Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sat, Aug 29, 2009: Hitchhiking on Words of Encouragement

Two friends, who are also former co-workers and snowshoeing buddies of mine, invited me to join them for another 14er attempt at Grays and Torreys Peaks. Hoping that this time we would actually be successful, I answered "yes!" with enthusiasm, hope, and anticipation.

As we drove up the dirt road towards the trail head Saturday morning, we encountered a massive traffic jam. A man stood in the road telling all incoming cars that there was a huge rut in the road that nobody could pass, save SUVs and large trucks. We parked the car and discussed our options, as it didn't sound like my car would be able to take us to the parking lot. Quickly, we came to the conclusion that our best option would be to hitch a ride with a larger vehicle so that we wouldn't have to hike the 3 miles uphill to the parking lot.

Our decision being made, I flagged down the next truck that passed us with what felt like a terribly pathetic look on my face, and asked them if they would mind very much if we hopped in the back and rode up with them. Their response? "Hop in". All the anxiety I was feeling over adding an extra 3 miles uphill to our hike washed away as the fresh air flowed over my skin. This is the first time I've ever hitchhiked, but with a group of friends and in a fairly well traveled public area, it felt very safe. Our driver was amazing, and we hardly even noticed as he navigated over the massive potholes and washed-out sections of road.

Our spirits buoyed, we were deposited at the trail head with little more to offer than "thank you", which felt pretty lame considering the massive favor they had done us. We put on our backpacks and started off down the trail.

Unlike the trail that leads to Lincoln and Democrat, the Grays and Torreys trail starts off fairly steep for a bit. I was tired already barely into the first mile of the trip, but we took our time and enjoyed the beautiful scenery around us.

This was my first view of the peaks: Grays is the rounder one on the left, and Torreys is the spiky one on the right just barely visible over the slope of the hill.The colors of the weeds, grasses, and wildflowers along the trail were AMAZING. Some short, leafy weeds were an orange red color, there were purple, blue, and yellow flowers in great numbers just off the trail, and the grasses were washes of golds and greens flowing across the valley floor.
I couldn't believe the number of people who were using the trail that day, despite the difficulties many experienced with transportation up the road. We were constantly in and out of groups of people, winding our way past while letting others pass us as we made our way up the mountain.

Shortly after we stopped for lunch, I began to feel a great heavy tiredness in my body. At one point, I sprawled out on a rock and told my friends to go on without me. I figured that I was holding them back, and would continue after them at my own pace. They refused my offer, and as we were discussing this a woman walked by and asked if I was ok. I didn't realize she was speaking to me until I noticed both of my friends looking down at me with half smiles on their faces. I looked up in her general direction and answered "me? No!" I wondered what part of me being sprawled out all over a rock in any way made it look like she even needed to ask.

I realized that I felt completely overcome and immobilized by despair. I felt like I would never make it to the top, like I wasn't strong enough and wasn't fast enough, and realized that despair about my love life was mixing in with those thoughts and adding to my feelings of hopelessness. The fact that I was able to recognize this and name it helped to keep me from drowning in it, as did my friends' insistence that they would not leave me. Their attitude was 'all of us, or none of us'. I am so accustomed to tackling things on my own that their support and encouraging words uplifted me more than I ever thought possible. Naming my feelings, being warmed by my friends' words, and even the honest answer I gave the woman inquiring about my well-being all worked together to somehow wash the feelings of despair from my mind, heart, and body. Within several minutes, I felt buoyed and in good spirits once again, and resumed my slow progress up the mountain.

It was worth every second. I have never experienced anything so beautiful in my life.

This panorama shows Grays Peak as the shallow curve on the left, and Torreys as the spiky peak on the right.
A view of Torreys Peak on the left, and the valley through which we hiked on the right. The little stand of pines at the base of the valley holds the parking lot and trail head.
The weather was beautiful all day, with clouds passing intermittently over the sun. Shadows and sunlight pursued each other across the mountains all day.
We were near the top at this point and the closer we got to our goal, the more people began encouraging us on their way down. People clapped, told us "you can do it!", pointed out what little remained of our route and gave us encouraging smiles. I find it amazing how kind hikers are to each other on the trail, and wondered why we don't carry these amazingly positive interactions into our daily lives.

