Honoring Those Who Took to the Skies

With the movie Dunkirk making a splash at theaters this summer, many have been reminded of the important role that pilots played in World War II. But did you know there’s a special place here in Colorado Springs that honors that history?

Located on the flight line of the Colorado Springs airport sits the National Museum of World War II Aviation. Housed inside a hangar, this privately-owned exhibit features a impressive collection of artifacts, following our nation’s war story from Pearl Harbor to the skies over Normandy to the bombing of Nagasaki — and everything in between. The real showcase items though are the airplanes, beautifully restored to pristine condition.

For those who are interested in history or aviation, the museum offers a docent-led tour that is simply not to be missed. It begins with a short orientation in the briefing room that lays out an overview of the war. The tour then takes you past various aircraft each with its own story. Your docent will teach you not only about the planes, but how they were instrumental to winning the war. Aircraft currently on display include the P-38 Lightning, L-5B Sentinel, TBM Avenger and B-25 Mitchell. Additional display cases and artifacts tell the bigger story, but also illuminate the personal impact of combat both to those on the war front and those back at home. There is even a piece of the USS Arizona, recovered from its watery grave, with a small patch you can actually touch.

For those who are interested in the iconic nose art of this era, you won’t be disappointed either.

You’ll even learn how our military used to train its pilots with a demonstration of this flight simulator.

The tour then continues at an adjacent hangar owned by WestPac Restorations, a world-class airplane restoration faculty. You’ll learn how they can take a mere carcass of a plane and bring it back to its original splendor. Each plane is painstakingly restored by hand with great precision and accuracy.

For those who enjoy honoring our nation’s greatest generation and the sacrifices they made to ensure freedom, this museum should be at the top of your list to visit. As we lose these heroes at a quickening pace, it’s so important that we hold them tight in our national memory. This museum will help you do that, and you’ll leave soaring with patriotic pride for the way these Americans changed the course of history.

The museum is open to the public Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I highly recommend the docent-led tour for adults, which will provide context for all the aircraft and displays. That tour lasts approximately two hours. For those with children ages 6-13, there is a special summer youth tour on Saturdays at 11 am. For those with younger children, I’d recommend the self-guided tour so you can see the planes at your own pace.

For more information, please visit http://www.worldwariiaviation.org.

The Night I Kissed a Mountain Lion

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Have you ever kissed a mountain lion? I know what you're thinking. No one would actually kiss a mountain lion. They're big and intimidating and wild. I mean, who hasn't seen the video being passed around on Facebook of the brave house cat confronting the mountain lion on the other side of the sliding glass door? And all the while, we're all thinking the same thing – that cat is snack food if the mountain lion figures out how to open that door. Kiss the kitty? Sure. Kiss the mountain lion? No way!

And yet, last Thursday, I did indeed kiss a mountain lion.

About a half hour northeast of Colorado Springs, there's an oasis of wildlife.  Amidst the rolling hills and dusty plains, you'd expect to find horses and cows, and there are plenty of those to see as you drive out there. But when the roar of a lion breaks the silence, you realize you've come to a very special place indeed. This is Serenity Springs Wildlife Center.

Dedicated to providing a forever home to big cats and other exotic animals, Serenity Springs isn't a zoo, but a sanctuary. Many of its approximately 120 residents have come from cases of exploitation, abuse or neglect. Now they live their lives in relative peace and quiet, being provided for by loving caretakers. While they have regular tours where you can learn about the various cats and their stories, last Thursday we went for an extra special opportunity.

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Having recently been blessed with two young cubs, Serenity Springs is now offering Mountain Lion Encounters. If you love big cats, this one is for you! Hosted in a group setting, these events allow you to have a once-in-a-lifetime experience, playing and cuddling with two adorable babies names Louie and Maureen. The night we went there were four people in attendance, which allowed for lots of interaction, as well as some adorable snapshots on our iPhones. And since they're just so cute, who could resist giving them a kiss on the top of their adorable little heads?

But more than just a cute encounter, these half-hour meet and greets also serve an important purpose. Since these cubs were born in captivity, and will live their lives in captivity, they need to be used to being around and handled by people. With playtime comes socialization, which will allow caretakers to safely interact with the cats as they grow up and become much, much bigger.  So, by having the time of your life, you can actually help these beautiful cats live long, happy and safe lives. And you'll walk away with a better understanding and appreciation for this beautiful species.

Since the cubs are growing fast, these Mountain Lion Encounters are only available for a very limited time.  You'll want to jump on the chance while you have it. This is one not to miss!  So, what are you waiting for? Find out more information here.

Note: Sadly, since we first posted this, Serenity Springs has gone out of business. We decided to keep this post up in memory of the special times many of us had there. Thank you, Nick, for the many years of memories.

