Last week, I had something of a short-notice visit by an aunt and uncle I haven’t seen in years!  They had never met the kids, and he was coming out for business.  So, we hooked up.  They wanted to drive up Pike’s Peak in Colorado Springs, CO, and since it was on my list of things to do/see this summer, the kids and I tagged along.  My uncle agreed to drive my van so we could all fit (and because I was a bit too nervous to drive up the steep gravel mountain road).  We had a wonderful morning together, and of the few times I have visited the Peak in the past, this was definitely the prettiest day!  The breeze was light, the temperature in the high 40’s (at over 14,000 feet), and the sun was shining.

On the drive up, we passed a picturesque reservoir.  It was absolutely beautiful, and an area I had completely forgotted existed. 

Once we reached the Peak, the kids and I decided to have our morning snack at the little diner up there.  They are somewhat famous for their homemade, high-altitude doughnuts, and now I know why!  For a plain, cake doughnut, they are delicious!!  Then we stepped outside for some photos.

The "America The Beautiful" memorial--a tribute to the famous song, which was written from on top of Pike's Peak. When you get up there, and take a look around at the 360 degree views of city-scapes, snow-capped purple-ish mountains in the distance to the west, and the flat plains to the east, it is very easy to see how she could have written those words.

The older 3 kids loved playing in the rocks while we adults enjoyed the view. N just hung out on my back in his ergo carrier. What a beautiful place!

See, N and I really were there!

A memorable, unique photo of me with some extended family...my uncle on the far left and aunt on the far right.

We had a wonderful time touring and visiting.  I have to admit, I was absolutely astonished at the difference in oxygen up at the peak.  The area we live is well over 7,000 feet in altitude, and around here, they say it takes a full 6-8 weeks to acclimate to the decreased oxygen levels.  I figured, since I was mostly acclimated to the half-way point, I would be way ahead of my aunt and uncle who are from sea-level.  I was wrong!  When you get to 14,000 feet altitude, I don’t think it really matters where you’re from!  The air is thin up there, period!  Realize that aircraft have to be pressurized and pump oxygen into the passenger compartment once they get over 10,000 feet. I couldn’t walk and talk at the same time without getting totally winded!  I don’t know how the kids ran around like they did!  I actually wound up dizzy a couple of times, and had to be careful to take it slow and easy.  As a general rule, the park recommends you not stay more than 40 minutes, as that is when many visitors begin experiencing symptoms of altitude sickness.  I believe it! 

Nonetheless, we had a wonderful time.  And just for the record, the very next day, S and some buddies actually HIKED up to the peak.  Granted, there are two routes–one is 13 miles from bottom to top, and the other starts at the back of the mountain at a roughly half-way point, and goes up about 7.5 miles to the peak.  They took the shorter route.  He had a great time though, and is already dreaming of taking the rest of us with him next time!  Obviously, I have to train a bit before then!

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