Previously on Day Six: We traveled southwest from Colorado Springs to Cañon City for the pleasure of visiting the Royal Gorge Bridge and Park, home of the professed highest suspension bridge in America, with optional attractions posted on either side to provide visitors with incentive to cross back and forth and truly enjoy the bridge experience to its fullest.
If you’re feeling saucy or afraid of swaying bridges that remind you of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, you have the option of crossing the bridge on the Aerial Tram. Up to thirty-five passengers can travel 2,200 death-defying feet across a much wider gap in the Gorge than the bridge itself traverses. Pray your fellow passengers aren’t prone to panic attacks.
If both methods frighten you, take comfort in a closer examination of the cables that have supported the bridge for years, some of them since its creation in 1929. The Aerial Tram opened in 1969. It’s your call as to which to trust more, really.
Once you overcome your fears and reach terra firma on the opposite side, your amusement options include a small simulation of an Old West town, burro rides, very long walks over the hilly terrain, and a Minnie Pearl impersonator. If you’d prefer something less taxing, the Wapiti Western Wildlife Park has a handful of live animals on exhibit, a few of them happy to see you.
Indifferent llama is very indifferent to you.
The white bison eats alone. If he’s too busy to talk shop with his less sacred, more neutral-colored brethren, he’s too busy for you.
The Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep is shunning you. Sure, he could cool off and relax in the shade from that beneficent tree, but he’d rather lie on the opposite side and roast in the summer afternoon sun…because in order to enjoy the shade, he would have to get closer to you.
This industrious goat would be more than happy to exchange pleasantries with you, but he’s too busy with his futile escape attempt. This is what happens when you only watch the last ten minutes of The Shawshank Redemption and never realize there was much more to Andy’s long-term jailbreak scheme than just the last step.
Realizing that Operation: Earthworm was a no-go, the goat switches to Plan B: climbing the highest tower and hopping over the prison walls. It may take him years to discover the fatal flaw in Operation: Kangaroo.
One of the most interesting non-transportation devices in Royal Gorge Park is this rarity of a water clock. The Childrens Museum back home in Indianapolis has a 26-foot-tall glass water clock, but its shorter Colorado cousin has a certain rustic charm, along with a surrounding wall convenient for sitting after all the blocks and blocks of walking you underwent in the Wildlife Park, which is neither small nor flat.
If you’d prefer to dangle over the Gorge without actually crossing it, the Soaring Eagle Zip Line is your best, scariest option. Marvel as still more cable slides you across the length of the Arkansas River and tests your nerves. You’re the mote in the upper left corner.
We weren’t interested in having ourselves tested for acrophobia. Instead of imagining ourselves plummeting to the bottom of that gorge as the result of equipment failure or force majeure, we decided to descend to the bottom on purpose.
To be continued!
[Link enclosed here to handy checklist for previous and future chapters, and for our complete road trip history to date. Thanks for reading!]