Monday, December 28, 2015

Million Dollar Highway

Chad and I are sitting in our hotel room in Albuquerque, NM counting our blessings tonight. As you should know, we are on our way from Utah to Houston, Texas. We left Provo on December 23 and stopped in Grand Junction to spend 4 days (most importantly Christmas) with Chad's parents, siblings, and grandmother. It was a great 4 days but this morning we embarked on the real journey to Texas. 

Here is a screen shot of our planned route:

This goes from Montrose to Trinidad, CO. Montrose is about an hour southeast from Grand Junction.
We intended to take highway 50 from Grand Junction, into Montrose and then on all the way east until we hit I-25 (the freeway that connects Denver to Colorado Springs). Notice I said intended. aha. We did take highway 50 to Montrose but when you go through the town you have to take an east turn somewhere to continue on 50. Neither Chad nor myself saw the signs to take us that way and continued on the road. 

Here is where we ended up traveling:

Notice we are not in Trinidad, CO, but in Albuquerque, NM... How did that happen?
Wait, what? How did you not notice you were not going the right direction, you ask? Because of a few reasons.... 

1: We knew we were not going to hit the mountains until a specific time in the journey. 
2: We knew we had to go over a lake as a part of the trip.
3: We knew the part where we were in the mountains would be pretty scary.

So how did we notice that we were not on the 50 but on the 550? 

I specifically had looked at some of the traffic cameras to see road conditions a day before we left Utah just to get a feel for how things could be. One of them was by Monarch, CO looking at a specific part called Monarch Pass. I was pretty scared because there was already a good amount of snow, the elevation was very high but I knew we could stop at the ski resort right by it so it helped give me some comfort. 

Fast forward to this morning: We had started to go down the mountain side and I noticed we had yet to see an established ski resort. I put my location on, asked google where we were and saw Silverton, CO. I knew the name, but didn't know where in Colorado that was in respect to where we were supposed to be. I put in our location and put directions to Poncha Springs (where we were hoping to stop for lunch) and that is when I saw the mistake. 

The road we stayed on in Montrose had changed to highway 550 and because of that one mistake of not seeing any signs for highway 50 to take us east, we headed due south, into the San Juan mountain range. 

Have you heard of the Million Dollar Highway? Well, let me tell you, after having first hand experience from driving it today I can honestly say it is breath taking... in so many ways.

The MDH is a stretch that was made from a Russian immigrant to take gold ore from Silverton, CO, a big mining town (not so much today by they way) to a town called Ouray, CO. Well, in order to get to Silverton from Ouray you have to travel 12 miles in the mountain. No big deal right?

No biggie right? I grew up on a mountain and Chad grew up in Buffalo. We can handle it... Right?
It looks harmless enough on this scale... but try this out for size:

Oooo what about this?

See what I mean by breath taking in multiple ways? And those pictures are in the summertime. 

The roads were actually really clear for having dumped snow all over the state like crazy on Christmas. We had perfect weather and there were not a lot of people driving north thank heavens! Because there were so few people going north we could drive in the middle of the road for a bit. But why would we need to? Because of this:

And this:

Once again, both taken in the summer. I couldn't find a good winter picture that explained just how bleeping dangerous this was. We had NO CLUE what was going on until we were already out of harms way. By the way, the traffic closest to the cliff is traveling south like we were today. Oh and, the highest point of elevation is at Red Mountain Pass (along the MDH) measuring in at 11,018 ft above sea level. :|

Just so you know, just because we were so focused on not making any driving errors with me in the car with Kate and Chad in the Penske truck doesn't mean we couldn't appreciate some of the beauty. Here is another google image to show how pretty it would be in, yes, spring/summertime. 

And yes, this is actually on the highway. We drove right by it and I was so worried about being safe I didn't notice it said Switzerland of America. 
Chad just said, "After that, I am pretty sure I could drive anything." I agree. 

I just have to say that we were incredibly blessed today. Before we go on any trip we always say a prayer for safety. Tonight I can say fully that the Lord didn't just hear our prayer, He moved our hands, feet, and guided our eyes to get us here. Oh how great the Lord is you guys. 

From here we had planned to drop into Amarillo, TX for lunch (about 4 1/2 hours east of here) and then stop in Wichita Falls, TX for the night (not to be confused with Wichita, KS) but we decided to take I-40 all the way to Oklahoma City instead. The chances of getting a hotel room would be better and it is only 20 minutes more of a drive. All together because of that change and todays travels we are adding about 2-3 hours extra to the whole travel time than we originally planned. But that is okay. We just feel really blessed right now to even be alive after the 12 miles of death we drove up and down today. 

If you feel so inclined to see more pictures, read more or even watch a video of what we drove through today, please follow the included hyperlinks. 

With much love, 

Kaitlin, Chad, and Kathrynne (WE ARE STILL ALIVE!!)


The Duke said...

After looking at the pictures, Jim and I have decided we want to travel this road. Boy, oh boy am I glad I didn't know you were taking this trip today!

Jess Clark said...

I bet that giant Penske truck loved sucking whatever oxygen was left in the air at 10,200' while driving along that road. What a fun experience.

frody said...

Espectaculares fotografías, muy bonitas