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Route 50: Day 13 (6/10) - Denver to Garden City, Kansas

Garden of the Gods & Manitou Springs
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After loading the car back up and saying goodbye to Maria's folks, we headed due south from Denver, on I-25. After about 100 miles, this brought us back to Route 50, in Pueblo. But before we got there, we made a couple of stops: the Garden of the Gods, and Manitou Springs. My commentary on the Garden of the Gods is all in the photo captions in the slideshow to your right, so let me tell you about Manitou Springs. This was my favorite stop on our whole trip, and we all had a good time. After a tasty lunch at a pub, we visited the town's main attraction: the video arcade. It sprawled in and out of several buildings, and I do mean "out" - many of the games were outdoors. The weather is dry enough there for them to get away with that. They had dozens of vintage games - many of them appeared to be more than 50 years old. There were a variety of very cool mechanical games - check them out in the slideshow! I always thought they just had pinball machines in the old days. I had no idea these other kinds of games existed. The other thing that was cool is that they still charged their original penny or nickel prices.

Kai fell asleep immediately in the car after we left Manitou Springs. From there it was about 250 miles to Garden City, Kansas, and we managed to make it there in time for dinner. The drive across southeast Colorado was pretty and pastoral. I wanted to stop at Bent's Old Fort - in the 1800s it was "the Southwest's most important outpost of white civilization..." - but we didn't want to wake Kai, so we skipped it. This part of Colorado was mostly farmland, and fit more the stereotype of Kansas than Colorado. But Kansas did not fit the stereotype of Kansas, and things got considerably less pretty after we crossed the border, where we encountered a number of factory farms. These are the places you've probably read about: they pack thousands of cows into relatively small lots, shoulder to shoulder, and since there's no room to move, they're all standing in their own excrement. It's absolutely disgusting, unnatural, and quite a far cry from those happy cows you see in those cheese commercials. You can smell these places from miles away, and the stench is strong enough to make you want to wretch. It's definitely enough to turn you off to beef for quite a while. We're not vegetarians, but it was enough to make us vow to buy only organic meat from then on (and it's a vow we've kept).

Our guide book failed to warn us that Garden City is not aptly named. There's a factory farm on the edge of town....right across the street from the Super 8, which was the only place to stay. We had our worst meal of the trip that night in a "homestyle" restaurant - Maria quipped that she's had better meals in third world countries (our book had recommended a different restaurant, but it was closed that night). After dinner we headed into town to see the zoo, but it was already late, and it was closed. However, right nearby there was some kind of summer festival going on, with ferris wheels and various other rides. Unfortunately, right when we walked in, one of the rides made an extremely loud BANG! which scared the bejesus out of Kai. So after that he wanted to leave. Nearby was a playground, so we played there until the mosquitos came out, then we called it a night.

So this one day encompassed some of the highlights and the "lowlights" of the entire trip.

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