Thursday, 30 September 2010

Royal Gorge and Canon City, CO

1200 threads
I learned that the funny little squiggle over the first "n" in Canon City means you pronounce it with a "yu" sound - so it sounds like Canyon rather than a brand of camera. There's lots of interesting stuff about the Royal Gorge - it's where the battle to get a train line through this towering wall of rock was won, and lost - we get to ride on the team that one and take pictures of the left-behinds of the team that lost. Such is life. The largest, single span suspension bridge in the world .. is the Royal Gorge Bridge. Each side has about 1200 bits of wire tied together (refer photo) and that's meant to give all who walk or drive across her some confidence. It did.
Inspired by Leonardo Di Caprio and that boat movie, I flung open my arms and felt the rush of wind and fear - all was going well until the waves created by a small bus going across had me grabbing for the "railing" such as it is.The 1200 lines of thin steel are cold and harsh - metal on metal - lots of possibilities for quilting ...
And here is the moment before the bridge started to .. roll and sway under the impact of the blue bus or trolley as it's called.

Crossing the bridge on foot
The timber slats frame lovely gaps of 5 cm or more - so if you are a little height challenged it's best not to look down - then there's me afraid I might trip on the uneven, swaying surface - so down I looked. It's a choice of pain I guess. The Arkansas River way below - about 9+ seconds in free fall (which is what they tell you on the skyrail cable thing about half way across the canyon) - I'm appreciating every inch of those 1200 metal wires that could have been cheap coat hangers in another life.

Squishmobile #1 or travelator
We'd been inspired to got to the Gorge through a google search when contemplating the drive from Colorado Springs to La Veta - so glad we found this place ... or rather that it found us.
In keeping with our trains theme, we managed to travel on 3 during our visit - this was the second. A travelator that clicks and cogs 1500 feet to the bottom of the gorge - with travellers squished two abreast and standing in the metal cage - for those with a large proboscis there would have been grid marks on the end of your nose from being pressed in so close - it was a remarkably peace-filled decent as all the cogging and clicking occurs getting the contraption back to the top of the gorge cliff.

Skyrail across the gorge
We descended, literally, between two walls of rock which exaggerated the feel of dropping into the bowels of the gorge. Our third "rail" event for the day was travelling across the gorge in this little thing. It holds about 20 people - again they all squish in - and then you drop the windows so that you really feel alive - and get unfettered photography for the 2 minute trip. I almost had one of those "my body is going to throw me from the carriage" moments again - but too carried away taking photos and a video of our shadow dropping down the canyon wall and across the Arkansas River, now a thread below. Our first rail event for the day had been far more conventional - a 2.5 trip in the Royal Gorge Train at the base of the gorge - following the (you'll never guess) Arkansas River for about 12 miles out the other side of the Gorge. We passed white water rafters (that was another option of making the return trip) and got to see the park form below ... quite a different perspective.

Looking up at the bridge ...

Our mission for the entire holiday was quilting and trains ... and Royal Gorge certainly exceeded all our expectations - it was such a thrill to walk and ride the park, gorge and Riverwalk - all separate events but within easy reach of the other. A great fun day.  Of course, I've got several hundred pictures of rocks - and I'll start working through them for design inspiration - patterns and colourways to use in future quilt projects. So many ideas, only 40+ years left to accomplish everything. It really will be a tight squeeze.

Royal Gorge and the Arkansas River

Last word on the Royal Gorge - and the first part of our adventure with trains- from the train we looked up ... and the thin dark line way above was, of course, the bridge we would soon be crossing.

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