TED AND BILL had their excellent adventure. I have had mine.

Last week, my lovely wife and I, along with eight other former “inmates” of Third East Bridgeman Hall at what in the 1960s was still known as Wisconsin State University-Eau Claire, along with their wives, celebrated 50 years of friendship with a gathering in Colorado Springs, Colo.

We former inmates enjoyed yearly reunions throughout the first several years of our post-Eau Claire years, drifted to reunions every now and then for several years after and now, strolling into our senior citizen years, have gone back to yearly get togethers.

This year, it was Dick “Digger” Gee who put together the reunion, calling us all together in a beautiful part of Colorado. Since Digger was our unquestioned leader in pranks, high jinks and outright tomfoolery during our collegiate years, none of us dared refuse his Colorado invite.

Nine inmates were able to gather for a three-night stay at the Old Town Guesthouse B&B, a wonderful establishment operated by a wonderful sister/brother duo in the Old Colorado City portion of Colorado Springs. Our first evening was given to sheepshead, eating pizza, drinking cold beverages, talk, much talk and laughter, always laughter. 

Some of the stories have been oft repeated like the tale involving one Warren P. Clark watching his rod and reel being sent to a watery grave in Starrett Lake just a few miles from my house. There is great disagreement between the two parties involved in the incident as to who caused the premature death of the rod and reel, but as one of those parties I solemnly continue to maintain it was not my fault that said rod and reel slid off an oar that had been resting on the gunwale of my Old Town, when said oar was dipped into the water preparatory to moving to a new walleye “honey hole.”

Lest you think the entire three days was spent in such banter, I can report to you that much of it was spent in exploring the awesome scenery that bounds Colorado Springs to the west. On our first full day in town, half of us headed for the very top of Pike’s Peak, while the remainder drove west of the city to take a ride on the Royal Gorge narrow gauge train.

As one of the Pike’s Peak group, I vacillated between unbridled amazement at the marvel of engineering and construction that is the road to the top of Pike’s Peak and awe bordering on utter fear brought on by looking down at sheer drops of thousands of feet with nothing but air to cushion the fall should you go off the road. One hundred and fifty-five turns, many of them incredibly tight hairpins, have to be negotiated before you reach the top.

We had a super driver on our 20-passenger bus who regaled us with an inexhaustible supply of stories, asides and factoids about not only Pike’s Peak, but the entire area.

Our ascent almost ended prematurely when the bus driver received news that the road was closed at about the 10,000-foot level because of dense fog. At least one person on our bus must have said the right prayers because by the time we got to that level, the fog had lifted to a degree that allowed us to look out at western Colorado terrain scores of miles in the distance.

At the 13,600-foot level, the driver allowed as how we were on our way to the top, only to be stopped with just two turns in the road left before the summit by a park ranger who said the fog from that point on was simply too thick to allow us to continue on.

So we headed back down, stopping at Bottomless Pit so everyone could get out and take pictures of a terrifying drop to tree level far, far below. Going up and going down we made the acquaintance of a small herd of bighorn sheep, along with several marmots scrambling here and there among the rocks.

Back down at the bottom, as we wheeled into Manitou Springs, Colo., our bus driver noted that the North Pole amusement park we were passing was the site of the highest Ferris wheel in North America at 7,000 feet high. Think about that statement before you scoff at its veracity.

Following another evening of fun and frolic and a late-night session of sheepshead, we rose sleepy-eyed at 7:30 a.m. for breakfast prior to a few hours of exploring the wondrous sights of Garden of the Gods.

It looked to me like God had a lot of fun creating this beautiful desert playground of massive rock uplifts, rattlesnake habitat and hardy flora of many species. We toured the park headquarters first, reading about the hundreds of millions of years it took to create the landscape and how it came to be given at no cost to the city of Colorado Springs by a benefactor whose main caveat was that it remain open and free to the public forever.

What a gift of remarkable nature it was. Truthfully, with only a few hours in which to explore, we saw only a small part of it up close while hiking, admiring the rest as we drove through it on our way to Manitou City. 

That small city is remarkable in its own right with dozens of stores and homes whose construction dates back to the mid 1800s. It rivals downtown Wisconsin Dells with its blocks of gift shops, trinket and T-shirt stores, restaurants and bars.

As with our other evenings at the B&B, having taken over all eight rooms in the establishment, we finished things off with more talk, beverages, sheepshead and laughter.

And as always, parting on our final morning after breakfast was bittersweet, everyone grateful for the time we spent together and the fabulous scenery we saw, sorry that our time together was over so soon.

Next year, it has been decided that our destination will be Door County right here in good old Wisconsin. Our Green Bay chapter of Third East has been charged with organizing the event. I have already put in my request for a morning of fishing for trout and salmon on a Lake Michigan charter boat. Clark said he wants a better guide than his Starrett Lake one.