Monday, October 3, 2022

Denver 2022 day 6: May 9- The Ugly Monkey Rides South

An early rising was needed for the full day at Garden of the Gods. It was not as early as we originally thought, however, as traffic and other issues made us think it was a two hour trip when it was closer to one. 
Have I mentioned we never had any idea what time it was?

This was why we were able to get home in time to shower before the Colorado Standard Time people went to bed, therefore it worked out well.
I heard Titi Luzma warning about “Peligroso” as we left. Inquiries determined that there had been one single road rage incident down near Colorado Springs a week or so previously. I considered the likelihood that person would still be driving around there waiting for us, compared to a life time of driving into Manhattan, Paterson, Newark and similar places.
Then I bravely drove the Ugly Monkey south towards the Peligroso.
Pigeon danced as we passed much beautiful scenery, and many new license plates for the list. The shout that accompanied finding an Alaska led to much more Peligroso than any other drivers did.

We reached our destination, and entered the visitor center, following the obligatory aimless wander around the parking lot to add to the license place list, naturally. Our tradition of random and minimal wildlife sightings continued with a Deer sitting calmly outside the entrance door.
We stopped briefly at the dinosaur exhibit, because DINOSAUR! This was followed by a quick passage through the dead animals and poop exhibit.

The “Bean Sprouts” cafĂ© area specialized in allergens. (As in “foods without allergens” their slogan is not, “We aim for anaphylaxis.”) Due to the anomaly of us actually getting an early start when we planned on getting an early start, we could stop for some breakfast sandwiches. Anabelle had a Dragonfly cookie for dessert because, “I LOVE DRAGONFLIES!”

Masks weren’t required anywhere, and hadn’t been far longer than our crowded home state. However, we saw more folks masked up indoors like we were at Garden of the Gods than other locations. Possibly it was due to the large mix from other states, or maybe the museum and nature lover crowd has a better grasp of science.
Souvenir shopping led to a most unlikely addition to a collection. Since she was little, and taking messegegegeges, Anabelle has maintained an ever growing pile of hotel room key cards. She found one stuck inside a coloring book (part way down in the pile) in the gift shop for reasons that are not ever likely to become obvious.
We continued family tradition by bringing the Ugly Monkey to the south end of the park to visit the Balancing Rock first. There I continued a personal tradition by being a clumsy oaf. We traded cameras with other tourists for a few pictures and then walked back to the car. 
There are two version of what happened next.
The version from my point of view:
While walking next to the curb I stumbled, realized if I kept stumbling it would take me into the path of the oncoming convertible before I stabilized, and therefore let myself fall onto the curb. Then I rolled quickly away from the road. While I was rolling (and off the road) I heard the convertible slam on its brakes and squeal its tires.
The considerably less calm and controlled version from the rests of my family’s point of view:
Anabelle was sitting on some rocks for a picture when Rosa saw her jaw drop and face go white. She spun around in time and at an angle that made it look like I had pitched face first onto the road in front of the oncoming convertible which slammed on its brakes.
From her vantage point, Anabelle could see my “Shatner Roll” adding confusion to the whole thing.  Once Rosa helped Band-Aid my knee and dig the gravel out of my hands, the Ugly Monkey had its first of many “drive all the way around Garden of the Gods” loop. 

We parked at what normal people would call “a favorite hike.” I’m going to stick with “A hike we always do.” The Twin’s Trail is beautiful, we have taken it on every trip to the Garden, and something weird inevitably happens each time.

The walk up was as filled with beautiful imagery as it always is. There was a bit of “poopscotch” on the way up, but only of the natural variety, as opposed to the industrial strength horse version we’d encountered on other trips.

At the summit we basked in the imagery,
and took pictures separately which Rosa will use Photoshop magic to make it look like we found someone to get a shot of us before Anabelle got unusually light headed and had to sit down for a while.

Keep in mind we have done this trail multiple times, and have also done it in both directions possible, for this next bit.
We went the complete wrong way to come down and almost ended up several parking lots distant from where the Ugly Monkey was. Reversing field gave us another look at the twins before coming down the right path. 

It was time for another loop around the entire park. We had calmed down and raised our spirits before entering the Ugly Monkey, meaning there was extended Pigeon dances to entertain our fellow Garden visitors.
It took multiple passes of driving through the main parking lot before we found a space, leading to many thrilling license plate sightings.
Before exploring the main section, a pit stop was needed. We weren’t exposed to the down side of metal toilet seats when we had visited the park in much warmer months…
Would not recommend.

We walked throughout the Main Area, looked at the impressive Main Area Rocks, and said “Ooh, pretty!” a great deal. There will probably be a lot more pictures than text in this section. 

This should serve as further proof that I write these long before they are completed and have pictures added. One would think I would edit what I've written to reflect their final state. One would again, be wrong.