Finally, finally, finally... we made it to the top! I cupped my hands to my mouth and yelled at the top of my lungs "YEAH FIRST FOURTEENER!!!! WOOHOO!!!!" People at the top alternately stared at us like we were crazy, or clapped their hands and cheered for us. I felt so proud and amazed that I actually did it, and so grateful to my friends for encouraging me and giving me hope when I felt unable to go on.

The views from the top were so, so amazing - better than anything I'd seen from Pike's Peak or Mt. Evans because I actually had to work to get there.

This is the view roughly to the south:
View roughly north eastish of the trail:
View to the west, taking in Lake Dillon and Keystone ski resort on the left hand side of the photo, and a beautiful little mountain like just right of the middle:
View roughly to the north westish, showing Torreys Peak on the right hand side of the photo. The trail up Torreys runs right along the ridge.
View roughly to the south. A man at the top told us that the Continental Divide Trail runs down there somewhere, bringing up a longing in me once again to take off on a long hiking expedition.
We became the greeting squad, and cheered enthusiastically as each new group of people joined us on the summit. We were among the last of the groups to make it up that day, but we were so happy to make it that we didn't care!

One friend had been watching a man make his way slowly up the mountain, hiking for a bit then taking a break, then setting one foot in front of the other again. We were all delighted to see him join us on the summit, and my friend voiced her admiration of his persistence and determination.

As we hiked down, we became the encouraging voices to the people almost at the summit. We talked to one couple whose dog lay on the trail in exhaustion and appeared to have zero interest continuing up the trail. We spoke with a father and his son, who received very enthusiastic words from one of our friends while his father mouthed "thank you, thank you" over her shoulder. We met a woman hiking alone who had separated from her family and told her that 'slow and steady' was exactly how we made it to the top too, and she would do it.

I brought up my earlier thoughts of the great kindness that people show towards each other while hiking, and wondered out loud why we don't interact with each other that way in our regular lives as well. Yes, there are some people who act that way in their 'normal' lives, but based on my experiences I feel that they are the exception, not the rule. One friend suggested that perhaps it's because when we're hiking, we all have a common goal: in this case, to make it to the top of the mountain. Perhaps it's easy to be supportive of each other, even if we're strangers, if we are aware of our shared goal. It becomes a feat of teamwork to make sure everybody receives enough support to be successful. Maybe some people would think it's strange, but how cool would it be if someone stood in the street cheering for you as you walked by? "Yeah, go you! I'm happy that you're alive to enjoy this day!!" At work? "Nice job, you helped solve this problem!" It felt wonderful to have people celebrate the success of our ascent.

Mt. Evans (on the left) and Mt. Bierstadt (on the right) were visible through a notch in the rocks:
As we hiked down, we heard several massively powerful peals of thunder. They echoed off the peaks around us, causing me to feel an awed stillness inside of my tiny and vulnerable body and mind. Pea-sized white balls of snow began plopping against the ground around us, but there was no major precipitation to accompany the declarative sky.

The rumbling thunder gave us an idea, and we began yelling things as loudly as we could. The acoustics where we were standing were amazing! My friend yelled her motto "WE LIVE HERE!", and the entire phrase was repeated back to us in a semi-circular wave around the curve of the mountain. It was a beautiful experience to stand there and be able to play with nature as it played back.

I loved the view of these distant mountains capped in sunlight, with a carpet of orange red alpine plants blanketing the rocks at my feet:
The hike down seemed so long, and as I looked back towards the mountains I couldn't believe that I had actually been standing on top of one of them not too long ago. Grays Peak is on the left, Torreys on the right:
One last view of the beautiful colors of the day:
We hurried back out to the parking lot, hoping to catch a ride back down to my car before everyone left for the day. As the parking lot came into view, our hope wavered: there were only 3 cars in the entire lot. I couldn't believe how quickly people were able to complete the hike! I found it so difficult, I can't imagine how quickly others must have been going.

There was a boy talking to some people in a white SUV, and as we walked over the boy left. I waved down the driver and asked if he would mind giving us a ride back down to my car, offering to sit in the trunk if that would be easiest. He said yes, but was a gentleman about it and removed the infant seat from the back so we could sit on the back seat. Hitchhiking adventure number 2 for me, and as we got in the car we realized that the man in the passenger seat was the one my friend had admired whom we met on the summit! The driver informed us that the boy had become separated from his family and was scared, so they told him to wait by his family's car. I can't even imagine how worried his family was and hope that they found each other quickly.

