Escape to Colorado – Part 1

Escape to Colorado
Escape to Colorado

I took a quick outdoor escape to the great state of Colorado for the first time this last weekend. We boarded an early morning flight from Los Angeles to Denver and picked up our rental car to start the journey to Colorado Springs for the day. Being tired from the exhausting logistics of an early flight, we stopped at Crowfoot Valley Coffee in Castle Rock for a much-needed caffeine fix. I had a vanilla chai latte with soy milk and a chocolate chip muffin at this cute little coffee-house. Nice place and successfully recharged us for the busy day ahead. 

Fountain Creek
Fountain Creek
Colorado
Hike to Rainbow Falls
Rainbow Falls
Rainbow Falls

We made it to Colorado Springs in good time and started our first hike at Garden of the Gods Park. This registered National Natural Landmark has a fantastic Visitor and Nature Center with exhibits and history of the area. Admittance to the park is free and the large main parking lot makes stopping at the Visitor Center convenient. There is limited parking along the road throughout the park to pull off and take a view of the towering sandstone rock formations set against the snow-topped Pikes Peak and bright blue skies. There are fifteen miles of trails within the park area. Due to time constraints, we took a few of the shorter trails where we could see the red rock formations surrounded by the brilliant blue sky peppered with fluffy white clouds. Nature had made photography easy for me by creating the postcard perfect weather.

Our next stop was Rainbow Falls located on Fountain Creek in the West end of Manitou Springs. There is a cement walkway along the river, which was brimming with fast-moving water. After walking along the path for a short time, we came to the waterfall located under a bridge. The area is call Rainbow Falls due to the massive amounts of colorful graffiti on the rocks and trees. It was a little shocking at first because I hate to see anything defaced but the area is known for this “nature art” and that is what draws crowds making it definitely different from what you normally see at a waterfall.

With the day passing quickly, we headed to North Cheyenne Canon Park to hike to Helen Hunt Falls. We took the short walk to the top of the falls and also viewed it from the base. Helen Hunt falls is a fairly small waterfall compared to other waterfalls I have seen but glad we went to take in the beautiful views and the nice drive up in the park with many places to stop and explore along the way.

As it was starting to get dark we drove towards our hotel in Estes Park, very exhausted from our day that had started at 4:00 am. We stopped at Sweet Basilico Café and I had veggie lasagna that was vary good. After that I fell into bed and slept  like a bear because of the long day of fresh air, beautiful sights, and successful great first day in Colorado.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oceanside Harbor, California

Sunset Oceanside
Always Time For Yoga, Oceanside Sunset

After a long day at work one of my favorite things to do is stop at Oceanside Harbor and escape from the stressful commute in freeway traffic and refresh myself for the evening.  I usually take a walk or jog along the waterfront passing the many boats rocking gently in their slips and restaurants full of people enjoying an outdoor meal. Opposite the big “Oceanside” letters on the hillside towards the middle of the harbor area is a dock with a nice kayak and paddleboard launch that is open to the public. I take my paddleboard there on weekends as the floating platform makes it very easy to get on and off the board without jumping into the water. Parking is almost always available and very easy to find, unlike most Orange County Beachs. Right around this area is where groups of sea lions come to climb onto the dock and dry off in the sun. It is amazing to watch these huge animals easily propel themselves out of the water and onto the dock. I can spend hours watching them fight for position and snuggle with each other while snorting and barking loudly. As the sea lions finally get situated and ready for their naps, the sun starts going down while highlighting the beautiful view of the harbor in shades of orange and red. Unfortunately, now that the time has changed and it gets dark earlier, I will miss the sea lion ritual and wait anxiously for summer to return.

Multnomah Falls, Oregon

Multnomah Falls
Benson Bridge, Multnomah Falls

I travelled to Oregon last year in search of great American waterfalls. It’s not hard to find beautiful waterfalls throughout the Pacific Northwest but the one I really wanted to see was Multnomah Falls. Once I arrived at the visitors center I walked to see the Falls and take pictures of it and the historic Benson Bridge. I was not aware that there was a trail leading to the top until I passed a group of hikers as I was crossing the bridge. I asked them how to get a closer view of the Falls and they told me the Larch Mountain Trail led to the top and was just around a mile hike. The trail was challenging in places with switchbacks and some fairly steep sections. Along the trail I saw amazing views of the Columbia River Gorge below. At the top portion of the trail it was a bit muddy so I walked along the side of the stream lined with beautiful small waterfalls leading to the main falls. After reaching the end of the trail there was an overlook area with a spectacular view straight down. I later found out there is a longer hike up around Larch Mountain that is not paved and quite strenuous. Unfortunately, I did not have enough time to take that hike. The best months to visit Multnomah Falls is September to October after the summer crowds are gone and the fall foliage is at it’s best. In the summer it can be packed full of visitors and the water does not flow as strong. I visited the Falls in June and was very lucky to not have any rain and perfect weather! A hike and journey well worth it!