Welcoming Autumn With May Farms

With summer giving way to autumn, this week’s adventure took us out to the Eastern Plains for the annual farm festival in Byers, Colorado. Hosted at May Farms, this event showcases a variety of farms, ranches and businesses that call the local area home. Since it’s National Alpaca Farm Days, we were especially excited to get to learn more about these gentle creatures. Sandra Johnson, owner of Chimera Ranch, introduced us to Garnet and her 10-day-old baby boy named Jasper. We were able to see how they communicate through humming. The mother will begin humming while pregnant to begin imprinting her voice with her baby. Once born, the baby is able to find and identify the mother because of this unique call. Standing only about 3 feet at the shoulder, alpacas are a lot smaller than their cousin the llama. Their diminutive size and quiet disposition make them ideal for shearing. The fibers are turned into yarn that can be used to produce clothing, such as hats, scarves and sweaters. And there were vendors on hand selling a variety of wares.Also present at the event was Hog Haven Farm. This unique organization rescues potbellied pigs from abuse, neglect and abandonment. It was surprising to hear that these cute little pigs are often rescued after they’re listed on Craigslist as for sale for meat. Hog Haven not only adopts pigs out to loving homes, but they also train them to be therapy animals. You can find their pigs involved with outreach across the Denver Metro area. With others on site from the Great Escape  Mustang Sanctuary, Longhopes Donkey Rescue and Adam’s Warrior Buddy, there were plenty of opportunities to learn how folks in our state are taking care of animals and using them to make a difference. I’m looking forward to learning more about these exciting organizations. 

True to any harvest festival, there was also a corn maze, pumpkin patch and a barrel train for the kids. The Caramel Apple Farm had a variety of goat milk products for sale, including pumpkin spice lotion that smelled delicious! And there was food and beverages for sale. 

There’s still time to make it out to Byers to enjoy the festival. They’ll be open 10 am to 4 pm on Sunday, September 25th. Admissions is free, but there’s a minimal fee for the corn maze. They’ll also be hosting Harvest Fest every weekend in October, featuring even more Autumn fun! For more information check out their website, mayfarms.com

Tiny Houses, Big Opportunities 


One of the primary reasons people say they don’t travel is money. Not only does travel sometimes seem expensive, but often resources are tied up in other commitments. In fact, for many, a mortgage alone can eat up between 25 and 35% of their monthly income. So, what if there was a way to manage a mortgage so that there’s more budget for travel? What if you could take your house with you while you’re traveling, so you could avoid hotel costs? Can you be a homebody and still explore the world?

These are just some of the questions we’ve been pondering here at Red Wolf Adventures that inspired us to go check out one of the trendiest movements in housing and travel — tiny houses.

The second annual National Tiny House Jamboree is being held August 5-7 on the grounds of the United States Air Force Academy. Sponsored by EcoCabins, the event provides the opportunity to tour 50 tiny houses and consider how going tiny can open the door to big opportunities. Once you step into a few of these domiciles, the first thing that hits you is that you really don’t have to sacrifice the feeling of home in order to go tiny. Sure sometimes you have to get creative to make the best use of space, but as you can see from the photo above, many of the homes feature the look and feel we’ve all come to love about our modern traditional homes, including granite counter tops and trendy backsplashes. And depending on layout and design, many have roomy bathrooms with beautiful showers and fun sinks. Second, no matter your style, there’s a home for you. From log cabin to adobe and everything in between, what your home looks like is really only limited by your imagination. My favorite was the beach cottage. Third, it really is true that you can take your tiny house on the road with you. Many are built on trailers, and having wheels means you can easily take them wherever you want to go. In fact, the Huffington Post featured an excellent article earlier this year about tiny house travel. Some tiny homes are even built by the iconic Airstream!And finally, when it comes to affordability, the tiny house has a distinct advantage over a traditional home. Most of the homes we saw at the Jamboree seemed to fall between $20,000 and $50,000, depending on square footage, design and features. And if you’re paying less for your home, it only follows you’ll have more money to put towards travel.

If you’ve been curious about the tiny house movement, I encourage you to visit the National Tiny House Jamboree this weekend, August 5-7.  Not only can you tour the homes, but builders are on site to answer your questions. And vendors from a variety of related industries can help you understand how this all works and how it ties into sustainability and reducing your footprint on the earth. Find out more about the event here.

Here are few tips for those who are attending:

  • First, you’ll want to enter the Air Force Academy from the North Gate. There will be signs to direct you to the jamboree, which is being held in front of Falcon Stadium.
  • Second, with 50 tiny houses and plenty of vendors, you’ll want to plan for lots of walking. If you have small children, consider whether you might want to have a stroller on hand.
  • A few of the builders ask you to remove your shoes before touring their homes. Consider wearing shoes that will be easy to slip on or off.
  • The event is being held in an open field, and many of the houses have stairs to get in and out of them. So those with limited mobility may find this challenging.

