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101 in 1001
American Road Trip, 1998


Dancing Brave
Fugging It Up
Kitty Sandwich
Mister Zero
Sideways Rain


My crew
Our host

1998-07-30 - 23:04:47


American Road Trip: Denver

WEDNESDAY, JULY 29, IDAHO SPRINGS � Colorado amazes me. Around each turn, over each hill and down each mountain, I�m awed or impressed or stunned. Heading into Golden, I - 70 is five miles downhill � signs tell truckers to stay in low gear throughout: After a mile, the road levels � even rises again � but a large yellow sign warns: TRUCKERS DON�T BE FOOLED. 4 MORE MILES OF STEEP GRADES AND SHARP CURVES. Then: TRUCKERS YOU ARE NOT DOWN YET. ANOTHER 1 � MILES. Finally: TRUCKERS ONLY 1 MORE MILE TO GO. STAY IN LOW GEAR. I, meanwhile, coasted most of the way conserving the brakes and easing on the gas.

Coming down the dirt road from the cabin to the highway, a rust-golden dog trotted out to the car on one rather flat, �densely� populated stretch of the road and ran alongside for half to 3/4 of a mile. Ears flapping, he kept perfect pace with my driver�s door the whole way, tongue hanging out to one side. Only during the last several yards did he emit any kind of bark � an exhausted, pleading kind of yelp, but I had to disappoint him and keep going. At times I was a little afraid he was getting too close; I didn�t want to hit him.

Golden is a neat town tucked in the mountains � as most Colorado towns (west of Denver) seem to be. It�s main street � Washington � still maintains that Old West feeling with restaurants and storefronts running the length. The Coors Brewery takes up a large part of the eastern (northeast) part of town, one block off Washington. The parking, tour, and beer sampling was all free, and the tour began with a short drive through town. It�s the brewery�s 125th year ... Golden lost out to Denver by one vote to become Colorado�s capital .. miners would stock up there before heading into the mountains (hence the name) � It has as much history (American) as any town out here could really have. The tour was fun and informative � with my interest in beer as opposed to what it was four years ago. Coors is a good company � very conscious of the environment, they make their own cans, bottles, do all their own shipping, etc. After the tour I walked into town for lunch.

Next it was up Lookout Mountain to see Buffalo Bill Cody�s grave. He and his wife lie there on a little hill at the top of the mountain. with the growth of trees and a few radio towers there now, they no longer have the view of the valley they used to. But the mountain does provide a spectacular view of everything. To the west, the Rockies climb higher to meet the clouds. To the east, the mountain falls off quickly. Golden lies in the foreground with the town and brewery nestled beneath a mesa. Further out, Denver rises out of the plateau. It barely looks like the city itself sits a mile above sea level. Beyond is more open flatland. Somewhere beyond the city it falls off again to the Kansas plains. After taking my pictures, I wound my way down the mountain and returned to the cabin.

Towering green peaks,
Mountaintops covered by clouds �
The Earth meets the sky.

THURSDAY, JULY 30, DENVER � Bright sun pouring through the skylight woke me at 8 a.m. today � and I did not hesitate to begin the day. Cheerios and Steinbeck while the cat pleaded to go out. I ignored her and took a shower.

I took one more walk around the cabin to take some pictures, then drove off to see about the drive up to Mt. Evans and the highest road in America. When I got to the paved highway, the clouds covered much of the view. I parked the car, took a picture, saw a family in an SUV roar by, and went myself.

As I hoped, the road carried me up through the clouds, to the beautiful Arapaho National Forest. 10,000 feet up sits Echo Lake, the last stop before taking Rt. 5 to the Mt. Evans summit � 4,000 ft. higher. I paid the $6 and took the road the remaining 14 miles. It was a winding road that often sat precariously on the edge of the mountain. Picturesque Summit Lake sits maybe 9 or 10 miles up, then there�s nothing until the top. But up there � Wow. No car in America was higher than those at the top of Mt. Evans. The air was a crisp 40 degrees and thin. And this is just short of half Mt. Everest�s height. A few bikers � cyclists � were attempting the grueling (suicidal? I wondered) trek to the top, and I saw one jogger heading down. I doubt he ran up too. At the top, mountain goats mingle with the tourists who walk around talking about the cold, thin air and the animals. A building � or its remains � sits up there, too, opened in 1929 � or 40 � and, at the time, the highest building in the world � I think. Some explosion has left only the stone walls. There�s an observatory at the top too.

Mt. Evans � the roof of America � at least for the cars. 14,130 ft. above sea level � the road is the highest in America. Right now, I sit in the Volvo as one of the highest cars in the country � along with a dozen or so here. Above some clouds, still below a few and right in the middle of others, I can look out over America from one of the highest peaks in Colorado. The air is cold � 40 degrees it said at the entrance station, 14 miles down the road � and mountain goats roam with the people who talk about the thin air two miles above the sea. Denver lies a long 9,000 ft. down, to the east, and all of America behind it. I may never be this high again � I see stars and can feel the lightheadedness creeping in. It�s truly a natural high.

Above the clouds here
America opens out
Nothing but downhill.

The drive down was a test of my driving skills. The whole way was through the clouds, which represented the beginning, the edge of the front that came through Denver in the afternoon. I made my way down to the lake by following the edge of the pavement � often not able to see 30 feet ahead. I paused at the lake to regroup, then finished up, watching the yellow lines on the road. A solid line meant curves or hills or some obstruction in the (now inconsequential) line-of-sight. A broken line meant the road was probably pretty straight. Good thing, too � it was so cloudy at this point, I couldn�t see the next yellow dash until I was passing the one before it. It cleaned up a hit just before reaching the gates and Echo Lake. Then I had it for maybe half of the way back to Rt. 151 on the way down to Rt. 70.

I drove into Denver with hopes of touring the Molly Brown house. But it was sold out for today. I�ve since read that visits have increased 60% since Titanic was released in December. I did see the video and check out the gift shop in the carriage house in back. Then I found Cornelia�s plant, got the tour, came to her house, called Greg, Suzanne and Michelle, and heard back from Suzanne. As I go to bed tonight, I don�t know where I�m sleeping tomorrow � or even for sure where I�m going. This is fun.

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