Thursday, April 28, 2005

We're not in the desert any more.

When we got up yesterday, we were in Grand Junction, Colorado - about 3-4,000 feet. It was a sunny, warm day. We wore shorts and t-shirt. We looked at the map and saw that our destination was over 250 miles away. We planned to cover that in 2 days. The Rocky mountains were ahead of us and we figured we'd stay somewhere in the mountains. Those of you who know the Rockies may be laughing already. Highway 70 goes over 2 passes as it crosses the mountains, one at Vail - elevation 10,603 and another just before Denver - elevation 11,158. It's April - people are still skiing in Vail - campgrounds are closed. The ride started out just gorgeous as we followed the Colorado river into the Rocky mountains. We started looking for campgrounds around Vail - about the halfway point - but there were none to be had. Nada. Zip. So we just kept on going - having no clue what was up ahead. Here we go. It took 1st gear to get us up to the top of this one, but we made it. We breathed a big sigh of relief - that was something! I have been on this road before - but it was 25 years ago. I found myself saying, 'oh yeah, I remember a big, high pass ... Loveland pass right?'. hmmm, that sign back there didn't say Loveland pass did it? Maybe Loveland is on another highway. I study the map. Guess what? Loveland is still ahead of us, and it's over 11,000 feet! Oh my, maybe we should unhook the car and drive separately over this one. We both agree and I start getting the walkie-talkies out, but before we see a good place to pull off, we're headed up the pass. Back into 1st gear we go. I didn't get any photos of the road at this point because it was seriously snowing by now, and the windshield wipers just smeared our view. But here's a couple taken out the side window... Eisenhower tunnel marks the very top of the pass. Loveland, technically is a few miles away on a side road. So, we made it thru the tunnel. Yeah, Yippee Now we must go down. The signs say, "Truckers, are your brakes adjusted and cool? Steep grades, sharp curves, 11 miles" and "Trucks, steep grades, sharp curves, next 5 miles. Use low gear" and "Truckers, don't be fooled, 4 more miles of steep grades and sharp curves." and, finally "Truckers, you are not down yet. Another 1 1/2 miles of steep grades and sharp curves." I found a great website for map and road geeks that has photographs of all these signs. Yes, we could smell our hot brakes by the time we got to the bottom, but we made it just fine. Usually on a longish day of driving like today - I would have driven the last hour or so. Ha! No thanx! But, I'll fix Jim a well-deserved a drink when we get parked. Here's the scene where we're parked this morning: We should have stayed in Moab. Naah ... adventure, that's what it's all about right? Yeah, but ... I like *warm* adventure! It's 4pm now and the temperature hasn't gone above 37 degrees.

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