Posts Tagged ‘Colorado Springs’

Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill, Colorado Springs, CO

24 March 2016

Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

In the last post (I think) from Colorado Springs, I had lunch the last day there at Garbanzos. This is not necessarily a bad review, but it’s not the kind of food I generally go for. You might really like it. I didn’t think it was bad, but it didn’t appeal to me.

I had the chicken plate (bowl) with rice, tzatziki sauce, lettuce, pickles, and chips. The tea was not very good, so I switched that drink to Coke (IIRC).

Service is at the counter, and was very nice. My check was $11.17. Next time it’s suggested, I will probably go get some brisket at the nearby Bird Dog BBQ, but that’s just more to my taste.

Hacienda Villareal, Colorado Springs, CO

24 March 2016

Hacienda Villareal Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

As part of my December trip to Colorado Springs, several people who had been stationed at Peterson AFB recommended this place for lunch. It was great! We had about 12 people.

I had Pork Chili Verde, and it was perfect. Not too spicy, with tender, flavorful pork chunks in a very tasty verde sauce. I had double beans, and they were pretty darn good as well.

Service was fast and friendly (it helped that we got in there at 1300, so the lunch rush was past). My check was $12.38. Great chow, I’d be happy to go back.

Rocco’s Italian, Colorado Springs, CO

24 March 2016

Rocco's Italian Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Tonight, I go back to 01 December 2015. I was in Colorado Springs on a business trip. I hit Rocco’s for dinner.

At the servers recommendation, I had beef stroganoff. It was… OK. I expect stro to have a rich, full flavor that is imparted by the sauce to slow-simmered beef. The beef was on the tough side, and the beef and the sauce were neither rich in flavor, nor was the flavor entirely pleasant. In fact, I didn’t finish the meal (if you know me, that’s really rare).

The iced tea was OK, and service was very friendly. My check was $21.42, which was too high given the quality of the meal.

I think I would be willing to give Rocco’s another try, this time for one of the Italian dishes. But the stroganoff was very disappointing.

Subway, Colorado Springs, CO (S. Academy)

24 July 2014

Subway on Urbanspoon

In the second part of our two-part lunch last Sunday, we jetted the half mile up Academy from George’s to this Subway. Raegan got a 6″ Turkey and Ham sub meal. The only glitch happened when she asked for some oil and vinegar, but got vinagrette. The rest of the sandwich was done right and was completely consumed.

The check was $9.47; service was fast and friendly. Good stuff.

George’s Gyros and Burgers, Colorado Springs, CO

24 July 2014

George's Gyros & Burgers on Urbanspoon

After visiting the USAFA last Sunday, we hit George’s for the first part of a two-part lunch. It was pretty good.

Erin and I got burgers, she a bacon cheeseburger and me a double cheeseburger. We both liked those burgers a lot. They were smallish (1/6 lb, probably) and just a touch overcooked, but had good flavor. We both really liked the fries as well, they seemed to be battered.

The iced tea was not the best, but I got Dr. Pepper and it was OK. Our check was $19.28. Good stuff.

Great American Grill, Colorado Springs, CO

20 July 2014

Great American Grill (Hilton Garden Inn Briargate) on Urbanspoon

This Grill is inside the Hilton Garden Inn outside the Air Force Academy in north Colorado Springs. We had breakfast here a week ago today, and again today. In both cases, the food a service were very good. Last week, I had pancakes and enjoyed them greatly. Today I had a ham and cheese omelet, same result. Erin stuck with cold stuff. Raegan had some fried eggs and some of the good fruit selection. We all had some bacon and sausage.

The service model is one of the odd Great American Grill models. If you want anything other than cooked to order, you grab it yourself. If you want stuff cooked to order, you tell the cook, and a server brings it out to you. The GAGs (such a horrible acronym!) have a couple variations on this no matter where you visit. Regardless, the food here was very good, and the service was fast. Last week, it was packed, today not.

You could do far worse for breakfast in the north Springs.

Bird Dog BBQ, Colorado Springs, CO (Briargate)

20 July 2014

Bird Dog BBQ on Urbanspoon

We had dinner here this evening, as it has been a week without BBQ for Bill. It helped that the place was across the street from our hotel in Colorado Springs.

