We drove up the Pikes Peak Highway ~ kudos to Bob for driving that freakish highway! I really think they could use some of that improvement money to add guard rails!!! It was quite chilly at the top, so we went into the gift shop to use the restroom, took the commemorative photo, and headed back down the hill. We had to stop at the halfway mark to have the obligatory break check, which resulted in a 20 minute layover to let the brakes cool down. Finally, we made it down to the base of the highway and headed back to camp for our daily swim.
On Monday, we packed our cooler with picnic fixins' and headed up to Mueller State Park for a day hike. We stopped at the visitor center where we learned that a small black bear had been spotted near the entrance of the park just 5 days earlier ~ which they shared as a selling point, not for fear factor. The back of the park was off limits due to elk calving season, okay, so we viewed the trail map and found a nice little hike. The hike itself was only 2.4 miles ~ a nice little walk, but turned out to take a sudden dip in elevation, which we would later have to make up for in up-hill climbs! For the most part, the kids were real troopers. Nardos and Alex even had a race or two during the hike. We did spot wildlife - other than the ones we brought with us - three deer wandering through the forest. At the end, we were rewarded with a picnic lunch in the beautiful weather while a yellow swallowtail butterfly danced around us!
Tuesday we planned a trip to a local Dinosaur Museum. It boasted of real fossils, a hands on children's area and an area where you could view real paleontologists at work. It was all that, but after an hour and a half, the kids were done. That was the disappointing part, since we paid a chunk of change to get it. Our visit there was followed by a trip to a local sports complex, where we could spread out and play. We topped of our excursion with lunch at Buster O'Brian's Cafe. It was delicious and we received a very nice compliment from the owner on how well the kids behaved. That's always nice to hear, especially on the rare occasion that it happens... just kidding.
Wednesday was a real hit! We went to the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center. We took a tour with a real...uh, caregiver..... for the animals at the Sanctuary. She told us stories about how the animals came into their care and a little about their personality. Obviously, they are against euthanasia of animals, especially unnecessarily so (like in the example of trapped animals being shot for sport), but they didn't shove it down your throat. We were pretty up-close and personal with the animals (they have wolves, coyote, and foxes). It was fascinating and although the sun was pretty toasty, the kids really enjoyed the visit. At the end of the tour, the guide had us all stand in one area and howl. We did - as commanded - and were rewarded with a chorus of wolves and coyote howling. It was amazing! The tour guide stated that the wolves are more active in the winter and that they do tours year-round. You can imagine the ride back to camp "Mom, let's come back in winter!!!!"
Other camping news: We swam every day, we cooked s'mores and had hot chocolate. The kids were great on the ride out (which we split by stopping overnight in WaKeeney) and then drove straight home at the end of the trip. It was fun and we are already planning our trip for next year!