We finally escaped Santa Fe, with our RV once again in tippy-toppy shape, and we headed to Colorado. Our first stop was Colorado City. Now, don’t confuse Colorado City with Colorado Springs, because Colorado Springs is a real city, while Colorado City may have one spring (probably not) but is definitely not a city.
Colorado City has just one place to visit – Bob and Gini’s house. Bob and Gini are Don-Michael’s grandparents. They own one of the eight houses in Colorado City, and it’s the one with indoor plumbing. Lily only met Bob and Gini briefly once before, but she fell in LUUUUUUV with her great-grandma Gini on this trip. They played catch with Gini’s stuffed hedgehog, they danced without music, they organized and lined up snack mix components. If Gini left the room, Lily hunted her down. If Lily was forced into the bathtub, she forced Gini to watch her. Lily saw snow fall for the first time, and she watched it out the big window to the deck, with Gini by her side. The next day, Lily tromped in her pink rubber boots through every snow pile, and Gini followed her, even though Gini only had sneakers on and will probably have to have several toes amputated due to frostbite.
Don-Michael went outside the first morning and yelled, “Owwww! My ojos! Why is the sun so close?” Colorado is way up high near the sun, and that sun will shine right into your looking balls. Bob then led us to a café in West Cliff, right at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. Those Rocky Mountains are f*&king crazy! Pictures don't do them justice, homey. They look really close, and like they’re just regular mountains with some snow fluff on them. But then you realize how far off they really are, and how huge, and how like a medieval monster patch they are. It gives you the willies. And the wonkas.
The next day, our tour guide, Bob, led us over to Bishop’s Castle. You know how castles are built by like hundreds of people, and there are probably architects and engineers and plumbers and electricians and all kinds of machinery and experts and stuff? Well, but, sometimes, one kooky dude just decides, why not build a castle myself? By gathering rocks and gluing them together with Post-Its and bubble gum? And sometimes he does it over 60 years, every day, rock by rock. And sometimes he puts signs all around his castle, with nonsense rants about his Constitutional rights and how law enforcement has been harassing him for years and how those 35 charges were all false. And you’re like, “What charges?” And maybe a guy named Bob warns you that the whole structure is unsound, and, no, Jill, you shouldn’t climb to the 20th floor on those rickety spiral staircases and bridges made of rusted iron that this guy stole from a McDonald’s playground thirty years ago. But Jill does it anyway. And mostly so do Don-Michael, Andie, and Lily. And it’s amazing. This ridiculous man built a big, messy, sprawling castle for no good reason. And somehow it’s open to the public to risk their lives on! That’s called “coming to the nuisance,” amirite my right lawyer friends? It’s all on you if you come to the nuisance. Nuisance-climber beware. So, point is, if you’re in Colorado, definitely go to this guy’s house. Oh, and by the by, the day we arrived, they were conducting a forensic investigation of the gift shop, which happened to burn down the day before. Don-Michael mentioned how that gift shop must have contained all kinds of inventory that only an insurance company would purchase, and, wow, that insurance money sure could help Jim Bishop buy a few more rocks and sticks of bubble gum. There might be a new wing to the castle when you visit!
On March 30, our little eagle arrived. Lauren landed at Denver Int’l Airport, and Don-Michael picked her up. Then he brought her back to Elbert, CO…
Between Colorado Springs and Denver is a place called Elbert, and there lies a small community of old rich white people who love tiny airplanes. They’ve built their own airfield! They fly little itty bitty planes, and some of them don’t even have engines! Have you heard of “gliders?” We thought those were the giant kites with handlebars, which you use to jump off a cliff and ride to your doom. But there’s also another type of glider you can ride to your doom! You can get in a weensy-beansy airplane with no engine (is that a plane at all?), which another weensy-beansy airplane WITH an engine drags up into the air and then lets go. The glider “pilot” (are you a pilot if your plane has no engine?) just rides the wind until… until. Don-Michael asked Lauren if she wanted to try it, and she said, “That’s how people die!” We gave her an A+ for smarts and a D- for adventure. She continued playing her video game on her Kindle until her little hands turned to claws and her eyes crossed.
