The other day, I think it was Saturday but I’m not really sure… My days all run together at times, I was able to drive my beloved mountains. OK, not the Mountains I really want to be in, and but dam close. The I-70 corridor through Colorado and Utah.
Of course to get there one must drive the famously, flat, boring, and dam near never ending Kansas / Eastern Colorado corridor.
If not for the signs and mile markers one would be blissfully unaware a state boundary had been crossed. The level of my excitement at reaching the Denver city limits was measurable by the cyclic rate of my pulse. Trust me this is a condition of totally unfamiliar sensation for me. Denver has never been one of my favorite cities. 86 miles west south west, and 5,000 feet higher the sensation would be completely understandable.
We changed driver’s at the TA Denver West, topped off the tanks, both the trucks and our own. Now I have never been one to let my apprentices drive the Eisenhower Tunnel and Vail Pass the first time over. I much prefer they watch me and see how I do it and what gears I choose for the descents. I’m just a little picky about that for some strange reason…My own survival instincts perhaps.
As we ease out of Denver, I was surprised at the lack of traffic. Note to self, if something seems to good to be true…it usually is. I start the long arduous accent of Denver’s infamous Floyd Hill, only to come to a full stop on an 8 percent grade with 76,000 pounds and a little micro four wheeler tucked under my DOT bumper.
Note that I leave plenty of distance between myself and the truck in front of me. Unlike cars with automatic transmissions, big trucks can have a tendency to roll back slightly when trying to get started on a serious incline. We ended up sitting there for about 45 minutes before traffic started moving again. I was able to get going without rolling back and crushing aforementioned micro car. What pray tell was the cause of the conundrum you ask? Why the safest car, according to its manufacturer, a Volvo had caught fire, and and now sat smoldering with a collection of fire trucks, ambulances, police cars, and of course the cluster of volunteers vehicles with their wide variety of emergency lights, causing the traffic to merge all the way to the left lane to squeeze by.
We continued upward and westward till we came to the Loveland Pass exit. Which I purposely passed. Unlike last year around this time when I had a student I got along with, I decided not to traverse that beautiful pass. I will however share some pictures from last year.
Note the sign at the summit gives the elevation as 11,8?? feet above sea level. My student last year, also named Eric, discovered the oxygen deficiency at that elevation when he decided to run full tilt up the hiking trail at the summit. Of course I was quietly cautioning him of this during his wild dash. I guess he couldn’t hear my whispered warning through grinning mouth.
Back to this year, and our continued journey west. We succeeded in our climb and decent of Eisenhower Tunnel approach. My apprentice, complaining the whole time that there must be a good better route. I tried to explain that any way around meant a couple hundred miles extra, and therefore additional fuel. Of course he saw nothing wrong with that. Naturally, he’s not paying for the fuel… I am.
We still had Vail Pass to go, and I had started wondering why I never invested in hearing protection of some kind. I resorted to an old standby from my previous life that had always served me well. I simply told him you have the right to remain silent…Please exercise it! The remainder of the trip was fabulously peaceful, except perhaps the questioning glare from my silent passenger.
As a bonus, and I was privileged to have dinner with my niece and nephew in Dubuque, Co.
A couple of great kids they are.