Saturday, October 3, 2015

Colorado Springs - United States Air Force Academy

After we left Yellowstone, we drove to Casper, Wyoming.  We ended up spending a couple of nights there because we were stuck between two weather systems:  snow storms to our west, and thunderstorms to our east.  We intended to only spend one night in Casper while passing through, but we ended up staying two nights instead.

Once we left Casper, we drove all the way to Colorado Springs, Colorado.  And here I feel compelled to say a few words about Colorado-ans.  (Is that what they're called?)

1.  Colorado-ans like hatch-back vehicles.  Especially Subaru hatch-back vehicles.
2.  Colorado-ans like bumper stickers.  And window stickers.  Lots of them.
3.  Colorado-ans like to drive fast.  Like, really fast.  Well beyond the posted speed limit.

We found our campsite just as a freakish storm hit us.  We had lightning and thunder all while snow pellets were falling fast and furiously around us!  In about 30 seconds, the ground was covered with white ice-like, styrofoamy pellets that were pummeling us from the sky.  Such strange weather!  Apparently this is known as a "graupel storm" - and yes, that's a real thing!  Who knew?

We spent the remainder of the day just resting, but the next day, Friday, May 9th, we took some time to tour the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

We started our tour at the USAFA visitor center where we learned what the cadets do each year of their schooling, plus we saw a replica of their dorm rooms.  We also saw an entertaining and informative movie which followed the life of a first-year cadet through the first year of school.




After the visitor center, we walked a short path to the USAFA chapel.  But before we could even get into chapel, we were lucky enough to have the opportunity to see the student body "form up" to go to lunch.  Before they headed to the cafeteria, the senior class swarmed up the hill to plant their squadron flags.  I'm not exactly sure what that tradition is all about, but it was quite an event to see!







After the cadets had cleared the area, we went into the chapel.  It is such an iconic building with its unique design.  The main hall of the chapel is for Protestant Christian worship, and the downstairs smaller hall is for Roman Catholic worship.  In the basement of the building was a lovely circular Jewish synagogue, and the surrounding floor was made of stone from Jerusalem.  And off in a corner of the basement was a Buddhist Temple, small but functional.  Overall, the chapel is an impressive building that serves the student body well.






After we saw the chapel, we drove to an overlook to view the cadet area of the base.  While there, we watched about a dozen cadets jump out of an airplane and drop to the ground with parachutes.

Our last stop while touring the USAFA was the Falcon Stadium where the USAFA football team plays its games.  Steve and the older boys went out onto the field and ran the distance.



The US Air Force Academy is an impressive place, and it was a pleasure to take a few hours to see some of the more interesting aspects of cadet life.