A great weekend in gold mine country

21 Apr

This past weekend, my parents were in Colorado. My mom has a School Nutrition Association leaders’ conference in Colorado Springs this next week and since Travis and I live out here, my mom and dad came out early (my dad’s flying back tomorrow night) to spend the weekend with us.

Friday evening after work, Travis and I met my parents in Edgewater and ate pizza at the Edgewater Inn. Then we drove to Colorado Springs, switching cars halfway so that my mom could ride with me in our Focus. We had a good talk about marriage and husbands. I am learning quickly that women who have been married for longer than me have lots of good advice to give–and my mom is no exception! It was good to get some girl talk in.

It took a little while to find our hotel but finally we did! After checking in, we went to our room and watched our wedding video. My parents were very impressed with the quality and shocking that the videographer only charged $300 to do it (thought it did take him about 10 months to get it to us!) We are alos very pleased with our wedding video. On May 19, we’ll have been married for a whole year already! Wow, time flies! After we watched the video, we were out.

On Saturday, Travis and I got up at 7:15 to go work out at the Country club gym. Then we ate breakfast in the hotel’s restaurant and headed to the Manitou Cliff Dwellings. The website made the Cliff Dwellings sound really cool but after seeing ruins like Chichen Itza and Tulum, the Cliff Dwelling were a little disappointing.

After the cliff dwellings, we drove around Garden of the Gods and took a hike through the main area. I didn’t realize it until later, when my chest started itching at dinner, than I got majorly burnt while we were walking around. I’m so pasty white from it being winter that I don’t have a base tan at all!

After we seeing all the rock climbers and skinny, pointy rock formations at Garden of the Gods, it was off to the Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine near Cripple Creek. It was a long drive there through the mountains and everyone but my dad (who was driving) ended up taking a nap.

The gold mine tour was SO COOL. All of us thought it was the highlight of our trip. Our guide had been in the mining business for 25 years and was very knowledgable about mining equipment, terminology, and history. We went down the shaft in this tiny little elevator (the 5 of us could barely fit in it). It was pitch black except for a few lights that were on different levels of the mine. The elevator kept banging against the walls of the shaft. My mom and I were just a wee bit scared. 🙂

When we reached the right level (1,000 feet underground), we got out and walked along the muddy corridors of the mine. First, our guide showed us how much light the miners had to work with: candlelight. They only had either lanterns or headlamps attached to their hard hats! When you’re climbing up to the heights that the miners did and using explosives and loud, dangerous equipment that will delimb or kill you in a matter of seconds, it gives you chills to think that these miners work with so little light. I could never, never be a miner. Never.

Our mine guide showed us the changes in technology of drilling over the years. At first, they just used hammers and long, thick chisels (I forget technical terminology so I’m going to describe it the best I can). The chisels can get to be a few feet long so one guy (called the shaker) holds it in the wall and turns it after every hit and another guy stands behind him with the hammer and drives it into the wall. Then they graduated to a machine that did that and they continued to make improvements on the hand machines. Some weighed about 90 pounds and were operated on compressed air. They also shot water into the wall through the machine to cut down on the dust.

The most impressive and scary thing though was when the miner found a “vein” (area with gold in it), they would drill straight up, 6 feet at a time. As they got farther and farther up, they had to put timbers across from wall to wall, set up a few planks, bring their 85 lb machine up there, and continue to drill. The miners could be hundreds of feet in the air, working with a deadly machine on a just a few planks. Scariness!!

But the majority of miners actually died from carbon monoxide poisoning. They have a special lantern that will go out if carbon monoxide is present. They also used to have donkeys down in the mines to pull the carts of ore up from below. They used to leave the donkeys down there 24/7 and they would go blind but President Roosevelt made it a law that they had to bring the donkeys up for at least an hour every day. After the law was passed, all the mine owners brought the donkeys up and let them go because it was too much of a hassle. Still today around Cripple Creek, offspring from those donkeys are wandering around through town. They’re very friendly too–one came up to our car to say hello.

Anyway, moving on, we drove around Cripple Creek and Victor for a while. We also touring a big open mine owned by DeBeers. They’re pretty much tearing down a mountain in search for precious metals. Stupid. Then we drove back to our hotel and had dinner at the bar while watching the Avs and Wild play. After dinner (at end of the second period), we headed back to our room but soon found out that we didn’t get the game. Too lazy to go back up to the main lobby, we just listened to the radio broadcast of the game via internet. Wild ended up losing anyway. 😦 After that, it was time for bed. What a long day!

Sunday, my parents and I went to the Pikes Peak Greenway so I could run. I mapped out a 5.5-mile loop but when I got to my turnaround point (after running through some sketch areas–lots of homeless people’s stuff around), I realized the loop was a little shorter than I had expected. Add to that I had to go #2 like NOW. I tried to find a place in the bushes but there wasn’t enough coverage. Lucky for me, my mom had been worried about me running in that part of town so I soon saw my parents. I sprinted over to them and we found a bathroom in the park across the river. On the way back, I had to run back and forth around my parents so that they could see me the whole time. My mom worries so much–it’s cute.

After that, we bought some groceries for breakfast and ate back at our hotel room. By then it was 10:30. When we got to the Royal Gorge Park, it was noon. We walked across the bridge, saw a short film about its history, walked back across, took the aerial tramway, then the incline railway, watched some kayakers go down some rapids, and then left. Oh and there was some Cookies ‘n’ Cream ice cream in there too.

After the Royal Gorge, we went on a scenic drive down the Phantom Canyon Road. It used to be the railroad that ran between Cripple Creek and Canon City, carrying the gold out. There were lots of turns and places where only one car could fit. Pretty cool. That road (obviously) led to Cripple Creek. Even though we bypassed the town, it was still a fairly long drive back. We ate dinner at the Stagecoach Inn in Manitou Springs. I had a Southwest Chicken salad, which was delicious and they had biscuits with cherry preserves. Yum!

After dinner, we got lost on the drive home. We drove around for about an hour and by the time we got back to the hotel room, it was PJ time, TV time, and then SLEEP time.

This morning, Trav and I had to go back to work. Boo! We slept in until 8:00, then took showers and packed up. After eating breakfast at Panera, we hit the road. It was hard to say goodbye to my parents and it’s weird knowing that they’re just 2 hours south of where I am typing this right now, instead of 13 hours to the east. Well, that’s about all I have to write about the weekend. It was eventful and fun!

2 Responses to “A great weekend in gold mine country”

  1. Travel Vacations April 22, 2008 at 3:55 am #

    Well, that’s certainly a more interesting than mine, lol! Sounds like you had a good time, though.

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  1. Our Top 15 Colorado Memories, Part 1 | - March 18, 2014

    […] 5. Colorado Springs trip with my parents […]

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