Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Exploring the Paint Mines - and God's Colorful Decorations


Wow?!? Where in the world was that picture taken? Come along with us again today, because we went somewhere that we didn't even know existed until yesterday. That's what we love about traveling without reservations and being able to follow the advice we get from locals. We had a quiet night in the yard at the Trolley Turner Harvest Host. Before we left, we took this picture out our front window of our new wooden mallet, and Boris and Jorgette's home.

They were a little concerned whether we would fit beneath the underpass to get on the highway near their house. We've measured the motor home, and know that we can get under anything that is 13 feet tall. This one was mighty close--both in height and width!

We drove on I-25 from Pueblo to Colorado Springs, but we couldn't go directly to our next Harvest Host overnight stop. We're staying at a golf course, and they asked that we not arrive until 7 p.m., because we'll be staying in a parking lot that will be full until that time. So we pulled into this manicured parking spot--at the Walmart less than a mile away.

We left the motor home resting at Walmart, and headed 30 miles northeast. It looks like we've just found a green Colorado pasture, right?

But a half-mile down that trail, that pasture split open and revealed the secrets within.

We shared the first stop with a young lady that asked if she could take a picture for us. In exchange we took a picture for her.

As we talked with her, she let us know that she was traveling home after taking photos at a wedding last night. She travels all over North America taking pictures, and then tries to find unique places to visit before she goes home. Today she found the Paint Mines. We probably wouldn't have included two pictures of these plain white rock formations, but when you have the services of a professional photographer you don't waste the shot.

As we progressed through the valley, we started to see stripes of color in the white formations.

You might also notice the interesting mushroom-shaped rock on the right. The harder capstones protect the clay soil underneath. Eventually the clay will wear away, creating interesting shapes called hoodoos.

It's a straight walk down the valley, with turns to the left or right into different "rooms" that are decorated in different color schemes.

Here the decorator has chosen the colors of mauve and tuscan gold, accented with hoodoos topped off with cap rocks that are sometimes tilted at fashionable angles. 

We know that God is the great decorator, and he plans the plain vanilla rocks . . .

and the flashy colored and shaped rocks. There might be a life lesson in there somewhere.

This place is called The Paint Mines, because long ago the Native Americans came here to mine the colored clay to make paint.

We thoroughly explored the Paint Mines, as each area looked so different.

We have definitely wandered into God's wonders this afternoon! And we were blessed to have an unusually cool blue sky day for our wanderings.

When we decided to stay in Colorado Springs, we were thinking of stopping again at the Garden of the Gods, or perhaps Pike's Peak. We're so glad that we didn't repeat either of those places since we found the very unusual Paint Mines.

The trail took us higher, where we could look down into some of the "rooms."

When we finally pulled ourselves away from that avenue of nicely-colored rocks, we headed up the trail to get an over-view of the canyon.

The Engelmans saw an Engelmann cactus blooming close to the canyon edge.

Because we think we have to hike every single trail, we continued on the three-mile loop that took us up through the grassland without a hint of a colored rock formations anywhere to be seen.

But we found different forms of beautiful color up here. We found bright orange paintbrushes, 

and lovely purple we-don't-know-what-kind flowers.

Another loop took us to the Eco-trail. That's a fancy way to say that it's narrower and follows the naturally sandy dry river basin most of the way. We could tell that few people venture this way, and that's probably why we saw our only wildlife--a couple deer--on this trail.

A final stop at the view point along the road gives a top view of the unusually beautiful valley below. You can barely see Denisa on the ledge on the left side of the picture. For those people needing to make this a quick stop, this would be interesting. But we would certainly recommend a walk down into that colorful canyon if possible.

It's good that we spent so much time at the Paint Mines, as we couldn't arrive at the Cherokee Ridge Golf Course until 7:00 p.m. We spent a little more time at Walmart, until the parking lot security guy looked at us suspiciously since they have "no overnight camping" signs up. We were glad it was time to pull the motor home into its Harvest Host spot at the golf course.

After our gracious welcome with the last Harvest Host, this one was very impersonal. We went to the club house and told them that we had arrived. They told us to park where we wouldn't get blocked in by the early morning golfers. That was the end of the conversation. But we certainly appreciate them allowing us to park here, since we contacted several campgrounds that had no openings here in Colorado Springs. We walked toward the course, where we could take a picture of the mountains peaking over the golf green. It's been another beautiful day, exploring God's colorful decorations.

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