As we were driven down the road, I was again amazed by the lack of cars, which that morning had been lined down the road for some distance since the parking lot had been full. We chatted easily with the driver and his father, and found out that they are educators as well - a technology teacher and a gym teacher. Funny coincidences. :)

We reached my car, alone on an empty road (there had been many, many cars parked near it earlier that morning - I was again amazed by how quickly people had been able to do the hike and return to their cars), and again had nothing to offer but our sincere thanks for the ride and saving us from an additional 3 mile hike. We gratefully piled into the car and headed to our homes for naps, showers, and watching movies. I still can't believe that I've actually climbed a 14er!

What a day of kindness and support: I would never have done it if it wasn't for the people who gave us rides, smiles, and encouragement. Reaching the top was definitely a community effort. :)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Weds, Aug 26, 2009: Gratitude and a Sharp Slip

I have a fairly long drive to and from my new job, but I love my time in the car despite the traffic and sometimes crazy drivers. I love the peace and solitude, singing along to the radio, and having some time to process and release the events of my work day before arriving at home.

Yesterday I was taking advantage of the peaceful atmosphere in my car, and spent a good part of my drive home filled with a deep gratitude towards the universe for the peace that has prevailed in my life lately. All of the chaos and upheaval that I was experiencing earlier in the summer has fallen away to reveal the gift of a more comfortable life: a life where I don't hold my breath every day, wondering what massive life-altering news lurks around the next corner.

When I arrived home, still filled with peace and gratitude, I began cutting a loaf of bread to eat with my dinner. My knife slipped... and buried itself into the meaty skin at the top of my thumb. After about an hour of bleeding (it wasn't out of control; the issue seemed to be that it just wouldn't stop), I called my doctor and she suggested I come in and have it checked out.

90 minutes and two stitches later, I walked out marveling at the irony of it. Here I was earlier in the afternoon thanking the universe for the fact that my life is finally blessedly absent of drama, and then I almost slice my thumb off! This is certainly not the worst thing that could happen to somebody, but it is kind of ridiculous in light of my earlier gratitude.

When I called my sister to report the news and proudly announce that I got my first stitches, she said something to the effect of "Dude... are you kidding me? ANOTHER thing happened to you?" Hearing these words come out of her mouth was very validating, since they pretty much exactly echoed the words that ran through my head when I realized the mess the knife had made of my thumb.

There is still something going on with me, and I wish I could figure it out. My entire time in Colorado has pretty much been one thing after another. These events, though difficult to deal with at the time, have provided me with many opportunities to learn and grow, and I'm a much stronger person for having experienced them. Still, I miss peace. I love living in peace, and for many years now I've done my best to keep the drama in my life to a minimum. I find it funny that most of my years spent in Connecticut were filled with peace, and both of my years in Colorado have been filled with non-stop occurrences: moving 4 times in a year, being unemployed and finding work, going through a 4 month period last winter where I was pretty much sick non-stop as a result of being in a relationship my soul didn't want me in, my cat falling out the window, etc.

I am very, very grateful for all of the millions of things that could be creating disruption but aren't, though I am still curious as to the ultimate purpose of all of the things that I have gone through. I keep telling the universe that I want to meet my One, and it keeps sending me events that shake my life up. What puzzles me is what I'm supposed to do with these disruptions. Am I supposed to grow and learn from them? Are they signs that I need to be doing something differently? Or are they completely unrelated and due to something I'm sending out into the universe that I'm not aware of?

I like the idea that we create our own realities, and that the world outside of us reflects the world inside of us. I'm spending a lot of time (and have been for a while) thinking about the purpose that my reality serves for me. What is it trying to tell me? I wish that I could read this message from the universe.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Sun, Aug 23, 2009: Little Scraggy Trailhead

I love the name of this trailhead. :)A friend and I went mountain biking along a portion of the Colorado Trail near Deckers. The sky was beautiful blue, the trail was dry beneath our tires, and the sun melted me into a pedal pushing puddle. I loved the soft wooded landscape composed of tall pines and the lazy spaces between them.The trail itself was great, not too difficult for me but with some obstacles that provided me an opportunity to practice mah skillz. The hills were ridiculously fun, and I'm sure I had a grin on every time I was able to stop my feet and let myself just glide. I love the feeling when my bike hits a groove and it feels like it will keep going forever without any additional effort on my part.

