Having attended last night's Vigil Mass and not having found the nearest Episcopal Church I decided to visit Pike's Peak. The day was beautiful and hot (73F this morning) so I caught the 14 bus to the Bus Station and then the 3 to Manitu Springs. The way the (few) bus lines works here is helpful in that they all link at the Station. The cost is also cheap but few people seem to use them. The car rules - I have never seen so many 4x4's! The pity is that I'm told there will be fewer buses from January as a cost-cutting measure. They need to learn from the UK - you need a very regular service that people can depend on - then they might think about abandoning the car for that quick trip to downtown.
The journey took me through Old Colorado City, with its 19th cent. main street full of antique shops, coffee bars - and the occasional tattoo shop (clearly big business in the USA). The bus route ends in the town centre at - the episcopal church of St. Andrews. Neo-gothic and built in 1864 of red stone it looked eerily like St. Andrew's, Romford. The town is clearly a tourist attraction with some interesting, historic buildings lining the main street. From there it was a 20 min. walk up to the terminus of the 'Pike's Peak and Manitou Cog Railway'. Not having booked a place on the 1.20pm train I was put on the reserve list and, luckily, eventually given a place. The route is beautiful passing through forest and tundra, climbing steeply in places for just over an hour to the summit at 14,100ft. The panorama was stunning and magnificent! You can see into four states and the peaks of the western Rockies line the horizon. It was cold! A strong wind meant it felt below freezing and there were still traces of snow from last week. The train was packed with over 200 people, and at $32 per person that makes over $3000 per return trip (of which there are about ten a day). Clearly a money-maker! The line was built in the 1890's and they are about to return a vintage steam loco and carriage to the line.
I got back just as a bus was leaving but the driver recognised me and stopped. Phew - I discovered that was the last bus of the day (4.45pm). It linked with the last bus back to the Centre, so I am glad I followed my intuition that that might be the last bus. When I responded to questions at dinner as to how I got to Pike's Peak by saying I went by public transport there were creis of amazement! Whatever else America is trying to do to address environmental matters it's clear their love of automobiles is as strong as ever.
So the purpose of my being here begins tomorrow. Whilst being a tourist is interesting, the real work of the retreat starts at 9.30am.