This vacation trip has been some time in the making for me. Having had lower back surgery in 1997, this would be the first trip in a dozen years on which I would plan on driving for more than a couple of hours at a time. Lola and I had been to Colorado was in May, 2005, but we had flown in to Denver on that trip – the primary purpose being to visit my father in Idaho Springs. That trip had left little time for travel to the surrounding areas and I looked forward on this year’s trip to being able to take in more of the beautiful scenery around the state and to make it more of a photographic expedition.
I had several concerns regarding this trip: Obviously I was worried about how I would fare physically on such a trip; I was expecting to drive over two thousand miles in a week when I hadn’t yet felt comfortable enough to drive over two hours in quite a few years. Secondly, I was worried about how Lola would handle the trip, as I don’t know if she had been on such a long driving trip yet. As it was, she was just coming off a week in California visiting her sister, had then flown in to Phoenix, driven with her mom and sisters up to Sedona for a weekend, driven back to Phoenix, then flown out to Aruba the next day for a week on the beaches. She would have only a single day back in Tucson before we left for Colorado!
Day 1: I assured myself that everything would be fine and that the drive would give her a chance to relax and recover, and I looked forward to spending the next week with her on our first major road trip together. I was so excited about the trip that I was unable to sleep for more than a few hours; we were on the road by 3:45am on the morning of our departure. Surprisingly, Lola didn’t mind getting up so early – it turned out her body clock was still on Aruba time, which meant that she had, in her body’s mind, slept in!
As I always do when driving to Colorado, I planned on driving straight through to Durango on the first day. The way I figure, the less time I spend in Arizona and New Mexico, the better. We hit Winkleman at about 5:30am, just in time to get our first taste of what we were to encounter nearly every day: Road construction. The road from Winkleman to Globe was expected to be cut down to one lane from 6:00am to 6:00pm every day. Note to self: Taken the road to Superior on the way back to Tucson.
I don’t tend to take a whole lot of photos on the way through Arizona and New Mexico; how much dirt and scrub brush do I really want to remember? To be fair, the stretch from Salt River Canyon up to Show Low is beautiful, but I know what to expect once I hit Colorado, and trust me – it doesn’t compare.
For some reason, time seems to pass quickly for me when driving. We hit the outskirts of Durango just after 2:00pm. I love the stretch from the New Mexico border to Durango; you can feel almost immediately when you enter Colorado. The landscape gets progressively greener, the sky seems to deepen, and you slowly rise until you’re driving on a narrow stretch that seems to be suspended above the valley to the west. Farmland flanks the road on the right, as you periodically catch glimpses of running water in the rivers of the valley to the left. Then, suddenly, there it is: The town of Durango greets you as you begin your descent into the valley.
Durango has alway been quite the tourist town, but it’s growth has been explosive over the past dozen years since I’d been there last. The entire southern end of town was unrecognizable for me; shopping centers and apartments fill the narrow valley as you approach downtown, and the main route now skirts the western side of the old business district. Still, Durango manages to maintain its small-town feel. I must say, though, that I’m glad I wasn’t there during the years during which all the contruction was going on – it must’ve been brutal getting around for a while.
I had made arrangements to spend our first night at Logwood, a bed & breakfast about twelve miles north of town. We were greeted by Trent and Miles, our hosts of the lodge during our stay. We immediately settled in and spent the rest of the afternoon and evening simply relaxing, taking in all of the greenery and fresh air as the sound of the nearby stream sounded across the expansive lawn.
After having spent the afternoon and night there, I must highly recommend this place if you’re ever looking for a place to stay near Durango. In fact, we had left accommodations open for our return trip, but after staying at Logwood for a night, Lola and I agreed to book the same room for our stay on our way back to Tucson. For more information, visit their web page here.