There were several side paths along the trail that lead to random piles of massive boulders, from which we were given the gift of beautiful views.
I still can't get over how blue the sky is out here....
A huge fire passed through this area a few years ago; I believe it was the Hayman Fire in the summer of 2002. From our vantage point on the boulders, we could trace the path of the fire across the hills and through the valleys. It was strange to see some areas that had been completely destroyed, while other areas right next to them were left untouched.
At one point, we hiked up a hill into an area that had been devastated by the fire. Today, the hillsides are covered with tall grasses, broken only by the charred skeletons of pines.
This boulder gave me about 6 much needed inches of shade... probably the biggest patch of shade on the hill!
I absolutely love the sculptural beauty of this rock:
I seem to find myself inspired by the shapes, colors, and textures that I find in areas recovering from forest fires. Perhaps the barren nature of such places make things like the angle of a branch or the curve of a rock that much more appealing - like a sound breaking silence.

We hung out for a little while as I attempted to cool off in the shade, and enjoyed being immersed in such a beautiful landscape.
This little row of trees looked like sentinels surveying the reconstruction of their forest home:
I was H.O.T. under the relentless sun, and we turned around without having reached the proposed end of our trail. I couldn't care less though, because I completely lost myself in the beauty of the place both on the trip in and the ride out. My appreciation was greatly enhanced by my biking experience: passing over roots, navigating my way around rocks, and balancing myself along the grooves worn in to the trail. I would definitely not consider myself to be a "good" mountain biker (yet!), but I've come a long way from where I was when I started riding months ago, and I'm proud of my progress!

This little guy landed on my friend's bike - I've never seen anything like him! His name is George:

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Aug 14 and 15, 2009: Rifleman-Phillips Group Campground

I always love finding out that the place I'm camping has a bathroom! Another perk of car camping: coolers and real pillows. <3

The Rifleman-Phillips Group Campground is located in Golden Gate Canyon State Park, about 30 minutes mostly north of Golden. My friends reserved the place for the weekend, and it was a HUGE space for the 14 of us! Last night, we sat in a big circle around the campfire and watched the stars as best we could while they drifted in and out of sight among the clouds. My friend's husband is into astronomy and started talking to me about things he has seen recently through his telescope, and it reminded me that I miss mine. I won't be able to get it to Colorado with me until I take another car trip back to Connecticut.

At one point, while the stars were mostly hidden under a light wash of clouds, I saw a huge bright blue meteor streak across the sky. Its brilliance and the wide path of light it left as it traveled reminded me of the two massive meteors I saw one evening while hanging out near the X-Men hill by Confluence Park (October 6, 2008). Earlier in the evening, a friend and I saw a young male deer on the side of the road. I love when the universe shares beautiful things. :)

The campsite itself was huge, and even with my friends' kids running all over the place it didn't feel crowded at all. I love the the pine trees in Colorado aren't at all possessive of their personal space when compared to east coast pines. Their lack of lower branches makes walking among the trees an easy task.
I headed out early this morning to attend a class on the properties of gemstones, a subject that has interested me ever since I was a little kid. I'm wearing several pieces of amber jewelry today, and the woman presenting the workshop told me that amber helps to clean you out inside and energize your soul. It feels very good on me today. :)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Tues, Aug 11, 2009: Hide and Seek

First things first: I got a job! Huzzah!

The second thing would be seeking. I had dinner with a friend last night, and she asked me some pretty direct questions that shook me up: are you considering moving soon? are you happy here? I do miss having people around with whom to talk about the direction of my life, because I think it does me good to be gently challenged and asked such things.

My answers to her were that I can't move at this point because I will be signing a contract with my new school district, though I still don't feel that Colorado is my spirit home.

As for being happy... I mulled this one over for most of last night, and I think I finally found the words to express how I feel. Every day when I wake up, I make the choice to have a happy, positive, optimistic outlook on my life. It's not a very hard choice to make, because there are many things in my life that bring me happiness! What I realized last night, brought to my attention by my inability to simply answer "yes" to her inquiry, is that it is a *choice* - not something natural that comes unbidden from my heart. Why can I not just be naturally happy from my heart? Because the part of my heart that is looking for romantic love feels like a dried up peach pit. (What a terrible picture... I obviously need to work on remedying this. I want a plump, juicy heart!). I am generally very happy with the other aspects of my life: job (hooray!), friends, being surrounded by beauty, fun activities to do, etc.

