Will Rogers Shrine to the Sun
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If you've been to Colorado Springs then you have probably seen the Shrine sitting on the mountain. It's a tall white tower that reflects the sunlight or is illumined manually. Back in the day, Spencer Penrose (Penrose Hospital, Penrose Public Library, Penrose St...) was one of Colorado Springs' greatest benefactors. Because of this man we are able to enjoy a five-star hotel that hosted this year's PGA Senior tour, a zoo that you can hand feed the giraffes and of course a tomb up in the mountains that has amazing views. The castle houses Penrose's remains but to avoid yet another namesake he honored his good friend Will Rogers (1879-1935) instead.
I could bore you with all the gory details of Will Rogers' life, but if you're really that interested Wikipedia does a fine job of explaining (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Will_Rogers). Instead I'll describe my day at the zoo...
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is just past the Broadmoor. When you enter the park you will be tempted to go to the right after you feed a giraffe or two but I suggest you cut away from the crowds and venture left up toward the bears and lions. You'll beat the crowds and get to see the primate house and the hippos without an audience. Definitely worth it. I must warn you, they keep the creepiest monkey-cousins on display there: Ring-Tailed Lemurs (lemures-latin for "spirits of the night).
When you get the day pass to the zoo you are also invited to drive on up to the Shrine to the Sun. The tall pines and formidable gate give a sense of reverence and beauty. Walk through the gate and you'll be on a graveled path that ends at the cut stone landing at the base of the Shrine. From here you can already see so much-possibly the entirety of eastern Colorado. The air is hot (to be expected from a Shrine to the Sun) even though you're probably more than 8,000-9,000 feet above sea level.
As we ascend the stair each landing is a room stuffed floor to ceiling with photographs, newspaper clippings and other regalia heralding Mr Rogers. We continue up the tight stairway. Its stained glass windows that punctuate the walls much like my commas and ellipses perforate my e-mail messages. The sunlight is filtered into red, blue and yellow hues by these porticos. It's a little disappointing when you try to peek at what lies outside only to find the windows have been soldered shut (see photo).
Stretching out for miles is Colorado Springs perched at the foot of the Rockies. It's breathtaking. The rocky crags jutting out of the trees with the combination of Aspens and pines have the perfect contrast. Glancing down the hills are the terra cotta bisqued rocks that wind and crest through the ground. Known as Garden of the Gods, these rocks are unmistakable and remnicent of a time of explorers and pioneers. Continuing around you'll see the downtown with the old BKD building that mirrors the colors of the red rocks and the Broadmoor with its acres of green accented with rose colored buildings. It's unnatural to see so much grass in the west, but I guess if were trying to recreate the east I would use a lot of terf, too.