Like I said in my previous post, I plan on posting with my pictures and my commentary on them, but my brother took more pictures than I did, has a better camera than I do, and has a better eye for shots too... but I don't have his pictures yet, so you are stuck with mine until later when I decide to either add another post with his great ones, or edit them into these... I'll decide later.
Anyways, we woke up early Thursday morning so that we could go to the airport. My parents picked us up at 6:20am. (We had a lot of early mornings on this trip as you will soon see). It was a very easy trip getting to Colorado, the airport check-in etc. went really fast, and we had time to relax and enjoy a breakfast at the airport before the flight. The flight was really quick compared to previous trips, only a few hours, and leaving the airport was fairly easy too (although there was a long line at the car rental place).
Our first stop in Colorado was.... a mall! Yes, we went to a mall because my brother, who works for Apple, wants to visit as many Apple stores as he can, so every trip he finds the ones that are not unreasonably out of the way and visits them. Usually he goes at a time that doesn't bother anyone else, so it isn't a big deal. This one however was about an hour and a half away from our hotel, but only about half an hour from the airport, so we went there first.
We had lunch at a CPK there, and walked around a bit while my brother went on a "behind the scenes" tour at their Apple store. The most interesting part of the mall was the children's play area which had giant breakfast foods that the kids could climb over and play on, like a bowl of cereal, sausages etc.
I think we were there for a few hours before we left to head to the hotel. My dad was thinking about heading to some of the places we wanted to see in Colorado Springs first, but we convinced him to at the very least go to the hotel first, and then if we felt like it, go out again to them.
By the time we got to the hotel, it was already almost dinner time, and we were all exhausted from the day of travel (keep in mind that we were all up before 6 too...), so we had dinner at one of the hotel's restaurants, and then had a lazy evening in our rooms.
My first group of pictures is actually of the hotel that we stayed at, the Broadmoor.
It truly was a beautiful place, and the whole area reminded me of a college campus in how clean and nicely laid out it was (I had to stop myself from referring to it as a campus frequently on the trip). Blake and I spent most of one of the mornings (Sunday...I'll elaborate more later) just looking out over the man-made lake on the property. There were tons of dogs around because it is a pet friendly hotel, and that made us miss Roxie, but it was fun to see other people's dogs too. My mom enjoyed the many shops on the hotel property, but my favorite thing about it was just the scenic location, so that's what most of my pictures are above.
Friday morning had an early wake up call because it was our bike riding day. We had to be in the south lobby (as opposed to the west lobby of our tower or the main lobby...it was quite the hotel) by 6:45am. A van took us to the bike company headquarters where they organized us, and gave us a light breakfast. Then they took us to the cog train station.
The cog train goes to the top of Pike's Peak and back down, and it is different than regular trains because it uses interconnecting cogs to keep the train on the track, and it allows for trains to go up much steeper than if they were on the regular tracks. It was beautiful scenery and there was a guide on board who was very knowledgeable but also very interesting and entertaining, so the hour trip up there went quickly. Probably the most memorable part of this ride was learning about the couple who takes care of the reservoirs, they live in a house up there with just them and the dog during the summers, but they are so out of the way their driveway starts 45 minutes away from their house, and it takes them an hour to get groceries or any supplies! Crazy! Blake said he would like to be that isolated lol! Here are some of my pictures that I took on our way up in no particular order.
Now I keep talking about the bike trip... well the bike trip was the way we went down the mountain. It was really cold at the top, I figured it was summer... but it was about 30 degrees at the top of Pike's Peak, but fortunately our bike tour thought about all these things and brought tons of jackets, sweat pants, ear warmers, gloves, etc. so that we would be warm enough for our ride. I didn't take any pictures the whole ride... but my brother got some, and I will show those later.
It was mostly downhill, but there were three big uphill parts, which I am proud to say that I didn't have to walk my bike on at all. The rest of the time I was holding my breaks lol. I enjoyed it... but I spent a rather large portion of the ride also being nervous about going too fast, or going off the edge. There were cars coming down as well, so we had to stay on the side to let them pass. We did stop frequently and regroup... and I was only the last one a few times (although there were 9/10 year old kids beating me down lol). The scariest parts were the unpaved portions of the road, but they are working on getting it all paved. Blake had a ball, and said that he barely used his breaks (!) but he made it down safely, so I guess that's all that's important. You logical ones out there will be able to deduce from the above sentences that we were not together much of this ride lol. I was fine with that though... because then I could go as slow as I felt comfortable and not feel bad that I was holding him back or feel pressured to go faster.
My dad was with me a few portions of the trip, but honestly I was most comfortable when no one was in the immediate vicinity around me. By the end I was more confident with going downhill, so I started letting go of the breaks a bit more. There were a few scrapes and falls in the group, but nothing serious, and looking back, it was a lot of fun, and I am glad that I did it.
The trip ended at a spot for lunch that was included in the biking package. After we went back to the hotel, we changed and then headed out again to an insect museum (where again... I took no pictures, but I think my brother did). My mom was the main person who wanted to go, but I was surprised by how interesting it actually was to me. There are some amazing insects out there! I think the most interesting portion was seeing the wings of the locusts and grasshoppers... they are beautiful! They have pinks and greens, and all sorts of beautiful colors which you would never know just looking at the insects without their wings open. Second most impressive thing there was just how big some of the bugs were... and most of our group was saying how we don't want to travel to places with those big of insects lol.
We then headed back to the hotel for dinner at their 5 star restaurant.
This was my pick, if you couldn't tell, I am very interested in food and cooking, and not afraid to try new foods. ( I welcome them in fact).
So when I found out that the only 5 star and 5 diamond restaurant in Colorado was in our hotel, I asked my dad if we could eat there, and he agreed.
We all got dressed up, as it was a jacket required restaurant, and we went to dinner at the Penrose room at the top of the south tower. Again... my brother took pictures... I didn't even bring my camera lol.
When we got our menus, I saw very quickly that there was a 7 course option which really excited me... more things to try! It was the chef's tasting menu, but the catch was that the whole table had to agree to it, which meant that everyone had to surrender control of their dinner options. In the past when my family has gone to fancy restaurants like these, my dad and brother (the pickier ones of the family) are reluctant to do this because they don't like so many things... but on Friday they said okay!!!
So we got the chef's tasting menu for the table. I did tell them that I am allergic to mushrooms, so in a few courses they modified mine to get rid of the mushrooms, but everything was amazing! Grant got pictures of almost every course, so I am not going to talk about them all now, but I will say that my favorite of the night was venison (which I don't think I have ever had before). I am not sure that I could describe it, but it was delicious, and the sauce with it was just sooo good.
Other things of note was that they didn't have rolls on the table, but a bread waiter came by in between courses until our cheese course offering a tray of different bread courses... and even those changed each time he came! I think I had 4 different kinds of bread with dinner that night, and they were all wonderful! Also, my dad caught our 5 star waiter making a mistake lol. He brought out a dish that had peas in it, and said that it was topped with the sprouts of a corn plant. My dad loves to garden, looked at what was on top of the dish as a garnish and said, "That isn't corn." The waiter asserted that it was, but said he would check. Meanwhile my dad is talking about the garnish, says it looks like pea sprouts, but couldn't possibly be corn sprouts, because corn sprouts look like grass... and my dad was right! The waiter had made a mistake, and brought out some corn sprouts as well to show us, but admitted that he had said the wrong topping and that it was actually... pea sprouts! Just like my dad had said.
We were full by the end... but not overly stuffed, and it was one of my favorite parts of the whole trip getting to have that amazing dinner there.
Saturday and Sunday will be in the next post.