Monday, September 2, 2013

Annual Balloon Classic over Labor Day

Colorado Springs holds its annual Balloon Classic over the Labor Day Weekend. This is a lot of fun, they have balloon ascensions in the morning and a "balloon glo" after dark in the evening. The "glo" is when all the balloons light up their burners after dark so you can see the balloons all lit up from the inside.

For sheer scenic pleasure, though nothing beats the ascension at first light in the morning from Memorial Park near downtown. The balloons take off and fly off in every different direction.. Worth visiting over a Labor Day weekend some time just to see it!

Colorado Springs at Night

It was the night of the annual Balloon Classic, and it had rained so there were no balloons to be seen. It was pretty, though, as Colorado Springs tends to be. Here are some shots of the sunset, Pikes Peak shrouded in gloom, and the like. Shots like these are meant to create a mood like a painting, not depict intense detail. Just imagine you are casually walking along a path as darkness descends, and you mindlessly take in some sights.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Evening in Colorado Springs

Evening in the Rockies. Colorado Springs, of course. Late Spring 2013. Just some pictures I snapped during my walks.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Royal Gorge Bridge

The Royal Gorge Bridge is a Must See!

While technically located in Canon City, Colorado, which is a bit over an hour's drive from Colorado Springs, The Royal Gorge Bridge is one of the top attractions in the area. It  held the record of highest bridge in the world from 1929 until 2001, when it was surpassed by the Liuguanghe Bridge in China.

Royal Gorge Bridge at its dedication in late 1929

Royal Gorge Bridge as it typically looks

Royal Gorge Bridge after the June 2013 wildfires

The area around the Royal Gorge bridge was devastated by the 2012 wildfires. The bridge itself, though, was not damaged.  Some wooden deck planks were burnt, and all but four of the park's 52 buildings were destroyed. The incline railway was severely damaged and the aerial tramway was destroyed. Park executives announced on June 13 that the bridge will be repaired and the park rebuilt, but there was no timeline for reopening the bridge and/or park.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Hotels in Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs is Loaded with Hotels

The Broadmoor 1927

Colorado Springs came about because a rich Easterner, General Palmer, decided to create a resort here. It may not have been Boca Raton or anything like that, but, for its day, it was very upscale. He built the famous Antlers Hotel that stood downtown for many years until burning down in a terrible fire.

Antlers Hotel 1909

I realize that you are interested in hotels that are here today and not a hundred years ago. I just wanted to make it clear that Colorado Springs is no slouch in the hotel area - it has had very classy hotels for over a hundred years, and still does have some mighty fine places to take off your mud-kickers at night.

Poor Boy Inn 1932

The famous Broadmoor is in the southwest part of town. It is very ritzy, with all the amenities, but it is a bit out of the way if you have business in town or at one of the military installations. It has been around for about a century and has a fancy restaurant, elegant rooms and all that. If you have money to burn and want the best, that is where you want to stay. When movie stars visit, they often stay there. It is a fine resort hotel with all the trimmings, though I personally do not go for the heavy-handed luxury treatment. I know, my loss, I'm sure you'd love it.

The Broadmoor today

The Broadmoor, the epitome of luxury.
1 Lake Avenue, Colorado Springs, CO 80906 719.634.7711 or 855.634.7711

All right, so you are like nice places to stay, but you have things to do in town and need something just a touch more, shall we say, functional. Try the Antlers Hilton.

Antlers Hilton today

The Antlers Hilton Colorado Springs is the successor to the original Antlers Hotel. It is downtown, is very modern, and will remind you of big city hotels. Expect the frills, but it's really not a resort like the Broadmoor. Expect to pay big-city rates.

TEL: 1-719-955-5600 FAX: 1-719-955-5650

All right, the Antlers is very nice and all, but you are looking for your normal, big-city place, the type where you go for conventions and so forth. You know, nice, but not historical-nice, if you know what I mean. Then, you might like the Crowne Plaza Colorado Springs, which is brisk, business-like, and very nice. It has all the amenities, but it isn't a budget-buster and will be more like your typical high-class-but-not-snooty hotel.

Crowne Plaza Colorado Springs

Crowne Plaza Colorado Springs is a bit south of the center of town. It seems to get a lot of conventions and that sort of business. This is perfectly suitable for normal, non-resort guests who are on an expense account or just want a real nice place for a few days.

2886 South Circle Drive, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80906
Contact: 719-576-5900 Fax: 719-576-7695 Sales: 719-302-9877

These are all great places. However, you likely are just passing through, or you are in town for your kid's graduation at the Air Force Academy or something like that. Maybe you just always wanted to see Pikes Peak, or are on your way into the Rockies toward Buena Vista or Salida and need a place to crash for the night. Colorado Springs is great that way, lots of choices.

Do NOT go downtown. Do NOT go to the south part of town unless you have to. You won't find the best value in either area, though you might find real cheap places. If you are there for Fort Carson, you might look down around there, but I still wouldn't recommend it. South of the Broadmoor is the roughest part of town.

