I'm not in Kansas anymore, friends......but I was!! I left NYC sometime Wednesday morning on a 3 day planned drive to visit my family in Colorado Springs. It's my first time in Colorado, a state that I've always wanted to visit (among others) and see the Rockies, enjoy the immense differences of life in the Northeast and a HUGE city. My sister took a job out here as a physicist two years ago, got married and had a baby so I have a 3 month old niece I had to meet!! Skype is great but not the same as holding her.
I'll write about the drive in another post - I don't want to think about it right now as it was probably one of the hardest things I've ever done in my "travel life" or in general in terms of endurance.....I drove here solo!
Nor do I wish to even contemplate the fact that I will have to drive back - unthinkable at the moment. But in short I drove from NYC to NJ, Penn, WV (short pass thru) Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas and finally reached CO except I never knew I was in Colorado until quite awhile after I'd crossed the state line. By then, I was essentially on the big push to just get to my destination so those were the only signs I was looking at!
Yesterday - Saturday - we went into charming Manitou Springs for awhile; it's very pretty, friendly, has great shops and food and it's at the base of Pikes Peak. Amazing scenery. (Actually my sister's place has a view of Pikes Peak) However, as many of you might have heard, fires have been burning in the west and until yesterday, only in the Northern part of Colorado but that changed......Manitou Springs was evacuated today because a wildfire broke out while we were in Manitou Springs and has been blazing out of control since then. We had driven into the Garden of the Gods for a "preview" to me, and it is breathtakingly beautiful but as we were driving through, they were beginning to close the park so we did not get to stay long. Our day was cut short but things were getting serious. The fire grew overnight and today, the air is thick with smoke, mountains barely visible. We stayed in today obviously, pushing aside any "outings" they wanted to take me on but well, things happen and we must cope
We just made it out tonight for a quick trip for this cool yogurt shop; good enough.
I do hope to make it up to Denver this week but obviously the fire is controlling everything for now. Nor am I that eager yet to drive! However, the vibe out here is great - the city is wonderful and I am happy to be here. I've not set a return date and so I am sure there will be plenty to do/see as the fire gets under control. So that gives me time to enjoy the family portion of this visit.
Various things can and do happen very often when we travel and all we can do is cope and make the best of it...in a way one actually becomes very immersed in where one is when something happens - I'm an instant local! Homestays also are always nice and one does NOT need to have family in order to do that. As I've posted here many times before, there is an organization called Servas.org that consists of hosts/travelers (you can be one or both) worldwide. This organization's purpose is to get people together, share culture, ideas, make friends and...feel at home! What's better than a free homestay?
Anyway, for now that's all but I'll be back updating on my Rocky Mountain Adventure! As Pikes Peak is right here, I am hoping to get up there via the cog wheel rail but that will depend upon getting the fire out and the smoke clearing though I have time. Just hoping everyone will be alright and get through this - folks have been evacuated from their mountain homes and some homes (not many) have been lost. They are working hard to get the fire out and keep people safe. What complicates things is the unusual heat wave here and the dryness with no rain in the forecast. Being from NYC, I'm no stranger to tough times, albeit not of this type. Plus, I still VIVID memories of a horrific train trip from Bologna to Rome that was unexpectedly disastrous due to a weekend strike we'd known nothing about and so my Monday morning pleasant rail trip was indeed a nightmare.
Anyway, one thing was obvious from the start and that is that this is a very family friendly city/state with countless options and things to do. Camping is big out here, but there is so much more. As I'm here, I will update and pump my sister for things they do as well as their friends with kids!! But just being in Manitou Springs yesterday I saw families a-plenty - well we were, stroller and all!! My niece was quite the fashionista with her flower petal hat....toooooo cute but I saw lots of happy little faces yesterday
But I have a secret....even though I am thrilled to be in Colorado, I have serious Europe on the brain and a friend with possible plans to visit Catania, Sicily that were emailed to me sooooo..............we'll see! Even on a trip, I think of other trips