Ever since I was a child, I've been interested in astrology. I don't see it as something to "believe" in, or something that is always true, but I do think it sheds an interesting light on certain natural tendencies that people born during similar times of year may share. Even as a girl, I remember pulling out a thick book from the "new age" section (*shudder*...) and reading this line about individuals born during the Cusp of Magic: "No area is more important to Gemini-Cancers than love. They see love as a primary reason to live, one that may get them through many a difficult period. Forced to choose between love on one hand and wealth or power on the other, those born in this week usually choose the former." (from the book The Secret Language of Relationships). Even then, it rang so true with me that I've never forgotten the sentiment.

Last night while talking with my friend, she warned me that finding love won't solve my problems. While this is true, I don't feel that it's relevant advice for me since I've never expected finding my One to solve any of my problems. In fact, I'm certain that it will create more, since as much as I try I seem to have difficulty inciting conflict against myself! I have been in many relationships since I started dating, ranging from casual dating to seriously dating a man with whom I lived for 2 1/2 years. Having a significant other in one's life generally brings conflict, compromise, sacrifice, and requires one's focus to shift from one's self to the good of both the self and the other. The friend I saw last night isn't the only one to have reminded me of the "negative" side of relationships in the past year or two, and I'm not sure why people feel the need to emphasize this harder aspect.

Perhaps it's because I walk around in a haze of heady romance most of the time. :) Maybe it's because, while I recognize the difficult aspects of relationships (listen, I've had some absolutely terrible relationship experiences that I wouldn't wish on anyone - nobody needs to be reminded of the difficult side of relationships less than I...), I choose to focus on the positive side - because that's the side that makes it all worthwhile! I'm not sure that people who have it even appreciate it, which breaks my heart. What about the value of getting a hug after a terrible day, of feeling like there is always someone in your corner in your fight against the world; what about waking up on lazy Saturdays and making breakfast together while trying to figure out what to do with the hours you've been given; what about always knowing you have someone to go see a movie with... and a million more things that I miss about having someone special in my life. It would have been amazing to have someone to experience my recent job search with me, just another positive voice telling me that things would work out and I was doing the best I could. Trying to find him now sometimes feels like I'm playing a game of Hide and Seek - though I prefer to picture us both seeking and neither hiding.

Many of my friends have already found their life partners and are at the point now where they are buying homes and having families. Those of you who have this... for the sake of yourselves and all of us single women out there, please recognize the beautiful gift you have in your life and appreciate it with all you are... even if sometimes it does make your life more difficult for a time.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Sat, Aug 15, 2009: Bathrobes and Bighorns

Last night, my dance studio performed several short "sets" as a way of getting the studio's name out there and piquing interest in belly dance. As I left my apartment, I assumed that we would be the most "strangely" dressed individuals in the area. It turns out that I was wrong. After our 2nd set, we encountered several young men dressed in what seemed to be nothing but bathrobes. I didn't look too closely.... I would say that bathrobes one-up belly dance finery for "strangeness" any day!

Today I biked in Waterton Canyon with a friend (my second time biking there!). We hardly stopped to rest at all, and I feel very proud of myself for being in such better shape than I was for my first attempt (during which we had to stop like every 100 yards... at least, it felt like that). Feeling brave, I agreed to head up to the Colorado Trail to check it out and see if I thought I could bike it. We got about 30 feet in when I was like "ummm... no". Maybe next time. :)

On the way back, we encountered a flock of about 15-20 bighorn sheep. It was great fun! I've never experienced anything like it before in my life. Two sheep trotted alongside the road beside me, herded by my bike. Another pair walked right up to two bikers and began sniffing them. Two fairly confused looking sheep crossed the road right in front of me, wondering what I was doing in the middle of their field of lunchtime deliciousness.