It was a bit of a disappointment. Raegan and Erin both got turkey sandwiches. I thought the turkey was very good (in fact, the best part of the meal). I got a three-meat with brisket, pulled pork, and ribs. I was not impressed by the ribs; they had a flavor that I can’t identify, I wonder if it is some odd smoke flavor. Regardless, the ribs were not very meaty, and were not tender. The brisket was OK, pretty tender. The pulled pork had little flavor and was not tender.

The sides (okra, corn on the cob, baked beans, and slaw) were pretty good. The iced tea was also. The staff was friendly and service fast. Our check was $35.64.

So it was a mixed bag. If I went back, I would get turkey and maybe the brisket. The ribs, not.

Ten Pin Grill, USAFA, Colorado Springs, CO

15 June 2014

Ten Pin Grill on Urbanspoon

Friday afternoon, we left Boy Scout Camp Alexander to take Troop 15 on a tour of the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA). We decided to eat on base, and Rob found the menu for the Ten Pin Grill, which is in the base bowling alley, so off we went.

We showed up with our 30 people at 1300. The manager and staff welcomed us in a most friendly way (30 somewhat dirty-from-a-week-of-camp Scouts showing up might have put off some people!). They quickly worked with us to get the boys a burger or hot dog meal with fries and a drink. The boys played some video games, but mainly just say (in the air conditioning) and talked.

I got a double-meat cheeseburger with chili cheese fries and a Coke (I tried the Gold Peak but it wasn’t very good). That was a fine burger. Good beef, cooked with a nice crust on it, and tasty. I think the bun was whole wheat, a treat, and it was grilled. Some mayo and pickles on the burger. The chili cheese fries were also very good. My check was $9.10

The boys and adults and those burgers and dogs… I don’t think a scrap was left.

The manager and staff were great. We were in and out in 45 minutes. Our Scouts were Courteous as well. If I was on the Academy grounds, I would be glad to get another burger at the Grill.

Saltgrass Steakhouse, Colorado Springs, CO

12 September 2013

Saltgrass Steakhouse on Urbanspoon

I ran across the Saltgrass as I got into town this evening. They are pretty reliable, so I stopped.

It was a bit of a disappointment in some ways. I ordered a t-bone (medium), with a bowl of baked potato soup. It took about 10 min to get any attention, and it turned out to be a manager. Between the manager and the servers, I had four people at my table over the course of the meal.

It took a while, but my soup arrived; it was pretty good as I would expect from a Saltgrass. My steak arrived five minutes later. So now I had a lot of food on the table. The steak was more to the rare side. I let it sit for a good 10 minutes while I ate soup; it eventually got to between medium rare and medium. It was pretty tasty, though. The second side was a baked potato that needed a bit more time in the oven baking.

The iced tea was excellent. Service seemed rushed and less than attentive. It was not the Saltgrass experience that I expected. I hope that they were having a problem compensating for some issue.

Hiking Red Rocks Open Space, Colorado Springs, CO

1 April 2013

This is a bit of a catch-up post. Back in January I had a business trip to Colorado Springs, and found myself without much to do around 1400. I did a quick bit of research and headed to Red Rocks Open Space on the west side of town.

The photos from the hike are here on Google+.

I did just over six miles in about three hours. It was about 40F when I got started, and in the low 30s when I finished. Most of the most interesting rock formations are in the west side of the park. As you go south and climb, the rock is somewhat replaced with forest. It’s all very pretty.

As I got up a little bit, I could look to the northwest and see the burned areas from the Waldo Canyon fire.

There were a LOT of people out there! That’s always impressive to me. There isn’t any water anywhere in the area that I found, so be sure to fill up your water bottle before coming out. A very pretty area very close to town, a worthy hike any time.

Sandy’s Restaurant, Colorado Springs, CO

24 January 2013

Sandy's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

I had lunch here on 06 January with my friend Clark. We got there about 1030 and left about an hour later. It was some great food.

I got the chicken fried steak and eggs, with pancakes on the side. It was an excellent CFS, hand breaded and deep fried, good flavor beef and good breading. It came with perfectly cooked hash browns, and the pancakes were excellent. I don’t recall what Clark got, but he didn’t leave any of it.

NOTE: This place is cash only. It is a very good breakfast. Our check was just under $20. Our servers were very attentive and friendly. Good stuff.

