Colorado Springs has grown incredibly since I lived here so long ago. I moved out “for reals” in 1972 when I got married, but I mostly left the summer of 1970, after graduating high school. That summer I took a job as a camp counselor at the local Baptist church camp. There is an exit on I-25, “Baptist Road,” and I imagine most people living here now don’t know what that means.
The surgeon I saw yesterday is in FAR north Colorado Springs, pretty much directly across the freeway from the Air Force Academy Chapel. When I lived here, the academy was a remote destination with a detached, monastic feeling to it, but no more.
As I drove north (and the return trip, south), I scanned the hills around the academy looking for a break in the foothills where a seasonal stream might flow. One of my best memories of summer camp was going somewhere on the academy grounds and swimming in a clear stream that ran between colorful sandstone walls. Not high walls, just four or five feet on each side. The flow through the stream in the spring was fast enough to clear the sandstone bottom of brush and debris. It was an amazing experience, dreamlike to me now.
I’d intended to retire here, but by the time I could retire, property values had risen making houses unaffordable to me. That’s OK. I love the San Luis Valley and it give my friends somewhere to go when they want to get away. It’s also probably good that I began a new life in a new place. Colorado Springs is a little haunted with memories, some of which are very sad.
The city ends — no matter what — at Pikes Peak, “the mountain.” It’s possible to ride a train to the top of Pikes Peak, and the train is Swiss. 🙂
“The Mountain” stands above all the changes and the memories, above my friends, above the struggles and triumphs of the people who live here. It’s the focal point of life in Colorado Springs, the harbinger and bringer of weather, it’s inspirational and grounding.