Saturday, October 14, 2017

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, CO


Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is the only mountainside zoo in America. It is located southwest of downtown Colorado Springs, Colorado, on Cheyenne Mountain it has an elevation of 6,800 feet above sea level. 



The zoo covers 140 acres, only 40 of which are in use. It is located west of The Broadmoor resort along the slopes of Cheyenne Mountain's lower north end. The animal collection includes more than 750 animals, representing nearly 150 different species, with more than 30 endangered species. 



The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo was founded in 1926 by philanthropist, Spencer Penrose to house his growing collection of exotic animals. In 1938, after substantial development, Penrose incorporated the Zoo as a non-profit public trust to the people of Colorado Springs.



I'm not really a big fan of zoo's. BUT when searching for things o do in Colorado Springs, visiting the Cheyenne Mountain zoo, is a MUST. On Yelp or Tripadvisor it is in the top 5 of things to do. So after almost a year here, we decided to visit the zoo. I have to admit, it was worth it. I wish I would've waited until the "off" season, only because it was expensive. But the views from the zoo are totally worth it. 



My favorite part of the zoo was being able to feed the giraffes. Although you pay $3 for a little bit of lettuce, the lettuce looks just like the iceberg lettuce you can buy for $0.99 at the grocery store, we were told that the zookeeper's make sure the lettuce is washed properly without all that extra residue. It might just have been a ploy to make money, but I didn't want to risk the health of the animals.




 If you're visiting Colorado Springs, make sure to visit this zoo, after all a trip to Will Rogers Shrine is included with your admission!

Location: 4250 Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Rd, Colorado Springs, CO 80906
Hours: 9a-5p Daily
Cost: Depends on time of the year, Click Here for More info

Monday, September 04, 2017

Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun, CO



If you're visiting the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, you'll be happy to know that included with your admission (the outragous price that it is) is admission to the Will Rogers Shrine. The Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun, also known as Will Rogers Shrine, is a commemorative tower and chapel on Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado Springs, Colorado.


 


It is named for Will Rogers, the American humorist, who died in a plane crash in Alaska in 1935 during construction of the shrine. It is also a tomb for the remains of Spencer Penrose – who built the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and The Broadmoor resort – and his wife Julie.




This historic monument is only 1.4 miles up the Russell Tutt Scenic Highway from the Zoo entrance. The Russell Tutt Scenic Highway, originally named the "Wonder Road" after its miraculous construction. A trip to the shrine is included in your Zoo admission for that day and is a 1.4 mile drive up from the Zoo's entrance. The only way to get up to the shrine is to drive yourself.


Checking out the shrine was something Drew has wanted to do since we arrived, so when we headed to the zoo, it was only fitting that we go up. Within the stone walls, there are statue's of Will Rogers, Chinese sculptures, and landscaping with plants native to the region.




The building is constructed of granite, steel, cement, iron and brass. Its roof was built of ceramic tile. There were no wood or nails in its construction. The interior has terrazzo floors, marble, and ironwork. Stairs lead to the upper floors. For me, the views were what made it worth it. I wasn't impressed with the tower, BUT I was impressed with the views we got from it!




It was something cool to check out on a Sunday (even though things are open in the States, we still have that European mentality) If you are not planning on visiting the zoo, I wouldn't suggest going up. Luckily your ticket is good for 2 weeks after your visit to the zoo!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Ottawa, Canada


Back in July, over 4th of July weekend we headed up to Canada. I know it's very un-American. But technically July 1st is Canada Day, so it's North America's weekend! Last year Drew and I spent the weekend exploring Arizona (I would highly suggest it!) 


This year we decided to do something different. Since Drew has family in Canada, we talked about what would work best for us and decided back in January that we would go up to Canada for Canada day weekend, instead of going up for Christmas. Looks like it was a good choice, because come Christmas I won't be going anywhere.



It worked out in the long run for us, at the time I was only 18 weeks pregnant, barely showing and apparently the "perfect" travel time. It was the perfect time...I know now that I won't get on an airplane for the rest of this pregnancy.

Since we've both been to Ottawa before, we wanted to just spend the weekend relaxing, but we did spend a day playing tourist around the city. It was Canada Day after all!



We hit up the major sites, the downtown area, parliament, we even got to see the changing of the guards at their tomb of the unknown solider. I love being able to see the tombs in other countries. I feel like it's something we all have in common.





Most of the weekend was spent eating. When in Ottawa, a Beaver tail is a must.


A beaver tail is fried dough with toppings on it. There is a list of them, We picked the chocolate and maple syrup one (because you have to have maple syrup when you'er in Canada!) Seriously, it's so good you HAVE to try it.



One of the things I loved about Ottawa, was how much it reminded me of Europe. Maybe it was that old town feel, or it was probably just the market where people are outside all the time buying fresh fruits and veggies. But I think it was mostly the bakery. Walking into the bakery and smelling fresh bread and looking at the fresh pastries. I was drooling the whole time.


