Weather or whether?

I was reading an email that a friend wrote. Halfway through, you could see me visibly twitch. I stumbled across a question asking me "weather or not" they should do something. I corrected them, which got us talking about weather in general. Here in Colorado, the weather is really unique.

Ask most Coloradans and they would probably quote this phrase or similar: If you don't like the weather, cross the street.
Once, I was in the backyard of a house we lived in farther south. It was raining and so I walked to the other side, where it wasn't. Then I stood half in the rain and half out.

I'm not saying that this happens all the time, but the weather does change drastically. If it's sunny in the morning, make sure to bring a raincoat with you, because it may be raining later. Spring and Autumn are the worst. Last spring, it was sunny in the first part of the day. In the afternoon, all within one hour, it rained, snowed, became sunny and rained again.

Whether or not the weather is nice during one part of the day, it may not be on the other side of the street. If you're on vacation and want to have a good time, I guess it depends on whether or not you have the right clothing for the weather. Something to keep in mind, tourists.


Global Warming or an Ice Age?

This last month has been remarkably chilly here in Manitou Springs. In mid-August, I heard our heater kick on for the first time this season. August, here in Manitou, is generally the hottest month of the year. Yes, we had a few really quite hot days, but most of the month was very temperate, sometimes downright cold. I didn’t really puzzle too much about it, because it didn’t seem that entirely strange. Even the day that the heater kicked on, it just seemed like one in a million.

Well, now it’s September and our heater comes on every night as the temperature drops. This is practically unheard of for early September here in Manitou. Today the weather in Cripple Creek, a casino town not too far from here, was forecast to snow. And here in Manitou, it felt like the early days of winter. It felt like snow for sure. We spent the day cooped up in the house wearing sweaters, covered in blankets, huddled over heaters…

Are we having an early Autumn, or possibly bypassing it completely? Could this be the beginning of a Great Winter, such as the world last saw when the pilgrims from Asia crossed the Bering Strait onto this continent? I have heard it said (who hasn’t?) that Global Warming is in progress. The ice floes on the North Pole are disappearing. But perhaps the earth is just winding up like a clock, about to swing in the other direction. It will be like a nuclear winter, without the nuclear (hopefully, but you never know). Our heaters won’t work and we’ll be forced to become traveling nomads, following game across the frozen seas in order to feed ourselves. We won’t have farms, although there will always be the used snow and ice salesman trying to sale his wares: “Snow, snow inna bun!”
“Bun? Bun? I’ve not seen one of those since I was a little lad on my granddad’s knee!”
“Oh, well this is a genuine bun made o’ ice, see?”
“I’ll show you bun made o’ ice…”

Before too long, we’ll all be eating our neighbors to stay alive. But then, even if we feed ourselves, we’ll die from hypothermia anyway.


A Weird Conversation In Manitou

These are the kinds of conversations I get into in Manitou.

There I was, minding my own business. Then someone came up to me and asked me what I thought about evolution. I said, I didn't know or really care.

Then, the person said something to the effect of: "Well, I believe in it. But this ape stuff is bologna. We actually came from chickens."

"Uh-huh. I ... wait. What?"

The person in question began to explain to me his theory on how we actually evolved from chickens. I tried to disprove it, but the longer we talked, the more confused I became and I ended up beginning to agree that, yes, we must have evolved from chickens. We used to have beaks and we laid eggs. There was no way we came from apes, because that just doesn't make nearly as much sense as coming from chickens ... right? Uh, cheep.


Memorial Park

Here in Manitou Springs, there is a beautiful park by the name of Memorial Park. It is located on El Paso Blvd. -- right off of Manitou Ave. On one corner of Manitou and El Paso, there is an old train engine that was used on Pikes Peak. On another corner, you will find City Hall, which is a large white building with flowers and a weeping willow out front. This is the only picture I could find of City Hall . . . it sucks, sorry.

There is a nice little trail that lets you walk along Fountain Creek, some great sculptures and some really cool wood carvings. Last and anything but least, my favorite mineral spring, Seven-Minute Spring, is located in this park.