Day 2: My plan for the second day was to head west and make it as far as Alamosa in order to be able to visit the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve near the end of the day. I hadn’t been to the dunes since I was a kid and remembered nothing about them, but I knew that my best chances for getting some good images of dunes would be late in the day or early in the morning. Accordingly, I made plans to find a place to stay close enough to make the trek out to the park at either time. Alamosa seemed to fit the bill, though it still turned out to be quite a drive out to the dunes. I didnt’ pay attention to how long it took to get out there from Alamosa – perhaps about a half-hour – but it seemed like it took quite a bit longer if only because there’s virtually nothing out there but a great expanse of flat land between the town and the dunes.
The dunes themselves are remarkable and seem so out of place in Colorado, nestled – in fact, almost hidden – at the base of a mountain range to the west and one to the north.
After getting to the park and seeing how many people were there and how big the dunes were, I realized that to get any real good images of the dunes would require either several hours of hiking to the top and into the main body of the dunes, or a tougher 4-wheel drive and bigger balls than I have to travel into the more remote regions of the dunes. As it was, I tried to make the best of it and decided, rather than to tackle the dunes up close, to try to get some good shots from a distance with a longer focal length. Given the circumstances and time limits, I’m pleased with what I got and decided not to make a repeat visit in the morning. Ironically, it was raining throughout southern Colorado the next day, so any plans that I might’ve had for a return to the dunes were pretty much out anyway.
Day 3: The plan was to simply make it up to Denver by about mid-day in order to take in a couple of activities before heading up to Idaho Springs in the evening. The rain was steady for most of the way, tapering off as we got to Colorado Springs by way of Walsenburg and north on I-25. If I was more comfortable about time, I would’ve stopped along the way, particularly around La Veta Pass, to take some photographs of the lush green landscape in the rain, but we had a full schedule planned for this day and I have a way of killing hours by stopping for photographs.
We hit Denver at about 10:30am, Colorado time, and the first order of business was to find a place to eat. Now, when I’m traveling I prefer to hit the kinds of places that I can’t find at home, so Steve’s Snappin’ Dogs on Colfax at Monroe, just around the corner from our first destination, seemed just the place to take the edge off some driving hunger. Nothin’ like a good old Chicago Dog to bring a person back to life. From there we headed around the corner and took in a couple of hours at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, followed by a visit to Lakeside Amusement Park – the highlight of the trip as far as Lola was concerned! After that, all that was left for the day was to head up to Idaho Springs, our base to be for the next two days.
Day 4: Father’s Day. What better way than to spend it with my precious daughter? Spending it with my own father was icing on the cake. Dad’s admittedly not an early riser, so I planned on taking Lola up Mt. Evans first thing in the morning and getting some shots up there. The great thing about Mt. Evans – or all of Colorado, for that matter- is that one never knows what the weather will be like from day to day or even hour to hour. My dad likes to say, “If you don’t like the weather here, give it an hour or so”.
The last time Lola and I were here, the road to Mt. Evans was closed just above Echo Lake. Turns out it doesn’t normally open until June as there is still quite a good chance for snow until then. As it was, this turned out to be the perfect time to head up the mountain; I couldn’t have asked for better weather. Visibility from the tree line seemed endless, and the recent rains have been good to the mountains of Colorado.
As beautiful as the weather was, as I looked up to where we were heading I was a little apprehensive. A fast-moving cloud bank was passing over the summit of Mt. Evans and I didn’t know what to expect when we actually made it up there. I didn’t mind what the weather was like, personally, but I hoped it would be nice enough for Lola to be able to take it an unobstructed view from the top.
Above the tree line, it’s amazing how thin the air is. I’d get out of the car to take some photos and be breathing hard by the time I got back into the car. Poor Lola was by this time already bundled up and having a hard time keeping warm. She kept watching the thermometer in the car and announcing with each degree as the temperature dropped. By the time we got up to Summit Lake it was in the upper 30’s.
Beyond Summit Lake the road got pretty rough and the wind was picking up quite a bit. Snow remained on parts of the road and runoff from the snow melt streamed down the low points in the road.
