October 21, 2004
Photoblogging my drive to Durango, CO.
I've been meaning to write about my crazy drive to Durango for a few days now but couldn't find the USB cable for my camera and felt that my story would work a lot better with pictures.
Mapquest said the drive was going to take about 7 hours, but everyone kept telling me I'd make it there in 6. Yeah. Freaking. Right. I was going to leave at 1 or so, but got delayed and ended up leaving Colorado Springs at 4. I had not eaten anything all day and decided to drive until it got dark and I'd have to stop anyway. Such a bad idea.
The road was gorgeous and empty. I was taking pictures while I drove and occasionally would pull over to the side of the road to get some shots.
I was daydreaming about stealing Jessica from her duties to Bush in Iowa and having her come out to Colorado instead and do this drive back with me. Alas, it was not to be. The girl is going to The Hawkeye State. Now, I'm trying to get the Ace himself to come out here. He keeps saying 'no' but I just don't think he means it.
I was about to fall down from hunger by the time I finally stopped for dinner. I didn't want to go to a chain restaurant like Subway or McDonald's even though it would've been quicker. This place looked cool:
The hostess went to seat me, then paused and said 'um....there's some hunters in the front room, but they should be entertaining at least.' She sat me down and not three seconds went by and the hunters invited me to join them. They were great, all Republicans except one. When they found out what I do, they paid for my dinner. They rocked.
When I told them where I was headed, they said I still had about 130 miles to go and I could expect to be driving for another 3 hours. I did the math, I had been going about 75 the whole way, no way would it take me 3 hours. And it didn't. It took me 4.
The last part of my trip was through the most mountainous, dark, curvy, snowy, foggy road ever. The hunters had told me to watch out for game. The signs told me to watch out for falling rock. I was doing about 30 miles the whole way and my heart would start to thump when I went over that. This sign is not an exaggeration:
Posted by Karol at October 21, 2004 04:36 PM
It was a great experience, doing this scary drive alone, but in the same way that the blackout of two summers ago was an experience: I don't necessarily want to repeat it. Durango has been interesting. I'll have a post with some pics up some time soon.
the pictures showed up really dark -- the last one is black. repost it, maybe?
otherwise, this was great. what a beautiful place.
Really? Looks fine on my computer.
7 hours driving and you did not leave the state. And Colorado is not that big when it comes to western states.
Most people do not realize how huge and unpopulated America is until they drive in the West. It also shows why America is different than Europe and why we will never think alike.
Please do the return journey in daylight, and post the pictures. I suspect you were climbing to the headwaters of the Rio Grande, and dropping down the San Juan, then to the Rio de las Animas Perdidas en Purgatorio. That country - down in the San Juan Mountains - begs to be seen now, when the aspen have just denuded but the narrowleaf cottonwoods are still golden.
Can you e-mail me a larger copy of the first photo? It's absolutely gorgeous and I'd love to set it as my background.
This brought great memories. Our family made that drive many times and Earl's quite right, you need to do the return journey in daylight. Gorgeous country and wonderful people.
Welcome to the best place in the world, Colorado. Durango is one of the best towns in the state. It looks like you wentHwy 160 through Wolf Creek pass, prettist pass in all of CO.
Enjoy, and see not all of us hunters are knuckle dragging bums.
Yep, Dave, I was on 160 nearly the whole way.
That tears it, I need to take a vacation in Colorado.
Shawn, you don't have to vote for Bush to work for Bush. :-)
Thanks. I hae driven the same roads many times to trout fish in Pagosa SPrings area and Chromo. Loved your memories.
I went to college in Durango and stayed on for a couple of years. Lived in Dgo, Dolores, and Cortez. It is God's country. And the hunters are right, you need to watch out for game. I was driving from Pagosa to Durango one night on hwy 160 doing about 50 mph, and as I came around a corner a huge elk was standing smack in the middle of the road. I slammed on my brakes and my pickup slid sideways. I have no idea how I missed the elk.
As much as I like Wolf Creek, I have to disagree with you, Dave S. I think Lizard Head/Dallas Divide is the most beautiful, or maybe Rabbit Ears, or may Red Mountain . . . . oh heck, I can't make up my mind. They're all spectacular.
Can't wait to hear about your adventures in Durango with the Durangotans.
