Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Our Road Trip Out West: Day Seven, Historic Manitou Springs

Hello!  This week's travel post is the morning of our last day of our vacation before we make the two day drive home.  The last day of every vacation is always the saddest, because I never want my vacations to end.  The only vacation I ever wanted to leave was our Springfield, Missouri vacation.  We actually talked about going home early because none of us wanted to stay there anymore, but our hotel room was already paid in advance so we thought it was a waste of money to leave early.  It's never a good sign when you want to go home early from a vacation.

The morning of our last day in Colorado Springs was gorgeous!  The sun was shining brightly, the temperatures were in the mid sixties,  and all the trees were exhibiting all their fall glory.  We had tickets to take a cog train up to Pike's Peak later that afternoon and needed a little something to do in the morning before our train ride.  The lovely town of Manitou Springs is located right at the base of Pike's Peak and only minutes away from the train station, so we decided to check it out.  This is what you see when you first drive towards the town:
The entire town has beautiful views of the snow capped Pike's Peak.  All the streets are lined with mature, beautiful trees.

We stopped at the Visitor's Center just outside of town and we were quite glad we did, because if we didn't we might have missed the best reason to visit Manitou Springs:  the natural spring water.  The worker at the Visitor Center was so nice and sweet.   We explained that we were taking the train at 1:00 p.m and only had a few hours to kill and wondered what there was to do in Manitou Springs in that limited time frame.  He then told us a little bit about the history of the town and explained that it was known for their natural, carbonated mineral water and then gave us a map and two plastic cups and set us about on a town hike in search of the springs.
We found the first spring right away.  It is located inside a park called 7 Minute Spring Park.  I eagerly put my cup under the ever-flowing stream of water, tasted it, and said 'It's CARBONATED!'.  My husband then told me that the worker at the Visitor Center said the water was naturally carbonated and if someone would have told him that water can come up out of the earth naturally carbonated he would have thought they were nuts.  But it's true!  It tastes just like seltzer water!  There is an underground system of cavernous aquifers.  As the water erodes the limestone, carbonic acid is created.  The natural carbonation forces the water back to the surface through cracks in the rocks where it absorbs high concentrations of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda to you and I), and other healthy minerals.  When we received our map of the the locations of the springs, we also received a pamphlet listing all the mineral contents of each spring.
After we tasted our first spring water, we began out trek into the historic town of Manitou Springs.  The first thing we saw was this cafe.  My husband loves Israel and studies the biblical history and keeps an eye on all the current events of this country too, so we had to take a picture of him standing underneath the sign.
We came back later for lunch and split this sandwich:
It was a little different than a traditional gyro that's usually smothered in white sauce and onions, but it was delicious!  The restaurant serves lots of authentic Middle Eastern cuisine dishes, but we don't know much about their food, so we played it safe and ordered a gyro.

Manitou Springs is often referred to as a 'Storybook Town', and one short visit there I could easily see why.  The combination of the natural view of Pike's Peak, with all the mature trees and historic buildings makes it absolute perfection.  It is a paradise for shoppers who love to browse quaint gift shops and boutiques searching for unique, one-of-a-kind items.  But of course, like most tourist towns, it is expensive to shop there.  I didn't buy anything for that reason, and because I also bought a ton the day before in Old Colorado City, so I was already shopped out.  I was here just to enjoy the view, the walk, and drink some water!

