We needed to get away – budget was a bit of an issue so we didn’t want to go too far – so we took an impromptu trip to Colorado Springs – “what’s there”?, said my husband.
Well as it turned out – so much there was no way to hit it all in 4 days! not even close. But we had a ball! Many people have asked me since my trip if everything is open and except for Flying W Ranch (who are working on rebuilding) the entire area is gorgeous and open to visitors!
First stop was Manitou Springs – we went to the Colorado Springs visitors center to find out what was happening in the area – pick up pamphlets and search out the kind of motels we like to stay at! We drove through Old Colorado city which is a great eclectic little downtown area, but didn’t stop – yet! We found our Motel for the night – the great Mecca Motel (awesome sign, check out my post on Mid-Century motels) and needed to find dinner and some fun for the night.
The penny arcade in downtown Manitou springs is fantastic! If you’re a “child of the 80’s” every game you remember is there – up to and including some VERY antique machines I’ve only seen on American Pickers!
The next day we headed toward Cripple Creek! The drive is gorgeous and our first stop was the Mollie Kathleen Mine! What an educational stop! You descend 1000 feet below ground and tour the mine – but in the meantime you get a walk through the history of mining – they even run all the machines for you! It’s fun and very educational (even for us grown ups!).
A local born and raised resident of the Cripple Creek mining district (now in her 70s) best described her impression of the Mollie Kathleen mine tour this way:
“Growing up here, my entire family, including my husband and his family, all made their lives in the mines of Cripple Creek. My husband even worked in the Mollie. I never really understood what he went through, or what mining was all about, until I took the tour of the Mollie Kathleen. It was a wonderful experience.”
The ride up and down the shaft is like an elevator. Halfway through the tour, visitors board a Tram-air locomotive and ride about 1/4 of the tour distance. They then depart the train and continue on foot, until they load the man-skip and are hoisted to the surface.
Best part! At the end of the tour you get to take home your own piece of gold – in a rock of course – but exciting none the less!
Then it was on to the town for some lunch and a little gambling. The kids aren’t allowed many places, but Johnny Nolan’s Casino has a side door that leads to a restaurant where the kids could hang out and eat and watch me put some money into some slot machines while we waited out a downpour! It’s not legal to have the kids in the casinos and many of them wouldn’t even let them walk in, so this was a great solution for a quick trip!
Finally the end of the day and back to our motel! The kids had a fantastic swim in the pool and everyone was tired! But wait! There’s more! We still had two more days to go!