Saturday, August 6, 2011

W-b-N Pike's Peak, Part 2

May 30, Memorial Day.
This morning was spent at Camping World in Wheat Ridge (Denver suburb) getting two new deep-cycle house-batteries for the RV.  The ones I had were probably four or five years old and no doubt should have been replaced before the beginning of the trip.  The whole process took less than two hours and cost less than what I paid at the Mid-Tenn Ford in Nashville, where the battery problem wasn’t fixed after a $500 expense.  Hope these batteries will hold a charge for the rest of the trip.
Yesterday I took the 9:20 AM cog train going to the top of Pike’s Peak.  The morning had broken cloudy and overcast, and I was worried that we wouldn’t have much of a view at the top.  But clouds soon lifted and by the time we boarded the train (the Aspen), skies were sunny and blue.  I was lucky and had a seat in the front of the train as we ascended, so I could watch the scenery transform as we went from below, where pine and aspen line the tracks, and huge boulders hover over it, through scrubby, bristle cone pine growing in sparse earth still littered with snow, on up to a snowy, hostile slag-strewn landscape above the tree-line.  At Windy Point, elevation 12, 120, the wind was truly fierce; it was even worse, clocked at nearly 80 mph, at the summit.  So we had to stop there, wait for the 8:00 AM train to descend, and then come back to the station without making a full ascent.  I was disappointed, but we had some spectacular views on the way up, so I’m not sorry about taking an extra day to make that excursion.  The train behind us had even more trouble (gear lubrication or heating issues) and had to descend after going less than a quarter of the way up.  A group of Korean tourists was on that train (I talked with one young lady from the group on the platform), and I’m sure they were truly disappointed.
After getting back to the station, I climbed the stairs to the road, rested a bit, and then climbed the hill to where the RV was parked.  I was so exhausted when I got there that I had to lean against the driver’s seat of the RV before getting in, my lungs gasping for air and my heart thumping in my chest.  I worry about how I will handle the trip to Yellowstone with Blake, and I realize it’s probably a good thing I’m going to NJH afterwards to have my lungs checked out as thoroughly as possible.
I drove the RV into town, parked for a while, had a sandwich and drink from my supplies in the refrigerator, and then drove back to Denver.  A traffic jam, apparently the result of an accident on I-25, slowed me down for about twenty minutes; this gave me a chance to glance back fondly at the Pike's Peak for a prolonged farewell.  Castle Rock, on the way north, did not look nearly as much like a castle as it did on the drive south.  I again parked at the Flying J in Aurora, my “home base” here in Denver.  Tomorrow, I’ll camp for two nights at Cherry Creek Park campground, spend a day (Thursday) with Gail Mullen seeing sights in downtown Denver, then go to a campground in Englewood, where I’ll leave the RV to take the plane to Charleston to pick up grandson, Blake.

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