There were do many things to do and see while visiting Ottawa, fortunately we've already visited so we didn't play tourist as much as we usually do. But if you ever get the chance to visit. Ottawa is a must. It is Canada's capital after all!

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Morrow Point Dam & Trail



The last stop on our Memorial Day weekend trip was to the Morrow Point Dam and Trail. 
Morrow Point Dam is a 468-foot-tall  concrete double-arch dam on the Gunnison River located in Colorado, the first dam of its type built by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. Located in the upper Black Canyon of the Gunnison, it creates Morrow Point Reservoir, and is within the National Park Service-operated Curecanti National Recreation Area. The dam is between the Blue Mesa Dam (upstream) and the Crystal Dam (downstream).




The purpose of this trip was to check out the Mesa Creek Trail. The only thing we didn't expect was for the Dam to be overfilled and the water levels to be super high. 




It was still a neat adventure. The first part of out trip we headed as close as we could to the Dam, Drew was told that the best view of it was literally right underneath it. Only problem- the trail had flooded.

 



So we turned around and decided to continue on the trail. The trail it self is pretty easy. There were older people treking along, and young-toddler aged children who were able to do the hike. I on the other hand, was 3 months pregnant at the time and had no energy, but I was still able to do it! 


Until we got to a flooded part of the path. But there was a rock wall, and we decided to climb over it. Looking back that probably wasn't the safest idea, but at least I know for the future.




We didn't get very far until we hit the next flooded part of the path. This time I put my foot down and said I wasn't going further. So we turned around and hiked back. 



Honestly the hike it self wasn't bad. If it wasn't flooded we would've continued to the end. I hear the views from the end are totally worth it. Either way it was a great day to get out and enjoy some of that Colorado sunshine.

Here's Drew's video of our day there!


Friday, June 16, 2017

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park


The whole reason for our trip to Western Colorado was to check out the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.When we first moved to Colorado I found a picture of it on Instagram and showed it to Drew, he instantly fell in love and we've been trying to plan a trip over ever since.


This trip was planned before we found out I was pregnant, so as it got closer we had to tweak it. Luckily this is another Park that you could drive to all the different locations and didn't have to hike, if you didn't want to. Drew always wants to hike.


There are unmaintained hiking trails on the north and south rims of the canyon, which take about two hours to hike down, and four hours to hike back up. All inner canyon descents are strenuous and require Class 3 climbing and basic route finding skills., plus an official permit. 

From the entrance it is a 7-mile drive has 12 overlooks to test your fear of heights. A lot of the overlooks require walking a short trail but nothing difficult. The last point of interest is Warner Point Trail, and that's where we started from.


According to every single person who's ever been to the park, there is no better way to see the park than to hike a trail. There are a handful of trails that take you to spectacular overlooks. But we soon realized that I wouldn't be able to hike anything major. So Drew looked up the different hikes in the Black Canyon and found Warner Point Nature Trail.



It's said to be an easy grade hike (he also said that about the Pulpit Rock in Norway--he lied) But after reading many reviews, it said that it was a very family friendly hike, and that people toddlers were able to do the hike. The hike it self isn't bad. But the elevation is what killed me! Be prepared for that! 

 

Although the hike itself wasn’t exciting, but the views at the end were worth it! The only bummer was that this is the ONLY trail where dogs aren't allowed. But, we had come all the way with Rylie, and we weren't about to leave her in the car-so we took her with us. Luckily she was a very good girl and lots of people just wanted to pet her! haha





The park contains 12 miles of the 48-mile long Black Canyon of the Gunnison River. The national park itself contains the deepest and most dramatic section of the canyon, but the canyon continues upstream into Curecanti National Recreation Area and downstream into Gunnison Gorge National Conservation Area.



From Warner Point we drove back stopping at all the little look outs. There were a couple that I just stayed in the car for, the 3 mile hike definitely wore me out! But Drew was able to get some great photos.





The most famous "look out" is the Painted Wall. It was the busiest, but definitley the most impressive. If you only have the chance to check out one, This is the one you need to check out.





By the time we had gotten back the visitor center I was starving and ready to have lunch. We packed a picnic and decided we would eat when we made it down to East Portal Road, since it was near the river. It was totally worth the wait. Almost every look out point had a picnic area, but this was the only one next to the river. You literally go down into the canyon.


The East Portal Road gives you access to the river. Keep in mind that it is extremely steep (16%) with hairpin turns. They don’t allow vehicles over 22 ft. You are literally riding your brakes the whole way down. I could smell our brakes when we got down to the bottom.  Don’t forget to check to see if it’s open, since they close the road during winter.


It was a beautiful day, and an amazing trip. If you ever get the chance make sure to stop by the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, you won't regret it!


Here is Drew's video of our day there! 


Interesting Facts:

  • Parts of the canyon only receive a little over 30 minutes of sunlight a day. (Hence it's name)
  • The Gunnison River is the 5th steepest mountain descent river in North America. 
  • At its narrowest point, the canyon is only 40 feet wide at the river.
  • Painted Wall is the tallest sheer cliff in Colorado at 2,250 feet.