We pulled into the driveway of our gem of a rental home at approximately 12:25a.m., 21 1/2 hours after we left our own driveway. We stumbled into the house, quickly located our beds and hit the sack with visions of a sound sleep and a leisurely breakfast complete with steaming cups of coffee dancing in our heads.
We had officially made it through the first leg of our trip. And, if judging by the events of the first 24 hours, it was going to be one heck of an experience.
Considering the first leg of our trip warranted three individual posts, it stands to reason that I feel compelled to quickly assure you that the second leg of our trip was virtually painless. We were safely ensconced in Utah, nestled within these extremely picturesque canyon walls, staying in a beautiful rental home, where the kids were enjoying the neighborhood pool and I was enjoying the frizz-free aspect of the dry Utah air and the slumber-supporting aspect of the prescription drug Xanax. Life was good.
We also played “crazy tourists” and drove through Arches National Park, an amazing sight to be seen. Truly.
We lazed about in Utah for two fun-filled days and then hit the road, taking a very scenic Highway 128 which travels alongside the Colorado River. Which meant “picture opportunity.” Which meant Jer risked life and liberty to hang his head out the window, camera perched at precarious angles while I sat beside, wishing my Xanax hadn’t been packed away in my overnight bag.
After I realized that I would live through the experience, I began to enjoy the beauty around me. There is some serious nature out there folks. Just when you think you’ve seen something amazing, the next corner brings you pure majesty. And I’m not really a “scenic tour” kind of gal. I’m more of a “take me to the next air-conditioned building” kind of gal and even I was able to appreciate the splendor of this particular countryside.
Our next stop on the trip was Silverthorne, Colorado, a gorgeous mountain town perched at 8700 feet elevation and a virtual hot-bed of outdoor activities. Okay. Again. Not so much of an “outdoor activities” kind of gal and I recently discovered I really value oxygen-enriched air. Silverthorne is lacking in that department a bit and being the little researcher I am I learned that it’s not uncommon for people to suffer “altitude sickness” at such high elevations. So, of course, I was fully expecting to get out of the car, take one highly unsatisfying huge gulp of thin air and pass out on the spot. In all actuality, the whole scenario was pretty underwhelming. My breathing was fine, I stayed upright and all was well, although I did notice some extra ‘huffing and puffing’ climbing up hills and stairs and in light of all my time spent lately practicing my mad water aerobics skills, I didn’t appreciate the feeling.
We spent a very entertaining afternoon in Silverthorne and after eating a satisfying meal of burritos, rice and the like supplied by some very hospitable friends of ours, we got back into our cars and headed back down the mountain toward Denver.
Ah, if only it had been that simple. You see, in order to get to Denver we were required to complete a very unnatural task. A task with potentially hazardous results. A task which gives the “middle-finger” to safety and sanity. A task I had been dreading since the inception of this road trip.
A task which would require us to drive through this: One freaking long tunnel through the bottom of a freaking huge mountain.
Have I mentioned that I HATE tunnels? If you need a reminder of things that make my skin crawl, go here…although somehow tunnels never made it on the list. My best guess is that tunnels are so terrifying I managed to block it out from my memory. I also hate water dams, oil derricks and windmills. Weird. I know.
Upon my first glimpse of this monstrosity in the mountain I said, “Uh, Jer. There is no freaking way in hell that I am going through that tunnel.”
Jer responded, “Actually, you are. Because we are about to get to the mouth of it.”
“See? The freaking thing has a mouth…that’s not natural. It’s not natural to blow up holes in huge mountains and then drive through them. For a mile-and-a-half. At 11,000 feet elevation. We’re asking for it,” I warned.
“Asking for what?”
“Asking for that mountain to come crashing down on top of us.”
“Mindy, do you know how long that tunnel has been there?”
“No, and I really don’t see how that’s relevant.”
“It is relevant because it’s been there since the late seventies and hasn’t crashed in yet. We should be fine.”
And with that little bit of reassurance we drove into the Eisenhower tunnel, where I came very close to a nervous breakdown.
And then we were out. Alive. Not a crushed body part in sight. Lungs still in tact.
We pulled into Firestone, Colorado (just outside of Denver) at around 10 o’clock that night after a full day of successful travel.
Leg two of this Colorado Road Trip was complete.