When the morning came, we arose slowly. We met John, Jenny's boyfriend who had to work late the night prior. We all went out to breakfast at a place called Patti's. Paul got a smothered burrito, which is a burrito with chili (often green) on the outside that is quite popular in the area. After breakfast they gave us a quick tour of Pueblo, explaining how it was a large steel mill town and important hub for transportation back in the day. They took us past a canal along a bridge that is fed by the Arkansas river I believe. Along the bridge, there is the Guinness world record largest mural in the world. Some of the art was really cool.
We got back to their place and decided that we would go cliff jumping at "the res" what us Pueblo insiders call the reservoir, which happens to be where John works. Since John was the inside guy, he called ahead to make sure that boat patrol wouldn't be in the area. We were clear. Deciding against starting with a smaller drop, we went for the biggest cliff off the bat. At first John and Paul went. Yikes. We were up there. Without thinking, the best way to do it, I leaped off as well. Man, how exhilarating! We estimated that we were over 50 feet, but as our stories will grow greater with time, you can expect that height to grow as well.
As soon as I swam to shore, the boat patrol had showed up. They didn't punish us, but mentioned there would be no swimming. I was practically relieved that I wouldn't be allowed to face the drop again.
We headed back to their house shortly after, and collected our stuff. They had convinced us to head towards Canon City to do some rafting and see the Royal Gorge, the tallest suspension bridge in the world, before Colorado Springs. Initially planning on a day of rest in Pueblo, we would have to wait (much to the chagrin of a certain riding partner whose name will go unmentioned) We collected our stuff, and took a picture We had a really great time with Jenny and John, and were very appreciative. We hoped we would see them again in our travels or perhaps after.
Once on the road we would have to stop in Pueblo West for some food as it would be the only place to do that prior to arriving in Canon City, about 35 miles away. We would be climbing a bit as well, as we were heading into the mountains.
We stopped at a Little Ceaser's who had a nice deal on a large pizza pizza. We met a manager type figure, who was interested in our trip. He told the workers to "hook these guys up". Sweet, what did that mean? Once we had ordered, he came over and swiped his card. He bought our meal for us. We couldn't believe it. Another generous person to add to the list.
Filled to the brim, we headed into the mountains… not an ideal combination. As we pedaled to the very beginning of the range, we began seeing the tip of the iceberg of the beauty of Colorado. The scenery does come at a cost however. It was a tough 35 mile stretch.
We booked a ticket to go the gorge as well as a rafting on the Arkansas below it. The rapids under the Gorge were nearly double the water volume they allow because of the record snowfall from the winter (the Arkansas is fed from snow melt), and were consequently shut down, but wasn't where we were heading anyway, just a tidbit. The bus for the tour was on top of what the locals called 8 mile hill. Not feeling up to it at the time, we found a campsite nearby, and would take the trip early in the morning as the tickets were non-refundable and we had to be there by 8:45.
We visited a local Best Western which happened to have a breakfast buffet, that I found out was available to anyone for $7. What a deal, especially for two beasts like us. And really I mean, Paul… he's huge.
Noticing a cold stone on the way in, we figured we'd replace a potentially nutritious dinner with a heaping mound of ice cream plus mix ins. It's such a jolly atmosphere, I always end up talking to the employees there for a while. We stuck around outside for a while, since of course it was absolutely beautiful, and a happening spot. We also met a guy there doing a tour of Colorado, north to south, to help raise money for a homeless shelter in Glenwood Springs.
We retired at a decent time as we would be getting up at 6:00 sharp to pack quickly and get a quick buffet (or so I thought) before we took on the 8 mile hill. The air was so dry and comfortable, it was a pleasure camping. The following day would bring both of our first, real rafting experience, and the Royal Gorge would be a cool sight as well.
Life was good.