…or is it a weekend stuck in traffic?
The cars and trucks inched forward. The tunnel seemed so close, just a few miles away. But after 30 minutes, we’d only moved a couple of miles. Time-wise, it was so far away.
The temperatures soared into the 90s on Friday. It seemed like all of Denver had the same idea — get out of the heat and get to the mountains. In our case, it was actually the reverse.
Living in Nederland, we lived at 8,200 feet. Many summer days, the temperature drops a good twenty degrees as I drive up Boulder Canyon. We were leaving cooler weather to go to desert heat — visiting friends in Grand Junction.
But on Interstate 70, we remained stuck in gridlock with all the city folks escaping to mountain towns like Breckenridge and Vail. But the drive west felt positively easy compared to the drive coming back on Sunday.
We left Grand Junction early, thinking we could beat the majority of the traffic. Silly us.
As we descended Vail Pass, approaching Silverthorne, I could see the challenge lying ahead. Nothing but cars bumper to bumper going all the way up towards the Eisenhower Tunnel.
The scene drew me back to our first few weeks living Colorado, eleven years ago.
Bryon had a conference in Boulder, so we set out from our home in western Colorado around noon, figuring we’d arrive in Boulder by 5 p.m.
We had no idea that Sunday afternoons on I-70 were like a parking lot. I don’t do traffic well. I’d much rather drive way out of my way but keep moving.
Desperate for a way around the traffic, I consulted a trusty Colorado state road map.
“I think we could take this exit and it looks like there’s a road over to Highway 119 that leads to Boulder. Get off here!”
Unbeknownst to me, the thin gray line was a rocky gravel road that is only suitable for high clearance 4-wheel drive. More importantly, it no longer went through to Highway 119.
After turning onto the Corona Pass Road, I pretty quickly realized the limitation of our 2-wheel drive car. Within a mile, the bright orange road gave us the sign it was time to turn around.
“Road ends in eight miles.”
Arrggh, And it was back to I-70 and its madness.
We finally arrived in Boulder at 11 p.m., a mere eleven hours after we’d left our home in Palisade, Colorado.
Eleven years later, I know this is a common place experience for eight months of the year. Every ski weekend, every hot summer weekend. Expect the amount of people joining you on your weekend out of town to add two hours to your drive home.
Is it worth it?
I don’t know. For someone who lives in the city, it probably is. They are used to traffic and the appeal of the Colorado Rocky Mountains is great.
But for someone who already lives in the mountains, the thought of sitting on the highway loses its allure. I want to go skiing, but I’ve found another way around this.
Work Saturdays when everyone else is out and about, take off Fridays to go frolic in the great outdoors.
Good thing I have an understanding boss.