After camping throughout most of the United States, our family had a long debate this morning. The questions was what are your top three states and why.? Colorado, New Mexico, and California in no particular order were the consistent nominees.  We all agreed that Colorado would be hands down number one if it were not for the winter weather. The snow did not bother Hunter and Colby , but Kristi and I have more years of shoveling it than them. There is so much to see and do in Colorado.  We have spent a good amount of time here. I have even lived here for a bit and yet we feel that we have barely scratched the surface. On the next trip that we do, we may very well not leave the borders of this majestic state.

The Cache la Poudre river in Northern Colorado is a place of Awe. Yosemite, Glacier National Park, and a few other spots have brought on this emotion for me.

 

The Poudre is different. It is quiet. It is secluded. It is in a word… different.  This is the first place 5 years of cross country trips that we have returned to twice.  I could try my best to describe it for you, but I would fail.  All I can say is that if you ever find yourself anywhere near this area of the country, follow the river west and prepare for an experience of spiritual proportions.   To read about more adventures in the Poudre click HERE

Continuing the theme of spirituality…. I happened upon a Tibetan Buddhist retreat center deep in the mountains surrounding the Poudre River.  It was 7 miles down a dirt road and I had no idea what to expect when I arrived.  When I pulled into the parking area, I was greeted with signs welcoming me and telling where to park and how to get to the Stupta.  Stupta? What the heck was a Stupta?  I had heard the term before, but I still was not sure if it was a temple or simply a monument to Siddhartha, the original Buddha.

So I hiked, and hiked and hiked , down a trail named “Stupta Way” Please realize that it was only 7AM and I was not really ready for a 3 mile hike. I really thought that I would be going a few hundred yards at most before a gold painted statue of the Buddha would appear before me.  It was not to be. The trail took me close to two miles before it gave way to a moment of Awe.

The whole crew creekside

Standing 180 feet tall in the middle of nowhere was a golden monument constructed in the honor of the Buddha.   It was breathtaking.  It seemed that I was all alone as I made my way to the entrance.  As I transcended the stairs to the temple, I was greeted by a huge doe which I interpreted as an ambassador to this place.  She looked at me unfazed and seemed to nod as I made my way to the great Buddha.  At the door, I unhitched my sandals and stepped though the doorway into the sanctuary.  Inside there were two pilgrims deep in mediation. Before me stood a giant 30 foot tall golden Buddha.   This was not the fat Buddha that most of us know, but rather the young slender Indian Buddha.   Siddhartha was sitting crossed legged with his hands eschew in a pose of peace and tranquility.   Without meaning to, I fell into my own little meditation.  I look forward to having the time to return to a place like this for more than a quick visit.

After leaving the Cache la Poudre river canyon, we headed south to Erie, Colorado to see my Cousin Sasha. It has been too many years and it was great to catch up with her and see her beautiful new home at the base of the Rockies. She made us lunch, provided free laundry, and we even got a glance at the TV for a bit.  We were really living, but it was not to last.  After our visit we headed further south to Colorado Springs and set up camp for the night at our second commercial campground of the entire trip.

The Stupta

Have I mentioned that I hate commercial campgrounds?  As is the case most of the time we were…(as my sister in law says) “Butts to Nuts” with our neighbors.  We set up and quickly vacated the old girl. We did a sunset tour of Garden of the Gods. I was honestly a little shocked about how nice it was. Normally you do not find this kind of beauty so close to civilization. There were of course a ton of people there, but that was to be expected. After that we found a restaurant called Pride of Jerusalem. Normally I would steer clear of any ethnic food in towns outside of NY and California, but something here drew us in. It was a nice surprise to find  authentic middle eastern cuisine in the middle of Colorado.  The iced sage tea was a welcome oasis from the mid day sun. The various hummus and kabob platters that we ordered were a nice break from our campsite staples of hamburgers, chicken, trout, and hot dogs.  After heading back to the campground, Colby talked me into a dip in the pool. I was a little afraid that soaking for too long would turn the pool a hazy shade of brown. I had not had a good soak in a long time and there has been a lot of dusty hiking over the past couple of weeks. That however was not my problem. After all, that is what they  make chlorine for!

5-1407103807-14-jpgThe next morning we headed for the Pikes Peak Cog Railway.  The train climbs a 25 percent slope for 8 miles to the top of the 14,000 foot summit.  The whole time up the boys and I razed Kristi about the possibility or her dying from altitude sickness. She is particularly sensitive to altitude and we could not help from joking about it.  The trip up was spectacular. We saw mountains goats, yellow bellied marmots, and awesome views the entire trip.  After the 1 hour and 15 minute trip we reached the summit. As we exited the train I suddenly felt as though I had made a stop at one of the famous dispensaries in town.5-1407103807-15-jpg

 

To say that I was light headed was a bit of an understatement. I was just plain stupid from the altitude. I honestly felt like I could pass out. So much for making fun of her. I was the tool most affected!  The Cog Railway was great. I would recommended it to anyone coming to Colorado Springs.

In  conclusion, Colorado is a awesome state. I have always said that Colorado is a YES state as  compared to New York which is such a NO sate.  YES you can go off roading in the state parks. Yes you can snowmobile on public land. YES you can buy recreational marijuana just because you want to.  I like YES states and I like this one the best!