In the old Looney Toons cartoons, Bugs Bunny often jokes about “forgetting to take that left turn at Albuquerque” to explain why he may have ended up in the location he did. The Roviras weren’t driving through Albuquerque on this stretch of our road trip, and we weren’t exactly “lost,” even though it may have felt like it at the time. It seems there’s always an “off the beaten track” adventure we get ourselves into on one of our road trips, and this time I was behind the wheel. (Mr. Rovira was behind the wheel in 2011 when we last had an adventure we wouldn’t soon forget.)
Leaving Moab was uneventful. There wasn’t much to see between Moab and the Colorado-Utah state line. Once we made it into Colorado, the scenery improved dramatically. The Colorado River (they have rivers with water in them here!) paralleled the interstate for much of the journey. The rolling hills of western Colorado were a brilliant green. We stopped in Eagle, Colorado, for a gas top-off and some ice cream to stretch our legs a bit before heading through the Rockies and into Denver.
Our GPS said that it would be about two hours before we arrived in Denver. We hopped back into the car after first stopping off at the post office so Thing 2 could mail a postcard to her friend back home. We started climbing in elevation; there was still snow on the Rockies next to the interstate as we drove past, which was awesome to see considering it is JUNE. We made it to Continental Divide in the Eisenhower Tunnel, and then began to descend in elevation. That’s when all the roadwork started.
We understand that the road repair season here in Colorado probably isn’t what it is in California. They have inclement weather which prevents repairs at other parts of the year, but really? Stopping traffic every three to five miles on an interstate during the middle of the day? At least California roadwork is accomplished in the middle of the night a lot of the time. Since I was driving, I and the other drivers would have to slow down to about 40 mph and merge into either the right or the left lane. Often times, traffic slowed to a complete stop as we inched by in the open lane while the road workers re-striped the lanes on the other side or repaired the guard rails. Then we’d see signs telling us the road work has ended and “thank you for your courtesy” signaling to us that we could speed up. So we did, only to have to slow down again five miles up the road for another project. It got really frustrating. Then, at exit 234, traffic stopped completely. Just stopped. After nearly twenty minutes, we had moved not even a mile. That’s when we started looking for a way around the traffic. Our GPS system will do that for us, so we decided to try it.
It directed us to exit the freeway and head north on a road that supposedly led to other towns, such as Alice. Then, we would continue heading east before finally rejoining the I-70. At first, all was well. We headed northbound up an (albeit) empty road. Alongside were mailboxes for homes so it was definitely well-traveled, just not full of traffic. Then our GPS alerted us that we would be taking a right at the next intersection. I prepared to veer right, although we came to a stop when we realized that the road we were directed to take was a dirt road.
Having no other alternative but to go back and rejoin the (stopped) interstate, we decided to carry on. The speed limit was 20 mph on the dirt road, but we figured that was still faster than we were moving on the interstate, so it was a win.
At this point, I should stop and say Mr. Rovira started making jokes GALORE at my expense. For four years I have never let him forget the last road trip we took to Louisiana and the freaky side trip he took us on after we stopped for gas outside of Needles. I’ll post the recap I wrote of that when we get home and link it to this one. But in a nutshell, we ended up on old Route 66, which was completely deserted, at 12:30 in the morning, passing little white crosses periodically on the side of the road, going up and down mountain switchbacks at 10 mph. We also killed some hawk that had swooped down onto the highway to pick up a critter to eat, but our headlights temporarily stunned it and we hit it. Eventually we ended up back on Interstate 40, but not after experiencing some seriously Psycho moments. We laugh about it now.
So on we went. The further we went, though, the narrower and more “rustic” the road became. I had to slow down to a stop and inch over boulders sticking half up out of the ground. Mr. Rovira was afraid that if I went too quickly over the boulders it would pitch the car over and down the hillside. (Some tall pines would have probably have stopped our roll. But then, making it out of the car perched precariously in the trees and back to “civilization” to get help would have been dicey.) It was about this point that I looked up to the GPS screen and realized that we weren’t “registering” on a road anymore. The green line that were were supposed to be following was off to the left of where we actually were. What did that mean? Did I take a wrong turn? Was this road, in fact, not in use any more? We had no choice but to bump along because we couldn’t turn around. There was no room. Woe to us should another car have come along in the opposite direction. Mr. Rovira was making jokes, so we were laughing a lot in the midst of our real concern for where we were.
Finally we made it back to a more “paved” dirt road, which (interestingly) took us past some old, abandoned mining equipment and buildings and into a town named Central City. From there we traveled on the Central City Parkway and back to the I-70. We made it down the pass and into Denver, only to hit stopped traffic AGAIN. More road work. Finally, knowing that there was no possibility of getting “lost” on a deserted road like we did before, we got off the freeway and traveled to our hotel via city streets. All in all, what should have taken us two hours (from Eagle to Denver) took us four. To say we were all frustrated and “losing it” by the time we were nearly at the hotel was an understatement. Mr. T, in particular, was extremely wound up.
After a quick shower, we headed over to Uncle JM’s and out to a delicious pizza dinner. While in the restaurant, we got to watch a heavy summer downpour drench the Denver area. (Apparently, they’ve been getting thunderstorms in the evenings around 5 p.m. each night for three weeks.) We got some laundry done at Uncle JM’s and played some video games while it dried. Then it came time to go back to our hotel and go to bed. That’s a whole other post that I’ll write about next.