One odd thing: there is a prominent sign at the entrance forbidding photography of any kind. I was going to ask why, but forgot to. No telling.

Hiking Waldo Canyon, Colorado Springs, CO

1 October 2011

Hike Summary: 7.3 miles, 1085 net altitude gain. Decent hike. Started about 1445, and done around 1830.

The meeting I was at got done early, around noon, and after lunch and an email check, I selected Waldo canyon and headed out. It’s very close to downtown Colorado Springs, right up US 24. The parking lot holds about 15 cars. There is no water there, so fill up before you get there.

There is a lot of up here, but it is balanced by some contour following. I took one break to participate in a telecon for work, and another near the top to admire the view and the breeze.

The trail starts out wide and graveled. Note that there is NO cover for this part of the hike. The trail goes up to a loop, and every bit of the pre-loop, and about 1/3 of the east side of the loop, is pretty much exposed to the sun.

A couple hundred feet up, there is a formation of Pikes Granite. It’s pretty cool.

One other thing I noted on this part of the trail, there are tons of sparkles of pyrite in the trail. It makes for an interesting effect as you walk if you are looking down.

As you get higher, you get some pretty decent views of Colorado Springs. I took this shot from a trailet that led a bit east off the main trail. That’s Cheyenne Mountain to the right, and US 24 left of center.

There are some places where you get cover. The trail is always side and well paved. There are very few places where you have to stairstep using rocks or roots.

As you get higher, Pikes Peak comes into view, looming a couple ridges over.

I think this very cool cliff formation is Williams Canyon. More on that later.

Eventually you come to up and over the trail high point, and you are at the top of Waldo Canyon. This pano is naturally dominated by Pikes Peak.

You start heading back down at the point. One thing I noticed, at one place on the trail, there were a bunch of pine pieces; each had a lot of small pine cones on. I wondered if some squirrels had been stocking up.

Going down the canyon, there were a couple mongo boulders – huge!

The trail down follows a creek. This was the only water on this trail, and there was not very much of it. It was clear, at least. This is looking back up-trail. A pool-let of water is just to right of center.

I saw a number of squirrels and some birds, but no medium or large mammals. There was some rustling in the leaves to the side of the trail every once in a while, but it could have been birds, chipmunks, or a cougar, who knows.

Here are the maps for the trail topo, terrain, and altitude:

I have tried a couple times to do a 3D plot of a hike. Excel (which I use to generate the altitude graphs like the one right above) claims 3D capability, but I tried many times, with no luck. I tried GnuPlot today, and generated this in about five minutes:

This was interesting. GnuPlot generated the plot, and using the arrow keys, you can shift the perspective in all three dimensions. Useful? Don’t know. Cool? Very.

I saw a total of about 10 people on this hike, and three dogs. It was about 83F when I got on the trail and about 75 when I got back down. I had cell coverage for probably 80% of the hike. Nice hike, I’d do it again.

My plan had actually been to hike both the Waldo Canyon loop, by going up the Waldo Canyon loop counterclockwise, then head on a trail connector over to Williams Canyon, then to the head of that canyon, then complete the Waldo loop. But, I never saw the connector to Williams Canyon. One thing I did not do before I headed out was download the local topo map into my GPS. I just did a quick look of my GPS File Depot Colorado Map, and it shows neither a Williams Canyon placemark or a trail connecting Waldo and Williams. I will have to go back to find the site that referenced that connector trail and see if there is a GPX I can get. Later.

This final shot is not part of the hike, but it is the sunset behind the mountains as I went looking for dinner. I think that the sun is setting over the Waldo Canyon area.

Happy trails!

Texas T Bone, Colorado Springs, CO

29 September 2011

Texas T-Bone on Urbanspoon

I got to the restaurant about 1900 after a hard and fun hike in the mountains. I left around 2030.

First of all, the place has good wifi! I logged in and caught up on email that had come in while I was up looking for bears.

I got a t-bone (appropriate). The meal started with a very good warm loaflet of wheat bread (wheat, yea!), and some cinnamon butter, very good. I got some potato soup that was very good, with lots of potato, bacon, and smoky flavor.

The steak got there pretty much medium like I asked, and pretty quickly. While I was only halfway done with the soup (grrr, a little bit). The steak was a thin-cut, and had quite a bit of gristle that had to be cut off it. It wasn’t burned, though, so that was good. It had decent flavor as well. You get a side, and I asked for sauteed mushrooms and onions, which were pretty good.

