Bucket List Series Pt. One: #142–Visiting the Garden of the Gods

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It’s been a week since my last blog post! I’ve been one busy bee!  But hello, World! I’m back.

Today I wanted to kick off a series of blog posts about things I’ve checked off or will check off of my bucket list in the future.  I made a bucket list in October of 2014 after reading several articles on travel blogs that I had been following. I love all of the sarcastic, witty humor Geraldine gives her audience on her blog while traveling with her husband all over the world. I am definitely exited to read her book when it’s finished and published.  A Restless Transplant always inspires me to want to camp across the nation while also building tree houses everywhere. They also have almost a million followers on instagram, where they post photos that can make one drool all over themselves. And of course, one of my favorites is Story Travelers that travel across the globe solely to take photos that tell stories of their weekly adventures.  I definitely recommend you follow these lovely people on social media.  It can provide inspiration for your next trip to some place exotic, to escape for a few seconds from your everyday routine, or to put on your own bucket list!

Anyways, so back in October I made a bucket list of some of the exciting goals I want to achieve, places I want to see, and adventures that I want to experience.  Some of the things I have are so silly (#42 Have a beer with Barack Obama), some of them are very typical (#Visit Province, France), and some are tiny things that I felt were things that I could easily experience with in my own communities that I live in, things that could hold me over until I could eventually get to the big stuff (Brew my own beer/moonshine).  I have over 150 experiences listed on my bucket list, and I carry it around with me everyday so that if there is another adventure I find I don’t hesitate to write it down.

Today’s adventure is both a check off the list and also a throwback memory all together.  Today I can check off #142: visit BOTH Garden of The Gods in Colorodo Springs, CO and Galconda, IL.

Back in early 2008, I traveled with my collegiate forensics team to a debate tournament hosted at the Air force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.  It was late February, so the wind was still cold and brisk.  We arrived at our hotel at night time, drinking lots of water because we were adapting to the change in altitude.  I can tell you now that this trip is only the second of two trips I’ve ever taken out west.  You can imagine how many things I have on my bucket list involving traveling out West.  Colorado Springs, or just Colorado in general, is beautiful year round!  The morning after we arrived that February, some of my team mates and I had a free day with no competition, so we decided it would be a wonderful opportunity to visit the Garden of the Gods.  As we walked out of the hotel to our 15 passenger van, I remember looking to my right and BOOM! There was Pikes Peak and a long line of Rocky Mountains in view!  It was my first time seeing the Rockies, and Jesus God they are beautiful.

Colorado Springs is a beautiful city in the sun light, and I am definitely wanting to go again because we did not get to spend enough time there!

Garden of the Gods was a magical experience, and I recommend you take your friends, your family, your children(when they’re a little older).  The towering rocks make you feel like you have all the strength in the world to climb, and the view is just wonderful.

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I can never control my hair in the wind, but I think it’s pointing to the best view in this photo

What was wonderful was that it was a group of seniors and juniors in college, so we were dramatic with some of our poses, but were in awe of how small we really are in this world being surrounded by these towering rocks.

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Rachel, Natalie, and I getting our Marilyn Monroe poses going on here

We spent about two hours here, only because the wind started to get a little too cold to handle.  I remember talking to my good friend, Ben, who I refer to as STOOPID, because even though we’re almost 30, both married to lovely significant others, and like, have to be responsible now, we still have a low maturity level when we’re around each other.  Anyways, so Stoopid and I were on this trip together as well, and he is actually from Harrisburg, Illinois and kept saying ‘Hey there is a Garden of the Gods in Illinois!’ and I had realized at that moment standing on a boulder overlooking the Rocky Mountains that I had never seen the Garden of the Gods in Galconda, IL. and it was only two hours away from my home town.  So I had put it in my mind-Bucket-list that I would visit Galconda someday, hoping to not be disappointed by it’s size compared to Colorado Springs.

Fast forward to 8 years later and my brother and I decided to take an impromptu road trip from our home town to Galconda. Neither one of us had ever seen it.

Let me tell you the trip there was not fun.

It was only a two hour drive. Simple, easy, mostly through awesome hill filled state highways that made you feel like you were driving your own roller coaster cart down a two lane highway.  However, the trip was not easy.  About thirty minutes into the drive…dun dun DUUUN we hit a huge flash flood storm.  Not just a crap ton of rain that we’re talking about people, I’m talking about direct-to-ground lightening.  It was like a light show! The lightening was so frequent and wild, sometimes hitting the ground in two or three different places at once.  We thought about turning around and going back home or to Fern Cliffs.  But we were enjoying the road trip so much, how relaxing and natural it felt, that we persisted to our destination.

The dark storm clouds scattered and eventually disappeared about five minutes after we arrived at the Garden of Gods.  We stopped at an intersection just six miles before to step out in the rain and take a picture with the big foot statue.

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He is real, people. I saw him.

We dealt with about five minutes of rain when we got out of our car, but once we started to climb on the rocks, the clouds opened to reveal the sunshine.  The rocks in GOG-Galconda are not as steep as the ones in Colorado but they are as sandy.  They’re more grey and round.  I did like that there were side walk trails for the younger or less rock-climbing motivated individuals, but there are off beaten paths which i was all about.  There was the initial nervousness of climbing tall heights in the beginning, like in Colorado, but once you got the hang of it you felt limitless.

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My butt got wet from sitting down on the rocks!

After about two hours of climbing and hiking, I finally sat down on one of the rocks and just soaked in the view.  Which, as one of the informational signs stated, the entire view I was seeing was once considered a “shallow” body of water that completely covered the land in it’s entirety over 300 million years ago.

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The views may not be the Rockies but it is just as beautiful!

All in all, I was really in sync with nature that day.  Or at least I felt that way.  Both destinations are so breath taking any time of the year, I can’t recommend it enough. While in Galconda I actually ran into another man who had been to the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs in the summer.  We couldn’t stop talking about what we liked about the two destinations’ positive similarities and differences.

Before long I climbed into my car exhausted, sun-burned, and ready for the drive home.  But I felt empowered somehow.

Because when you have moments like this:

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…you can’t help but feel like Wonder Woman. Even if you do look like you wet your pants.

If you need some inspirations on what to put on your bucket list I offer these suggestions:

Daring to Live Fully has over 10,000 ideas but she breaks it down into sub-categories, whether it be travel,adventures, fitness, etc she has an idea for you!

If you want smaller things to do either more things locally or you want to do something more realistically achievable, this blogger has a list that is a great start to writing your bucket list!

Or you can always follow Buzzfeed’s Bucket List News which will offer new ideas weekly!

What are some goals you have on your bucket list?  Please Share!

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5 thoughts on “Bucket List Series Pt. One: #142–Visiting the Garden of the Gods

  1. This is great!!! I really want to start crossing things off my bucket list! Some of them include learning to fly, skydiving, and visiting South America. I am going to Colombia at the end of the month, so I can cross that last one off for now! Thanks for being an inspiration!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That picture with Bigfoot is hilarious! I didn’t know there were two Garden of the Gods. Honestly, I didn’t even know there was one 🙂 I do live near IL, so a road trip may be in order when the kiddos get older.

    Liked by 1 person

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