Friday, April 22, 2011

Rocky Mountain high

Friday, April 22, 2011

BRIGHTON, CO – Well, the wind didn’t blow us to Kansas, but it followed us to this suburb of Denver where it’s rocking the trailer again. It’s bright and sunny and in the 50s, but we hit a whole range of seasons and altitudes today!

Our travels took us along Interstate 70 till we got to Denver, where we switched to the I-76, headed northeast. On the map, the highway looks like a gentle diagonal line, but in reality, our truck toiled its way to an altitude of 11,185 feet at its highest point, with Val’s tight grip on the steering wheel the whole way. His concern was mostly with respect to the weather, which got colder the higher we got.

Only a couple of days ago in Las Vegas, we were running the air conditioning for the first time, and today we were driving past ski resorts in full action with chair lifts chugging up steep slopes of pure white snow! We saw more of the white stuff today than we have since we left Binghamton on our first day out. It was actually blowing across the highway in a couple of spots, in sinewy white wisps, as we drove by. That was from the soft powder that had fallen recently; the only stuff coming out of the sky were a few lazy flakes. Our truck thermometer dipped to 29 degrees at its coldest today!

It was the wet patches on the highway that were the most unnerving. Were they merely wet, or had they frozen into black ice? These thoughts would nag away in a driver’s mind, while a passenger might be musing at the beauty of snow-dusted pine trees and glistening mountain tops. Shared observations from either party would provide quite different perspectives at times like these!

The trek through the Rockies went on for a long time. Each time we came around a bend, there were more jagged peaks ahead! The Rockies must have presented a tremendous challenge to explorers trying to move westward across the continent, deprived of the paved ribbons of asphalt we enjoyed.

We passed the turnoff for Aspen, Colorado, the renowned ski resort area for the world’s rich and famous, and through Vail, another resort with scores of beautiful chalets and slopes that are clearly a skier’s dream. From the activity at the resort and shopping centres we passed, it didn't look as though Good Friday closed anything down in these parts.

We drove through the Eisenhower tunnel, which seemed to never end – not my favourite thing, especially when you can’t see the light at the end of it. Finally, back in the light again, we came around a bend and off in the distance was the sprawling state capital of Denver, filling the entire valley. Val was delighted to see flat land and no mountains once again!

According to my research about Brighton, it is a centre for manufacturing of blades for wind turbines, although we didn’t see any as we drove to our destination. But there are two large plants setting up here, and there is certainly enough wind for them to test their products on.

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