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!


8 thoughts on “Road Trip Extraordinaire

  1. I can’t imagine driving that far, but I can imagine you asking (over & over) to make a small diversion! Glad you got there in the end though you do both look a little chilled!

  2. What a fun story! Wow, that whole road trip in three weeks – that’s a lot of travel. Last year we drove from Texas to the Canadian Rockies and then back down to Glacier National Park where we crossed over the Rockies. The temperature going in to the park was 80 degrees, but when we got out at the top to have our photo taken, it was 30 degrees!

  3. That really WAS a road trip…glad you eventually got to Pike’s Peak…when we were in Colorado in 2008, our hotel looked on to the Peak…we weren’t there long enough to go up it!
    Alison xx

  4. Love the photo! So glad you finally made it there! Thanks for sharing your story. We are off to the States next year to celebrate our silver wedding anniversary and doing a road trip over a fortnight, nowhere near as long as yours, but still pretty long, from San Fransisco to Las Vegas to Los Angeles, via the Grand Canyon – really looking forward to it 🙂

    • Becky,

      I was reading/commenting on your honeymoon part 2 post when your comment on my story came in. I envy you and your husband your anniversary trip, especially the San Francisco part, since I’ve ever been there long enough to do much sightseeing. I do hope you have a wonderful time.


  5. Wow! That was some road trip. I love how you were able to look back and laugh at that little disagreement and you have the photo to prove it! What a great story about the ups and downs of married life over the years.

    Thanks Wanda

  6. Glad you finally made it to Pike’s Peak!

    That last comment made me laugh – I can hear Wookie asking that sort of a question. Your 7000 mile road trip must have turned out so many stories, we did 2000 in three weeks in 2007 which was hard enough!

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