Go check out the National Tiny House Jamboree this weekend, and as with all your adventures, remember “the journey is the destination.” 

Supporting Our Athletes in Olympic City USA 

The summer games are just a few days away, and if you can’t make the trek to Rio, where’s the next best place to celebrate? Olympic City USA, of course!

Having officially taken on the moniker earlier this year, Colorado Springs has long been associated with Team USA. Not only is the city home to the U.S. Olympic Committee and more than 20 national Olympic governing bodies, it’s also where you’ll find the U.S. Olympic Training Center.


One of the best ways to get into the Olympic spirit in preparation for Rio 2016 is to take a tour of the training center. It houses training facilities for boxing, gymnastics, swimming, weightlifting, wrestling, shooting and more. In fact, more than 500 athletes and coaches can train at the facility at any given time. And the dorms and dining hall allow athletes the ability to focus on the ultimate goal — bringing home the gold. They also employ state-of-the-art technology like an altitude chamber and zero-gravity treadmills to help give athletes the competitive edge. Taking the tour allows an eye-opening glimpse into all that goes into the making of a champion.

As the most decorated Olympian in history with 22 medals, Michael Phelps will be the talk of Rio as he swims competitively for the very last time. You can actually visit one of the pools he’s trained in while at the Olympic Training Center.


Forty-eight of the Olympic Training Center’s residents will be representing Team USA in Rio, competing in sports such as wrestling, boxing, cycling, gymnastics, Paralympic judo and Paralympic swimming. Come see what life is like for these elite athletes. You will leave inspired and ready to cheer them on in their quest for gold!

While there is a nominal fee for the tour, the proceeds go towards supporting Team USA. And if you’re planning to bring a group of 10 or more, call ahead to ask about a tour led by one of the athletes training there. Check out TeamUSA.org for more information.

And if you’re in Colorado Springs, there’s one more special opportunity to support Team USA this Friday, August 5th — the Olympic Downtown Celebration. Tejon Street will turn into a huge party as thousands gather to celebrate the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games. The event is expected to have musicians, dancers, a torch relay, fun activities for the kids, and more. And best of all, it’s free! You can find more details here.

No matter where you’re watching from, be sure to tune in and support our athletes. The Summer Olympics are August 5-21, followed by the Paralypmics September 7-18. For a full schedule of events, check out NBCOlympics.com.

Go, Team USA!

A Howling Good Time in Colorado 

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Nestled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, about a half hour outside of Colorado Springs, the town of Divide is home to one of the most unique mayors you’ll ever meet — a timber wolf named Shunka. On our recent trip up Highway 24, we made a stop to see this special dignitary.

Away from the high-pressure world of politics, Shunka makes his home at the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center, where he can be himself and fit in as one among a pack of wolves. On the day we visited, the mayor was taking a nap under the shade of a tree, no doubt exhausted from the many responsibilities of overseeing a city. But he wasn’t too tired to join in when the pack began to howl. It’s just the sort of refuge every public figure dreams of, assuming he’s a wolf.

If you’re looking for a unique, educational opportunity in Southern Colorado, you must add the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center to your travel plans. Founded in 1993, when Darlene Kobobel rescued a wolf-hybrid named Chinook, the center’s mission is to provide a sanctuary to wolves, coyotes and foxes where they can be provided with spacious enclosures, a healthy diet and top-notch veterinary care. The resident animals have been rescued from often-times heartbreaking situations that make it impossible for them to live outside of captivity. Yet thanks to the efforts of the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center, they’re able to live out their days enjoying the crisp, clear mountain air and the loving TLC of their caretakers.

The center also strives to educate the public about the plight of wolves in the wild, helping us all to better understand the importance of conservation efforts. I was especially touched when I heard how the red wolf was nearly driven to extinction. Today, thanks to conservation efforts, more than 50 red wolves make the wilds of North Carolina their home, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

If you’re ready for an adventure of your own, the center’s one-hour tour is a great introduction to the elusive wolf. The knowledgeable guides explain the social dynamics of wolf packs, the backstory of each resident animal, and the important part that wolves play within the ecosystem. On our tour, despite the warm weather, many of the wolves came close enough to the fences of their enclosures for us to be able to see them.  And the tour ended with the chance to howl with the wolf pack, a truly magical moment!

For the truly adventurous, if you’re ready to take a step on the wild side, consider taking the Alpha Tour. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, this tour allows you to get into the enclosure with a few of the wolves so you can interact with them face-to-face. One of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had was meeting Keara, an Alaskan Interior wolf. Thankfully a staff photographer captures the encounter for you so you can live in the moment and embrace this unique experience. Well worth the cost, this tour will give you a new respect for these beautiful creatures.

Ready to have a howling good time? Check out the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife’s website for more information, and be sure to call ahead for reservations.