Tuesday, September 21, 2010

hanging on by a thread

This title explains how I felt driving 20 miles up the side of a mountain and then turning around to drive back down! I have been up this road, the Trail Ridge Road, previously as a passenger. I remember having to cover my eyes on some of the turns. Not so good when I am the driver! I guess I need to explain that for me, looking down from an elevation is fear-inducing, and I know it has no rational basis but I get the feeling that I am about to fly off that cliff/chair lift/rooftop, ferris wheel to my death! I have been working on conquering this annoying situation with marginal success. I can now go up on sorta tall ladders without fear, and I can ride the gondola at Mammoth Mt. to the very tiptop and now I can drive the Trail Ridge Road! Woo-hoo!
Truly, it is a very fine road and probably pales in comparison to the Old Fall River Road, which goes to the same Alpine Visitor Center at the top of the mountain, but is a much steeper grade, gravel and one-way (uphill) only because it is too narrow for 2 lanes. It gets to the top in about 10 miles instead of 20, so that gives you an idea of the steepness factor. My parents have driven that way in the past, but also walked that route, too! I think they were young and unencumbered by children at the time!
This time they were happy to sit back and enjoy the scenery on a beautiful Saturday morning in Rocky Mt. National Park. We stopped for a couple of Vista spots. We also stopped for the policeman who told us to wait because the road was blocked by wreckers and cops trying to retrieve a truck that had gone over an edge. We couldn't see the truck, but I think it must have happened the night before because there were no ambulances in the area. But kind of an ominous way to start up the mountain! We had waited until our last day in the park to make this drive because there is construction on the road during the week resulting in long delays. On a road like this there isn't any leeway for re-routing cars so everything has to stop now and then to allow the equipment and workers to do what is needed to get the job done. Thank goodness for those people who do the work, making it possible for a fraidy cat like me to have the opportunity to see the earth from a different perspective! It is a harsh world up there, cold, windy, treeless. Funny how it can be harsh yet seem so fragile, too.
But now I am back in the comfort of my own home, far removed from mountain peaks. We had 2 long days of driving, passing from Colorado to Wyoming to Nebraska to South Dakota to Minnesota to Iowa. Whew! We figured out that I chalked up over 2000 miles in about 10 days! I am grateful for reliable transportation, I did not have to worry one iota about the mechanical side of things. Finding a good radio station, that is another matter altogether! In the end, I am super glad that I had the good fortune of taking this vacation with my wonderful parents. I am very lucky to be able to do so.
One other fun thing we did--there was a film festival in Estes Park last weekend, and Friday night we went to a showing of Earthwork. It is a true story about Stan Herd, a Kansas artist who creates art on a monumental scale, best viewed from an airplane. I have tried to find a good picture to show you, but only came up with these little ones--imagine that each picture is created as big or bigger than a field. A very interesting approach to art!
So that is all for now, folks--I will be posting soon about the projects in my life!

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