Yesterday I met Robin, my brother’s girlfriend. She’s awesome, particularly because her primary marketable ability is making stuff happen. She is so good at making stuff happen that people fly her all around the country to make stuff happen for them. Especially in hospitals.
Once we’d picked up Robin in Jeff’s Jeep we started out toward Garden of the Gods and Pike’s Peak. Garden of the Gods is basically just a bunch of enormous vertical rocks sticking out of the ground. It’s pretty spectacular and, since the sedimentary layers are almost exactly vertical, geologically bizarre. I had visited three years ago with my MIT pre-orientation program, but I’ve forgotten all the cool geological explanations they gave, and there was none at the park, so I was forced to simply take take the rocks at face value.
Pike’s Peak was perhaps an hour’s drive away, and to get in we had to pay $40 to bring the car into the park. From there it was a ~38 mile drive to the top. The drive is quite steep, with the last 19 miles covering about a vertical mile. That’s steep enough that we spent most of our time in first gear. The road up has no guardrails, and presents some spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and lakes. Just as we approached the top the first gear began to act up, and the engine stalled. We managed to make it up, but starting the engine was not easy.
The top of Pike’s Peak is over 14,000 feet above sea level, and contains about half as much oxygen as sea-level air, so I was surprised that I didn’t feel more out of breath. We wandered around the paths at the peak, looking down over the plains miles below, watching lightning storms and rainbows. As a test, and on an errand, I ran to and from the car, and felt mild headache and slow recovery, but nothing extreme. It was only as we descended that my head began to hurt. It grew worse as we descended, probably from a combination of altitude sickness and dehydration (water evaporates faster at lower air pressure), so that I was feeling pretty ill by the time we got home. I couldn’t get to sleep, because my head hurt whenever I lied down. I eventually gave up, went upstairs, and ate three slices of my mother’s delicious banana bread with peanut butter. As I hadn’t eaten since 2 PM, this was very satisfying, and my headache went away. I have gotten low-blood-sugar headaches before, which makes me wonder if that was not also a contributing factor.
I woke up this morning with a twinge of headache left, but nothing to stop me from joining my family for a trip to Chautaqua, a place that still confuses me. It appears to be public land, named after a native-american-inspired movement from upstate New York, on which there is a restaurant that is famous and popular for its brunch. There are also a number of homes that can be leased by private individuals, though I don’t know who owns them. The park is contiguous with more public “open space”, on which there are several hiking trails. Since the Jeep was broken (we’d driven home in second gear), we arrived in Jeff’s 1988 Porsche 911.
After placing a reservation at the restaurant, the three of us started off on the Flatiron trail, so named because of three huge sheer cliff faces so flat that they resembled clothing irons. We had 45 minutes before our name would be called, but neither Jeff nor Mom seemed to want to turn around, and we ended taking an hour and 45 minutes in total. We placed a new reservation, and shortly afterward discovered that brunch is only served on Sundays anyway. In the end, we cancelled our reservation and made lunch at home.
My mother is flying out tomorrow morning, but I am staying until Tuesday.