The weather in Oklahoma and Texas leading up to our trip had been blistering hot. It was not at all uncommon for the temperature to reach 110 degrees. When we heard that it would almost certainly rain before we reached Colorado Springs most everyone rejoiced. However, when I looked over at dad he had no expression on his face at all. I asked “Do you think rain will be an issue?”. He quietly replied that he had never driven the RV in the elements but was more worried about the wind than the rain. Now that he mentioned it, the trees we passed did seem to be getting whipped around quite a bit. Dad put on a show of confidence but admitted later that he expected a gust to all but topple us over at any moment.
We finally arrived at our destination, a little late but all in one piece. Most of our passengers were none the wiser of any cause for concern. The Garden of the Gods RV park was like a little city. It was pretty nice but a bit crowded. The people were nice though and the bathrooms clean. We slept well after a long day of travel.
The Cave of the Winds was the day’s destination. This was our first confirmation that bringing a vehicle along with us was a necessity. There was no way we could have traversed the winding road up the mountain to the Cave’s entrance in the RV. A gift shop was built around the mouth of the cave. As we waited for our tour to begin, we browsed around the gift shop. At the back of the shop was an obviously fake stuffed bear standing on it’s hind legs. The bear stood over seven foot tall but did not look menacing at all. Ethan’s eyes were transfixed on the huge teddy bear. He couldn’t take his eyes off of it but would shriek in terror if I took him any where near it. This was the genesis of an obsession that would linger for the rest of the trip. From that moment on the words “want to see bear” were as likely to be heard as anything. On this particular day Ethan was on a tear.
We finally entered the cave and met our tour guide. He was a nice enough fellow but spoke in a tone that hinted he had given this tour at least a billion times. As he was informing us about stalactites and such at our first stop a young girl bent over and vomited on the floor. During the silence while the young girl was being helped out of the cave, Ethan informed us all quite loudly “I POOTED”. Linda’s face turned two different shades of red. To our relief his diaper did not need changing however that wasn’t the end of his chatter.
Just journeying through the cave was a blast. We were guided along narrow passages, up winding stairs or crouching under jagged rocks. We were introduced to all sorts of rock formations. Some of the rooms had names such as the Temple of Silence or Silent Splendor. I don’t think Ethan stopped talking through the entire tour. It was all we could do to not laugh at him. Large exclamations of “OOOHH” or “SCARY” had the whole tour chuckling. All but the tour guide, I think he felt slighted that people laughed at the two year old instead of his corny jokes.
After exiting the cave, Dylan and Drew convinced dad and I to join them on a contraption that hung over the side of the mountain called the Wind Walker. Mom, Linda and Ethan opted to take pictures from the safety of the ground. The Wind Walker is a sort of obstacle course consisting of planks and ropes that connect a series of platforms. It is like a real life game of chutes and ladders at about 7000 feet above sea level hanging over a 400 foot deep canyon. Before being allowed entrance, one must first be fitted with a full body harness that is equipped with safety ropes that are attached to the course. There is nothing like following a ten year old across a narrow board that extends out twenty feet while peering down a chasm of rock. Despite the safety equipment, I was quite convinced that our trip would be coming to a tragic end at any moment.
After leaving the Pike’s Peak area, we returned back to the RV. We packed up and prepared for the next leg of our trip which would take us into Wyoming. By nightfall we would be in Glendo, Wyoming, if we ever managed to find it.