I had to kill a few hours in the morning puttering around free areas while waiting for other Colorado Springs businesses to open. Eventually I made my way west through the Rockies, up the side of a mountain, then down inside it.
Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
Each year my wife and I take a road trip to a different part of the United States and see what sorts of historical landmarks, natural wonders, man-made oddities, unexplored restaurants, and cautionary tales await us. From November 1-6, 2015, we racked up a number of personal firsts. My wife Anne was invited on her first business trip to Colorado Springs, all expenses paid from flight to food to lodging to rental car, to assist with cross-training at a distant affiliate. Her supervisor gave me permission to attend as her personal travel companion as long as I bought my own plane ticket and food. I posted one photo for each of the six days while we were on location. With this series, we delve into selections from the 500+ other photos we took along the way.
My next stop was the Cave of the Winds, not to be confused with the Cave of the Winds we saw at Niagara Falls on our 2004 road trip, and was the opposite of this one in numerous ways. The entrance was discovered in 1880 some 7000 feet above sea level. It was open for business the following year and has been attracting visitors ever since.
After the turnoff from I-24 the Cave’s sign isn’t far away, but the Visitors Center is another few miles of mostly vertical, precariously winding mountainside road, with no guard rails to prevent impatient drivers from careening off the edge and bouncing toward an explosive doom like so many Mannix suspects. That’s not my wife’s favorite kind of road and it’s among a few sights she’s not sorry she missed.
The Visitors Center offers other activities during the warmer tourist-season months, including an amusement park ride that takes daredevils back and forth, a few thousand feet above the rugged countryside. Closer to earth but equally daunting is this obstacle course that looks much more interesting than the average funhouse.
One bear greets you at the parking lot…
…while another welcomes you to the Cave of the Winds tour.
I walked inside right around opening time at 10 a.m., only to learn the first cave tour would be at 10:45. That gave me five minutes to look at souvenirs and acquire a smashed penny for Anne, and forty minutes to hang around and enjoy the view.
At 10:45 sharp I joined the first group, a few couples older than me and some college kids. I tried not to dwell on loneliness and made the most of the opportunity for a souvenir photo. I bought this largely for my wife, who likes having photos of me for reasons of her own. And asking another tourist to take my pic just felt too weird.
As for the cave itself…the parts that the public is allowed to see on the basic Cave of the Winds tour look a lot like other caves I’ve been inside, such as Indiana’s own Wyandotte Cave, or Tennessee’s Ruby Falls, which we saw on our 2007 road trip. I took photos where I could, experimenting with my camera’s “handheld nightscene” setting for kicks.
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!]