase down a geocache nearby in the picnic area on the edge of the gorge. We found it hidden in some rocks and left a travel bug in it that I had found in Kentucky.
Another day we went off to see Bishop’s Castle. My what men with too much time on their hands will create. It is a huge, beautiful structure and fun to climb all over. If you are not afraid of heights and have the stamina, you can climb to the top and ring the bell as many did. There were a lot of families there that day. We found the owner and master craftsman laboring down in the moat to ask him some questions to fulfill the requirements of a virtual geocache. Hey, we were there anyway so why not nail a cache or 2 as well? He definitely has some issues with government which he will be happy to discuss with you if you ask.
Afterward, we went across the street after another geocache. That is where we ran into the other geocachers I spoke about. Score another one for us. 😀 We hit a historic homestead cache on the way home too.
Seeing a golden opportunity while I was driving along the Arkansas River to get to cousin Pam’s home in the first place, I decided to knock one more item off my bucket list and go whitewater rafting since I had never been. The river is one of the hottest spots for river rafting in the country and loaded every day with bunches of rafts from numerous area outfitters. I chose to go with Raft Masters out of Canon City, CO on their half day Bighorn Sheep Canyon tour which includes lunch, safety gear, and wetsuits or booties. That tour has class 2-3 whitewater which is definitely better than the little kids tour on placid water but not too much for a first-timer. I did have to wear my back brace to do it but hid that under my shirt to fit in. Shorts and tshirts or bathing suits and tshirts are the uniform of the day for this in the summer. You will get soaked! I advise sunglasses with a restrainer cord too. You can wear a cap with visor under the helmet if you like. After lunch, they fit everyone with helmets, lifevests, and booties then they bus all up the river with the rafts. Personally, I found the lunch at their own restaurant to be quite good and I had a blast in the raft. I opted to man a paddle to get the most out of the experience. Follow the calls of your guide and watch the paddler in front of you or to the side to coordinate your strokes and you will be fine. At one point we did get hung up on a rock in the middle of the river but our guide’s expertise quickly got us off it. She also helped us go for a thrill in one of the rapids. At some points they may let you hop out for a swim. We didn’t bother due to the difficulty in getting back into the raft. They have a photographer stationed on the river near a larger rapid to get a some great shots of your trip for you. Be prepared to pay a hefty price for one or all of those when you get back but they are worth it. I had to get the Tshirt too but they don’t have any whitewater rafting patches or pins at most of the outfitters it seems which was a real bummer. They really ought to have those. I’m ready to do the tour through Royal Gorge next time with class 3-4 rapids.
My cousin and I decided to try the Royal Gorge train one day since she had never been on that. It starts at the depot in Canon City and winds its way down through the bottom of the gorge. They have food and tables on board, regular seating cars, and open standing only cars for the best pictures. We moved back and forth between all of them. 😉 It does have some very nice views.
For more pics click here.