If you are just regular folks and simply want a clean room for the night, take I-25 to the northern part of town, nearest to Denver. It's right on the way if you are driving from the north. Get off at the Academy Boulevard exit, which is at the first real bend in the highway south of Denver. That is where about a half dozen fine but very reasonable hotels are located. There is a Hilton nearby, though it is just a bit out of the way and obviously pricey. I stayed there once and was bored out of my mind, but it is nice and quiet if that is what you like. Several motor lodge type places also are nearby. They are clean, functional rooms a step above the Motel 6 variety, and much nicer than similar ones downtown or in the south.

The great advantage to these hotels is that they are right next to the Air Force Academy, as close as you can get to the South Gate. If you are in town for events there, these are the ideal places to stay. There also is a Walmart right in the center of things there, can't miss it from the highway if you look toward the east. Below are a couple of examples of what is available there - unless it is the week of the Air Force Academy graduation weekend or something like that, you should have no problem finding rooms at these places, which are far to the north of downtown Colorado Springs.

Try these, if they don't suit your needs, they'll direct you to another one nearby. People are really friendly and understanding around the Air Force Academy. No, I don't get a thing out of these suggestions from anyone, this is just some friendly help.

Academy Hotel

"Closest Hotel to the U.S. Air Force Academy"
8110 N. Academy Blvd, Colorado Springs, CO 80920 719-598-5770 800-766-8524

Comfort Suites North Academy

1055 Kelly Johnson Blvd., Colorado Springs, CO, US, 80920
Phone: (719) 536-0731 Fax: (719) 536-0152

COMFORT SUITES/ECONOLODGE  - Colorado Springs, (Colorado) CO
1055 & 1075 Kelly Johnson Boulevard, Colorado Springs, CO 80920
Comfort Suites Phone: 719-536-0731 / EconoLodge Phone: 719-260-6969
Comfort Suites Fax: 719-536-0152 / EconoLodge Fax: 719-548-7414

The Comfort Suites North Academy is a Colorado Springs hotel near the United States Air Force Academy.

The Comfort Suites® North Academy is conveniently located off Interstate 25, adjacent to the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA), a business park and Chapel Hills Mall. This Colorado Springs, CO hotel is minutes from historic city of Manitou Springs, Cave of the Winds, the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo and the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

Additional points of interest include Pikes Peak mountain, United States Olympic Training Center, Seven Falls and Garden of the Gods public park. The Colorado Springs Airport is 17 miles away. A variety of restaurants and cocktail lounges are located in the surrounding area.
Hotel amenities and features include:
Free wireless high-speed Internet access
Free local calls
Free weekday newspaper
Free coffee
Your Morning Breakfast is full of hot and delicious options, making breakfast at the Comfort Suites North Academy the perfect way to start your day. Enjoy our free hot breakfast featuring eggs, meat, yogurt, fresh fruit, cereal and more, including your choice of hot waffle flavors! If you're leaving early, a Your Suite Success™ Grab & Go bag is available for the two hours prior to breakfast.

Guests of this Colorado Springs, CO hotel will enjoy the hotel's 88-foot water slide, hot tub and large indoor/outdoor heated pool. The hotel also has an exercise room.

Business travelers will appreciate the hotel's executive business lounge with access to copy and fax services. Having a meeting or special event? The hotel offers more than 1,400 square feet of meeting and banquet space. Let the hotel's professional catering and meeting staff take care of all event needs.
All spacious suites come equipped with refrigerators, microwaves, irons, ironing boards, hair dryers, coffee makers, separate living rooms, work areas, two telephone lines and cable television. Keep your electronic devices charged with the recharge device including AC and USB outlets provided in all guest rooms.

Hilton Garden Inn, Colorado Springs

1810 Briargate Parkway, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 80920, USA
TEL: 1-719-598-6866 FAX: 1-719-598-8846

Located just off I-25 at exit 151, the Hilton Garden Inn Colorado Springs is convenient to Rocky Mountain attractions, as well as military bases and local businesses. Enjoy year-round golf, hiking, white water rafting, skiing, fishing and horseback riding nearby. In addition to our great view of Pikes Peak, you’ll enjoy amenities designed to make you feel at home such as our reasonably priced cooked-to-order breakfast and 24-hour business center.

For business meetings or special events, consider using our 2,400 sq. ft. of meeting and banquet space. Start your day with a full cooked-to-order breakfast at the Great American Grill®, which includes omelets, pancakes and waffles. If you prefer, pick up a snack at our 24-hour Pavilion Pantry® to eat in your room. Relax with a good book in your inviting room that features a comfortable bed, microwave and refrigerator.

Melt away stress in our indoor heated pool and whirlpool, or work up a sweat in our fitness center. Connect with family or coworkers at your room’s work desk, relaxing in your ergonomic chair by Herman Miller with complimentary WiFi. Whether you’re here on vacation or on business, you’ll find the extras you need and want.

