|Posted by arpithicus on June 18, 2009 at 1:53 PM|
We survived our night at the seedy 3737 hotel and learned an important lesson about choosing hotels. That lesson was chain hotels are good and no name hotels are bad. The 3737 was under renovation and we booked through Travelocity so they gave us a room that was not yet renovated and looked it. We had no screens in our windows, no air conditioning and the shower did not work correctly but like all the other experiences during this trip it was all part of the adventure.
Our destination for today was Pike’s Peak in Colorado Springs, Colorado, a 19 mile stretch of dirt and paved roadway that climbs up a mountain to an altitude of 14,110 feet. This mountain road curved, swerved, wrapped, and climbed around and around this humongous mountain for all 19 miles of roadway. The objective was to reach the top of this peak and see an unobstructed view of the Rocky Mountains and the quiet mountain towns below.
For the first 12 miles or so everything was fine, I was driving at 15 to 25 miles per hour gasping at the scenery as I steered faith to the highest point all of us have ever been without being in a plane of some sort. To put it in perspective when we jumped out of a plane last year for Kat’s Birthday we jumped out at 10,000 feet and a plane’s average cruising altitude is 37,000 feet. At about the 13th mile the road became a little more rocky and steep, while it narrowed as well. The nice pavement and guardrails suddenly were nothing but a memory and the only thing stopping us from careening off this insane rock was Faith’s brakes and my foot. I am normally completely fine with any type of driving and heights for that matter but I suddenly felt extreme vertigo. Between the exhaustion of the trip, the lack of oxygen, and the large amount of Caffeine flowing through my veins, I began to get very nervous about driving on this precarious roadway.
If it was not for my competitive nature I would have pulled over at about mile 16 when I saw where I was going to have to navigate hair pin turns through construction with about 3 feet of dirt between Faith and 12,000 feet of free fall. We kept climbing until finally we reached the peak. The altitude did not agree with Kat or I at all but the views were so amazing that we pressed on. We took a few pictures that in no way, shape, or form could capture the endless beauty of the unhindered 360 degree view of Colorado that we saw at “America’s Mountain.” One of the highlights of the peak was being able to have a snow ball fight in the middle of June. The entire peak was full of great packing snow, the kind you wished for when you were a kid so you could build a snowman or a fort. Sure there is snow in Jersey, but not in June. I guess that is what happens though when it is 38 degrees in June. Meanwhile, back on earth it was a stifling 80 degrees.
After we hit the gift shop I relinquished the keys to Benni so he could navigate the path on the way down. He did brilliantly and coasted with no problems to the half way point of the mountain. They have a small booth at this point in which they force you to stop at for a mandatory break temperature check. The lady in the booth pointed her thermometer at his breaks and told us that our breaks were at 81 degrees, the sign read the break temperature should not reach over 300 degrees, and the nice lady complemented Benni on his excellent mountain driving. We headed the only way there was to go from there and that was straight back down the mountain another 9 miles of dangerous road and made it out alive.
Pike’s Peak was another religious experience on this trip. It seems that every day on this trip I am reminded of how beautiful nature can be. It seemed like we were on the top of the world. I can only imagine how amazing that feeling was back in the 1800’s when Lt. Pike first ascended to this peak and looked across the land that his direct ascendants would soon conquer and expand.
After leaving Pike’s Peak we only had two destinations in mind. The hotel which was about 7 hours of driving away in a small town named Green River, Utah and of course TACO BELL. For those of you that don’t know Kat and I have a tradition, every Tuesday we have Taco Bell, it is called Taco Bell Tuesday. Well we have been having our Taco’s every Tuesday for close to four years and we were not going to let a few thousand miles ruin this tradition. Benni had spotted a Taco Bell somewhat up the highway from Pike’s and Benni drove Faith directly to the parking lot. We enjoyed our Taco Bell in Colorado and kept our ritual alive while filling-up Faith and our bellies in one fell swoop.
With a stomach full of Taco’s we all jumped back into the ride and headed West yet again towards Green River, Utah, which happens to be the home of one of the World’s largest watermelon statues. I drove for the first 3 hours and once again I handed the keys over to Benni for the rest of the evening drive. As we drove through Colorado we cut right through the Rocky Mountains. And when I say we cut through them I mean it, we drove up, over, next to and even through them at times via tunnels to make our way to Utah. Interstate 70 showed us why the State of Colorado is nicknamed the Colorful state of Colorado.
Although the last few days seemed kind of boring to all of you reading this, I ensure you that I will never forget the fantastic sights I have seen while traveling through the forgotten states of the United States. Furthermore, even though we were driving through nothingness all day and night we were quite good at finding the weird roadside attraction or wonderful photo-op while hurling down the interstate at 80 MPH.
Next stop VEGAS, and technically according to the slogan I am not supposed to blog about what happens there but to hell with rules and regulations. So, tune in tomorrow for a special unauthorized blog about what happened in Vegas.