Saturday, June 24, 2006

Colorado

(I have loads of pictures to share, but Blogger is being touchy this afternoon. I'll try to upload them again later.)

Vacationing in Colorado was awesome. The Rocky Mountains are breathtaking, but also a bit scary. We started at Estes Park, camping at Long's Peak. Rob and the kids hiked up above the tree line where they had a snowball fight. (Yep, in June!) The four-year old and I had to stay behind as we had a touch of altitude sickness.

Then we moved on to Twin Lakes, near Leadville. Leadville is the highest city in North America at 10,430 feet elevation.

We drove up Independent Pass, which is the highest pass in North America (12,095 ft.) and crosses the Continental Divide. You need nerves of steel to drive this road. The 10 mile-per-hour hairpin curves are right on the side of the mountains. If you go off the road just a tad, you're dead. I don't think that they believe in guard rails in Colorado. Adding to the fun are the bicyclists sharing the road with you and the snowboarders hitchhiking to the top (then they snowboard to the bottom).

Pike's Peak is even more scary. They have pulloffs where guys check your brakes to make sure that they're not too hot.

I did pretty well driving in the mountains. (We took two cars and I wasn't about to let teen son drive in the mountains, so there was no getting out of it.) I made sure to use my lower gears and to pump the brakes gently. However, toward the end of the trip I had a bit of the mishap. We were coming down from the Black Canyon, which btw is absolutely breathtaking - I don't know how anyone can doubt the existence of God after seeing such a site. Anyway, I could feel the brakes getting spongy as we came down the mountain and it felt as if the brakes were about to go completely, so I pulled off the road. Black smoke was pouring out from under the front wheels and you could smell burning rubber. After Rob pulled my white knuckles from the steering wheel (I never knew that one's hands could sweat so much), we pulled out a blanket and had a picnic lunch while the brakes cooled. We prayed a family rosary before getting on the road again. I wasn't about to get back into that car until I prayed!

After that we backtracked and found a national forest on the side of Pike's Peak to camp. Everywhere we camped in Colorado there was always the danger of running into a bear. We were cautious and went over the bear precautions with the kids. But at this campsite, the danger was a little higher as they had two bear sightings just days before. And then there were the mountain lions. But we were reassured that the mountain lions would rather eat deer and elk than people. (Oh yeah, that made me feel better.) To make up for the scare, the hiking was the best of any of the other campsites.

I left Rob with five kids and the two bears while I went off to the conference with two of the older girls. We got to stay a night with my friend Kim on the plains. It was nice to be someplace with a shower after two weeks of primitive camping, but even nicer to be able to visit with a dear friend. The girls and I also got to spend a night at the Radisson Hotel, which was truly a treat.

The conference was amazing. They don't get a huge turnout, yet the organizers put on a conference that is just as good as any of the larger conferences. It's a two-day conference with loads of speakers and workshops. They also have a fancy sit-down dinner on Friday night, which was especially lovely. The girls loved all of the great door prizes and won a beautiful piece of stained glass.

About half way home to Michigan, Rob commented that he missed the mountains already. I think he enjoyed the trip more than anyone.

3 comments:

Cay in La. said...

Glad you're safely back, Maureen. That little "mishap" would have beent he end of my mountain driving, that's for sure. LOL

Can't wait to see the pictures. :)

Maureen said...

Welcome back, Maureen.

I've done the Estes Park & Pike's Peak vacation a couple times. I remember once we flew out there and rented a Lincoln or Grand Marquis because we needed the larger size car. On those mountain roads, I was wishing we had the skinny economy size instead of the wide-body car! As the passenger, I kept scooting over to the center of the car because I had the sensation of falling off the edge of the road at every turn. Don't they believe in guard rails in Colorado??? Glad you're back safely. Your perspective and contributions in the blogosphere were missed.

Mary M. said...

Maureen,
Loved reading your Colorado report - I'm so glad it was a great vacation for your family. We do love it here and think it is truly beautiful.

Funny I just drove over Independence Pass last weekend. It doesn't phase me at all so I enjoy the reminder of how it is viewed by those not used to Rocky Mountain driving.

We appreciate the conference comments. Thanks again for coming - you helped make it a great conference.