We reached the summit just before 9:00am. By this time the wind was blowing so hard I could barely stand up, and it was all I could do to snap off a photo – just to say that I did. The temperature from my car read 29°F. Factoring in wind chill, who knows how cold it was up there. Snow was blowing off the banks and the clouds were passing overhead at incredible speeds. The plaque in the photo below points to all of the surrounding mountain peaks, but I only know that because I’ve seen it before and refreshed my memory by looking at the detail from the comfort of my home. I wasn’t crazy enough to stand there trying to read it when I was worried enough about getting blown down the side of the mountain and having to explain to Lola’s mom how she had to get home alone. Needless to say, Lola stayed in the car.
According to the Rotary Global History Fellowship website, the plaque was placed there by the Rotarians of District 113 in 1941 in honor of the Rotary International convention that was hosted by Denver Rotary in June of that year. The actual summit, which is just above this parking area, is 14,258 ft. above sea level, according to the USGS marker embedded in the ground at the top. Think about this: That’s nearly 3 miles above sea level. Incidentally, this road is the highest paved road in North America.
Coming down from the summit, the sky began to clear up, but the wind continued to blow fiercely. In the photo below, I had wanted to get out onto the ledge (visible in the bottom left-hand corner) to capture a more sweeping view of the valley, but I didn’t think that I could safely get out there. Also, I didn’t realize it at this point, but it had been blowing so hard that snow had gotten onto my lens and several of the photos from this point on have evidence of refraction. You can see two spots in this image on the left-hand side, about halfway up the image.
Remarkably, by the time we got back down to Summit Lake at 9:30am, the clouds had cleared – one would’ve thought that it was a completely different day. I guess my dad was right. By this time there were quite a few people driving up, as well as a surprising number of bicyclists riding the narrow road up the mountain. As for us, we were ready to get down the mountain, have a nice breakfast in town, and spend the rest of the day with my father.
Day 5: Destination: Rocky Mountain National Park. This is one area in Colorado that I don’t recall ever having been to, so I spent quite a bit of time before the trip doing research online, trying to decide what locations would be the best photographic opportunities. I hoped that this outing would give me at least that one that would sum up everything that I love about Colorado – mountains, water, and expanses of green. If there was snow on the mountains, so much the better, and I knew from our previous outings that all of the elements were there; I just had to fine the perfect spot. Thanks to several posts that I found on various photography forums I was able to map out some promising candidates for places to visit, and decided to take the eastern route up to Estes Park and head towards Bear Lake with hopes of getting some good shots in while we still had some morning light.
It’s hard to plan a drive according to a map in Colorado; distances are deceptive, and one has little idea of how long a drive may take if one has never made the drive before. I decided to hold of on specific plans for the return trip until I saw how much time we had once we got up around Estes Park. If we had time, I’d head back on the western front of the park for some afternoon shots facing east.
While driving north on Route 119, then 72, I couldn’t help but marvel at all of the aspen groves and at how dense they were. The early morning light from the east was passing through the young leaves of the trees to our right and the trees just seemed to sparkle as they were brushed by the gentle breeze. Lola even commented on how beautiful they were, and at the first opportunity I stopped in order to try to capture what we were seeing.
Lola followed me into the trees, not ten feet from the side of the road, and was soon thrilled to find ladybugs in abundance everywhere. After I had taken a few shots from within the stand of trees, we ventured out into the adjacent open area and continued to look for bugs and interesting flowers. I thought a bit sadly about the other photographic opportunities that I’d be missing over the next several months: Wildflower season in another month or so, and the changing colors of fall.
About two-thirds of the way up to Estes Park from Idaho Springs, Route 72 connects with Route 7, which took us the rest of the way up. The drive went pretty quickly from here, and finally we hit the northeastern corner of Rocky Mountain Park at about 11:00am. Later than I wanted, but we’d see what we could find. First stop: Moraine Park, just outside of Estes Park. Already there were signs warning that several of the areas, including Bear Lake, were full, and that a shuttle would have to been take to these areas. Well, we’d see; I wasn’t going to admit defeat and sit in a crowded bus on the way to who knew what lay at the end of the road. In the mean time, a quick stop to take in the open spaces. Still not what I was looking for, but close.
