Friday, July 31, 2015

Canon City, CO: High Times and Mountain Vines (Days 38-40 of 42)

Our last Colorado destination, Canon City, had us dangling highhhh over the Arkansas River, sipping wine on the grounds of a Catholic abbey, and going to prison.  (Not really = a prison museum.  Gotcha!)  Also, the Lucky Charm had her first-ever rendezvous with roadside assistance ... it had to happen eventually!

A goodbye toast for our final stop in beautiful Colorado

The Royal Gorge Bridge is one of the world's highest suspension bridges, hanging high over the Arkansas River.  Built in 1929 for $350,000, the cost today would exceed $20 million.



The flags of all the states adorn the bridge's 1,270-foot span.


You can walk across, or catch a ride.


The Royal Rush Skycoaster is a free-fall tower that sweeps you 1,200 feet above the river below at 50 MPH:  no wonder it was named the world's scariest skycoaster.




The aerial gondolas glide 2,300 feet across the Royal Gorge on one of the longest single-span cables in the world ...


See the tiny red specks in that huge canyon?  Those are the gondolas!

...  while the ziplines are also one of the world's highest.

The zippers (on the right) are even higher than the gondolas (middle center).

All those heights made us need a drink, so we headed to the grounds of the historic Holy Cross Abbey.  As far back as 1924, the Benedictine Fathers were bottling wine, presumably for their own usage.  The modern-day winery located here has returned to that early heritage, though no Sisters or Monks will be serving you.



In the last 6 years, the winery has won over 100 awards for their 14 different varieties.



With advance notice and a valid credit card, they will happily lay out a beautiful spread and provide you with your very own wine hostess, which we desperately needed because we know absolutely nothing about wine.



Back in town, the Colorado Prison Museum is housed within a real 1930's-era women's cell block, and is filled chock-full with lots of historical items.  You go into each of the 32 cells with their unique themes and related exhibits about famous prisoners, past wardens, historic riots and escapes, and "behavior control devices" including balls and chains, cattle prods, and a whipping horse known as the "Old Gray Mare."




It is right next to an active Colorado prison that is older than the state itself, opening as a Territorial Prison in 1871, that currently houses 800 men.



Actual gas chamber used in eight different executions, the last one in 1967.


Display of confiscated weapons, some of which were noted as having been used during in-prison murders.


Amazingly detailed chess set made out of toilet paper and water (considered contraband and taken away from the inmate who spent many long hours on its construction).


Our travels leaving Canon City were not without excitement, though not of the desirable variety, as the Lucky Charm blew a rear inside tire in the middle of Nowheresville, Colorado.  Although we had to wait a couple hours for assistance, the teeny-tiny general store-slash-coffeehouse-slash-art gallery across the street kept us amused for at least part of the wait.  Here, Philip creates beautiful music to soothe our troubles away.


The repairman swore he thought Philip was Bill Clinton (a common observation) and that I (with my hair up in a messy bun and wearing my square rimless glasses) was Sarah Palin.  Why he thought Bill Clinton and Sarah Palin would be RV'ing together, I am not quite sure.  But at any rate, he took photos with both of us to show the family back home.



Back on the road for the last two days of the 2015 Summer Adventure, we are already starting to plan our 2016 summer travels to the upper Northwest, including Canada's unbelievable Banff National Park and the Calgary Stampede, the "Mardi Gras of Rodeos," a.k.a. a week-long party!  The Lucky Charm cannot be kept down!