Wednesday, June 30, 2010
LOOKING BACK AT I-70 AND THE COLORADO RIVER FROM NO NAME REST STOP IN GLENWOOD CANYON
IF YOU ENJOY INTENSE, DIFFICULT DRIVING THROUGH THE AMERICAN COUNTRYSIDE, then I have a great recommendation for you: try driving I-70 from Evergreen, Colorado west of Denver to Grand Junction, 20 miles from the Utah border. If you want to hone your driving skills---perhaps you're thinking of entering a NASCAR competition somewhere---then this stretch is a perfect training run for you. Especially if you don't mind mind-blowing concentration with both eyes glued to the road with no time to blink, and both hands gripping the steering wheel for almost 250 miles. Be my guest. Each time I drive this stretch, I seem to have forgotten how much it takes out of me when I do it.
Here are some of the things you'll encounter: High 10,000' mountain passes, steep downhill grades, breath-taking uphill climbs, big tunnels through mountains, falling rocks, wildlife on the road warning signs, curvy canyons, cantilevered split lanes, runaway truck ramps, mighty rivers rushing below, beside and in front of you and lots of traffic going in both directions. Occasionally there's a big tractor trailer rig hauling what appears to be a massive part of the Space Station. For much of the trip the posted speed limit is less than 50 mph. Yesterday there was a hail and wind storm for 20 miles.
Sure, between Glenwood and DeBeque canyons----the road tames down and you can open up the throttle full-steam. It's like a reprieve. But most of this trip is with sweaty palms, a wing and a prayer.
I cannot imagine what this---the last stretch of I-70 to open in the early 90s---cost to construct. It is an engineering feat of the major proportions!
It's beautiful countryside, but who's looking? I only took the time to relax for a minute of two when I was able to find a rest stop and get out to walk and breath deeply. This drive is not for anyone who needs to check their Blackberry every few minutes, or take their hands off the wheel. Take it from me, this is a tough drive and to do it safely requires mandatory concentration and patience. An amazing stretch of American road. But I wouldn't want to do it often. If I were a trucker, I'd avoid it like the plague and find a way to go cross-country on the tamer I-40 or I-80 by-ways. When you're done, you know you've been on a real drive.
Posted by Webutante at 2:53:00 PM