There are 4 sheep in this picture, can you spot them?
Two kids stopped and started shouting about how cute the baby sheep were. It was true, they were so cute!For all of the things that I often miss about living in Connecticut (the ocean, rivers, and streams... deciduous trees... old houses... etc.etc.), there are some fantastic things about living in Colorado that I really love!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Tues, Aug 4, 2009: Looking Back on Looking Back

It's been a year since I began posting blog entries on this website - yay! I've finally caught up and have posted all of my Facebooked adventures, which means you will no longer see "Present Day" and "Looking Back" in the titles. This is because all entries posted will now be in the present. This may be a relief to some of you, as I've been told by a very intelligent friend that my previous format was too confusing and he could never figure out why he was reading about something that he knew happened to me a while ago. Was I experiencing the same thing again? Is this a Twilight Zone episode? I guess I never found it very confusing, but then again it's my life. :)

He teased me that after a year, he expected that I would write a post entitled "Looking Back on Looking Back" - so I am. Thanks for the title idea! It's funny because posting my adventures a year after they've happened enabled me to gain some wonderful perspective on my thoughts, actions, and the patterns in my life.

Do I want to analyze these here? Nope. Today I spent some time at a friend's property near Como, Colorado, burning old letters, notes, and things that reminded me of past heartache, sorrow, and guilt that I wanted to get rid of. I feel clean and refreshed inside and have given myself permission to let go of the emotional baggage I didn't even realize I had been carrying. I have given myself permission to forgive others and forgive myself. On this day of cleansing and making peace with the past, I see no purpose to analyzing the things I have experienced. I am thankful that they have been such powerful experiences and have touched me in so many ways. I am thankful for the opportunities for growth that have presented themselves to me in an unending line, trooping over the mountains and spilling out onto the prairie, ever since my move to Colorado.

A friend and I biked to and around Chatfield Reservoir this evening. We were on the eastern side of the lake as the sun was setting, and the western side as the moon was rising, and were able to see the colors of both beautiful phenomena splashed across the surface of the water. The light had a magical quality that was deep enough to be almost tangible; I wanted to taste it on my tongue and braid it through my fingers. (This photo was taken by the little camera in my cell phone, and actually did a pretty good job of capturing the light).
The cicadas hummed their electric song to us on the way back to our cars, and the sound made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I love being alive. :)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Mon, Aug 3, 2009: Manitou Cliff Dwellings and Cripple Creek

A friend invited me to join her daughter and friend on a road trip in the Colorado Springs area. We decided to attempt to visit the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument and Cripple Creek. On the way down, we added the Manitou Cliff Dwellings to our "short list" for the day, and made them our first stop.

Compared to the other cliff dwellings that I have seen (Mesa Verde, Bandelier, and Chaco Canyon), the structures at Manitou were amazingly well-preserved. The cliff wall faced south to protect the inhabitants from harsh winds, and the buildings seemed very sheltered in their alcove.

Here is a Kiva, the spiritual center of the town:
There was a fantastic tower structure in the middle of the dwellings that looked like a silo to my "modern" eyes. This is a view looking up through the center of the tower:
This pictograph was so bright! A sign said that it was painted during a 24-year-long period of drought, so the wavy red lines in the sky may represent a prayer for rain.
One of the structures had a balcony running along the front:
View looking east down the row of structures:
Facade:
We watched two men perform some traditional dances in front of the structures. One of the dances involved a man manipulating about 6 or 8 hoops around his body to form shapes that looked very much like figures from sacred geometry. It was beautiful to watch his agile movements transform him into a fluid, sacred shape-shifter.

We decided not to visit Florissant in order to have time for a train ride in Cripple Creek. My friend's daughter was *very* excited about the train! :) By the time we boarded, I think we were all equally as excited. The train was powered by an old-fashioned steam engine, and as we rolled slowly through a bonanza of abandoned gold mines, the conductor narrated over a loudspeaker.

The smaller structure in the midground of the picture belongs to one of the old abandoned mines from the early 1900's. The large sandy looking pile in the background is one of the largest open-pit gold mines in the country.
This is the blacksmith's shop in Anaconda, a ghost town just outside Cripple Creek:
The town of Cripple Creek currently has about 25,000 residents, but at the turn of the century had 50,000 residents and almost won out over Denver as the state capital. This made me wonder how different Colorado would be if the state capital was up in the mountains. (One difference is that I would definitely be living in the mountains instead of just next to them!).
We ate dinner at a little random restaurant in Cripple Creek, and on the way there one of my friends pointed out this truncated staircase! There was evidence on the wall of the building that they used to go up to the second floor, but apparently they currently have no need to pass the one and one halfth floor.
It was so, so fun playing "tourists" with my friends, and I loved experiencing two beautiful little pieces of Colorado that were previously unexplored by me. :)