We bid farewell to our daughter and point the RV west. Shortly after turning onto Interstate 70, we feel the slight climb in elevation starting. No surprise since we need to go from Denver’s elevation of 5,280 feet (the mile high city) to the Eisenhower Tunnel (the summit) at 11,158 feet. We have to cross the Continental Divide somehow.
This steady climb accompanied by plenty of turns, proves to be a challenge for some vehicles. The loaded down semi-trucks, vehicles pulling trailers, and other vehicles not used to the thin air struggle to maintain any speed in excess of 30 miles per hour as they trudge up the mountains in the right hand lane. I envision a little train engine and hear a voice…..”I think I can, I think I can, I think I can……” as they struggle to cross the Rocky Mountains.
Now the Mario Andretti wanna be’s in the left hand lane are another story. They’re whizzing up the mountain in excess of 80 mph hugging the turns and enjoying the challenging drive. It’s best to get out of their way!
Al and I opt to sit in the center lane (as long as we have three lanes ) driving at a steady speed of 65 mph…..the speed limit…. I believe, through this stretch of interstate anyway. It’ll pop up to 75 mph down the road a ways. The F-250 pulls the 5th wheel over Loveland Pass without any trouble. The Eisenhower Tunnel – Loveland Pass marks the first of two mountain passes we’ll encounter today. You can click here for more information on the tunnel. At Vail Pass we’ll encounter another climb and summit.
When we exit the tunnel, we are greeted with a gorgeous view and a downhill drive. There are several ‘runaway truck ramps’ along this stretch of interstate 70. We take our time going down the mountain and stay in the right hand lane. Within about 10 to 15 minutes of exiting the tunnel and after the Dillon exit, is a scenic overlook worth a stop.
When we moved from Chicago to Las Vegas, our daughter was a mere 3 years of age. This view made an indelible impression on that little girl, to the point she would regularly say, “When I a big girl, I move to mountains”. And move she did. I don’t see that girl leaving Colorado anytime soon.
Traffic is light today and we don’t encounter any construction delays on our three hour drive to Glenwood Springs. I enjoy the drive through Glenwood Canyon. I once again marvel at the construction of this stretch of interstate 70 and savor the beauty of my surroundings. I’ve written about this stretch of road before, click here.
Once we get to Glenwood Springs, we head south on Highway 82. Al found us a private property on line to spend a couple of nights. But did he get directions? Nope, just google mapped it. So we drive around some back country roads in search of the property before finally calling the owner. Gosh, we were close….very close actually. The address was slightly off making it impossible to find on google maps. We did pretty good, considering. Yep, a few pats on the back for both of us and Al gets a special pat for being able to turn the rig around in some rather tight spots. We drove up the road a ways, then back down, then back up….you get the picture!
Once we finally find the right spot, we get settled in. We’re pretty pleased with our little “home” for the next two nights.
The next day we take the scenic drive down Highway 82 from Glenwood Springs to Aspen. It’s been twenty-five years since I last visited this area in Colorado. I wonder, will I be in awe as much as I was all those years ago?…….. Al and I were celebrating our five year wedding anniversary with a trip to Colorado. We flew from Chicago to Denver and rented a car to take in the sights of Colorado. The only other time I had seen the Rocky Mountains was on a road trip Al and I took earlier in our relationship.
Aspen is a beautiful mountain town. However, after calling Colorado “home” for the past eighteen years, I’m not wowed. I guess I’ve been fortunate to see some pretty spectacular scenery. Aspen is missing the vast, open vistas seen in other places. The traffic is congested and parking is difficult. We did enjoy the abundance of outdoor cafes and the beautiful flowers everywhere.
Twenty-five years ago, we took the gondola to the top of the mountain. As a flatlander, this was a very memorable experience. At that time in our lives, we didn’t understand Colorado weather and the regular afternoon thunderstorms that roll in. Lightening is serious business around here and once lightening is spotted, all outdoor activities come to a screeching halt. Al and I had no sooner purchased a hot dog and drink to enjoy atop of this stunning mountain, when we were asked to leave. The mountain top was shutting down due to weather. Really?
This time around, Al and I are a
little lot wiser. Al and I are on the fence about taking the gondola to the top, but with storm clouds in the distance and a price of $28 per person, we decide to take a pass. Smart move on our part as the storm starting rolling in thirty minutes later.
Although our time in this area is over, I would definitely like to return and explore the backcountry near Snowmass. I’ll be doing some research. Any recommendations on the area and the Maroon Bells is welcome. Next stop, Grand Junction.