Weekend in Colorado

Following closely on the heels of my trip to Seattle, I flew out to Colorado for some meetings at the US Olympic Committee.  The USOC is based in Colorado Springs, which is only an hour south of Denver.  Naturally I took advantage of the adjacent weekend to explore the area and play with Amanda and some of her friends.  It was great to see her and enjoy the mountains in early spring.
Dawn over the plains
(it’s all downhill from here to the Mississippi)

I spent most of Saturday with Amanda in Denver.  We drove around town so she could introduce me to all the cool neighborhoods, and we stopped for brunch/lunch at tiny restaurant called Bang!  We split a French toast and finished off with more sensible lunch fare. 

Orange and cinnamon French toast with fresh fruit
cobb salad
the sign speaks for itself

After visiting the neighborhoods, Amanda and I met up with her sister Rachel and a group of Amanda’s friends for dinner and a movie.  We saw Monuments Men at the Alamo theater and then (per usual) talked for way too long outside in the freezing cole parking lot.  It was good to see Rachel again, and I enjoyed meeting Amanda’s friends after hearing so much about them over the years — it almost felt like I already knew them.  Needless to say, this was a group of smart, interesting women with whom I’d definitely want to hang out with more if I ever ended up in Denver on a longer-term basis (and even if I don’t). 

On Sunday I was back in Colorado Springs for my flight home — but the flight didn’t leave until mid-afternoon, so I had time to explore Nature. 

Pikes Peak
I decided to drive to the top
Sadly, the road was closed due to snow at about 11,440 feet elevation.
Never made it all the way to the 14,000 foot summit.
Views from the turn-around point.
View of Colorado Springs from the foothills.

During my meetings with folks at the US Olympic Committee I asked them if there was anything I should do/see while I was in town.  Inevitably the response included something like this:

“The Incline.  You should definitely hike up the Incline.  Except, wait.  You’re from the East Coast, so you’ll probably die.  Maybe just drive around.”

Of course this meant that the first thing I did after getting down from Pikes Peak was to climb the Incline at Manitou Springs.  Originally a gondola ran from the center of town at Manitou Springs to the top of a nearby hill.  Now, with the gondola gone, it’s essentially an insane staircase of doom up which all the locals run/climb/stagger on sunny weekend mornings. 

The trail goes straight up the mountain,
climbing 2,000 vertical feet in 0.88 miles
I made it to the top in a respectable 40 minutes (the only person who passed me was
an insanely fit Air Force cadet).  It was definitely not the easiest thing I’ve ever done.
About 2/3rds of the way up I realized that if I lived in this town I would quickly be
in incredible shape.

The rest of the story:  My calves were in pain and agony for the next four days.

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