Another quick stop to try to capture some running water – just because I’ve always wanted to. I learned that this is something that definitely has to be done at either end of the day or, even better, on a cloudy day. There’s just too much contrast at mid-day.
Sprague Lake. Now this is what I came to see. This is a remarkably beautiful area, made even more remarkable by the fact that although there were people everywhere, I never felt as though it was crowded or busy. There’s a beautiful path around the entire lake that winds in and out of the trees and people are hidden, for the most part, as were we, and only when we stopped did I notice others as they passed by on their way around the lake. I spent about a half hour at each of two places that I chose from which to photograph. Lola kept herself busy creating concoctions of what she called “yuck” – various special kinds of dead plant growth pulled from the edge of the lake and placed in palm-sized lumps on the rocks to “cook” in the sun. And shade.
I set up my tripod and decided to start at 24mm and work my way up from there. With each progression in focal length I took more shots of the same scene in anticipation of stitching them together to form high- and ultra-high-resolution images when I returned home. At the first location I worked my way up from 24mm and 35mm (single shots) up to 50mm (four shots, horzontally), 85mm (14 shots, vertically, in two rows), and finally 200mm (45 vertical shots in three rows). For those who aren’t familiar with the process, at longer (telephoto) focal lengths less of the scene is taken in due to higher magnification, so more photos have to be taken in order to capture the same scene than would have to be taken at a short (standard or wide-angle) focal length. The longer focal length picks up far greater detail in each photograph and when the shots are “stitched” together, the resulting image is far larger and more detailed than is possible to capture in a single shot with a normal camera. Ideally, all shots are taken with manual settings to prevent variations in color and exposure from shot to shot. Mirror lockup and a remote shutter release prevent any movement or vibration from blurring the individual photographs.
A look over my shoulder periodically confirmed that quite a feast was in the making. Who knows who she was talking to. Pleasantly satiated guests, I suppose.
At the second location at the far end of the lake, I took a moment to look through the images that I had taken and realized that I had somewhere along the line throttled my exposure down a couple of stops on a full set of shots and it was all I could do to keep from throwing myself in the lake along with all my gear. Okay. Suck it up and do it right from this next spot. At this end of the lake I decided to shoot exclusively at 200mm. I didn’t know at the time how long I was spending on these shots, but I knew I was running out of time as far as the lighting was concerned. At 200mm, I figured I could shoot two or three rows of 10-15 shots per row and make a couple of full passes just to be safe. I use a ballhead with markings at 2 1/2º intervals and determined that I’d have sufficient overlap of images if I rotated the camera 5º after each shot. The overlap is necessary to be able to line up the images with one another later on.
The shot below ended up being my favorite and was made up of 22 separate photos (in two rows of 11 each) stitched together to form one single image, 72″ wide by 24″ high. I managed to pull off an image from the first location made up of 46 shots in three rows, but I didn’t like the balance of the composition as much when I saw the resulting images side by side. That’s part of the fun of doing panoramas, in my opinion – you don’t know what you’re going to get until you put it all together. Kinda like a puzzle, where you know what it’s supposed to look like, but there’s no picture on the box.
The larger pano would be almost nine feet wide if printed, and something like 32,000 pixels wide! As it is, the resolution of this “smaller” image is simply incredible, as you can see from the crop below.
It was well past noon by the time we left Sprague Lake, and although I didn’t have much confidence in being able to get very good shots up at the Bear Lake area, we were so close that I still wanted to check it out, if only for future reference. Being that it was later in the day, I also figured that we’d be able to find a place to park. Indeed, though there were signs indicating that the lot was full, there were in fact quite a few parking spots available. Many people were milling around at the top of the parking area – presumably waiting to take a shuttle back – and already I thought that this place lacked the peacefulness of Sprague Lake.
