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Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Posted a mite after the event.


Getting over my fear of NO guardrails and high dropoffs. Had to because once you start driving up over those mountains unless you ask ahead of time, you will likely be faced with them!
Last week, driving from Ouray [pronounced U-RAY], which is a beautiful town nestled by surrounding mountains except for one opening in them to the north. The exit to Durango to the south, is steep and treacherous. We climbed at least 1000 - 2000 feet before losing site of the town. Town is already over 8000 feet from sea level.
Then after the initial hairpin turns with guardrails we got to the road cut out of rock where only about 2 feet from pavement was dropoff hundreds if not 1000's of feet down!
I did a LOT of praying! Also letting people pass when I could and driving 15 - 25 mph which is the suggested speed around many turns.
Can you picture driving 15 mph? Well, often necessary. Then they have these steep descents up to 7% grade. Now I do not know how they calculate grade but I KNOW that is steep. You look down possibly a half mile to a mile and see the cars ahead of you way down there as little 'toys' and then of course, to top it off, after the grade comes the dessert, [no not desert], a HAIRPIN turn with perhaps a 1000' drop with you guessed it, NO GUARDRAILS!!. Braking all the time? Pumping brakes? Finally figured out how to use the Drive + and - after talking to another tourist who had a similar vehicle. That worked better!
But once we got through the worst ascents we were able to loosen our grip on the wheel and breathe again long enough to enjoy the snow-covered peaks of mountains from 10000 to 14000 plus feet. Also beautiful mountain lakes in colorful meadows surrounded by evergreens on the slopes.
Sorry can't send you photos yet because the geek that I am, brought the WRONG adapter for my notebook!! So it has been carrried around useless. However my 4gb memory card said I still had over 700 photos I could take before switching to the smaller ones. So I guess it's okay.
So overcoming the rest of my height phobia I guess was part of the God plan for me. I still cannot relax at those steep, unprotected ascents and descents but once you have done it 3 times in one day, it becomes just a bit easier.
Colorado has to be the most beautiful state. Even tho temperatures often are in the 80's, it is I guess much drier and feels comfortable to me and bearable for Ellen. Also we think they made a mistake in calling Denver the mile-high city. That is LOW compared to the rest of the state! Everywhere we stayed, except for Grand Junction, was over 6000' and more common was over 7 or 8000'. You have to learn to breathe more deeply as you feel short of breathe at those heights.
Now for last few days, [today Monday] we are in Colorado Springs area which is only about 6200 feet! Garden of the Gods rock formations are beautiful! At the approx. 10000 member New Life Church, yesterday we met a young air force academy student who will be serving his mandatory 5 years after the end of this senior year. He was alone, from North Carolina, and in our talking we discovered he always went to Panera Bread after church [ the most delicious, moderately-priced] deli-type restaurant with fantastic Pick Two menu's .... That means for $6.49, you can pick two of a cafe salad, a 1/2 sandwich, or soup. No matter what you get, it is delicious. Except for a few times I resisted the FANTASTIC bakery desserts. However resistance was futile sometimes and I just had to sample their cinammon-pecan roll or one of their fabulous cookies for dessert. Then I was good and instead got my $1.07 dessert of yogurt and berry parfait at MacDonald's after lunch or supper. All this to say that after he offered his phone number and email address, we felt okay about asking him if he would like to accompany us to Panera and we would pay for his meal.
Today staying at he absolutely gorgeous Best Western Academy motel with pool, indoor gardened courtyard and restaurant all right in the lobby with lots of lounge room to read while spouse is sleeping in... At noon we go up the road a mile or two to the US Air Force Academy to watch their parade at noon. Then later have a lot to pick from including train ride through the Royal Gorge at Can[y]on City, about 50 miles south. The gorge is about 1000' feet deep and after the 'hairy'pin turns up top, it seems a little more relaxing to travel the canyon bottom than go over the very insecure-looking bridge for $19 a pass.
See you later! Young man needs computer and you need a rest from my rambling praise of the most beautfiul state of Colarado. Home late Thursday night.

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