Traveling with kids – Week 4 and Finally home!

Last night I fell asleep to the music of cicadas and crickets.  I didn’t realize I missed it until I heard it coming though my window.  Ahhhh!!!  Home!

We had a wonderful final week of travels and rode TWO trains!  We took the cog railway up to the top of Pikes Peak, one of Colorado’s 14,000 foot mountains (they have 53!)  Cogs are used for steep terrain (generally over 7%, but some of the inclines on our ride were 25%!!!).  It’s basically a gear on the bottom of the train that connects with the middle rail.  This keeps the train from slipping on the tracks during a steep incline.
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Here is what the railing looks like.  Leif really enjoyed learning how this works.  There are currently only 3 cog railways in use in the US: Pike’s Peak in Colorado, Mount Washington in NH, and Quincy and Torch Lake in MI.  (See the deer in the woods?)

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pikespeak3You can see the angle of the incline here.  Looks more like we are in a plane!

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Above the tree line.

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“The hills are alive….”  I could just see Julie Andrews dancing in the fields. :-)  The grass up here grows SOOOOOO slowly…. about an inch every hundred years.  So, we cold still see the 100 year old wagon trail.pikespeak8

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In the distance is a working gold mine!pikespeak11

View from the top.pikespeak12

One thing that I learned on the trip was that Katherine Lee Bates wrote the poem  America the Beautiful after being inspired during the wagon trip she took up to the top of Pike’s Peak in 1893.  Isn’t that cool? pikespeak13

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Since this was the highest point we would be at during our trip we emptied our water bottle of water and put the cap back on for the long trip back home.  We talked to the kids about air pressure and how it would change the bottle as we traveled home.
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Leif loves his sister so much.  But he DID NOT want her in this picture with him.  There was a long line of people waiting to take pictures of the summit sign and the train was ready to leave.  So, since Leif couldn’t have a picture by himself, he ran around screaming like a crazy man.  Toby finally had to help him off of the rock and back into the train.  Poor little man.  The low oxygen must have been getting to him :-)

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The sweet deer came right up to the train on the way back down.

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The next day, we headed to Durango to get on the Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.  This train ride was a full day adventure!  DSNGRR19

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DSNGRR2We had a book about the railway that described the language of the different horn blasts.  So, we could tell when the engineer was signaling to his conductors, when he was warning about crossings up ahead, when he was about to stop…

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DSNGRR4 Some parts of the rail line were over some pretty steep cliffs.  This is looking straight down from our window.

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Sometimes, when going over bridges, the train would blow steam out of the side.  This helped clean out a part of the engine (I don’t remember what part :-)

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Over the bridge.DSNGRR8

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We stopped twice to take on more water.  The water tanks were fed by streams above them.  The tank fills up and overflows back into the stream.DSNGRR10

Our destination was Silverton.  The town was named after the ton of silver that you could find there.  (A little gold, too.)  But it was known for being a bit of a lawless town.  There were 40 bordellos on one street!  There was so much trouble making in the town that Wyatt Earp and Bat Masterson were brought in to try to keep the peace.  When they couldn’t, Masterson left and Earp began dealing cards for local saloons.

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Of course, there is ‘mining’ for the kids in Silverton.  DSNGRR16

They were very happy with their haul.

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After a couple of hours in town, we headed back to Durango.  The train in front of us was having some troubles, so this trip took a bit longer.DSNGRR20

And some of us got tired :-)DSNGRR21

Selfie with the kid.DSNGRR22

When we finally got back to the hotel, this is what the sky looked like.DSNGRR23

We had thought about making a few other stops, but we all agreed that we had seen as many things as we could and it was time to make the 26 hour trip home.  We passed a train carrying wind turbine blades.  I had no idea they were so big!!!  Each of these blades took up two train cars!!windturbine

On our way through Oklahoma, the sky began to darken.storm1

And lightning began to explode in the air!!!  The sky was pitch black at this point, but the clouds look white because of the lightning inside.storm2

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We stopped in Memphis for a night and checked out our bottle, since this was the lowest point in our trip.

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Yesterday, 4300 total miles later, we finally rolled into home!  What a trip!  It really couldn’t have worked out much better!  But, man, is it great to be home!

The pumpkin vines have to be 30 feet long!home

The tomatoes are bigger than my hand!home2

And the flowers are gorgeous!home4

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So, now we go back to our normal routine.  Time for me to start planning out the next school year for the kids, getting things canned up from the garden, and enjoying the last days of summer.

Where should we go next year???

 

2 thoughts on “Traveling with kids – Week 4 and Finally home!

  1. Love, love, love the photos. I took that Durango train…looking straight down was very unnerving. How many pumpkins do you have on that 30 ft. vine?

  2. Jill, we are growing 2 types of pumpkins this year. The smaller vines have 5 or 6 little white pumpkins on them. The larger vines are growing Dill’s Atlantic Giants, the kind you bring to the state fair! They get between 50 and 500 pounds!!! So far, we just have little 1 -3 inch babies on there, but hopefully we’ll have a few bigguns come fall.

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