The next morning we explored Garden of the Gods, which is basically a huge, amazingly awesome(free!) city park. It has huge rock formations and mountains, and a lot of it is paved side walk. Cate was so excited to hike; she was leading the way, always wanting to go exploring off the trail. We climbed rocks, on top of which she said she could “see everything.” She loved being the leader, hollering, “Come on, team!” or “Bend your knees!” She was identifying cacti and animal tracks, and was particularly interested in horse poop.
Later in the morning her enthusiasm waned, and she wanted us to carry her. In the more paved area, she seemed less interested. Luckily a group of musicians was taking a group photo there and let her check out their instruments. One guy let her push the valves on his trumpet while he blew it. Then we carried her around in the child carrier.
Our next item for the day was the cog train up Pike’s Peak. It was packed and the seats were smile, a perfect opportunity to make some of those “new friends” Cate was talking about. We got about 10 minutes up the mountain when the train came to a halt. At first we all thought it was a joke. When the driver said, “Oh no, I think something’s wrong,” everyone on the train laughed. When he radioed back to the station and spoke about dropped oil pressure, we knew it was a legitimate break-down. Luck would have it that we were seated one row behind the driver. Cate turned to him and (quite loudly) asked:
C: What’s wrong?
Driver: I don’t know, it just stopped going.
C: Well, you need to fix it!
D: I’m trying.
The whole train was laughing at that. Everyone around us was suddenly very friendly. One guy kept saying that Cate was the one who broke it, until finally she said, “Well, if I did, it was an accident!” We sat for probably 45 minutes while they figured out a way to get us back to the station, and Cate kept morale high by telling stories and singing songs. I think the highlight was when the same man asked, “Where are you from, Cate?” And she said, “I came out of my mommy’s tummy at the hospital.”
We finally made it to the bottom, and decided maybe the train wasn’t for us after all. Cate was restless with all the waiting, so we got a refund and went on our way.
Next stop: Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. She was pretty tired by this time. But let me just say, I. loved. the. zoo! There were so many animals I had never seen before like grizzlies, moose, a bald eagle, all sorts of crazy lizards and bright blue poisonous frogs. The reptile house looked more like an art museum. The gorillas and orangutans would get right next to the glass and stare at you while they chomped their fruit. It was captivating to see them so close and realize how big they are. We fed the giraffes and even got to see a newborn giraffe who was just 2 days old.
Cate’s favorite things were the pony ride and the little ground squirrels that run around and beg for food from the other animals and visitors. This one came right up to us, and held its arms up to Cate for food. She said, “Him wants me to hold him.” She wanted to take him home.