So the meal was pretty good, and I got work caught up. Service was SUPER nice, my server was a bundle of energy. My check was $27.32.

You have to compare where appropriate. I had eaten at the southside restaurant with two friends back in Jan or Feb, and the steak there was better. It could be the cook (they have to have the same beef source, I would think). So the next time, I might have to eat at both on successive nights…

The Firehouse BBQ, Colorado Springs, CO

29 September 2011

The Firehouse on Urbanspoon

I picked this place for two reasons: it’s BBQ, and it was conveniently on the way to where I was going to hike afterwards. Convenient, no?

I got there around 1330 and left around 1430. I started with tea, unsweet. It was strong enough to remove paint – a good thing. I upgraded to half and half with the next glass.

I got the BBQ plate, which is two meats. I got brisket and chicken. The meal came with two sides. The BBQ beans were probably OK, except for all the jalapenos in them, so I ate very little of them. The green beans were great (how could “Green Beans With Bacon” be bad?), they had bacon and onion, and had a lot of bacon.

The brisket… it had potential. The problem was that it was tough and stringy, and required a lot of chewing work to get down. The flavor was not too bad – good and smoky. There was quite a bit, also. The chicken was another thing altogether. Smoked chicken, in my experience, is too ofen over-cooked, tough and dry. This stuff was perfect, a quarter chicken with the breast and wing. Great stuff.

Service was prompt and extremely friendly. I would go back here any time, and try some of the other stuff, and get more chicken! My check was $15.55. Yummy!

Black Bear Diner, Colorado Springs, CO

28 September 2011

Black Bear Diner on Urbanspoon

When I was driving from Sacramento to visit Lassen Volcanic National Park, I stopped at a Black Bear Diner off of I-5, and liked it. I drove past this diner when I was tooling around Colorado Springs Monday, and realized that I had eaten in the Diner here about five years ago.

I went there for dinner Monday evening. The meal started off with a very good chicken noodle soup. Thick and hot and not too salty, and very good. The soup came with a very good cornbread, that was hot from the oven, and served with warm, sweet butter. Yum.

The only downer part of the meal came when my entree was served while I was only about half done with the soup.

I ordered pot roast. It was huge!

The pot roast was OK. Most of it was tender, but a couple pieces required some effort to cut apart. The flavor was OK, not spectacular. The pot roast came with mashers. Both roast and potatoes had a decent brown gravy over them; more gravy was requested and delivered. The meal came with green beans. These were very, very good, and had some onion and a significant amount of chopped up bacon. The plate had a lot of celery (not so good) and a couple (ONLY) carrot pieces. Should have had more carrot and less celery. There was also some red/purple onion that needed to be cooked more.

I decided that some cobbler would be good. It came hot, and had a largish scoop of ice cream on top.

The cobbler was huge. It was baked like a chicken pot pie – a complete shell, filled with peaches. The peach was flavored with cinnamon. It was really good, and hotter than heck when it was served. The ice cream was good for cooling it down, and adding some more flavor.

I got iced tea, it was strong and kept refilled.

I got there around 1715 and left around 1830. My check was $19.30. There was a lot of food there. I probably could have split my pot roast with Raegan and we both would have been happy about it. Same with the cobbler. Service was excellent.

I’d eat here again, and not wait five or so years.

Glad’s Original BBQ, Colorado Springs, CO

28 September 2011

Glad's Original Bar-B-Q LLC on Urbanspoon

I was headed to a steakhouse here in Colorado Springs this evening, and as I waited at a light, I saw this BBQ across the road in a small shopping center.

I got there around 1845 and left about 45 minutes later. I ordered a brisket dinner, with mac and cheese and baked beans. The beans were fairly basic, and were very good. The mac and cheese was baked after it was made, and was a little baked together, but it was tasty anyway. The brisket was fairly tender. It seemed to be fairly tasty. I had to go to some length to verify this. The brisket was drowned in a sauce that seemed to be about 50% standard sauce and 50% cooking drippings. That sauce was like something I might have made (don’t think that is criticism, I liked it!). Regardless, it was good.

My check was $11.70. This was decent BBQ, the serving size was good. There seemed to be a lot more takeaway than sit-down service. I’d go here again.