How did we end up in Elbert, CO? Well, as per our usual routine, on the way outta Colorado City, we realized we needed a new place to sleep. We went on boondockerswelcome.com, and found Frank and Lynn. Frank is one of the guys who loves tiny planes. He has two in his very own hanger! And he and Lynn built a giant, lovely house out there in the wilds. They had just posted on boondockerswelcome.com a couple weeks before, and we were their first, amazing experience hosting homeless people. They let us hang out in their actual, real, wheelless house, and Lily asked Lynn for every snack that might exist in a big home. Lily doesn’t like to eat unless it’s out of someone else’s kitchen. Frank and Lynn told us about their beautiful children and grandchildren and their door business. Years ago, they installed all those sliding glass doors for Walmart. We use those all the time! To get into Walmart! And buy crap! Frank also gave us a whole bunch of RV tips. For example, when our fresh water tank leaked, he explained that the drain valve was probably open, as we’d never tried to fill it since buying the RV. And he was right! Frank is kind of an RV genius. Guess what else? Frank and Lynn gave us candy-filled eggs to hide around their yard for Easter. Lauren and Lily were very happy. Lily was willing to eat the candy because it was the Easter Bunny’s and not from our own kitchen. Lauren was happy because she found at least three more eggs than Lily, even though all three adults worked hard on Lily's behalf. Frank and Lynn were the very best hosts, and, after their experience with us, we’re confident they’ve taken down their profile from boondockerswelcome.com.
Garden of the Gods: One of the best natural attractions in Colorado Springs is the Garden of the Gods. It’s an area with rocks. But, like, big rocks. Real real big rocks. They’re reddish in color and they stand up in crazy patterns, and there are signs to warn you that they might fall down on you whenever they feel like it, and you ignore those signs and you climb on the rocks and you encourage your kids and dogs to do it, too. Some people climb the rocks fo’ real fo’ real with, you know, ropes and pulleys and those special little tiny effeminate shoes. We really liked the rocks, and Lily really liked all the dogs that were being walked there. She made sure to pet every one of them, most of all the ones who wanted nothing to do with her.
Manitou Springs: This is a little town built on coffee shops and t-shirts. We went to their famous “Penny Arcade.” Spoiler: Every game costs between 25 cents and $1, just like all other arcades. But, in its favor, it's the biggest arcade we’ve ever seen. The arcade looks like it slowly creeped over an entire strip mall/town square. There are at least a dozen store-fronts and several sidewalk squares filled with pinball, kiddie rides, ski ball, 1980s arcade games, and Russian Roulette guns with real bullets. With just $5, we won enough tickets to get Lauren and Lily fifty cents worth of candy, which is a pretty good ROI for an arcade.
As we walked away from the arcade area, we ran into John and Sage. John is a man, and Sage is a parrot. John carries sunflower seeds for strangers to feed to Sage. John is lonely, Sage is hungry, and strangers are amazed to run into a parrot. We talked at length with Sage, and we learned that John has only dressed up as a pirate for ONE Halloween. John is clearly a very disciplined man. Jill suggested to John that, for next Halloween, he should dress Sage as a pirate and himself as a parrot. John said he had thought of that, but it’s pretty clear he had not, and Jill is a genius.
On the way back to the car, we followed John’s suggestion to buy frozen custard at Matt’s frozen custard stand. Matt has swooped first place in the Pike’s Peak Marathon for like 15 years in a row. He’s very thin and athletic. He doesn’t appear to eat frozen custard. His frozen custard tastes just like frozen custard, and we liked it. Andie thought Don-Michael’s orange-and-cream "DreamCycle" (does Matt cycle, too?) tasted like chewable baby aspirin, in a good way.
On the way back to our sweet car, we found one of Manitou Springs’ seven springs, which are scattered throughout town. This particular spring was pouring out of a small, mossy, dirty fountain. We drank the water, because a sign said it has healing powers. It tasted like sweet, slightly carbonated, dirty club soda. And guess what? It worked!! Jill no longer has the herp, Don-Michael’s gout is cured, Lily hasn’t had diaper rash since getting out of diapers, Lauren has grown back her third leg, and Andie’s HIV is hardly detectable. Thank you, Manitou Springs!
Now, on to Utah and the Great Salt Lake....