Phannie

Phannie
Photo taken at Winchester Bay, Oregon

Friday, August 26, 2016

A Blizzard on Pike's Peak -- in August?

At Colorado Springs KOA, Colorado Springs, Colorado...

It seemed like a good idea: Take Sandy to the top of Pike's Peak for her first time. I made reservations about ten days in advance for the cog railway, which I assumed was the best way to make the trip. I had little to go on to make that assumption, however, since my only other trip to the summit was, let's see, 59 years ago as a kid, and that was riding in my uncle's Dodge.

There is a problem that plagues me when I make reservations so far in advance: Ten days is a long time for an old brain to hold on to information, and when I didn't take the time to recheck the booking, we ended up at the station a day late. At the time our train was supposed to be leaving, Sandy and I were at the luncheon mentioned in the previous post, where we were harassing Ed unmercifully and enjoying every minute.

When we arrived at the railway station after discovering my error, I confessed to being a day late, and the clerk merely put us on a standby list from which we were called for boarding on the 1:20 p.m. train. 

Cog Railway Station at Manitou Springs
Upon boarding, we were surprised by the sardine-can accommodations and finding ourselves in perhaps the most uncomfortable seats ever invented. I mean, these were tiny wooden seats that were possibly salvaged from Nazi torture chambers. There was never a time when we weren't squirming or sliding around as the train rounded curves. The only saving grace was the conductor, who pointed out a number of interesting sights along the way and who had a nice repertoire of jokes that were so bad, they were actually good!

The hard seats became maddeningly uncomfortable by the time we reached the summit, a trip that took much longer than expected--about an hour and a half to go 8 1/2 miles. There was some scenery--mostly trees--during the ascent, but the worst part was at about the 11,500 foot level, above which no vegetation grows. It was at that point that we entered the clouds and a mixture of rain and snow that completely obliterated any view. When we exited the train, the visibility was about 25 feet, and the temperature was 29 degrees in blowing snow. Mind you, this was still in August!

Sandy doesn't take cold too well, 
The bottom line: Our visit to Pike's Peak was a total disaster. Next time, we will be sure of the weather at the top, and we will be traveling by car! Never again on this train from hell.

Ed, Marilyn, Bob and Janet were kind enough to meet us for a farewell luncheon the next day at an excellent Thai restaurant named Na Rai Siam Cuisine. We talked and laughed a lot and, hugging them goodbye, we thought how lucky we were to be able to name these fine folks among our friends.

Back at Phannie, Sandy made an excellent batch of fudge to console us for today's debacle. To offset this decadence, we made a healthy Thai salad with Korean chicken that is one of our mainstay meals.

Santa Fe, here we come!

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it enough each day. 

17 comments:

  1. I'm so sorry your Pike's Peak experience turned out to be so bad. Definitely drive up the next time. We did that the summer of 2015 ... the views en route were spectacular, with the ones from the Peak being the icing on the cake.

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    1. Thanks, Erin. I guess I should have researched that ride a little more. My bad for not doing so.

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  2. Now that sounds like an experience, one you will not soon forget. A good reason for a batch of fudge.

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    1. I agree, George. There's not much that fudge doesn't make better!

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  3. Glad to hear I'm not the only one who is calendar challenged.

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    1. I finally started writing things down on a calendar, Jan. The problem is that I don't always remember to do that. Getting old is definitely not for sissies!

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  4. I'm so sorry your trip up was so lousy. When we made the trip, Jim had just had part of a lung removed the year before so we knew we were going to drive up just in case he had too much trouble breathing. We made it to the top and the views are incredible but we didn't stay long. Glad to know we made the right decision.

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    1. Yes you did, Sandie. And kudos to Jim for staying in the saddle and making the trip. I'm not sure I would have been that brave.

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  5. I'm so sorry your trip up was so lousy. When we made the trip, Jim had just had part of a lung removed the year before so we knew we were going to drive up just in case he had too much trouble breathing. We made it to the top and the views are incredible but we didn't stay long. Glad to know we made the right decision.

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  6. Mike, long time reader and retired FAA maintenance technician out of Orlando. When you talked about the last time you made a Cog trip up the mountain was 59 years ago. Well that was the first trip I made up the peak in August of that year. Small world. Really enjoy traveling with you all and am a part time RVer so maybe one day we will cross paths

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    1. Hi, Michael! I'm so glad to be read by a fellow FAAer! Yes, it is a small world, and I would love nothing better than to meet up with a fellow traveler. Be sure and holler if you see we're not far away! Happy travels, my friend.

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  7. We took that train one Aug a few years back, do not remember the seats but there was snow at the top:)

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    1. Well, I suppose it shouldn't have bothered us so much because we have plenty of natural "cushioning material." And perhaps we have become too accustomed to creature comforts...but we worked hard for those comforts, and we don't give them up easily, I guess.

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  8. Y'all be safe on your way back to Texas. We're in Cody awaiting the snow to melt on Beartooth Pass so we can get up there. Winter's not too far away!

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    1. Wow! I didn't think about snow anywhere in August! Y'all be careful.

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  9. Aww... Sorry the trip turned south on you two. Steve and I drove up with his daughter, beautiful drive and views were breathtaking. We wondered if we should have taken the train and figured maybe next trip, well that will not happen! Enjoy and safe travels back to Texas!

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    1. Well, you were smart to do it the way you did. We will definitely go by car next time!

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