Day 1 Link-https://wp.me/p93ia0-1x
$27.67 Gosh uber is pricey at 9:30am on a Saturday morning going to Pikes Peak. When I searched up the route last night it was around $18, but because of increased popularity and demand, the prices went up, but I had no choice but to pay it and leave at that time because I had a Cog Railway ticket ($41) leaving at 10:40am, requiring me to be there 30mins early. The ride was 3hr 10mins, taking us all the way up to the 14,115ft summit. It was much colder so my sweater and jacket kept me cozy. I had a tank underneath since it was hot at the bottom of the mountain, so I don’t recommend wearing crazy layers all day. Just remember to pack warm clothes. After the ride, I ate my second avocado toast of the day, the fourth of the trip. Avocado is my favorite food, so I was still pretty happy and content eating it.
$10.50 I then took a free shuttle down to the Manitou Springs small city and explored the Commonwheel Artists Co-op Festival. I sampled some cinnamon covered almonds, but there wasn’t much else to do, so I walked myself over to Manitou Cliff Dwellings. I had to cross a highway, so this path not recommended for the faint of heart. The structure buildings and museum were great, but I personally feel that the entrance fee was a bit too pricey for what quantity of area there was to explore there. I spent maybe 30mins walking through everything, including browsing and lingering at the gift shop. $10 isn’t bad. I just wished there had been more, but it was still nice to see.
$7.65 Originally I had planned on walking to the Cave of the Winds, since the maps showed it was 30mins away from the Cliff Dwellings, but after the uber dropped me off at the entrance I was so glad I had gotten a ride because the ride up was curvy and steep and long. I definitely would’ve been winded by the time I got there. Maybe I was running out of enthusiasm (or $$$) but when I got to Cave of the Winds I took some nice pictures, walked around, but decided on not buying a tour to go in the cave. I was already hesitant before going because I had been to many other caves before and the prices at $21 and $30+ weren’t exactly justified according to the reviews online. I also debated for a long time on buying a $20 ticket to zipline. In the end I decided that the 600 ft zipline was not worth my $20, but that was just my decision. The line was plenty long and people were having fun, so the choice is yours. Also, I decided that I should eat my fifth avocado toast of the trip, since I was already up here. So I guess I paid a $7 ride to get to a good picnic place with good views.
I paid for a ride up, but going down wasn’t steep so I walked it all the way down, past the highway again and to Rainbow Falls. To my disappointment, I was greeted with closed metal gates. 4pm close. *Looks at phone* 6/6:30pm. Sigh. The nearest rock was my comfort to rest while I racked my brain trying to find something to do with the rest of my evening.
*Crunch* *Crunch* *Crunch* I looked up and saw three guys walking uphill towards the black metal gates of disappointment. I had my earphones in and was looking down at my phone so I didn’t pay much attention to them but then they motioned behind the rock I was sitting on. Walk down?? My eyes widened as an unconventional trail path was revealed to me. The guys had the mentality that they had come all the way here already, so why not just go for it. I followed them, having multiple branches kiss my legs and arms, competing with the sharp rocks to leave behind their red hickey marks on my body. We looked like we had been chewed up, but when we got out, we found that the path actually had led us up to the Rainbow Falls, just not via the traditional dirt road trail.We technically weren’t allowed to be inside since the gates said the place was closed and there were security cameras, but in our defense, we actually didn’t know the trail we took was just a lower, undeveloped road to the same destination. The guys shrugged and said, “Oh well. We’re runners, right guys? We were just running along the river and got lost. That’s how we ended up here.” Mhmmm…. believable. Anyways, the Falls were surrounded by a graffiti bridge and had some gravel rocks that piled high just calling out for us to climb them. I picked one lucky guy out of the three to be my designated photographer, but oh gee. I had certain visions about how I wanted the photo to look in my head, but we obviously were not in sync and did not have the same eye for photos. I was really only this picky because you have no idea how hard it was to climb up some of these rocks; some of the platforms were really shallow and I debated so many ways to get up there. He was super nice though and I gave him some tweaks and he redid some photos based on the instructions I yelled down to him from above because I really wasn’t about to climb all the way down again. But at least I had someone to take pictures for me and I wasn’t just on my own right? After that, the four of us left and we chose to take the easy dirt road, hoping to stick to our “runner’s story” claim if anyone questioned our whereabouts.