One of the best things to do is pack a picnic lunch and take it to Memorial Park. Sit under one of the trees for shade while you eat. After lunch, you'll likely be a little bit thirsty, so take a short walk to Seven-Minute Spring. To get there, look uphill for a gazebo with a stone amphitheater. Walk toward it, and you will spot the fountain.

If anyone loves this park as much as I do, don't forget to comment!


The Campers

Where I live, there is a campground right next to my backyard. A short stone wall acts as a dividing line. To make the wall higher, someone had the 'brilliant' idea of erecting an ugly yellow fence atop the stones. I do have to give this person credit, however, because the fence conceals me while I spy on the campers.

The little campsites are basically giant litterboxes. In fact, the neighbor cats really take advantage of them. The campground is in a valley, right next to Fountain Creek. An advantage? Not necessarily ... The wind is horrendous and often prunes the trees of all their heaviest branches right on top of the tents. Sometimes, the creek smells like sewer.

A couple days ago, a camper set up a tent that was bigger than one of the rooms in our house. This tent had a large porch as well. I haven't seen them since they set up the tent. Presumeably, they are still within it.

Spying has become boring, so I inspect my tulip.

FYI: Thanks for the beautiful picture of my tulip, Jeff!


Tourists in Summer

Here in Manitou Springs...wait. Let me start over. Anyplace tourists can be found is always a delightful place to people-watch. Here, great swarms of Harley Davidson's and SUV's cover the town. Out pop these families that smell like cotton candy and sunscreen, wearing jeans and 'COLORADO' t-shirts. Strolling in their little sandals and pulling incongruous amounts of money and candy wrappers out of their fanny packs. Too busy looking at an old building to watch where they are going, ending up falling on their faces.

You've gotta love 'em. In fact, I have heard numerous stories of fellow Manitoids (that is what we're called)having a little bit of fun with the camera-wielders. Some like to trip the tourists, some like to give phony directions, some like to give them tastes of Iron Springs just to watch them spit and gag.

Hope this stuff doesn't turn all you tourists off out there. The majority of locals will actually help you out if you need it. Tourism is our main business. It is what gives us the money to actually survive the rest of the year.

If you are a tourist, but want to fit in, here is my advice:
Get yourself some nice dreadlocks. Find an old, dirty, tie-dye shirt with holes in it and a pair of too-big, dirty pants with holes in the knees. Put these on. Grow your fingernails long and let dirt collect underneath. Find yourself some old, worn-in, worn-out pair of All-Star sneakers. Wear them.

Or you could do what I do: dress weird in any which way. No matter what, if you dress weird, you will probably fit in OK.


Bridges in Manitou

The bridges in Manitou Springs are infamous. They were built in the early 1900's, and have withstood floods and all sorts of fun things. They are crafted beautifully of large rocks and make the town what it is. They have inspired lots of artists, including me.

Manitou Springs is a little town in the grand Rocky Mountains, at the foot of Pikes Peak. It can be pretty touristy during summer months, just like any place else. The buildings are almost all really old, many are reported to be haunted. An example is Miramont Castle up Ruxton Avenue - many employees and guests have 'seen ghosts'.

Underneath Manitou runs mineral springs, which you can drink from in a few places throughout town. Each mineral spring has a different name. For example: Iron Springs has an abundance of iron (so much that it has completely rusted out the fountain and makes your mouth taste like blood). My favorite spring is called Seven-Minute Spring. This spring is located in Memorial Park on the east side of Manitou, behind City Hall. The water tastes like carbonated soda water, slightly sweet. It really quenches your thirst on a hot day.

Although town has all these beautiful sights, walking across one of the Manitou bridges across Fountain Creek captures all your senses...
You can smell the flowering trees on each side, drink some cold spring water as you bend over the edge to watch the water rush under you. You feel the old stones beneath your hands as you run them along the bridge, hear children laughing and birds chirping...ah! Beauty.

Maybe I'm just dramatic because...spring has sprung, happiness is here and the grass is green (finally!)