Monday, August 5, 2013

Manitou Springs...The Perfect Lil Colorado Town

Manitou Springs!!
 I can't believe I've never been to Manitou Springs! But then again, there's a lot of things you take for granted when you live in such a beautiful place. It's easy to say, "Oh, I'll get over there someday" and the next thing you know, it's a decade later. Just go! That's how I'd like to spend every weekend, just hop in the car and explore this gorgeous state, one lil gem at a time. 
I think I see a convertible in my future, or a big-ass truck...or both!

^She'd do just fine!!^
Colorado's really amazing, when you're stuck in the urban grind, it's easy to forget that it's so diverse once you start to branch out. There's so many quaint lil mountain and farming towns and they're all different enough from each other to make each one unique. While that may have been something that didn't promise much excitement to me in the past, it's something I'm now dying to explore. The people, the food, their's all worth checkin out!
So, Manitou Springs is just west of Colorado Springs by about 15 minutes and about an 1 1/2 hours from Denver. A lovely early morning drive!
The reason for our visit this morning was so the "machine", Oops, I mean Gregg ;) could do the famous Manitou Incline, "The longest and highest incline in the world". This thing's NUTS! It quite literally goes straight up the mountain!
See that line going straight up the mountain? That's the incline. And he marched right up there...on purpose!!
I've seen it in pictures but once I saw it in person, my jaw dropped to the floor. The incline gains over 2000 feet in under a mile and is as steep as 68% in some parts...yeah, I'll wait at the bottom. Actually, after seeing people flood past me of varying shapes, sizes and conditions, I felt like kind of a wussy. Of course, there's "The Bail-out Route" about half way up, so I'd like to think all of those people got off there. ;)

I wasn't prepared to make the hike this time, but I went along to check out the town and find some cute lil coffee house to blog my lil heart out, but next time I think I'll give it a try. There's room for 2 machines in this family, right? Right.

So as Gregg heads up the trail, I set out to explore the perfect lil mountain town. This town is cute as a button! TOTAL Americana at it's finest.

Complete with the sweetest little toddler arcade tucked right in the center of this packed little town.

There's a tiny nook just off main street, right behind Patsy's, and if you didn't know it was there, you'd totally miss it. They have a collection of vintage penny ponies, rockets and race cars, the likes of which I've never seen. They're all lined up in 2 long rows where lil tikes can just race side-by-side til they're all tuckered out...or mom n dad run out of pennies. It's kinda weird but really cool, like all the old grocery store rides go there when they retire. Love it!

I make my way past the arcade to Marika's Coffeehouse, a nice, quiet lil coffee house perfect for getting some reading and writing done. It's a cozy space with lots of little nooks and crannies where you can choose your seat according to just how social you're feeling that day. Sit in the front room where you can watch the hikers making their way up to the trailhead, at a dark romantic table in the corner or tuck yourself in, way in the back, on some super comfy couches...I settled right in.
So, I put my feet up, pulled out my "Flavor Bible" and enjoyed an extra large Bhakti Chai (best chai in the world btw) and a homemade 7-layer bar...yum!

Marika's Coffeehouse on Urbanspoon
After reluctantly leaving my spot on the couch, I set out to explore the town. When I first slipped into the coffeehouse, the town was still asleep, but once I resurfaced it was all a bustle! People EVERYWHERE! You wouldn't believe the droves of hikers that set out to do the incline every weekend, it's crazy! But I'm sure a huge economy boost for what may otherwise be a sleepy little town.
As I made my way thru the meandering streets, steep hills and sharp curves, I found myself PLENTY of things to do. One of my favorites of course...antique shopping!

They have tons of great lil shops! And as you make your way up the street, you'll stumble upon yard sales and estate sales, which I have a feeling are an ongoing thing. Why not set up shop right in for front yard when you have a constant barrage of shoppers walking by every single weekend? Sounds good to me! And just imagine all the interesting people you'd meet...awesome! And while I never really tire of digging thru antiques or vintage dresses, you gotta mix it up! And there's plenty to keep you busy. How bout a new cowboy hat? Some gorgeous turquoise jewelry? 
Or how bout an awesome new welcome mat?? Isn't it adorable? And it fit in perfect with my new summer-time porch decor!

There's really no end to the cute factor in this town. When Gregg returned from his trek, we headed over to this charming lil joint,  Adam's Mountain Cafe for lunch.

A sweet lil spot right on the creek that's clearly a big hit with tourists and locals alike. As we waited in line to be seated, I met a gorgeous older woman who goes to Adam's as often as possible and always when guests come to town. I knew we were in the right place! She recommended the Orange Almond French Toast and said it was "beyond outstanding" but unfortunately, we'd just missed breakfast. Guess we'll just have to come back earlier next time! :)
What we did order was fantastic. I had the Cashew Chicken Salad with Lemon Tahini Dressing and Gregg had the Moroccan Fish Tacos which lasted approximately 15 seconds on his plate, didn't stand a chance.
Each taco had a huge piece of grilled white fish with a honey-miso slaw and harissa cream sauce. I was lucky to get a picture before they were gone! 
The deliciously fresh Chicken Cashew Salad
After lunch, we wandered around this charming little metropolis and found all kinds of great things. There's no way to do it all in a day! There are so many boutiques, general stores, restaurants, bakeries, pubs, campgrounds, train rides, museums....we'll just have to come back! 

And when we do, I'd LOVE it if we were lucky enough to stay at The Cliff House at Pikes Peak! Wow! What an incredible looking hotel, so rich in history being older than Colorado itself, established in 1873! SO many interesting people have stayed there, Teddy Roosevelt, Prince Ferdinand of Austria, Henry Ford, Charles Dickens Jr., P.T. Barnum, Edison, Clark Gable....and hopefully someday, US!! Can't wait to return....I'm currently in training to tackle that incline!

Cuter than cute Manitou Springs, see ya soon!

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