Note that when I went to Urban Spoon, that website shows Glad’s as permanently closed. The address for that location (3750 Astrozon Blvd) is different than their current address, so I suspect they just moved.

King’s Chef Diner, Colorado Springs, CO

26 September 2011

King's Chef Diner on Urbanspoon

This was a neat find! I was driving through downtown and literally drove by, and since it was brunch time, and my breakfast of crumb cake and tea was six hours and 500 miles behind me, it was time to eat.

I got there around 1055 and left around 1130. This place is small, it has maybe 10 stools at the counter, and a couple tables outside. I got a bacon cheeseburger and fries. The cheeseburger was excellent, a half pound of very good beef. It was cooked medium well, and had the perfect balance of juice. The fries were excellent. Perfectly cooked and flavorful, they were (black) peppered before serving, something I have not tried before. They serve both sweet and unsweet tea, it was strong.

My check was $13 and some change. This diner is cash only, so be advised. There seems to be a strong to-go business from people in the area, and everone in there was very friendly. Recommended.

Hiking Cheyenne Mountain State Park, CO

12 February 2011

Hike summary: 4.3 miles, all in snow 2-8″ deep (more as the altitude increased, of course). Temp 11F, 450 ft altitude change.

Last Wednesday, after I had completed a bunch of work and a couple telecons, and lunch, I headed out to Cheyenne Mountain State Park (CMSP), which is southwest of Colorado Springs, and between Fort Carson and the NORAD facility.

So the day before I got to Colorado Springs, it had snowed some. I wanted to rent some snowshoes. I checked out the website for CMSP, and noted that the park was open, although the Visitor Center was closed due to flooding. I called the main number to ask about whether I would need snowshoes, and got an answering machine. The Voice On The Machine noted that the park was open, but the Visitor Center was closed, but people were there, and if you would leave your question, they would get back to you ASAP. So I left my number and my question. Three hours and two more calls later, I didn’t have my answer. Hmmm….

So I drove out there, and as soon as I hit the parking lot I ran into a Ranger, and asked him the same question. He said that if I didn’t mind occasional snow up to my ankles, I didn’t really need snowshoes. I avoided the temptation to ask why they couldn’t seem to be able to return phone calls.

It costs $7 to get into the park. A bit high, especially given that there was not a single restroom available anywhere. The Visitor Center was closed, of course, but all of the heads at all the other areas (the day use area, the camping area, etc.) were all closed. I think the fee is cash only; I didn’t see any credit card stickers. I paid at the drive-up window entrance to the park.

After paying, I walked back to the visitor center and finished getting ready. I was pretty heavily dressed, since the temp was 11F at 1330. It didn’t get any warmer, in spite of the cloudless, sunny sky. I wore thermals top and bottom, jeans, and my insulated pants, and a t-shirt, mock turtleneck, and sweater. This was finished off with a knit hat, my boots (with two layers of socks), and a heavy coat. I was never cold, and in fact, I got a bit sweaty during some of the slogging phases of the hike.

The snow was in fact over my ankles, just a few places. I didn’t posthole into the snow very often, but walking efficiency was not very good.

I had a vague plan for hiking, but it got modified after the first trail… The trails are largely a set of interconnecting loops, which is nice, as you have a lot of options. I started off by the visitor center. The mountain is Cheyenne Mountain.

I started off in about two inches of new snow. I was the first person to walk on it, so that was kind of cool.

One thing I was amazed by, the animal tracks. I saw a number of different critter tracks. These are coyote or dog tracks, albeit filled in a bit.

This was a set of mouse or vole tracks, leading to (or away) from a burrow. While most of the tracks were into the brush on the side of the trail, one set came out of a burrow, then went down the trail at least 50 ft, then turned around and went straight back.

These were deer tracks.

Most of the trail was pretty easy to follow, as it was the wide stripe. As I got farther back, there were more human tracks, which was nice, since the trail was a bit harder to pick up due to rocks and roots.

As I got farther away from the Visitor Center, and higher, there was more trees and a bit more brush. The trail got a bit steep in places, and with the altitude, this flatlander was puffing a little bit. A minute on the side of the trail to rest got my breath back quickly. You can see the snow here is quite a bit deeper.

This tree was one of the few with snow stuck to it. I could not figure out why. There were a number of other conifers nearby that didn’t have the snow on them. I also liked how the tree stood in contrast to the sky.

