Sunday was our last full day in Denver. It was also the first time we properly met our AirBnB hosts. We'd met the husband before; he was there when we first arrived, and we'd encountered him on setting out a few times. But the woman whom bunny_hugger had actually arranged the rental with had been out when we first arrived, and we'd missed her since then. This, a late Father's Day breakfast with their daughter and her husband(?), and her daughter's dog, was the first chance we had to talk with them. They also offered us some leftover mango, even more food on top of the abundances they'd left in the mini-fridge and all. Well, we were falling over ourselves to say how nice we had found the place, just perfectly fitted to our needs. We had to admit we had no idea whether their instructions for the TV worked; we just hadn't tried turning it on. And we got to talk about our fresh impressions of Elitch Gardens and of Lakeside Park and how much we just delighted in them.
The day was cooler. Much cooler. And threatening rain. The week leading up to our visit the days in Denver had all been in the 90s and sunny with intermittent thunderstorms, as happened at Elitch Gardens. Now it was twenty, maybe thirty degrees cooler. And rainy. We were packed for hot summer days, and didn't even have miniature umbrellas. We were not set up for cool. Nor rain.
We did have plans, though. Not to revisit the parks we'd been to, not just yet anyway. There was another. Not in Denver. But in Cascade, Colorado, about 60 miles south, is Santa's Workshop. Or possibly the North Pole. Or Santa's Workshop At The North Pole. The signs are ambiguous to the point of distraction. The point is, it's a small, family amusement park of the Santa Claus Village type. It dates to 1956, a great time for this kind of park. It promised to have only a single, kiddie roller coaster. But it would be a small holiday-themed park. Just our sort of thing. Also the sort of thing we could visit on a low-key, simpler day.
So. A thing we did not expect was that on a sunny July Sunday the entire population of Denver gets in the car and drives south to Colorado Springs. And that the entire population of Colorado Springs gets in the car and drives north to Denver. We expected this to be an hourlong drive and if not for the heavy traffic, it would have been.
On the way down we would need an extra bathroom break, and the first exit for that was Larkspur. If you have heard of this town ever, it is because of what it hosts the weekends of summer: the Colorado Renaissance Festival. Which draws quite the crowd. It's a town which has a gas station with a bathroom, as promised on the highway exit sign. The station is a couple miles off the Interstate, and just past the intersection for Renaissance Festival traffic to turn off. We knew of Larkspur, and we had plans to see it too. But not just then. It was too early. Also everyone in Larkspur who wasn't going to or performing in the Renaissance Festival was in the crowded back of the gas station, waiting to get to the bathroom before we exploded ourselves.
The result of the traffic, and the Larkspur diversion, was that we got to Cascade later than we hoped. But the course of getting there was great. We got to see some actual Rocky Mountain splendor, enormous fields of mountains --- which just don't happen in Michigan, and barely happen in New Jersey --- and astounding plays of color and shadow. And if the town Cascade, Colorado, sounds at all familiar --- well, you're fibbing. It does not. But there's an excellent chance you've heard of the area, as it's the vicinity of Pikes Peak.
Santa's Workshop at the North Pole is, indeed, at the gates to Pikes Peak: just past its parking lot is a gate for the Pikes Peak Highway, the start of a three-hour drive up to something near the summit that was a tempting thought too. The park itself is nestled in the hilly sides of ... well, the outskirts of the one Colorado mountain I could name. Heck of a setting. We could have used the time lost to traffic and the bathroom break at the park instead. But we were there and could enjoy our time anyway.
Trivia: The Alfonsine astronomical tables, sponsored by Castilian King Alfonso XI for 1252, estimated the year's length at (in sexagesimal fractions of a day) 365, 14, 33, 9, 57. That is, about 365.242 546 days to the year. Source: Mapping Time: The Calendar and its History, EG Richards.
Currently Reading: The Complete Peanuts, 1950 - 2000, Charles Schulz. Editor Gary Groth.
PS: And now we worked our way to Gillian's Wonderland Pier.
Christmas Gallery: an Ocean City (New Jersey) Christmas shop we encountered while trying to find Gillian's Wonderland Pier. We love this sort of thing but didn't have time to stop in. So this is a reminder that we have stuff to get back to.
``Hi, I'm The Fry Guy''. Not sure there's much to add to this photograph except that the figure reminded me of these fries I saw in Utrecht that everybody there crazy loved but that I never tried. Also only in compiling these pictures did I notice the kid's carrying a poop emoji plushie. Really seems like a bad thing for a food-adjacent picture.
Anyway it was a really, really misty, foggy evening. This is the Playland's Castaway Cove as we saw it from the boardwalk, where it fooled us into thinking it was the Gillian's Wonderland Pier we were looking for. You can see how little of Gale Force is even visible from here.