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.
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?)
Above the tree line.
“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.
View from the top.
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?
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.
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 🙂
The sweet deer came right up to the train on the way back down.
The next day, we headed to Durango to get on the Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. This train ride was a full day adventure!
We 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…
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 🙂
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.
They were very happy with their haul.
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!!
We stopped in Memphis for a night and checked out our bottle, since this was the lowest point in our trip.
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!
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???