We began our last whole vacation day by looking at the pretty old houses in downtown Salida – among them yet another Christmas shop – which made Ole in need of a cup of coffee! American coffee used to be weak and uninteresting, but we have been very pleased to discover that the general coffee situation here has improved greatly and now even gas stations sell drinkable coffee – as long as you make sure not to get from some of the urns with vanilla, cinnamon or other weird flavours. And it hasn’t been difficult at all to find cafés with really good coffee, like the Brown Dog café in Salida. Thus invigorateded we set off across the Rockies. There were still some clouds, but we started to get the occasional glimpse of sun. We drove for awhile along the Arkansas River – a beautiful stretch of road – until we came to the private Royal Gorge Bridge park. The Royal Gorge Bridge (built 1929) is one of the world’s tallest suspension bridges and spans a very deep, narrow gorge with the Arkansas river running at the bottom. The park and most of the buildings in it burnt down in 2013, but the bridge escaped the fire with only scorged planks. Everything in the park has now been rebuilt and the charred planks from the bridge have been used to clad the new visitor center to commemorate the fire. Because the park is private it offers are lots of opportunities to spend your money, such as a zipline across the gorge. We opted for the ride (included in the entrance ticket) in the small cable cars across it, and then walked back across the bridge. It swayed a little when you walked on it and the distence to the river down below almost made us dizzy!
The bridge is just outside Cañon City which was our next stop. Many of the people who live in the town want to leave it, but can’t! They are inmates in one of the town’s 13 prisons. We only visited one, though, and that was the old prison which had been turned into a museum, complete with seperate gas chamber in the front yard! Interesting, but a bit depressing, too.
Apart from the gloomy prisons the town has a pretty, historic downtown which we had a look at, too, before continuing our trip over the Rocky Mountains. At the other side of the mountains the landscape changed completely: flat flat open farming land where you could see almost as far as Kansas! We drove to Manitou Springs to stay the night there. here too were many “no vacancies” signs, but we managed to find a room at the Rainbow Motel. Dinner in downtown Manitou Springs at the Stagecoach Inn, lovely trouts. Afterwards we walked round the town to find some of the famous springs which have given it its name, and we managed to find three – as well as yet another Christmas shop and some nice ice cream – before returning to the hotel to pack our suitcases one last time.
Saturday morning we got a message from Lufthansa saying that our flight had been 2,5 hours delayed, so we had plenty of time to get to the airport in Denver. We drove for a while before finding a restaurant in Colorado Springs which looked sufficiently traditional to be serving porridge and pancakes for breakfast. When we finally found it, it turned out to be so traditional that it was where all the area’s old ages pensioners met up! But we got our porridge and pancakes – as a matter of facts my “short stack” = 2 pancakes were so big I had to give up halfway through!
So we were glad they only weighed the luggage and not the passengers at check-in in Denver International Airport. Ole had been convinced that our suitcases were to heavy, but with 20 + 17 kg we could have bought even more souvenirs!
Our four weeks on the road have come to an end, 4669 miles and 11 states. It has been an absolutely amazing trip, we have seen so many fantastic landscapes (and a few cityscapes) and wildlife, met so many kind and interesting people and had so many great experiences which we’ll never forget. And we really hope to see all of our lovely hosts again in Denmark some time in the future!