Saturday, April 29, 2017
To Pass or Not To Pass
Durango was a cool town. Surrounded by mountains. Old west tourism meets the outdoor recreation. It’s a place I could have stayed another night and roamed the town. However, my next stop was a Kitty visit and we don’t keep Kitty waiting.
Durango is in southwestern Colorado and I was going to Evergreen. Foothills west of Denver, near Red Rocks. In March, you have to keep an eye on weather forecasts. Snow in the mountains can be a bit unpredictable. A forecasted flurry and a strong wind turns into zero visibility.
I traced out my route on a map. For the younger crowd, a map is a silent, paper GPS. I used my vast AAA membership benefits and got maps for my entire route. I did use the route GPS suggested, but needed the map when I lost GPS. If you lose GPS when driving in your city, imagine losing it on unknown mountain roads.
An hour out of Durango, I stopped at a saloon for a shot of Rye and a poker game. Ok, that didn’t happen, but when you say “an hour out of Durango“, you should run at least into a posse chasing rustlers, or a rye-serving saloon. In truth, I gassed up the Uhaul in Pagosa Springs. Was making small talk when the clerk asked, "Are you driving through the pass. “You know, I have no idea,” I said.
Turns out I was driving through the pass. She warned me of very high winds up there. I thought she said 85 mph. I don’t think my girl, Sacagawea does well with an 85 mph crosswind. She told me to take heed of the warning signs as I get closer.
One should always take heed of things locals tell you are worthy of such heeding.
I was 30 minutes from the accent into the mountains. Some might be hyper-focused on that kind of thing. Perhaps hurry and get through it while the getting is good, not that you’d know either way. I, however, don’t work that way. Remember, it’s the journey, people. So when I see horses at roadside, it’s time to stop and say hello. No such much me, but a certain Cranky Bunny likes to mingle with other species. Although, you’ll never convince me that horses aren’t really just two people in costume.
A pulling-over I did. There is video of the encounter (see link at end of story). Suffice it to say, there was love. There was bunny-horse love.
The coast was clear. An electronic sign at the final turnaround point advised that only wide-load vehicles were prohibited. I’m of the belief that wide-load vehicles should be prohibited most hours of the day on any road, but let’s not get political.
“If you want an idea of the accent you face, look to those who are descending.” - Me
As I drove up, the vehicles coming down where moving at a crawl. Kidding aside, when an SUV is creeping at 20 mph, Mr. Uhaul’s not going to screw around. Biggest issue I now faced, what’s going to be my accent/descent music.
Pretty obvious. Pink Floyd, live from Rotterdam.
The accent went well. When I peaked at Wolf Creek Pass (alt 11,000 ft) and it was a bit intimidating. Not so much for the current conditions, but for the plowing that must have taken place within the last 6 hours. From what I could tell, there was an avalanche that covered the road. At least the leftover snow…4 ft high and 10 ft wide, meant no 85 mph wind was blowing me into the abyss.
The descent was everything I expected. Not a place to screw around. 15 mph most of the way in a Uhaul with no one passing me. If someone was an asshole driver, they were at least smart enough to wait until they hit the foothills of Evergreen. Again, Coloradans are shitty drivers. Worst I’ve ever seen. At least with common sense to take another car with them though. Not going to skid off a mountain when you can cut someone off and cause a wreck.
As much as this Pass was uneventful, the next two were more interesting. It’s pretty cool when you’re on a very flat road for miles and miles, but on the horizon you see mountains, and even better you see a storm obscuring part of the horizon. It’s like driving right into, not just the storm, but the cloud causing the storm.
Early, Kitty texted to find out my location. I greeted her with an enthusiastic “Saguache!” My second time there, to which she replied, “Where’s that?” I wanted to tell her “it’s right where it belongs”, but there were cars in the ditches.
Instead I took a picture of the impending storm and said, “There are cars in the ditches. The Uhaul is handling fine. I’ve never felt more alive.”
Video of the Cranky Bunny finding love