No, I prefer to work for money. ;)
But seriously, I've got a wedding coming up in about a week (not mine).
I will have a photoblog post about Durango up tomorrow.
That first photo looks like a U.S. 66 moment.
Hard to say that Wolf Creek is the most beautiful pass in the state - there are so many. I avoid that pass in the summer as there are too many RVs on it.
Not sure the best route from C. Spgs. From Denver, shortest is probably 285 down until you turn right to Wolf Creek. But I think more scenic is cutting west from Poncha Springs through Gunnison, and then down through Silverton. Also can get there I-70 to Glenwood, then through Carbondale, Peonia, etc. Also have done I-70 to Grand Junction, then down through Montrose to Silverton, etc. - but more often I am going through Cortez, so turn right to go by Telluride. All beautiful trips. The Carbondale/Peonia segment is really nice a couple of weeks earlier in Aspen season.
By the way, be careful of speed in Chaffee county. I got pulled over a couple of years ago there, and the cop indicated that they had not raised all the speed limits there when the 55 national limit was eliminated - for raising revenues. So, you have fairly straight stretches right around Poncha Springs that should be 65, but are still 55.
I also agree that driving this during the day is best. Been driving Colo. mountain roads for 38 years now, and still don't like driving mountain passes (except for Loveland Pass) at night. Things can get fairly dark in those valleys.
I am prejudiced. How many other places can you drive eight hours (from Denver to Durango) and have a number of different routes all guaranteeing beautiful scenery all the way? I typically start in Dillon (an hour west of Denver on I-70), and go down through Leadville, picking up the Collegiate Range. Then the Sangre de Cristos in the San Louis valley, and finally the San Juans by Durango.
Colorado is a wonderful state. My mother owns property in the Wet Mountain Valley (Custer County) and the view from the patio out across the valley is breath taking! And I got pictures of the Sangre de Cristos turning pink in the rising sun then I was out in May.
Of course there ain't enought water and land is expensive! So don't even think about coming down there. :::wicked grin:::
What's the Four Corners area like? I want to get over there one day and stand in 4 states at once.
Beautiful drives in Colorado? How much time do you have? My new favorite is from Cimarron south through the Cimarron ranch up to Owl Creek pass, then west down to Ridgeway. The views on each approach to the pass are full of aspen. The pass is below treeline, so not spectacular itself. Stop in Ridgeway at the True Grit cafe for carryout, and eat at the Mt. Sneffels viewpoint west of town. The eastbound approach to Steamboat Springs is another favorite. Then, for a nice warm fuzzy feeling, try the northbound US285 out of Poncha Springs just after it crests and springs the Upper Arkansas valley on you, or the view south down the Colorado river valley from the US34 switchbacks west of Milner pass.
I'm here through the election and then will be heading back towards Denver to catch my flight home. Any and all suggestion welcome.
And, if anyone in or near Durango wants to volunteer for Bush, drop me an email.
Reminds me of when, for obscure reasons about 15 years ago, I once made the roundtrip by car from San Francisco to Denver a dozen times over two years, each time driving straight through, about 19-23 hours, depending on how much snow was at altitude.
Route 80 to Fallon, then U.S. 50 across seven mountain ranges to I-15, then I-70 through Glenwood Canyon (the highway still under construction at that date) and on to Denver.
Often I drove more than 100 miles without seeing a single sign (other than the road) that this planet is inhabited by intelligent life. I recall one stretch where at certain times of night it was 300 miles between gas stations, which called for economical driving.
Once I was caught in a snowstorm in a pass, which had whited out the entire desert floor and road (no plows on 50), and was blowing a kaleidoscope of white out of a pitch black sky. I couldn't tell if I was driving right, left, up or down. It was like being inside a snowglobe.
Other times I recall coming over the top of a pass into the dawning sun, the whole desert floor lit up gold and red in front of me, fantastic rocks, startled hares sitting up watching, the occasional raptor out carelessly gliding, watching for breakfast. Like God had only finished creating it 15 minutes earlier.
Great photos and tale! I drove from Fairbanks, Alaska, to Cincinnati last December, taking a side divresion to Moab for a week of hiking. Leaving Moab, we stopped by Mesa Verde, overnighted in Durango, and then drove east towards Great Sand Dune Park. Gorgeous country for sure. My friend and I hiked up to the falls near Sand Dune on Christmas day...
