Posts tagged ‘Pike’s Peak’

May 28, 2012

America the Beautiful! Visiting Pike’s Peak

Pike’s Peak, CO

The idea of the trip came to us while we were sitting at Grandma Rockwood’s kitchen table.  We were brainstorming, trying to figure out what to do today, when Grandpa sugested we visit Pikes Peak.  Not very many of the kids wanted to go after they heard that it was a two hour trip, but they quickly changed their minds when Grandpa mentioned that there was snow on top.  We (my five siblings and our cousins) made plans about snow-ball fights, snowmen, and other fun activities.  We collected coats, hats, scarves and boots for the people who wanted them, and piled into my mom’s 15 passenger van.  It was very crowded, and we took almost every seat available, squishing and compacting until everyone was in a seat belt.

We made our way to the foot of the mountains, paid for entrance at a booth on the side of the road, and continued on.  After a little while, we could see specks of snow far up on the side of the mountain, and later, closer to us, blanketing the earth beneath the trees.  As we drove, we saw more and more snow on the sides of the road.  It made everyone feel excited.  The younger kids pushed to see out the windows at the glittering masses of clean, white, snow.

Soon we started up an extremely tricky road.  It was very steep with hairpin turns and sheer drops most of the time.  My uncle informed me that this road used to be only gravel, but they had paved it since he last went up.

It took a long time to get to the top, but we made it without any real trouble.  My mother was a little traumatized from driving up the mountain on that steep road, but she felt better after a short nap, although grandpa drove us down when the time came.

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At the top of the mountain is a large monument with the words to the song, “America the Beautiful” written on it.  When we got home, we looked up the history of that song.

In 1893, at the age of thirty-three, Katharine Lee Bates, an English professor at Wellesley College, had taken a train trip to Colorado Springs, Colorado, to teach a short summer school session at Colorado College. Several of the sights on her trip inspired her, and they found their way into her poem, including the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, the “White City” with its promise of the future contained within its alabaster buildings; the wheat fields of America’s heartland Kansas, through which her train was riding on July 16; and the majestic view of the Great Plains from high atop Zebulon’s Pikes Peak.

On the pinnacle of that mountain, the words of the poem started to come to her, and she wrote them down upon returning to her hotel room at the original Antlers Hotel. The poem was initially published two years later in The Congregationalist, to commemorate the Fourth of July. It quickly caught the public’s fancy.


O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!
O beautiful for pilgrim feet
Whose stern impassion’d stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness.
America! America!
God mend thine ev’ry flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law.
O beautiful for heroes prov’d
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country lov’d,
And mercy more than life.
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness,
And ev’ry gain divine.
O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears.
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea.

It was neat to look at that gorgeous view, and read the words to Katherine Lee Bates’ poem.  We took a few pictures at the top.  It was pretty amazing.  Everyone played in the snow, throwing snowballs, exploring, and running around the top of the mountain.  We’d previously driven from Utah, where the mountains were covered with snow, and from here, we were so high up, we could see the mountains we’d driven through.

Pike’s Peak has a fantastic 360 degree view.  Nothing was taller than we were.

Ava and I explored a little farther than everyone else and found a particularly deep snow drift.  We jumped around in it for a while until it was time to go home.  As we drove down the mountain, I took a nap, exhausted by the high mountain air, jumping in the snow and everything else.  I was glad I’d decided to go on the snow trip to Pike’s Peak and got to play in the snow one last time before summer started.  We live in a beautiful country!

–Contributed by Anna Celinda Rockwood (age 15)