This was about as thick as the surrounding trees got.

As I walked up the hill, at one point I came around a slight bend and walked within 10 ft of these deer. They looked at me a minute, and then walked off. I didn’t seem to worry them very much.

This area was about the deepest the snow got for any period of time. It was consistently about 6-8″, and one or two places close to 12″. I was wearing my insulated pants, which have built-in gaiters, and didn’t get any snow inside my pants or boots.

I was headed back down when I came into this clearing. The mountain is a bit closer, and there was a good view down onto the plain. The view is generally Fort Carson, I think.

I got done around 1645. It was, of course, harder to walk in the snow. I saw exactly *1* other person on the trail the entire time I was there. The stillness was broken by traffic on CO 15 and helicopters from Fort Carson.

Here are topo, Google Earth, and altitude tracks for the hike.

The trails I walked were Coyote Run, Talon (very little), Zook Loop, Blackmer Loop, part of Boulder Run, Raccoon Ridge, Acorn Alley, Bobcat Way, and finally Soaring Kestral.

This was an enjoyable hike. I didn’t have any problems finding the trails through the snow, although a couple times I did walk off the trail, I found it again in seconds. I would like to go back and hit Cougar Ridge. The Park includes the peak of Cheyenne Mountain, and will supposedly be developed to extend the trails to the peak at some point in the future. That would also be a nice hike.

Wade’s Cafe, Colorado Springs, CO

11 February 2011

Wade's Cafe on Urbanspoon

Yesterday I needed some lunch, and I like diners, so I found Wade’s via Google Maps and went to check it out. I got there about 1200, and it was packed! I waited for a table about three minutes, and the place stayed full the entire time I was there. I got out around 1300.

I ordered a chicken fried steak on the recommendation of my server. She asked if I wanted it breakfast style or lunch style; I chose breakfast. It came with a bunch of hash browns and two eggs. The hash browns and eggs were both good and done right. The CFS was not as good as I would have liked; I rated it a six out of ten. The thing was pretty large (about 4×6″), but the flavor just wasn’t there. The gravy (of which there was not enough…) was pretty good.

My check was $9.00.

Gunther Toody’s Diner, Colorado Springs, CO

11 February 2011

Gunther Toody's Diner on Urbanspoon

OK, that is one silly name for a restaurant. I have driven by this place a dozen times of the years, and had it recommended to me several times. Last night, a couple work friends and I checked it out.

We got there around 1945, and left 2050. The service was spotty overall. I noticed after we left that even though I had ordered chili fries, I got plain fries, so I got cheated out of $1.69. NBD in the Grand Scheme of Things, but a bit annoying.

I started with iced tea and a vanilla shake. The shake was excellent, just like a milkshake should be. The tea was OK at best.

I ordered a couple cheeseburger. One cool thing: they offered a choice of breads for the bun! I got mine on a wheat bun. The burger was OK. I’ve had better, and I’ve had worse. The beef was not overly flavorful. The fries were not very good; they were kind of greasy.

So the meal was a mixed bag. The shake was good, the rest of the meal was OK. Service was OK. I don’t think I would mind going back, but it would not be my first choice.

Texas T Bone Steakhouse, Colorado Springs, CO

11 February 2011

Texas T-Bone on Urbanspoon

A couple work friends and I went here for dinner tonight. We got there around 1815, and left around 1930.

I started with iced tea. It was excellent, the best tea I have had on this trip. Strong, tasty, and kept refilled. I got an order of onion straws for an appetizer; they came with ranch dressing that was really good. The “straws” were quite a bit thicker than most onion straws I have had. They were good, but could have been cooked a bit longer.

I ordered a t-bone, medium. It was cooked perfectly, had great beef flavor, WAS NOT CHARRED, and overall was a better than average steak. There was quite a bit on the strip side, less on the tenderloin side (one of my friends also got a t-bone, and it had a lot more tenderloin). The steak came with a baked potato that was good also.

I didn’t leave a bit of steak uneaten. I ended up with a scoop of vanilla ice cream for dessert. The service was very good. My check would have been around $28, except Lance picked it up (THANKS!). I would enjoy eating here again.