Sweet! At least you've gotten a nice start to your stint in Durango - I hope you enjoy the rest of it as much! Well, except for those last few miles...
Can't wait to see you in Denver! Congrats on the Instalanche, too!
The Owl Creek Pass drive is great. Did you know that's where scenes from True Grit were filmed.
On my road trips I've had nothing but good experiences talking to strangers of all poltical stripes. All across this country (and, for that matter, overseas) people like a good, honest debate.
Ha, yeah right. Maybe if you're a leftist, less so when you're on the right.
I am full of jealousy - I am a NM native transplanted temporarily to NJ for school. Wolf Creek pass is my 'stomping' or rather 'snowboarding' ground. Such a gorgeous place, and the ultimate spot for powder hounds. My favorite part of the drive from Burque to WC is passing the ice waterfall (during winter) right before you start heading up into the pass. I miss the West - people are so much more reasonable, and have the libertarian individualistic streak that is missing from these parts.
maaaan!! i so wish i was there with you. it looks so beautiful and peaceful (except for the falling rocks i suppose).
i'm thinking of you over here.
Karol - Reading these posts I couldn't help but remember that Neal Cassady was born and raised in Denver. Cassady is Jack Kerouac's sidekick in "On the Road" and was a big pal of the Greatful Dead. You have had quite a summer in politics across the U.S. - is there a book in the future?
Karol - I actually was referring to when I was the only liberal in the room. I had the coolest conversation on the ferry in Hong Kong with an Alarming-News-level conservative (with the added bonus of bible-belt conservatism) from Pennsylvania.
I met some pretty conservative Germans, too. (That, actually, got a little uncomfortable. "(I don't understand why anyone would want to visit Dachau...)) IMPORTANT NOTE: this is not a conservative/Nazi analogy. That would be disgusting and horribly untrue. Just a separate, and very awkward, part of the conversation.
your experiences on 160 sound like mine on the hana highway in maui last month. "60 miles to hana? how long could it possibly take?" 4 hours later...
i lived in crested butte for two years, if you are ever there or in gunnnison try the drive thru kebbler pass, above crested butte on the way to delta or grand junction.
the aspen stand there is one of the largest organisms in the world and is stunning in the fall.
the road is closed in the winter and they run snow cats up to irwin lodge and then higher for snow cat skiing on backcountry slopes
i was caught in a snow storm at night between gunnison and crested butte, the flakes were so big that i could not see with my headlights, so i drove without them for a while, also the snow was so heavy it was making me dizzy and naseated, interesting.
That's good, Ugarte, because the Nazis were Socialist lefties who did not tolerate individualism and would certainly not be considered "conservative."
Yep, well aware, Matt. Of course they were also race/s.o. demagoguing homophobes with an aggressive military policy and ...
I'm sorry. I'm just trying to get under your skin. The Nazi policy was uniformly horrible but had weak parallels with all political viewpoints. Don't compare my political affiliates to Nazis and I won't compare yours.
And while asphnxma and Karol are talking about driving ... the road from Galway to Doolin was short as the crow flies, but an endless drive because of all the switchbacks (not to mention the pitch-blackness).
Karol, while you are in Durango, you have to take a few hours off and take the million dollar highway north. I heard it was named that because millions of dollars of silver were taken out of the mountains in the gold rush hey day. But anyway, isn't that the highway that goes by Red Mountain? Beautiful. I was oooing and ahhhing the whole way. And if you haven't been to Mesa Verde ... !
Hello folks. I stopped in from Instapundit. Those are nice photos. They bring back such great memories. I've never lived in Colorado but have visited many times, entering from every angle but North. The last trip I made we came up from New Mexico to Durango in a small RV pulling a jeep. We camped at a lake east of Durango a couple days, went North to Silverton, stayed there a couple days, went North to Montrose and then around to Gunnison, North to Spring Creek for a few days, and then back south on the other side of the divide.
I strongly recommend Silverton if you like four wheeling. They rent jeeps there. It's spectacular and there more miles than you would ever have time to get to. We ended up going north of Silverton on 110 in the Jeep. We found a 4wheel road that took us to the divide. So we ended up sitting there in between two 6 foot snow drift looking at the head waters of the Rio Grande.
Silverton is my choice spot...