Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Colorado Springs

A few weeks ago Robert and I visited one of his sisters, Abby, in Colorado Springs.

The trip was peaceful, silly and invigorating.  Robert's sister is equal parts lovable and snarky.  She is currently getting her masters in clinical psychology and interning at a hospice.  So imagine a highly educated gal who is deeply interested in geriatrics and uses lots of big words like 'practicum,' but who's also incredibly silly and firmly attached to her rural roots (she grew up in a tiny town in Missouri).  Robert and I had to finally ask her what 'crunchy' meant because she kept using it in context to fairly questionable areas of Colorado Springs.  Turns out 'crunchy' does mean questionable areas, yes, but it also encompasses the interesting people who lurk in those places, such as hippies.  Crunchy means gritty cool. Abby is very much like Robert in that she strikes up gregarious chitchat with strangers.  The difference between Robert and Abby is that Abby seems to have a knack for zooming in on crunchy people, whereas Robert, who is unfailingly polite to crunchy people, may not necessarily hang around for gregarious chitchat with them.  

I spent a lot of time watching Robert and Abby talk to strangers, yes, but we also did a lot of hiking.  Abby, a high-altitude warrior, took Robert and I on hikes that always started out with a brutal climb but always ended in a kind of breathlessness that had nothing to do with the thin air.  We spent much of the hikes getting to know each other.  Because this was our first time hanging out with Abby it was like starting from scratch.  The more I learned about Abby the more I found myself plotting ways to take her back to KC with us, or even better, move out to Colorado Springs.

When Abby asked how we felt about bugs, she thankfully ignored Robert's lack of enthusiasm and pointed the way to May Natural History Museum, which happens to be the largest private collection of dead bugs.  When I saw the enormous Rhino beetle at the entrance I knew it was going to be an awesome experience.  And it was.  Everyone should go.  Even bug-haters like Robert.  

Watching Robert and Abby talk was very special.  I firmly believe that family doesn't necessarily include those we're related to, and that one of the joys in life is picking people to be our families, whether or not they're related.  It's always amazing when the people we pick to be family happen to be those we're related to.

Abby's dog, Lola, is part Pomeranian part Schipperke and 100% love fluff. 

We found these special swings in Manitou Springs - one more reason to move to Colorado.

Red Rock Canyon Open Space was possibly the best hiking experience I've had yet, but it's tough to compare to other greats like Sabino Canyon, Mt. Rainier and good ol' Busiek.  

I think at this point we had hiked close to 8 miles in various places.  There was just so much beauty everywhere.  I think you could hike almost every day for a year and see something different each time.  

Abby was much more brave than me, and went further out on this long dinosaur spine.  

On the last day of the trip Robert and I went on an EPIC cog train ride up Pikes Peak.  At the top, after a cup of hot chocolate and some putzing around, we biked down the mountain.  

It was chilly, but gorgeous and exhilarating.

At times we were going 40 mph!  I don't even like to go that fast in a car, but this was special.  We had to keep up, and towards the end of the bike ride the other bicyclists were trying to keep up with us!

I cannot even explain just how spectacular the views were.  

And the aspens were turning to gold before our very eyes.

We gleaned enough peace from this trip to last a lifetime, and hopefully that's how long we'll be friends with Abby too!

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