“Okay, we’ve got the Garden of the Gods and the chapel at the Air Force Academy. Wasn’t there something else?” I said out loud to Ten as we drove I-25 S out of Denver. He shrugged and looked at the map.

“Looks like there’s some caves up in the hills?” he offered.

“No, no that wasn’t it. What was it??” I tsked, frustrated.

I was excited to visit Colorado Springs again. My family had vacationed there nearly ten years ago, but I still remembered the majestic chapel at the air force base, the kissing camels at the Garden, even poking my head through the Olympic hoops at…

“The training facility!” I practically shouted. “I wanted to go to the Olympic training facility. I bet it’s hopping right now, what with the Olympics right around the corner.”

Ten smiled, “I know.”

“What?” I looked at him.

“I just knew you’d figure it out eventually,” he laughed.

“Here I am wracking my brains and you’re sitting there laughing?” I would have chucked a shoe at him, if one had been handy. But nothing was handy in my packed-out car. I settled for rolling my eyes.

“Oh! Well I thought of something else, too. I’ll give Cotton a buzz!” Cotton was the nickname that our Wheaton friend, Kristian Otten, had been gifted with. He had just recently moved out to the area. This also continued our “Wheaton” theme for the day. Earlier that morning, we had met up with a couple other Wheaties: Jordan Chapman and Scott Roche. Both of them have jobs in Denver; it was a bit surreal to see Scott wearing a suit and realize that we were all in a new stage of life. Thankfully, I could still count on Jordan to be wearing an old football t-shirt and gym shorts. It reminded me that some things would never change!

So, I called Cotton. He seemed glad, but totally surprised, to hear from me. “What are you doing out here?” he asked, then quickly continued: “Oh wait, are you on that crazy trip right now?”

Ten and I have become legends already! (My dad would probably cut in here to say, “Yeah. Legends in your own mind.”)

We told Cotton we were headed his way and asked if he knew someplace we could meet him for lunch. He said yes, but had a few errands to run first. No big deal—Ten and I had places to go, as well.

Our first stop was the Air Force Academy. We didn’t have long, so we bee-lined it to the chapel. What an amazing structure! The building actually looks like a series of wings standing upright, their tips pointed to the blue skies above. The interior light is colored by stained glass. The cross up front looked as if it were about to take off. Quite a memorable sight to see.

We caught up with Cotton at Rudy’s, an absolutely fantastic barbecue joint. He then offered to give us a tour of the Garden of the Gods. “I often go for a run up there,” he told us. We followed his minivan up to the park and then got out and walked through the massive stone structures. There were the kissing camels that I remembered from years ago, still lip-locked. The stone edifices were crawling with climbers. I attempted a small one myself (and got one foot off the ground before falling back to earth).

After our tour, we asked our guide if there was a Starbucks nearby (to keep up with our faithful blog readers!). He suggested instead that we go to Glen Eyrie, a beautiful castle just down the way. We found our way over and seated ourselves in the courtyard just outside of the carriage house. It was a charming afternoon.

One last stop remained, however.

“Still want to go check out the Olympic training facility, Deb?” Ten asked. I’d forgotten again.

“Sure! We better hurry.” Alas, we were twenty minutes to late. The facilities were closed for the evening. But a kindly security guard allowed us to go in and take a few pictures at the Olympic rings.

Another full day. Colorado has definitely provided a variety of entertainment. We have two more major destinations in the state, though: the Great Sand Dunes and Mesa Verde…

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