There are actually several lakes accessible from here, the closest one being a mere couple of hundred feet from the parking area but well hidden by the dense pines. There was still a fair amount of snow on the ground in the shady areas, and it was naturally considerably cooler in the shade. We took the path to the right of the closest lake and went about a quarter of the way around before finding one of many little offshoot paths that lead to the water’s edge. I could see right away that I wouldn’t get the photos here that I was able to get earlier; the light was too harsh and the tree line covered most of the mountain view from this lake. Still, it was nice to just sit and relax for a while, taking in the scenery and the quiet despite all of the other people nearby.
Lola had her first experience with a leech as it clamped on to the space between two toes while she waded in the shallow water.
We headed back through Moraine Park, then northwest on Route 36 until it met up a short while later with Route 34. Just ahead, the road winds around Horseshoe Park and heads back eastward toward Estes Park. Not far past Horseshoe park, we came upon a sign and signal indicating that wildlife was nearby. Not having such warnings in Arizona, it took me a couple of seconds to register and by then we were passing a group of six to eight cars parked on the right side of the road with people standing there, all looking in the same direction. The last thing I saw as we passed was a couple of pairs of fuzzy antlers just beyond the crowd, and I quickly veered off to the side of the road and stopped the car. I pointed out what I had seen to Lola and she jumped out of the car as I scrambled to grab my camera. It turned out that I didn’t really need to hurry – the two elk (?) were in no hurry to go anywhere as they were eating away at the grass and brush there on the slope, seemingly oblivious to the fact that they were the cause of so much interest. When most of the crowd had gone, I went around and down the slope and managed to get a couple of good shots from below.
We went through Estes Park on the way back to Route 7 for the return trip to Idaho Springs. Must’ve been something going on in town that day because there were people in throngs throughout the business district. unfortunately, I took a wrong turn through town and ended up in the Dairy Queen parking lot and felt compelled to pay tribute to fate by having some ice cream. Lola seemed to understand.
By the time we got back to Idaho Springs it was late in the day, and we spent what time we had left visiting with my father before having dinner in town, packing up for the return trip home, and calling it a night. Tomorrow would be another long day of driving, as I wanted to be in Durango by the following night.
Day 6: The Return Trip to Durango. The drive from Idaho Springs to Durango was going to be a fairly long one; I estimated about 300 miles, which meant about seven to eight hours with stops for photos, meals, and exploration. My plan was to take I-70 from Idaho Springs, head up to Leadville, then down south to Poncha Springs. From there we’d head west over the pass to Gunnison and Montrose, then south again through Ouray to Durango.
Now before I get too far, for those of you who’ve never driven through the mountains of Colorado, picture this: I-70 is a winding 6-lane highway with constantly changing, often steep grades in both directions. There is not only a posted speed limit, but usually also a speed minimum. So, for instance, the posted speed limit may be 65mph while the posted minimum speed is 55. Trucks over a certain weight have another, far lower posted speed for safety reasons on the steeper grades.
What makes the drive exciting is that there are certain unspoken rules that must be followed: For instance, if you are from Colorado you are apparently taught at an early age that whatever the road conditions, terrain, weather, or speed limit, you must drive like a bat out of hell or at a minimum of 75mph at all times. Mind you, the Colorado drivers are quite skillful and rarely rude, in my experience, but imagine where else you might be in the mix.
You might be a trucker that’s simply trying to get a load from point A to point B over the mountains and get there alive while doing it so that you can get paid for said delivery. Or, like me, you may be someone who’s driven here before but has experience with the laws of traffic enforcement as well as the laws of physics and are familiar with the consequences of trying to break the laws of either and you simply want to get from point A to point B and stay alive while doing it. Finally, heaven forbid, you may be one of the unfortunate few who has never driven on these roads and simply wants to get from point A to point B but must do it in an older 4-cylinder car and you are doubtful you’ll make it, much less make it alive. Before you know it, you have the makings of a real-life arcade game.
