Monday, August 4, 2014

Getting' High

On Day 3, The Tour Bus stopped hauling ass in a relatively straight line.  It was time to get vertical.

So fun driving a little manual sports car on mountain roads that have all the as-the-crown-flies directness of a luge track.

Yesterday (Saturday) before the sun went down we did some classic scenic drives around Boulder.  Up Flagstaff, with stops at the Amphitheater and mailboxes, to Walker Ranch, and back.

Today we watched the sun rise on the Flatirons from the lawn of Chataqua, and then from NCAR up on Table Mesa.

Flatirons from Chataqua Lawn (on Baseline Rd)

Flatirons from NCAR parking lot on Table Mesa Rd

Coffee and up to Magnolia Rd off of Boulder Canyon Rd.  It rises severely for several miles, hitting grades of 14%, and then flattens out at ~8,500 ft and turns to dirt, covering another 12-15 miles.  The Tour Bus wanted to go, but dear little Tour Bus, it's just not safe for you out there.

Up to Nederland, and then north on the Peak to Peak to Estes Park and the east entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park.  There are no pictures I could show you that would adequately portray the sheer scale of "overwhelming."  Everything is "right there," but actually massive and a million miles away.

South to Granby, then east to Kremmling, and then south to Silverthorne and I-70.  West on the speedway that is I-70 through Vail, and off at Minturn to reach the infamous Leadville.

The next segment - Leadville to Twin Lakes to Aspen "the back way" - is highly recommended.  It pretty much contains every type of terrain and eco-system available in Colorado, all on a narrower-than-regulation two-lane road stocked with RVs and Porsches.  It is summer in Aspen, after all.  The covered plane-garages at the Aspen airport are full to overflowing with G6s.

Aspen down to Carbondale and then south to Hotchkiss, a 76 mile stretch mostly without people or cell-phone service.

Hotchkiss to Sapinero would probably be nick-named the Devil's Backbone by the local kids, if anyone lived out there.  It's 52 miles of tracing a river-cut valley like an X-acto knife and wondering if anyone has ever stepped foot on most of the landscape you can see in the distance across the valley.

Sadly, Sapinero to Gunnsion was dark because despite starting at sunrise, we had been driving for 14 hours and 15 minutes and around here right now sunset comes 14 hours after sunrise.

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