Hiking Up to Catamount Lakes, CO

14 June 2010

Last Wednesday, I flew into Colorado Springs for a meeting the next day. After a couple telecons, I headed up to Green Mountain Falls for a hike. I got there about 1345. You HAVE to park in one of the parking lots next to the small lake (with a gazebo in the middle). The roads that lead to the trails are signed with all manner of dreadful threats to tow your car if you park there.

I parked on the east side of the lake, got my pack ready, and headed out. There are trail maps in a mailbox on the sign in front of the west parking lot. I walked most of the length of the town on the main road (Ute Pass Avenue), all the way to the swimming pool. It was pretty hot, and I realized as I approached the pool, I hadn’t filled up my water bottle. There is no place to fill the bottle that I could find around the pool (there is a pump handle in the park the north of the pool, but it was locked). I ended up walking back to the lake. There is a nice little trail on the north side of the creek that runs along Ute Pass, that takes you back to the lake.

There is a water fountain in the northeast corner of the lake park. I took a long drink, and then filled both my Nalgene and a smaller disposable bottle (which came back all the way to OKC and is in recycling here at the house). Then I headed BACK along Ute to find Belvidere.

The trail map shows that you can get on the main trail from either Belvidere or Hondo Avenues. I picked Belvidere to start on, at random, planning on coming back down via Hondo. It’s a long walk on either road, but Hondo is a lot steeper. So if you want to take it easier, I would recommend going up Belvidere and down either Hondo.

Once you get off the road part, the trail starts as a gravel road. It goes up fairly steeply.

As you climb, the view gets better and better. The big road in the distance is US 24.

The Belvidere and Hondo roads come together at the bottom of the Catamount Falls. There is a large structure there was is a water storage tank for the town. One thing I found funny – the structure is a water tank, it’s made of stone and concrete, and there is nothing flammable about it, but there is a fire plug in front of it.

One neat thing, right here I met two guys who had been backpacking for five days around Pikes Peak. We talked for a bit, and I talked to one of them about Scouts, and how to choose a troop for his 10-year-old son.

The “gentle” road now gives way to rocks – you have to do some serious stairstepping up this trail.

The first part of the trail follows Catamount Falls up a couple hundred feet. The waterfalls are a set of tumbles over rocks. I stopped a number of times on the way up to just watch the water a bit.

One thing I noticed a lot on the hike was growth on the cedar trees. Big or small, most of the trees had an inch or so of new twig growth, and it was really pretty. This picture is from a small, perfect holiday tree.

After am initial steep rock stair, the trail became a bit more of a combination of packed dirt, rocks, and tree roots. A number of places, there are tree trunks that have fallen over the trail.

A couple hundred feet up, a side trail runs out to an overlook.

There is not much chance of getting lost on this trail 🙂

After a significant amount of “up”, with a number of switchbacks, you go over a ridge, down just a bit, and you enter a grove that is named “Garden of Eden”. I looked but did not see any snakes or apple trees.

This part of the hikes follows the stream again, and there are more tumbling small waterfalls. I heard a couple rumbles of thunder to the north as I walked here, and was looking for rocks to hide under of lightning in my area became evident.

Eventually, you reach another road. Doing research later, I found that this road is a loop of the main road that goes up Pikes Peak. There was a water measurement gauge at the place the trail meets the road. The small pond had some trout in it, and this small water snake, so maybe there was an apple tree around there somewhere.

After walking a while along the road, you come to the dam for South Lake Catamount. I climbed right up the dam backside, and found myself on a dam road. Right in front of me, across the lake – Pikes Peak.

I really liked the thunderstorm to the east of the Peak.

This is looking from the dam road back down the road I had walked in on.

I walked along the dam road, and up a bit more, and found the road to North Lake Catamount. Turns out this had a dam road to walk on also.

The thunderstorm east of Pikes had matured a little bit.

The peak to the west of Pikes looks to be volcanic to me. I really liked the snow bridges that were still there.

The lakes had one surprise to me. There were probably 20 vehicles up there at the two lakes, and people from those vehicles were fishing.

I headed back down after spending a half hour or so at the lakes. I made good progress down, and stopped for about 20 minutes in the “saddle” area right before the trail became switchbacks again.

I saw little wildlife. I number of birds, a couple squirrels and chipmunks. I saw deer scat. The area was warned for mountain lions.

