I’ve been out of town the last several days and thus otherwise occupied and off the internet. But today, we drove back through Kansas and Eastern Colorado on a crystal clear day. My husband and I like to play a game I played as a child on our many trip out to Colorado from Missouri — who can spot the first mountain driving west on I-70? Sure enough, about 12 miles east of Limon, a small town on the eastern plains of Colorado, we spotted the silhouette of Pikes Peak off in the distance. The image of that mountain brought me back to my childhood when we took car trips out to Colorado with my grandmother.
My parents liked to take family road trips to Colorado, complete with station wagon loaded with stuff in the back, and head west on Interstate 70. We frequented places like Vail and Aspen before they were populated by celebrities and the uber-rich, when ordinary Midwestern families like ours, could actually afford to stay there for a couple of nights. My grandmother was particularly endeared with Pikes Peak, for some reason, she called it the “Old Dibble” with fondness each time she would speak of it. However, her opinion changed upon driving the road up Pikes Peak — apparently, she wasn’t enamored with twisting, mountain roads. My grandmother, you see, had lived in Pennsylvania for most of her life. When we planned our trip to Colorado, and Mom tried to warn her about the mountain roads, she proudly proclaimed, “Oh, I know all about mountain roads, Bob and I used to drive to the Poconos all the time!” The Poconos, of course, being the mountains of 1500 feet in northern Pennsylvania.
So our first up close encounter with attempting to scale the Rocky Mountains was in fact, Pikes Peak, just outside Colorado Springs. The road at that time was mostly dirt, twisting and turning, going up countless switchbacks. I don’t’ know whether it was the road itself, or my father’s driving. My father was always a rather aggressive driver, not afraid to accelerate rather quickly. It seemed every time he would pull over in a turnout, which was often, he would pull in at a higher rate of speed than the previous time, and slam on the brakes at the last minute, leaving a trail of dust. Each time he did this, my grandmother would let out a high-pitched shriek, each shriek seeming to get louder, the higher we got on the mountain. At one point, I believe she was actually crouching on the floor of the backseat in fear, afraid to even look out the window. But despite all the theatrics, we did make it, and I still have the picture of us on top, wind gusting our hair around, the five of us huddled close together, looking cold but intrepid, and a rather timid smile on my grandmother’s face.
As we drove back to our home in Colorado today, the memory of my grandmother and our family vacations to Colorado vividly came back to me. The “Ole Dibble” still stands strong and insurmountable against the vast blue skies, and for a moment, I could feel my grandmother smiling down on me once again.