Like many quaint towns, there were lots of alleys and winding paths that could easily take you off course.  This alley had a penny arcade for kids (and adults) to play modern and vintage games for only a quarter each!
Our next spring we had to walk a bit out of the buisness district and into a residential area to find.  It was actually kind of fun searching for all these springs.  Even with a map, they weren't easy to find.  They blend in so much with their natural surroundings, that you don't recognize them immediately.  This one is called the Wheeler Spring, named after the original owner of the estate beyond  this site.  Jerome B. Wheeler is best known for building the Manitou Mineral Water Co. bottling plant.
There were a lot of beautiful homes in the residential district.  I only took a picture of one, because this would be my dream house.  I would love to live a tiny, quaint little cottage like this.  Isn't it sweet?
This is a view of the town as we walked back into the business district.  We took a big arch on our hike;  we first headed into town on one end, arched out into a residential district, then came back into town on the other end.
This spring was located downtown and is called Cheyenne Spring.    Several of the springs have Native American names because they viewed the waters as sacred, a gift from the Great Spirt, with medicinal qualities.
Of course we had to stop and take a picture of this view!  Gorgeous, isn't it?
The Stratton Spring is located directly in front of some shops right on the sidewalk….so we couldn't miss this one!  At one time, this was a stop for a trolley system.  I said to my husband that if I lived in this town I'd never have to buy bottled water again.  I would simply be filling up my water bottles at the springs everyday!
This stone staircase reminded me of my travels in Italy.  It was gorgeous!  I wish we would have had time to go up the staircase to see what was on top, but we didn't.  The base of the staircase was located right off the sidewalk of the main business street.  What a spot for a photograph!

And for those of you interested in my fashion posts, I am wearing my striped hoodie from Stitch Fix,  an army green jacket (old) from Dress Barn, dark skinny jeans, combat boots (last year) from Famous Footwear, and a burgundy scarf from T.J. Maxx.  The bucket bag is from Express.
This beautiful stone walled river runs right through town.  It is so picturesque, but unfortunately also dangerous.  Because Manitou Springs is at the base of a mountain, it is prone to floods.  The town has a long history of deadly floods.  One of their worst floods was in 2013 and you can still the damage of that flood in the town today.  They deal with flooding issues constantly in this town, and on our visit, we saw sandbags piled everywhere, and it was fall when floods don't normally occur!  Click HERE if you'd like to see a video of this area during a flood.  Pretty scary!  It still hasn't been repaired since this flood and it's been over a year.  They had more floods and violent storms this past summer as well, resulting in some businesses moving out of town.
The Navajo Spring was the hardest one for us to find.  We kept seeing signs for it, we knew we were right on top of it because we were looking at the map, but we just couldn't find it.  Why?  It's located right on a wall in a restaurant's eating area where your not allowed to sit down unless your a paying customer.  It literally is on the back side of a store:  Patsy's Popcorn and Candy Store!  It was a favorite of the Native American and early settlers.
This building was one of my favorites of Manitou Springs.  I loved the color, the way its shape echoes the street corner, and all it's haunting dormer windows.  It has an interesting history too.  Apparently the original owner of this building was reprimanded by his father for building in an area prone to floods.  Ha!  He may have been right, but the building still stands after lots, and lots, of floods!
What a backdrop for this chocolate shop.  I wish I was hungry for chocolate when I came across this place, but I wasn't, so we didn't check it out.
I absolutely love the colors of these buildings.  Who would ever think of painting the exterior of a downtown historic building purple?  But it works!

This gorgeous church is called St. Andrews Episcopal Church and it was founded in 1870.

More beautiful, vintage building for your eyes!  I have no idea what that metal light bulb is in the picture.  I do not recall seeing it when I was in Manitou Springs.  I don't know if my eyes are playing tricks on me, or it really is a light bulb.  What do you see?
Other than the flooding worries, wouldn't you just love to live here?  It's like the fictional town of Mayberry.

Well after we walked through most of the town we were practically floating from all the water we drank.  We tasted the water from six springs.  Two springs we couldn't find, and one was sealed off after it was damaged in the last flood.  Each spring had a distinctive flavor due to the differences in mineral content.  We certainly had our favorites, and we went back to the car for our water jugs to fill up!

I hope you enjoyed reading about our visit to this sweet town.  Next week will be my final fall vacation post as I finish up the series with our ride to the top of Pike's Peak.

Till then, have a great day!  Amy


  1. I love naturally carbonated water, I always buy San Pellegrino or Perrier waters which are imported from the Italian and French alps.
    I would definitely love moving there, it looks so pretty! This is definitely a place that I need to visit! Thank you so much for doing these travel posts!

  2. WOnderful photos, thanks for sharing !!

  3. Wow, Colorado looks soooo beautiful! Love your adorable travel outfit and that gyro....YUM! Looks delish!!
    Gina - On the Daily Express


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