With that in mind you can understand how – unless you have a definite plan before getting on the road – the photo opportunities may be limited, at least up to Copper Mountain, a relative small but booming ski area just past Frisco. I saw a couple of interesting places on the way, including a majestic mountain off the Bakersville exit, but by the time I saw it we were well past the exit, trying to keep up with the other traffic as it barreled down the mountain.
I was able to catch this beautiful morning shot of Dillon Reservoir at Frisco only because there was a sign well in advance of the exit announcing a scenic overlook up ahead.
We reached Copper Mountain, and although it opened as a ski resort back in the early ’70s and I’m sure I’ve been down this stretch many times in the past, I didn’t recognize the place. In fact, I was trying to figure out which way to go, confused by the fact that I thought this was a straight shot through to Leadville, and I managed to misread the exit signs and before I knew it we were heading to Vail. We ended up having to go about five miles before coming to the first exit that would allow us to turn around and, of course, when we did turn around nearly the entire way back was a construction zone.
We finally got back to Copper Mountain, jumped off on Old State Highway 91, and were back on our way. From here the road is a simple two-laner and it’s back to feeling more like a leisurely drive through the mountains. I could feel that we were getting close to home; I grew up at Climax, at the summit of Freemont Pass, where my dad worked at the High Altitude Observatory near the Climax Molybdenum Mine in the mid-’60s. On the way to Climax I wanted to check out a couple of places that I’ve photographed before. The first was Mayflower Gulch, marked by only a short dirt road off the highway. The road runs into a beautiful open area, then turns abruptly as it narrows and rises into the woods. We parked at the clearing for this shot. In July the ground is covered with wildflowers, but we were too early for them this year. Seems like you can either get snow on the mountains or flowers in the valleys, but rarely both in some of these locations.
The next photo was taken at Clinton Reservoir. It appears on every map that I’ve seen as either Clinton Creek or Clinton Gulch, but obviously there’s more to it than that. Just another one of those favorite places of mine, if only because it reminds me of where I grew up.
At the top of Freemont Pass is Climax, marked primarily by the remnants of what was once the world’s largest molybdenum mining operation on one side of the road and the immense tailings ponds – several square miles of waste material from the mine – on the other.
As I remember it – and keep in mind that we left there when I was seven years old – Climax, at the observatory installation, was a tiny community made up of a handful of buildings and a dozen or so people, all staff and support people for the observatory. My sister and I had to take the bus something like thirteen miles to the nearest school in to Leadville. I wanted to take Lola up there to see the place, even though I knew from previous trips that nothing remained of our house but broken fragments of the foundation. Unfortunately, the road to the area where we lived was gated off and we couldn’t get access to the area without hiking in and violating a few laws. A lot has changed over the years; where once there was a post office and general store is now only a rest area and monument. There the descent from the pass and the drive to Leadville begins.
It’s about a fifteen minute drive into Leadville from Climax, and it doesn’t seem to have changed after all these years. We pulled into Leadville and on impulse I turned down a random street. Suddenly, there it was – the school where I went to kindergarten over forty years ago. It was only the second time that I had been there since attending the school and I enjoyed the fact that I could share a bit of my distant past with my daughter. I parked the car behind the school and we walked out to the playground where she went through the rounds on the equipment, a few pieces of which we don’t have in Tucson, like merry-go-rounds and teeter-totters and doubles swings. Later, we went back to the school building and were even able to go into round building – which held my classroom – and take a look around. Funny how the ceilings seemed a lot lower than I remembered them.
We drove around town for just a little while, then got back on the main road that leads down to Buena Vista. On the edge of town, the old veterinary office to which we used to take our dog was still there. In contrast to Durango, this is a town which appears not to have changed at all.
From this point on, it was all about just covering some distance and making it to Durango as soon as possible. Unless we ran into some spectacular stormy weather, I couldn’t think of anything coming up between here and Ouray that was going to be particularly photo-worthy compared with what I had already shot on the trip, so I expected to be able to make good time. Everything seemed to go according to plan until we reached Monarch Pass – about a quarter of the way from Poncha Springs to Gunnison.
