Garden of the Gods

Yesterday was a special day for me.  My ‘big ticket item’ for my trip to Denver was a visit south to Colorado Springs and the natural wonder that is ‘Garden of the Gods’.

After my father passed last year, I was going through old photographs and noticed some rounded-edge pictures of some beautiful rock formations.  I asked Mom about them and she told me about the trip we took to Colorado when I was just a little guy.  I didn’t remember it, of course, but the pictures were enough for me to know I needed to see this place with grown up eyes.

Saturday morning, Sophie gave me the keys to their Ford Focus and wished me good travels.  As I merged onto Highway 25 southbound out of Denver I was struck by the fact that not only was I heading towards a destination from way in my past, but I was driving a car very similar to my old ’01 Focus.  The weather was tremendous and I drove with the windows down and the tunes up.  Seeing the mountains on the horizon grow closer made me smile, and by the time I arrived at the Visitor’s Center at the Garden I was full of the same excitement I had when seeing Angkor Wat or the Colosseum.

The red rocks were jutting out of the earth, impossibly huge.  As I approached the central area, I couldn’t help but gawk at their beauty.  Many climbers were up and about (including one guy dressed as Batman!) scaling the rock faces and perching atop some of the monuments.  I took one of the lesser paths and found myself in a secluded nook, higher than most of the central garden.  Looking down, I could not only see the bulk of the other tourists nearby, but I could look out over the Colorado landscape and the area near Pike’s Peak.  It was easy to put myself in the mindset of settlers and seeing that this was a good land.  The warm sun and cool breeze kept me company as I sat there and listened to the sound of the earth turning.

Once I’d sufficiently explored the area, I got back into the car and headed back north, but back to Denver just yet.  Kurt had recommended a visit to the nearby United States Air Force Academy and said I really should visit the chapel.  When I arrived and saw the unique triangular construction, I sent him a text message thanking him.  The tall angular structure was stunning both inside and out.  Being on military grounds also brought an additional emotion of stoicism and respect.  The grounds were mostly quiet, but cadets in uniform were easy to find.  I sat in the chapel for a few minutes and reflected.  I’m not religious anymore, but the feeling inside that hallowed building was not unlike my recline atop the rocks back at the Garden.

Satisfied, I drove back to Denver.  Last night was a night of good conversation and old Tales from the Crypt DVDs.  Sophie is an amazing cook and has a lot of passion around hosting.  Today, Kurt returns from Pennsylvania and I think we’re going to head out someplace beautiful and have a picnic.  I love this area!

About rhysfunk

Rhys Martin was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1981. In 2009, he sold everything he owned and left the country, living out of a backpack for ten months. He discovered a passion for photography while traveling throughout Southeast Asia and Europe. After returning home, he looked at his home town and Oklahoma heritage with fresh eyes. When he began to explore his home state, Rhys turned his attention to historic Route 66. As he became familiar with the iconic highway, he began to truly appreciate Oklahoma’s place along the Mother Road. He has traveled all 2,400 miles of Route 66, from Chicago to Los Angeles. He has also driven many miles on rural Oklahoma highways to explore the fading Main Streets of our small towns. Rhys has a desire to find and share the unique qualities of the Sooner State with the rest of the world. Cloudless Lens Photography has been featured in several publications including This Land, Route 66 Magazine, Nimrod Journal, Inbound Asia Magazine, The Oklahoman, and the Tulsa World. In 2018 he published his first book, Lost Restaurants of Tulsa. Rhys loves to connect with people and share his experiences; ask him about enjoyable day trips from Tulsa, locations along Route 66, and good diners or burger joints along the way.
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