We plan to leave Leavenworth, Kansas as early as it is possible with 2 small children (a 5 year old boy and 2 year old girl). We shouldn't have too much difficulty if we load them up with sugar the night before so they can crash for the first leg of our drive. Haha. Then we'll be off on what's sure to be an eventful 4 hour drive to Caney, KS, home of The Safari Zoological Park. Who knew something like this would be in Kansas?
Once here, we're hoping to enjoy a guided tour through this privately owned zoo. Their claim to fame seems to be a number of white tigers and a large albino python that may come in handy as a diciplinary tool later in the trip. They offer tent camping space as well as lodge rental, so I have a feeling we'll rough-it our one night in Caney.
The next morning will bring another 3-4 hour trek across central Kansas to Hutchinson.
Hutchinson boasts the Cosmosphere, but not loudly. I've lived in Kansas for several years now and until I ordered the Kansas Visters Guide I'd neither heard of Hutchinson nor of the Cosmosphere. I suppose there are "secrets" like this in plain sight of everyone, right? Hopefully, one night in Hutchinson will be enough to enlighten my family in the ways of astronauts. Booking a hotel seems more fitting than camping here, although I think I'll live on the wild side and not book a room in advance just for the added adventure. We're only staying one night and then we'll be off again fo the long drive to Denver, Colorado.
Across the glorious and completely misunderstood state of Kansas we'll trek, pausing for an occasional Happy Meal and to see the world's largest ball of twine in Cawker City. That should give us enough to ponder for another couple of hours until we come across that fabulous roadside freakshow just East of the Colorado border. If you've made this trip on I-70 before, you know the one I'm talking about. We've never had the opportunity to stop before. But this time...oh yes...I will see the aborations within. By the time we get to Denver, we'll definitely be needing soft beds for the night, so I'll give in and book in advance for these two days.
Now my husband and I lived in Colorado for several years before moving to Kansas. We each practically grew up there. So you'll be surprised to hear that I was shocked to discover that Denver has a zoo. I know, it only makes sense, right? The state capital should have a zoo. But in my I-live-here-so-I'm-bored-with-it mind set, I'd completely ignored anything I'd ever heard about it. So the Denver Zoo is without a doubt, on our list of to-dos. The kiddos have reminded me how much I love zoos and we make it a point to visit the ones we come across in other cities. Before you ask, I know that Kansas City has a zoo - we are already members and have been twice this year alone. And there's the Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo, which, if you haven't gone yet, is a must see for everyone - even if you think you don't like zoos. I digress. We're going to the Denver Zoo. Period.
In my research of things to do in Denver I also discovered the Butterfly Pavilion. Wow. How could we have missed this? I planned our wedding in Colorado and this is the kind of thing you'd think a budding wedding planner would come across. Oh well. The family and I will be visiting this place while in Denver too. Can't wait to get the shots of the kiddos with butterflies on their noses!
We're only planning two fulls days in Denver. And we have a lot to do. We're also visiting the Denver Aquarium, despite the fact that I vomitted a little when I checked out their admission prices on line. I hear very good things about it from people who have been there (although they still wince when admission is mentioned). And bad news Landry's, I am sneaking in pb&j sandwiches and some juice boxes so we can pass up the restaurant. Suckas.
We are always searching for free things to do on vacation, especially after being sucked dry by major corporations posing as tourist attractions such as Landry's. Dino Ridge will be the perfect place to watch the sun go down on our final day in Denver. We'll have the chance to hike through the area searchinging diligently for fossils that the experts missed (before the sun goes down, of course). Then it's back to the hotel to call the in-laws collect and let them know that we're out of money and will be staying with them in Fountain, Colorado for the remainder of our trip.
Here's where we'll really be at home. Both my husband and I lived in and just outside of Colorado Springs when we were married. I can recount the exact dimensions of the local malls, tell you what's on the menu at most of the restaurants, tell you how many pool tables are in most of the bars. But I could not tell you about the actual city. That's what we're going to remedy on this trip. First stop (after the in-laws) is Cave of the Winds. I hear it's not worth the cost of admission, but neither was "Gigli" but we did that just to say we had.
An afternoon at the Manitou Cliff Dwellings should be nice. I couldn't believe this was in Colorado Springs. I had no idea! And I have the feeling they were there much longer than I was.
After the tour we'll spend a few hours in the Garden of the Gods, which is just up the road from both the caves and the cliffs. I'm thinking probably a picnic and some hiking. Maybe a little catch. Whatever. Nice photos. That's what I'm really after. And who doesn't enjoy an afternoon walk through those red rocks?
The second day in Colorado Springs we'll head out to Canon City to see the Royal Gorge. Now this I have seen before. As a matter of fact, one of my first jobs was at Buckskin Joes. Since the glamour of that little gem has gone though after my stint there, we'll be pretending we it was closed when my son asks about it. We will cross the bridge, however, and may even take a trip down the gorge on the train. We'll probably spend most of the day there.
Once back in Colorado Springs, we'll see if we're not too beat to make it to the night show at Seven Falls. The kids would definitely enjoy it and I know that I especially enjoy the sit-back-and-watch attractions after a long day.
And of course, while in Colorado Springs, who could pass up the opportunity to see the top of Pike's Peak? We'll make reservations to be on the train (did you know they sell one-way tickets???) before we leave Kansas. I'm really looking forward to this part of the trip. Even quit smoking so I could survive it!
And if we aren't too exhausted after or expedition up the Peak, we'll visit another zoo - the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. It's fairly small, so a couple of hours should do the trick. Afterward, perhaps some margaritas at The Loop in Manitou with the in-laws.
Once this is all said and done, we'll have one free day to visit with friends and family. We still have many friends in the Colorado Springs area and our family there has grown tremendously! Perhaps a afternoon bbq at the in-laws. That would be fun and mildly annoying to the in-laws at the same time. Sounds perfect to me.