I had been driving pretty hard up the mountain, passing cars with every opportunity when we came to the frequent passing lanes. Just as we reached the crest of the Pass, the A/T Temp warning came on on my dashboard. A flood of thoughts began as I visualized getting stranded on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere and wondered what we would and should do if such a thing were to happen. Thinking I needed to give my transmission a moment to cool down, I pulled off onto the nearest pullout and shut down the car, explaining to Lola why we were stopped and I suggested we take the time to make something to eat. After we had eaten, I started the car back up and the warning light was off but it came on again after just a couple of minutes. Rather than stopping again, I dropped it into neutral and we coasted down the mountain nearly the entire way to Sargents – barely more than a spot on the map at the base of the mountain – without having to put it into drive. There, I stopped and checked the fluid levels and everything seemed to be fine; nothing seemed to be burning. We passed a few minutes checking out the general store before starting the car back up and when I did, the warning indicator was off. I breathed a sigh of relief and we continued on our way, my eyes frequently shifting from the road to the dashboard and back again.
I began to relax a bit as we reached Gunnison without incident. In town I saw a nice play area off the main road and decided to stop let Lola play for a while; it would give her a chance to get some exercise and it would be an opportunity to let the car cool further. A slow moving storm heading in from the south promised rain soon.
The drive from Gunnison to Montrose – a good portion of which runs alongside the enormous Blue Mesa Reservoir – was uneventful in comparison to the previous stretch. The storm continued to threaten from the south but although we had some periods of light rain it never quite seemed to come to full strength where we were. We passed through Montrose and continued on to Ouray. If there was one more area that I thought I would like to photograph, it would be somewhere between Ouray and Durango. But as we approached Ouray the rain picked up steadily until, by the time we reached the quaint little town, there was little chance of a decent photographic opportunity. And as soon as we began to rise into the mountains, my transmission warning light came on again. As close as we were to Durango, I chose to continue on but at a less aggressive pace than earlier in the day. I tried to keep my mind off the dashboard and took in the scenery from side to side, in and out of the rain. Finally, about an hour behind my original schedule, we returned to Logwood – this time from the opposite direction. In a way, it felt like we had come home. Sadly, this was in fact our last night in beautiful Colorado before returning to Tucson.
Day 7: I won’t spend a whole lot of time talking about this final leg of our journey. The only real items of note were 1) that I decided to heed the signs which warned that the road from Globe to Winkleman was closed until 6:00pm – over an hour after we reached Globe – and went instead toward Superior like the signs directed, only to run into more road construction, and 2) when we finally did get through and made it to Florence Junction, the temperature on my car’s thermometer read 107º. Maybe it was coming off a week in the mountains, but the landscape was as brown and dreary as I’ve ever seen it. Even the sky seemed colorless and the air was oppressive outside the car. Still, after the last two long days of driving, we were both looking forward to getting home.
I realize that this has become a rather lengthy narrative, particularly in relation to the relatively small number of photographs presented within. I took nearly 800 shots during these seven days, many of which were multiple shots intended for panoramic stitching. What is shown is simply what I’ve chosen to share or, more importantly, to remember. I know that we had a great time on our last trip to Colorado over four years ago. Unfortunately, I don’t remember more than a few fragments and Lola, being only five at the time, remembers almost nothing other than the stories that I’ve repeated over the years since. As such, rather than simply post a gallery of photographs, I wanted this to be not only a documentary of our trip for those who might be interested in a similar adventure, but also a reminder for Lola and me of our time together, to be read and enjoyed in the years to come.
Final note: After leaving Durango, I didn’t have any more problems with the A/T temperature warning signal. From what I have since found online, this is not an uncommon event with my vehicle – a Mitsubishi Montero Sport – and can be caused by overfilling the transmission fluid. Most likely the warning was triggered more by pressure than by temperature, or at a minimum a combination of the two.