One thing I liked about walking through the houses in town – a lot of the properties are named by the residents (things like “Aspen Glen”). I saw a disturbing number of OU flags and placards outside houses, but also one orange OSU flag.

As I left town after the hike, I drove up US 24 to get some dinner in Woodland Park. I got a good view of the area I just hiked. I don’t know the area well enough to know exactly what the path is, but I know it was UP.

Here is an overlay of the GPS track data onto Google Maps.

Here is a plot of the altitude for the hike.

I felt GREAT after this hike. It was a long distance, and went up pretty high, at a high altitude to begin with. It was absolutely beautiful. A wonderful way to spend the afternoon. The GPS reports that the hike was 8.7 miles round trip. You can see from the track overlay that a significant portion of that was from the center of town to the trailhead. You can also see a smaller loop at the end that is my walk on the south dam road, then up to the end at the north dam road.

In the summer, take extra water. I went through my big Nalgene and half of the smaller bottle.

Driving from Grand Junction to Colorado Springs, CO

7 June 2010

We left Grand Junction at about 1130 this morning, headed ESE on US 50. We planned on driving through Montrose, and to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park.

As we headed out, we were treated to this nice thunderstorm in profile, to the north.

We drove up the Gunnison River; we didn’t see it after we left Grand Junction until we crossed it in Delta. We could see the large canyon off to our south as we drove towards Delta.

The mountains were drawing nearer as we went east.

We drove through Montrose. We made a tactical error here, and should have had lunch. Since we didn’t, we ended up backtracking to Montrose, and loosing almost an hour of travel time.

We drove on to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. We thought we would be there about an hour, we spent almost three! It was a great park, had a nice hike, and some stunning views. I highly recommend a visit here if you are in the central Colorado area.

This is a series from the first overlook.

The Gunnison River is visible far below, followed by a close-up.

We went to the Visitor Center. There is a very nice overlook there.

This is a shot across the canyon to the north rim. The north rim is accessible from Delta on a Colorado tertiary road. The last six miles of that road is gravel.

This is R2 and the kids at the Visitor Center.

There were some thunderstorms going up as well.

These are the mountains through which run I-70. There are a bunch of ski resorts there, like Vail and Beaver Creek.

This is from one of the other overlooks, to the west and the mouth of Black Canyon.

The cliff across the way is the tallest cliff in Colorado. It’s 3000+ft tall. I really liked the veining of minerals in it. The view down the canyon to the river was stunning also.

There was some additional veining a little farther east.

This was a nice cactus in bloom.

I saw some movement across on the north rim. Here is the rim, then I zoomed in and saw the people making the movement…

Looking east, there is a big notch between the north and south rims. I saw this from the air a couple months ago.

This lizard was trying to stay away from the people who were around.

We went for a nice hike while we were there, it’s a separate blog post.

After dinner in Montrose (see blog post), we headed out on US 50 again. The drive along the canyon to the north of us was stunning often.

Soon, we skirted the beautiful Blue Mesa Lake.

After the lake, we made it to Gunnison. I had expected Gunnison, being a ski town, to have a mountain nearby. None to speak of. A sign for Crested Butte ski area pointed north out of town, and Erin said she saw another pointing to the south, but no mountains there. Hmmm, a topic for research in the next couple days…

We drove on, and soon got up into more mountains. Real mountains, with huge pine trees. We went up and down Monarch Mountain, seeing a scenic chair lift, and eventually the Monarch ski area. We got our high point of the trip here, at 11,300 ft. Down from Monarch is a huge mining operation, looks like gravel. More research.

Soon after, we got into the Arkansas River valley, and followed the river up to US 24. US 24 goes up into a small (relatively speaking) set of mountains, and dumps out in a huge, 40-mile wide valley. There were tremendous thunderstorms to the north, northeast, and south. On the other (east) side, we got up into more mountains, and eventually made it into Colorado Springs about 2100.

We saw an opposite-horizon optical effect. I will have to research to find the name of the effect. That’s Pike’s Peak that the effect is over.

To close out the day, a spectacular sunset in back of us.

We saw deer, an elk, a bunch of pronghorn, and the usual sheep, cows, and horses along the way. There were a couple groups of burros, and mules as well.

This was a classic Colorado drive. The mountains were spectacular, and were not of the “desert” variety we saw in Arizona and Utah (which are also spectacular, in a different way).