Manitou Springs

One last thing you might consider is staying in Manitou Springs. It is sort of the artistic community of Colorado Springs, which isn't saying much, but it is congenial and a bit more like Greenwich Village/Venice Beach than the rest of town, if you get my drift. You can walk around, do some window shopping, eat at nice outdoor restaurants, and watch the other tourists enjoying themselves. Manitou Springs is extremely convenient to heading west through Woodland Park to Cripple Creek or points west. It isn't where I would stay, but it may make sense for you.

Best Western Sky Way Inn and Suites

Best Western Sky Way Inn and Suites
311 Manitou Ave Manitou Springs, CO 80829‎
(719) 685-5991 (719) 685-0382 (Fax)

Very reasonably priced, basically a motor lodge in the middle of nowhere. This is perfectly adequate if you are headed into the mountains and want a nice, convenient place to stay for the night that won't take you out of your way.

Cliff House Hotel in Manitou Springs

06 Canon Ave, Manitou Springs, CO ‎
(719) 785-1000 ‎ ·
Category: Luxury Hotel

This is your luxury option in Manitou Springs, within walking distance of the downtown (such as it is) area. Heated toilets and all that. They do lots of weddings. Directly across the highway from the Cliff Dwellings and Cave of the Winds. Not far from the Incline and Cog Railway up to Pikes Peak, either.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Most Dangerous Thing in Colorado Springs

This is, for Real, the Deadliest Thing in Colorado

There are many dangerous things about Colorado Springs and surrounding environs. Just to go through some of the more obvious things:

  • Winter roads can be very, very tricky. Seemingly safe, main roads will be covered with black ice, and you will go twirling around in your car before you know it. People who live here get in accidents all the time, and there are some roads that are absolutely notorious for massive wrecks (think hilly, east-facing roads with overhanging trees). The weather will change in a heartbeat, and if you have never seen all four seasons in one day anywhere else, you have a great chance of that here during the spring or fall.
  • Escaped criminals seem to love this area as a sort of anonymous hideout. There are many prisons within a hundred miles of Colorado Springs, maybe escapees think of it as home. It is rare for there to be an alert about some band of criminals in town - but it happens with some regularity. For some reason, seemingly safe nearby towns such as Monument have lots of weird shootings and other problems, and let's not even start on Columbine, which is to the north. If you go to Walmart, you stand a good chance of seeing average Joes with a holstered pistols - those are the good guys.
  • Fires are a huge problem during the summer. Here's the deal: there are too many people, and there is not enough water unless the winter is "bad." Homes are being built out among the trees because it is so pretty there, and guess what happens when a forest fire approaches? Those homes burn down. A record number of Colorado homes burned down in 2012, and nearly the entire city of Colorado Springs (there was true panic in the air, regardless of what you will hear now about "Oh, the city was never in any danger what-so-ever"). Summer droughts are becoming common, and the forest fires are worse with time.

All of those are issues in Colorado Springs. However, none of them matches the following in terms of pure, raw, unmitigated, terror-inducing mayhem.

Your typical Colorado deer

Yes, that is the Number One thing that is likely you get you into trouble in Colorado Springs. Bambi, you say? A cute little deer?

Deer in Mountain Shadows

Yes, that is exactly what I mean. Deer own this town. You can be in the heart of Colorado Springs, and you will casually look over at the side of the road and see them looking at you. I'm not kidding about this - they don't get downtown very much, but drive five or ten minutes from there, and deer will be around somewhere.

Drivers are more respectful of deer than people

You may say, "Oh, I can handle deer." Sure you can - maybe a hundred times in a row. Then, one late night, you'll be driving home down some nice, pleasant suburban street, and a whole herd will jump out in front of you. Slam on the brakes! They won't get out of the way for you, bet your life on that.

A cute little family - many others are nearby

Aww, they're so cute! One will follow the other out into the road, and they will jump right in your way - and stop. Or maybe it will stop just off to the side - and THEN jump right in front of you.

"I think I'll go for a walk in the road"

"Well, so what, I'll kill a deer that was too stupid to get out of the way." Yes, that's unfortunately true. You also, however, will probably do several thousand dollars worth of damage to your vehicle. Deer are big, and they are solidly built. It is like hitting a tree, the biggest difference being that there will be blood everywhere.


"You're so callous and heartless!" No, actually I'm not. I love deer. However, once the deer is dead, it isn't coming back, and its trials and tribulations on this earthly realm will be over. Yours, however, will be just beginning, as you figure out how to get your vehicle to a repair shop so that the insurance company can total it and you can start over, out the time and expense.

We're not talking warm and cuddly here

If you spend enough time in Colorado Springs, you will learn that what I say is true. Some areas, such as the Air Force Academy, are crawling with deer. I had a friend who smacked into one late one evening after work there -and she's a native. Lots of trees, numerous dark hiding spots, unlit roads - deer heaven.

deer Colorado Springs
You look over, not expecting anything - and there one is

So there you have it. Make of it what you will, but be forewarned - if you drive as you do back home, you will have problems here. Drive a bit slower, at least at first, and learn. You'll be better off.