We had the continental breakfast provided at the motel and set off to Echo Canyon for our Raft & Rail trip. A bus took us to the Royal Gorge train station (which was interestingly just across the street from where we were staying, which we didn't know).
The train was pretty long and had spacious seats and huge windows to allow everyone full view of the unfolding nature around. Also they had two open cars with no seats and just the rails on both sides, where we can stand and admire the mountains and river and enjoy the sun and breeze all at once. The train also had a food car to tempt the little ones with hot dogs and popcorn and of course some soda.
As soon as the train started to move children had some snack and then quickly we went over to the open car to get the best view. It was breathtakingly beautiful - the rocky mountains! It was nothing like I had ever seen. The mountains so huge, the river so wide; the sky so blue, the breeze so gentle, the whisper so loud, it was absolutely amazing. We started clicking our cameras fast in an attempt to capture the scene; however when we later looked at the pictures it was nowhere close to what we saw. Sharing a few here to give you an idea... towards the end of the post, there is a whole lot more pictures for those who are interested...
The Royal Gorge bridge between two huge mountains, the rafters waving at us from the tumbling river below, the cheerfulness of the fellow riders, the anticipation of our rafting trip that afternoon all generated an immense joy deep within and my heart was singing and praising and worshiping God Almighty. The lyrics from the song Majestic kept repeating itself in my head which goes:
The heavens declare Your greatness
The oceans cry out to You
The mountains, they bow down before You
So I'll join with the earth and I'll give my praise to You...
After a while we realized Amma was missing out on all these as she was still at her seat. I rushed inside to bring her out to the open car before the "show" ended. She wasn't as thrilled to stand and watch and so went back inside to her seat while we gulped down more of the scenic overlook...
The bus was waiting to take us back to Echo Canyon. Our package included boxed lunch from the 8 mile bar and grill restaurant which was only okay. We didn't care much for the cold sandwich but I loved the cool water they gave with it. Children didn't eat anything except the cookies that came along and some fruits. They weren't hungry as they ate something on the train.
It was HOT. When I say hot, I mean real hot; it was over a 100 degree. We grabbed our river suit and helmet and boarded the bus for the rafting trip. Just the gear made Mom reluctant to join but we pushed her along saying this is a once in a life time event and she can't miss it. Instructions were given in the bus as to what could happen and how we could save ourselves if we happen to fall into the river, etc. which made Mom more nervous and she wanted to stay in the bus. It took the bus driver to convince Mom that we would be safe and reluctantly Mom got down the bus to the river.
The rafts were big and round and bright blue in color. All of us could go on the same raft. We had a guide whose name was Cody, a pleasant young man who was easy to get along with. He checked our gear and tightened the few buckles and made sure our helmet was secure before giving us some instructions on rafting. Israel and myself took the front row, Rachel and Sharon on the second row, Joshua and Mom in between, Cody all the way in the back.
Wow! It was such thrill. Not the kind of adrenalin thrill, but the thrill of fun, cool water and the generous splashing. It was our first time rafting and soon we knew it would become a family hobby as all of us loved it. Cody was the main rafter as you can imagine. Anytime he said "Forward Stroke" or "Heavy stroke" or "Stop" we did accordingly and the raft gently slid the river. There were a total of 7 rapids we came through and each was much fun, quenching us from head to toe.
We struck a conversation with Cody and got to know he was a local from Colorado Springs area and lives in Echo Canyon through the summer. He is a recent graduate and wishes to raft for another year before he starts thinking of what's next. Rafting he loves to do but understands it can't pay his bills in a long run.
In Colorado he said tourism is the main industry that thrives. Other than that they have four or five military bases including the Air force Academy. In the plains there is some farming he said. About the river Cody said it is the snow melt from the mountains and soon it would run too low for rafting when all the snow is gone. During winter time there is no rafting but skiing and other winter sports attract visitors.
Along the river's edge there were photographers set up to take pictures of the jolly rafters. As we approached the last phase of the trip Cody gave permission to jump off the raft and swim if we wanted. Sharon and Israel took off immediately, Rachel was hesitant at first but after some push she too got down. They did a few lapses and then got back on board to finish the trip.
As we walked to the shore they had beautiful hammocks lined up for us to rest while waiting for the buses to load the equipments. It was the best ever and we loved it.
At $99 per person, it was a trip well worth it's every penny!
As promised here's more pictures for those who are interested...
Look, I am coming soon!
10 hours ago