We went the wrong way more than once, likely due to my navigation. Rosa and I also stopped for our romantic picture by the Kissing Camels rock to annoy our daughter. 

The steps and dirt trail up to the “Giant’s Toes” as we called that end of the Sleeping Giant Rock was an extra adventure. There was a large group in the area, clearly smelling of partaking in the local herbs. Anabelle wasn’t up for a climb at that point and sat down to take a nap under an overhang. I followed her lead of artsy sneaker pictures which continued to be a highlight on this day. 

It’s possible we heard a rattlesnake in the brush, or maybe some deal leaves and twigs in the wind. As always, I am a font of useful information.
On the way out, I needed to hit the rest room again. Anabelle told me to hurry up and “Be like the Flash!”
I countered, “You mean the Whizzer?”
I am both hilarious and filled with comic book knowledge.
There was a moment of crisis on the way out of the parking lot for yet another driving loop around the park. Those one way roads make it safer, but not easier to navigate.
Anabelle screamed out KENTUCKY!!! when she saw the license plate.
This very nearly led to the running over of six people, and the careening off of at least four cars when I screamed out a compound blasphemy-profanity, and leapt out of the driver’s seat, while extending one leg to slam on the Ugly Monkey’s brakes.
Rosa tried to film almost our entire journey to document the elusive Keyhole Rock that we’re still not sure if we’ve ever actually seen. Most of her filming was of the ground due to some lighting issues, therefore the mystery remains.
The trail to the top end Sleeping Giant rock, or as I continued to call it “The Giant’s Nostrils” lay ahead of us.  After getting lost in the brush on either the trip up or down on every other attempt, I declared we would go up and down the same way.
I donned the manly Disney Fairy backpack and up we went. We took in the sights and got a few pictures, including one of all of us by a slightly sketchy looking solo hiker we met at the summit.

Anabelle declared she knew how to go down the other way and the reason we got lost on previous attempts was that I was in the lead. (This conclusion is difficult to argue with.) After resting a bit on the bench, she began to lead us down path B. There we saw Slightly Sketchy Hiker looking confused at various trails. Anabelle decided the best way down would be the way we went up. As we were getting into The Ugly Monkey, we saw Slightly Sketchy Hiker come out of the same trail we used both ways.

The Ugly Monkey’s penultimate trip around Garden of the Gods brought us to the Trading Post.
Anabelle wandered around the lot, finding another new plate for her list. She stated:
“I’m good at this game because I have no public shame.”
In contrast to a manager we would encounter later, the guy at the grill inside the Trading Post was ridiculously gluten friendly. He told Rosa her burger bun would be gluten free, followed by working tirelessly to ensure she got a gluten free side. 

Anabelle got a veggie wrap and Rosa and I FINALLY got our Bison Burgers. They had homemade chips too! I don't care what cardiac condition I am in, homemade chips will always be allowed on the menu. There are some compromises that remove too much quality of life, you know?

Anabelle and Rosa grabbed a Starbucks and we did a bit of peeking around the huge store. I succumbed to the lure of fudge that I managed to ignore on past trips and got  a small piece.
Eh, I think I can ignore the lure of it on future trips as well. 
We took the Ugly Monkey for a full lap completely around the park before Siri guided us out of the parking lot we were in.
By this point the three of us had no brain cells left and we made fun of every road sign on the way back up to the Denver area. Anabelle went into “Advanced Pigeon Choreography” to the music and made herself laugh hysterically.
We got home with more than enough time to shower before Colorado Standard time shut down.
Aurora contacted Anabelle as she read through my copy of Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology she borrowed to read for school. In a typical synchronicity of our family, Anabelle had read it the last time we visited Colorado, then read a story to Aurora while planning that year’s Disney Trip, where we saw a reference to it in Norway. (Wow, could I have used the word “read” more in those sentences? No Jeff, they borrowed the book to swat away annoying people. Of course they were reading it. You fool.)
A couple days before, Anabelle and I had gotten excited about watching League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I’m not sure what prompted it…
Not like it takes much to get us excited about that weird film.
Titi Luzma was asking about superhero films, leading us to spring that masterpiece on her.
Getting enjoyment out of watching really odd films with those who have no idea what to expect is a hobby of multiple generations of my family.
She went to bed before it ended but finished it up on her own the next day. She will not be watching it again. We on the other hand, likely have watched it again between that time and this posting. (Yes...we did.)
With everyone else asleep, we moved the speaker closer to me, because I am deaf. Then I had to fix the angle because right and left were reversed. This led to the following exchange.
Anabelle- “You are very annoying.”
Me- “It is a gift.”
Anabelle- “It must skip a generation.”
When the tiger showed up in the snow for no reason in the movie, Anabelle pointed out it was “Very random, like the ones in the Denver Aquarium.” Nice foreshadowing, kiddo.
When the movie ended, we turned in to be rested up for a double visit day.

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