Seeing world through local lens

For a small-town girl like me, traveling and experiencing new things doesn’t happen every day, and I definitely have some wanderlust. I certainly wouldn’t call myself a “country girl” to say the least, (I just went fishing for the first time this summer and ended up waist deep in a mud hole, if that puts it into perspective for you) but I don’t see much else besides Hillsboro, Kan.

I took a trip to Colorado Springs, Colo., earlier this month and it was amazing. I had been there once before on a school choir trip last year and absolutely fell in love with mountains. Going back again fueled my fire even further.

The views are simply breathtaking. It was photographer heaven for me. As soon as you enter the city, you are at the base of the mountain range. I looked up and just saw the massive expanse, covered in beautiful trees and even a bit of snow. All you get in Kansas is cows and wheat.

The air is so much fresher, with no humidity or raging heat in the middle of the day. One of my favorite things I saw as we drove into the city were the deer that hang around like they’re squirrels. There was one just standing by the local Walgreen’s on the sidewalk, completely unfazed by the traffic and pedestrians.

Garden of the Gods was our first stop. I visited the park last year, and unfortunately hit my face on an overhanging rock when climbing. That resulted in a sizable scrape in the middle of my forehead, but thankfully it healed scar free, and I did not repeat the incident this time around.

The red rock formations are stunning. They were created millions of years ago in an upheaval of a natural fault line. I find it so interesting and beautiful that they’re still here today for us to appreciate. The Ute Indians used to live in this area because they found the red rocks to have a spiritual connection.

We also visited the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. It was so fun to think I was standing on the side of a mountain with my favorite beings ever: animals. The best part was the giraffe exhibit.

This zoo has the largest heard of giraffes in the country with a total of 16. It is the first enclosure in the zoo and there is a platform across it so the giraffes’ heads were right next to my face. A few were still babies so their heads were poking out at my feet. I got to feed them and pet them and it was such a great experience. They tried to lick me all over and I found it to be adorable.

With the Pike’s Peak cog train being shut down recently because of overuse, driving or hiking is the only way up the mountain. With the task of my family driving ourselves up seeming a bit daunting, we took a private jeep tour up to the summit.

As we drove closer to the base, the mountain seemed to brood over the city and the peaks pierced the sky. About halfway up, we stopped at a lake just a storm was coming in over the mountain. Seeing the clouds so close moving across the lake and starting to blanket the peak was gorgeous.

Moving further up we were going through forests of tall, thin blue spruce trees.

The fog was looming over the tops of the trees.

All the photos I love on photographers’ websites of their nature adventures were coming to life for me. The bummer, though, was as soon as we reached the summit, snow and sleet started to fall and the park ranger told us we had to make our way back down immediately.

So even though I didn’t get to see the view of six surrounding states, it was still surreal to think I was standing in a cloud. It’s safe to say I thoroughly miss Colorado.

Find your wanderlust and seek it out. We only live one life and there is an entire planet to explore. Nature will always be the most beautiful thing to experience.

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