Estes Park, CO - 8/31
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We got a call early this morning from our niece, Nancy.  She suggested that she'd take half a day off and we could meet her and then go to Colorado Springs and she'd show us around.  We jumped at the chance to do something other than sit in this god awful park another day.

Nancy works south of Denver in a suburb near the town of Littleton (where the high school shootings took place a year ago or so).  Nancy told us that it would take us about an hour and a half to get there from Estes Park.  Well Labor Day traffic was already rolling as it took us over two hours to get there.  There was stop and go traffic starting in Denver which continued the rest of the way.

We went to Claim Jumper for lunch.  Neither Denise nor I had ever been to one before.  It was wonderful, although the portions are so large they're absurd.  But if you want leftovers, this is a great place.

Then we got back on the freeway and continued about 60 miles south to Colorado Springs.  However the traffic had not let up.  Our first stop was the Air Force Academy which is normally an uncrowded place.  Nancy wanted to show us the church.  It's interesting because in addition to being a beautiful church, it is actually two beautiful churches.  Upstairs is the Protestant church and downstairs is the Catholic church.  Each is beautifully decorated and home to a very large pipe organ.  But what none of us knew is that Labor Day Weekend is Parents Weekend at the academy.  Parents Weekend is the first chance for students and parents to visit since classes started in June so it's a big deal, complete with parades, fly-bys, and a football game (Oklahoma State).  Thus, the base was very crowded and parking was at a premium but we worked our way through it.

Just 4 miles south of the academy is the Garden of the Gods, an area filled with interesting red rock formations.  By now the afternoon thundershowers were in full force but people here are used to them and they usually only last a short while.  So we figure they will let up anytime soon and head to the Garden of the Gods.

The traffic was so bad that it took us nearly an hour to make the 4 mile journey.  And the rain continued to pound us, preventing any walk through the Garden.  We couldn't even take any decent pictures through the windows of the truck because of the water running down.  So we just drove through and headed back for the freeway.

But getting to the freeway was a challenge.  By now, it had rained hard enough to turn many streets into rivers.  Police were in intersections making sure dumb motorists would not try and forge the rivers with their vehicles.  Of course this was too bad because I know we could have made it through.  After all, I once forged the mouth of the Mad River (probably not my brightest move) with my old Dodge where the headlights actually were underwater for a short period.  This water was nowhere that deep.  At any rate, it was the heaviest rain/hail both Denise and I have ever experienced.

We finally worked our way onto the freeway but were met with even more traffic.  We were supposed to meet Neil (our nephew) and his family for dinner at 6:30 pm.  Because it was already after 5:00 pm, we knew we wouldn't make it.  Traffic continued to creep along and after an hour, we had only gone about 10 miles.

Fortunately traffic finally let up and we made it to the restaurant around 7:00 pm.  We enjoyed a nice visit and then finally headed back to Estes Park.

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