The asphalt paving company I used to work for had a gravel pit in Waldo Canyon. By the time I started working there the pit was already closed and was undergoing "reclamation". Several times I had to go into the canyon for one thing or another; it is entered off of Highway 24 about a quarter of the way up the pass towards Woodland Park. It is a very scenic place, steep canyon walls, pine trees, rock faces...really pretty.
Cedar Heights is a gated community between Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs; situated up the side of a steep mountain, big beautiful homes with great views of the the cities and surrounding mountains. The access road to Cedar Heights is one of the steepest roads I have ever driven in a truck. We had a job bringing fill material up the hill to build a dirt bridge between two ridges. It was summer and hot. We had to start up the hill in a very low gear because there was no way to downshift on the hill. Those who thought they could, found themselves in a bad situation, stuck on a hill with a heavy load, unable to get moving again. A couple of the hapless souls who wound up like that had to wait for one of the front loaders to come and push them. The trucks overheated, the brakes got hot and faded, drivers got hot, too, and mistakes got made galore.
Mountain Shadows is a very nice community on the side of a mountain on the west side of town. The first time I went up there I was in a dump truck assigned to work with a loader operator who was digging a basement for a new home. When I got to the site the operator had his machine off and was sitting on the back of it. He saw me and signaled for me to pull over and shut off my truck. Then he pointed up the hill to the next house. There were three big horn sheep grazing on the lawn. We sat and watched them for a little bit, and then he got into his cab and tooted his horn. The sheep, normally skittish beasts, just looked up and then trotted across the street and continued to graze on the next lawn. They were beautiful; it was the first time I ever saw a live one in the wild.
Manitou Springs is a hippy-ish/tourist-ish/laid back little place. A creek runs through the center of town and a boardwalk covers part of it. When we first moved here we stayed in a motel there for a few days. It was cold, very cold, and our impression wasn't too good at the time. But it reminds me of what Cannery Row used to be like before the big aquarium moved in so we go back now and again to walk around and soak up some of the ambiance. (Like that word? I got it from a TV ad...) I made a delivery to a bed-and-breakfast belonging to a couple of rough-looking ladies. I had a load of topsoil with some flagstones thrown in on top; it was the only way we had to deliver it at the time. I know they were told this when they bought it, but when I reminded them, they threw a fit and insisted that I should just throw them off the side of the truck. I told them that there was a greater chance of the pieces breaking than if I just let them come out when I dumped the dirt. They accused me of being lazy, homophobic, and argumentative. I tried to reason with them but they grew really hostile and insisted I "just toss 'em off the truck...they won't break". So I did. Six or seven slabs of flagstone that weighed about eighty to a hundred pounds apiece went over the side of the truck...and wound up being about twenty pieces of forty or fifty pounds each. Good thing I got the money first.
Green Mountain Falls, Cascade, Chipita Park, and Bust are little communities along Highway 24 between the Springs and Woodland Park. I have made dirt deliveries to all of them and the one thing they all have in common is steepness. The homes are all built on steep grades. One delivery in Cascade required me to back up a curving driveway that the home owner was widening. I had a steep drop off on my left and a rock wall on my right as I backed up the drive. It was barely wide enough for the truck. When I got the load dumped and was back at the bottom of the drive, the home owner told me, "Boy, I didn't think you was gonna make it...yesterday part of that new stretch blew out from under my backhoe and I durn near slid off that drive..." I kinda wished he had told me that befor I backed up his driveway...or not at all.
The US Air Force Academy is on the north side of the Springs. A beautiful piece of real estate. I have done a lot of work up there in the past. Every time I worked up there I was amazed at the herds of deer and elk that roam around the campus and housing areas. They are almost like pets.
As much as I have resisted it, Colorado Springs is my home. I moved here almost twenty years ago when I retired from the Army. I am a native Californian but due to circumstances I wound up here and now four of my five children and eleven of my thirteen grandchildren live in town. It's home. Right now all the places I described are either burning down or threatened by a fierce wildland fire. It started in Waldo Canyon and tonight it came over the ridge into the Rockrimmon area and started eating houses like a swarm of locusts.
At last count, more than six thousand acres have burned up; not massive by western wildfire standards, but now spilling out of the east end of the canyon into town. 32,000 people have been evacuated and there is no accurate count yet as to how many homes and other buildings have burned...
MC and I aren't in danger at this point, but we did talk a little about what we would take with us if we have to evacuate. You never know what tomorrow will bring.