Sunday, June 7, 2009

Colorado and the Rockies

Friday was our longest day of driving. We left Moab, Utah, bound for Dodge City, Kansas. This required that we cross the entire breadth of Colorado in one day, a total drive of twelve hours, road time. Because we had not actually finished our viewing at Arches, we headed for the park on our way out. As a result, we started the day’s official journey at 9:00 a.m. mountain time1.

This particular segment of our itinerary was carefully planned the night before. Kristi proposed we drive in three-hour shifts, with three 20-minute breaks. Andy was very compliant with the plan. The dogs, with the aid of benadryl and xanax, were tolerably compliant. Through bending the speed limit, we actually made up enough time to absorb our rest stops. We all peed on schedule. We ate in the car. We finally rolled into Dodge at 10:00 p.m. central time.

Passing through the Rockies was an incredible experience. The altitude challenged our driving skills and illuminated the limitations of Andy’s little Pontiac Vibe, notwithstanding the 100-octane gas. Our ears popped continuously. It was amazing to go from the dry desert to lush forested mountains and snow capped peaks. Unlike the mountains in the east, traffic cannot always go around or over the Rockies. Sometimes, you have to go through the mountain, in tunnels. We passed through Vail and saw the ski slopes and golf courses.

The Colorado River kept reappearing along the highway, and we actually crossed it several times. It was really refreshing to see trees and water again. The next major city was Denver. We were surprised at how much the altitude had dropped by then, and by how quickly the Rocky Mountains yielded to rolling hills to prairie.

Foot note: It took us about an hour to figure what time we left Arches for our travel, because it seems each time we pass through a time zone, we set a different clock. All our clocks – car radio, GPS, Kristi’s watch, and Andy’s laptop - are on different times. After mentally walking through our morning and consulting the gas receipt, we confidently concluded we actually started out at 9:00 a.m.

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