Preparations for our 2017 summer road trip are in full swing, we have flights booked into Calgary and out of Vancouver, we have accommodation booked at 10 points along our journey (scarily some places only had a few rooms left and that’s 8 months away), the car’s booked and we are getting excited.
So back to recalling some of our previous trips
Today’s post is about our trip to Colorado and beyond.
I had made friends with an American family who arrived here in the UK to live in our small court; three kids under 5, furniture six weeks behind them, no car etc. They gave it a year in their tiny 3 bedroom rented house before the English house buying legislation finally brought them to their knees and they decided to return home, Ed went home to “hug ma fridge” (his American style fridge/Freezer before they were fashionable in the UK) leaving us with an open invite to go and stay.
We booked tickets to arrive in Denver in March 2003. We took our oldest child—who was 6 years old—out of school (back when you were allowed to do that sort of thing, us believing the experience would outweigh the loss of 2 weeks of primary education) and travelled with our youngest still in nappies(diapers), I put off potty training until after the trip. However, have you ever tried changing a two year old in the toilet of an aeroplane on one of the baby changing flaps?
We arrived at Denver around 9pm local time along with 3 other flights we walked the walk, mile high Denver? They made us walk at least a mile to immigration. Hubby, who doesn’t like using aeroplane toilets, announced he had a pressing engagement leaving me with two tired kids and armloads of carry-on baggage. I didn’t dare join the immigration queue as hubby had all the passports, so we sat on the floor and waited while my man did whatever men do that makes them spend enormous amounts of time on the toilet. Sniffer dogs came and went several times before hubby arrived to help us join the back of the immigration queue. We took so long, the baggage hall was empty except our lonely bags, which had been taken off the carousel and the hall lights dimmed. Next came the queue for a hire car. With snow forecast, hubby upgraded to a 4×4 and he was king of the road, close to 11pm local time as we headed out of Denver.
Clutching hand written instructions, confident in our local friend’s knowledge we headed off—in the wrong direction. A couple of hours later, after a very long uphill climb and well past midnight we arrived in Nederland in the American Rockies (on a map it’s left of Boulder which itself is described as the foothills of the Rockies). Up at 4am (kids still on Uk time and they’d slept in the car and on the plane – lucky things!) Nederland was lovely in the spring sun. A little local exploring took us to Estes Park, a gateway to the Rocky Mountain National Park the mountain scenery was amazing.
And then it snowed and snowed and snowed. In fact it snowed for 45 hours and dropped 5.5 feet of snow. A bit of a whiteout. The menfolk took about 24 hours to dig the cars out while we waited for the snow plough to make it down the road.
There was no power for 36 hours and the whole area was cut off, the local supermarket held a free barbecue because its freezers were defrosting, we put 5 kids in the sledge, snow shoes and skis on our feet and set off to town. In return for the communities kindness we later helped out with our 4 x 4 taking urgent supplies to friends of our friends who were cut off further out of town. However Hubby and Ed first had to get the local sheriff to “jimmy” the car door after the menfolk locked the keys in it when picking up the supplies. We heard on the news that the snow was widespread, Denver airport was shutdown and we were very glad that we’d made it to our friend’s house where they had toys and entertainment, we couldn’t imagine being stuck in a motel room for a couple of days with no power and no way to keep the kids happy.
Needing a bit of sun, we headed off south down I-25 through Colorado Springs and Pueblo and on to the Royal Gorge Bridge one of the highest suspension bridges in the world. Near Alamosa we visited the Great Sand Dunes National Park, then Durango and crossed the border in to Utah. The sun shone down as we climbed Wilson Arch, (just one of the many natural rock arches near Moab in the Natural Arches National Park) springing up it with our altitude trained lungs, nine years after hubby and I first went there when travelling as a couple.
Then we headed north to Wyoming. We visited the Green River National dinosaur museum and wound our way over mountains and passed deer feeding near the roadside and counted train carriages on vast continent crossing goods trains to Laramie. A place for me which resonated Saturday afternoon westerns on TV, they had snow in Laramie but we were veterans of the snow storm now and their few inches were nothing.
Coming full circle (around 1600 miles) we came back to Nederland to spend one last night with our friends before heading back to Denver, just time to spend a few hours at Denver Butterfly Pavilion then to the airport and home.