Sunday, June 23, 2013

We're Still Standing

Fire. An unfortunate and frightening part of summer in the western mountains of the U.S. Last summer Waldo Canyon shook El Paso and Teller Counties to their very cores. This summer, the Black Forest was devastated and no longer resembles what all of us knew and will forever think of when anyone mentions the forest. The Royal Gorge Park and lands close to Canon City are torched as well. The town of South Fork is fighting now for its very existence against a fire in the San Juan Mountains (home of my mystery novels). The East Peak Fire is out of control close to LaVeta and Walsenburg. Several others burn in Fremont and Jefferson counties.

My husband and I have made two trips into Canon City this week. One strictly on business, the second, for their Whitewater Festival on the Riverwalk.

Yesterday's visit was a blast and I am proud to say the people of Fremont County are ready to buck up, repair and get things back to status quo...or better. Though the temperatures were hot (and I am probably a wimp since my hubby and I live at an elevation of more than 8000 feet above sea level and its always nice here in the summers), I was thrilled to see the townsfolk milling about, rafting on the river, drinking soft drinks, lemonade, beer....anything ice cold, and enjoying a coming together of sorts.

While we were there, the Royal Gorge train pulled out from the station, fully loaded with tourists ready to ride through the gorge, no doubt curious to see what the fire had done, but riding nonetheless. It did my heart good to see the train full and traveling down the tracks that follow the Arkansas River.

Next, we went to the Holy Cross Winery and wandered the grounds for a few minutes. We didn't stay long because there was a huge wedding party there and we didn't want to interfere with their happy day. Seeing the place lively and happy, full of people and the staff eager and willing to assist was heartwarming. To see this community come together was touching in a way I haven't felt in a very long time.

We later went to the Country Kitchen up on Highway 50 at the turn off to the Royal Gorge. The gorge sign say, "Bridge Closed. We will reopen." The restaurant was open, but sadly, we were the only customers. We had veggie burgers and homemade potato chips (AWESOME!) and lively conversation with some of the wait staff. Business in slow in the burn areas. They want you to know they, as well as all the businesses on Hwy. 50 around the gorge, are open and ready to serve. Canon City is open for business.

Colorado Springs is open for business. Colorado is open for business. Despite the fires, there is much to see and do. Visit, hike, swim, fish, raft, boat, visit the casinos of Black Hawk, Central City and Cripple it all and then report to all your friends and relatives that Colorado is alive and well, still breathtaking in its beauty.
I have no idea who this is but I pestered him for a picture at Centennial Park. Hot, sweaty but having a great time.

Pond at Centennial Park with lots of kids of boards having a party.

Runners had to go through this mud pit as part of their course.

Barn at Holy Cross Winery, Canon City

The Abbey, Holy Cross

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