Road Trip Extraordinaire
This is my tale for Storytelling Sunday, Sian’s first-Sunday-of-the-month blog hop. You can see other entries here.
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In the summer of 1975, DH and I decided to take a road trip to visit family and friends. This was a high stakes endeavor for at least a couple of reasons. First, though we had been married for almost three years at that point, none of my family had met DH. Second was the scope of the trip: we planned to drive from Key West, Florida, to Great Falls, Montana, to San Diego, California, and back to Key West, a distance of more than 7,000 miles, during an all-to-brief three week period. As you can imagine, we didn’t stop for long in any one place!
Our route from Great Falls to San Diego took us through the scenic Rocky Mountains of Colorado. The day was overcast and it looked like it might rain at any moment. DH was driving, as he has for probably 99.5% of our 38+ years together, and I kept myself occupied with a combination of sightseeing, reading, and sleeping.
Spotting a sign advertising “Pikes Peak” ahead, I said: “We should stop to visit Pikes Peak! It would be fun!”
DH’s reply was short and to the point: “We don’t have time. We have ### miles to drive yet today.”
I’ll admit that I didn’t have a clue what a visit to Pike’s Peak might entail so when the next sign appeared, I said: “Look, it’s only a few miles out of our way. We should go!”
No reply that time except the sound of the car’s engine as we motored on.
I tried one more time when I saw the “last chance” sign, and this time DH’s reply was more blunt. “Don’t even think it. We can’t take the time. Besides, look at the weather. If we went, all we would see is the top of the clouds.”
We kept on driving, with very few words spoken over the next hour or so.
Fast forward to June 2006, when my extended family gathered in Denver for a family reunion. You better believe that Pike’s Peak was high on my agenda for that visit. It turned out to be worth the wait.
The 3-hour roundtrip journey, via the Manitou and Pikes Peak Cog Railway, begins at the already high (6,571 feet) depot and climbs more than 7,000 additional feet to the Peak’s summit at 14,110 feet. Along the way visitors can see remains of a settlement or two as well as wildlife such as mule deer, bighorn sheep, and marmot. Probably most startling is being above the timberline, where trees don’t grow because the ground’s permafrost prevents them from getting sufficient moisture.
It was sunny and warm at the railway depot, but the summit was a whole different story. It was cold and windy with dark, threatening clouds and, if you look closely at our picture above, you will even see snow in the air! The air temperature at Pikes Peak is nearly 30 degrees (F.) less than at the depot. Adding in a mountainous wind chill makes it that much colder. We were reasonably well prepared (long pants, jackets, etc., though I was really wishing for socks!), but we were still cold. I can only imagine how people in shorts and flip-flops felt!
As we were thawing out on our way back down the mountain, DH turned to me and said “Are you still mad at me?” referring, of course, to our long ago trip past, instead of to, Pikes Peak!