After a wonderful Thanksgiving feast with family in San Diego, we packed up the car to begin the return trip. The plan was to take I-15 North, and hook up with the I-70 East in the middle of Utah. We departed around 10:30 PM local time on Thursday night, full of turkey and stuffing and new memories to cherish.
My lovely bride took us as far as Las Vegas, where we changed drivers, got some gas and some coffee, and took a slow tour through the underbelly of society. Black Friday came early in Sin City and the shoppers were out in force, as were the prostitutes. It seems as if the LVPD was only interested in traffic enforcement as the wheels of commerce were in full spin...
Leaving Las Vegas behind us, we began the long climb up into Utah. The Virgin River Gorge is very pretty (I have driven this route before), but in the dark, dodging falling rocks, and with temps below freezing, it is just a tense serpentine blur.
We got breakfast in St. George, Utah, then headed up the snow-dusted central spine of the state to Interstate 70. As the sun rose to our right, the cliffs and breaks on our left lit up in a wonderful palette of green, yellow, orange and red. The road was clear. The temperature hovered in the single-digits. The speed limit was 80... :) Time to make tracks.
Shortly after changing onto the I-70, it was time for another diver change. I got to watch as the surreal scenery of central and eastern Utah gave way to the high plains and canyons that approach the western slope of the Rockies. Although I didn't sleep, the rest was welcomed as I needed to take over driving again near the Colorado border.
Driving along the Colorado River for 2 solid hours, we got to see scenery that postcard photographers can only dream about. The temperature was below freezing and there was a dusting of snow on the rocks and plains, and the shores of the river were coated in ice. The river gorges gradually gave way to the ski towns of Aspen, Vail, and Breckenridge. The roads through the mountains were icy in spots, but no chains were required. The drivers showed as much caution for each other as the skiers do. I was driving at a black diamond pace. They were flying along much faster than I.
We exited the mountains and dropped down into the Denver metropolitan area before sundown. We toured some of the suburbs there, trying to get a feel for an area that might become our next home. As the last of the twilight faded in the west, we pulled into the driveway at our destination for the night, Monument, Colorado.
This leg covered roughly 1,175 miles in about 19 hours including stops. The visit with friends was a welcome break. Their hospitality, food, and beers were very much appreciated. The 10 hours of sleep were much needed.
More in part three...