Growing up in Denver, a visit to the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs was pretty much an annual event. Hell, it was free and God knows my father’s paltry remuneration from the Denver Police Department didn’t provide for vacations that crossed state lines, much less international jaunts. So, annually, we’d load up the car with our necessities–the makings for a little picnic, my father’s “hidden” bottle of whiskey (usually stuffed into the trunk and intended for a little wee sip now and then, certainly out of sight of my mother), and any toys or distractions that would keep me and my two sisters busy during the hour or so drive to our destination.
My childhood conclusion about the Garden of the Gods was that is was something of a sacred place, holy in its mien, plopped down just outside Colorado Springs for the undisputed purpose of giving the faithful (my mother was Roman Catholic, severely Roman Catholic) substantial evidence that God is good, God is great and Wowser! ain’t these sandstone and limestone formations just pretty rock-hard evidence that God graced the earth with his largesse.
My partner’s parents have, for the last three visits to Colorado from their home in Yakima, Washington, consistently expressed their desire to visit/revisit the Garden of the Gods and, perhaps, to affirm their belief that, yes, God is good, God is great.
Just last week, the in-laws arrived and, once again, their desire was to revisit the Garden of the Gods. Ahem…
Okay. I can see the allure. There’s certainly nothing like this in Yakima, Washington. (Have you ever been to Yakima? Yes, they’ve got all kinds of agricultural stuff going on there: so many fruit and hops-bearing fields that one is quite taken aback by the, oh, God-given magnificence of it all.) But, the Gloriousness of God’s good work, is surely more evident at the Garden of the Gods in Colorado, rather than the verdant fields of Yakima. And, of course, the Garden of the Gods provides a clear and quite awesome view of Pike’s Peak rising in some triumphant spectacle to the west of the park.
It was only this year–last week, as a matter of fact–that I realized (silly me) that the naming of this park was not intended to celebrate the Christian God and His good works, but rather was given its moniker to, quite aptly, describe a fitting place where the Gods, plural-the mythical Gods–could celebrate their, um, Goddum (I know, that’s not really a word sanctioned by Merriam-Webster) while, most likely, appreciating Bacchus within their midst, while chugging brew and laughing like hell at the inane fascination of mere mortals with the juts and crags of the formations that, most likely–as we are told by Wikipedia–were provided by “…the immense mountain building forces caused by the uplift of the Pikes Peak massif.”
Now, as to the name of this place. Again, we are told by Wikipedia that, “The name of the park dates back to August 1859 when two surveyors helping to set up nearby Colorado City were exploring the nearby areas. Upon discovering the site, one of the surveyors, M. S. Beach, suggested that it would be a ‘capital place for a beer garden.’ His companion, the young Rufus Cable, awestruck by the impressive rock formations, exclaimed, ‘Beer Garden! Why it is a fit place for the gods to assemble. We will call it the Garden of the Gods.’ The beer garden never materialized, but the name stuck.”
An assemblage of the Gods. Again, plural. My epiphany was complete. Now I understood. Whether or not my Yakima in-laws–quite fundamentally Christian–understand the nuance here is unsure. I won’t ask them. Perhaps they’re comforted by a perception of the place that harkens back to my childhood understanding of what the place represented then, so many, many years ago. Such is the egomania of Fundamentalism. That’s okay. I don’t mind. If it gives them some little comfort in their beliefs I surely don’t mind.
Here are some others images of the Garden of the Gods I captured just last week. Enjoy. I know my in-laws enjoyed them.