When we left, about to part ways, one of the guys asked me if I needed a ride anywhere. I had actually planned to walk back to the Memorial Park where the Art Festival was held earlier so I let them drive me there, but when we arrived all the tents were empty and no one was to be found at the park except for a sketchy guy trying to sell us weed (“Hey do you guys want to buy some dabs? I have a few that I don’t really care for…..”). I was expecting to find a Memorial Park that was lit up for a hot air balloon fest, but this obviously was not the place. One Google search later confirmed this notion because I was in the wrong Memorial Park. I was at the Manitou Springs one and not the one in Colorado Springs. Insert grimace emoji here while I broke the news to the guys. They were totally chill with it and said they can drop me off to wherever I need to be because they felt bad just leaving me here in a place with some weirdos. *Motions over to weed guy.* Yeah I could see his point, so I agreed to just hop in their car and go to a nearby brewery they found and wanted to try. I agreed because I thought there would be different things for me to do and explore when I got there, but there really was nothing there. At this point it’s late, I don’t know what I’m doing with my life, and I’m all by myself with no plans. But like I said, when I reach a dead end, life doesn’t just stop. Time is running and and whether I choose to move forward and be productive is my decision. 15mins later I ended up choosing to still go to the Colorado Springs Memorial Park to check out the live music.
$14.10 As the Uber neared the park I saw two hot air balloons glowing and coming down to a landing. It was so great to see because I was an hour late from when they started but I was just thankful to be able to get even a glimpse. The park was set up like a carnival and there were different booths with food and games set up. I walked around and decided to get a henna art tattoo for $5. The artist was super nice and I was the second to last customer. I got it on my shoulder and I just sat in the booth for the rest of the night making conversations with a few girls and the booth owners, keeping in mind I hadn’t paid for the tattoo yet. When closing time came I offered the $5 of payment, wondering why he let me sit at the booth for a good half hour without asking for the money yet, but the guy was just like, “Nahh. It’s okay.” Surprised, I smiled and thanked him, then slowly backed out of there before he could change his mind. Once again, it’s late at night, I don’t know where I’m sleeping that night, and I’m by myself with no plans.
$14.13 My flight was at 6:25am and I didn’t want to pay for a full night and then call a cab or uber at 4am so that left me with the next best option: free housing at the airport. Pull up two comfy couches, slap a hat over my face and set my alarm for 5am. I brought a blanket with me and I was beginning to think I brought it for no reason so, glad I got to use it. The night was nice; I woke up a few times because of some carpet cleaner guy, but other than that, no flights were running overnight. There were plenty of other people sleeping there too and the airport was small and quiet. Overall: no shame.
$31.00 My plane was scheduled to land at 10:01am and so I booked a bus from O’hare to Champaign at 10:15am. Luckily the plane landed early so I was able to catch the bus. So here I am. I didn’t fall off a cliff. I didn’t get kidnapped. But I did come back mentally much more stable and with travel experiences and memories of the first time I ever travelled solo.
~That wraps up day 2. Back in January when I went to Iceland I started writing out a blog post. I wrote a good lengthy post but never posted it for fear of it being too long. I’m still trying to figure this all out and I don’t want to not post something just because it’s too long. Please leave feedback on what is helpful and suggestions.~
~I try to keep things real on this blog. Yes I travel around, but I don’t just write about the highlights and the fun stuff. There are plenty of times when I feel short on cash, discouraged, and skeptical, but I will share the highs the lows, the good the bad. Because they all write my story.~
This is my story,
Michelle Yin | September 4, 2017 | 5:24pm |