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I am a New York-based writer, travel lover, and author of The Drive North and Destination Paranormal. I have several other books in the works, including fiction.

Driving up Pikes Peak

O beautiful for spacious skies,

It was a beautiful day as I drove up Pikes Peak with my friends Brian and Keith. The two are brothers that I’ve known since my college days at the University of Minnesota. They were out visiting for the weekend and wanted to go to Colorado Springs to travel to the top of one of the most famous peaks in the world. They didn’t know the history of discovery behind the mountain, but were familiar with the song by Katharine Lee Bates that made it famous.

For amber waves of grain
After a series of switchbacks on the 19-mile-long road, we made the summit none the worse for wear. The weather was cool, which was a refreshing change from the heat in the city down below. We had sweated the morning away seeing other sites, and were now happy to have some cooler temperatures while we looked back from where we came, and east over the fields of Colorado and beyond.

For purple mountain majesties

The view was nothing short of spectacular, but looking west was unchallengeably the better of the two. The panorama of the other mountains surrounding the 14,115 foot tall peak was simply amazing. Their colors billiantly shouted at each other in varying degrees of green, brown, and purple. I had seen it only a few years previous, but was still probably more impressed on this trip as I was sharing it with two good friends.
Above the fruited plain!

After a brief stop at a constructed overlook, the three of us followed our own path to explore. I hiked over some rough rocks and found myself on the east side of Pikes Peak overlooking Colorado Springs below, and the plains beyond. The great flatness that stretch beyond was impressive from my high perch. But, despite how beautiful it was, I couldn’t help but think of the difficulties the pioneers endured in crossing it to make…

America! America!
…the special place that Bates wrote about. The land is crossed easily in a jet or car today, but then it was a great desert that claimed the lives of many people and their animals. Water was scarce and attacks from the Native Americans who felt their lands were being invaded were always possible. It was a difficult journey, and one that I’m not even close to envious of as I appreciated the ease of which we made the summit that much more.

God shed His grace on thee

There’s no doubt about it, the United States and its people have been blessed. We’re very fortunate, and have those that came before us to thank for it. Had it not been for the pioneers that broke this land, endured its hardships, and stood the test of time, this country would have a greatly different look to it. And who knows, if it weren’t for all of that, it’s possible that many of us wouldn’t even be here today.

 

And crown thy good with brotherhood
It was great to have the brothers, my friends, out for the weekend. The time was too short, but we made the most of it. And without a doubt, we had a blast driving to the top of Pikes Peak. Unfortunately that blast almost included a brake fire on my poor car in our descent. Thankfully a ranger check station took the brake’s temperature and caught it early enough so, instead of having them go out, we were able to relax at a small souvenir stand near the midpoint of the drive.
From sea to shining sea!

We made a second stop on the way down, resting the brakes a bit more, at Crystal Reservoir. The view across the lake was just as stunning as at the top of Pikes Peak. It towered over us (left peak), showing off its majesty one last time. From there we headed back to Colorado Springs for a night under the lights at the ballpark, something just as American as Pikes Peak.

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