upgrade to 13,000 feet

who but God knew what would happen this week when I walked up to a rental car counter without reservation, and we received a free upgrade for our economy rental, and we drove around town in a white Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo.. our itinerary was loosely set around a few days in Albuquerque, with day-trip excursion to Santa Fe, then a few days in Durango.. Thursday we decided to let the day go, put ourselves out there, and see what would happen.. a terribly risky day for an INFJ to see what an out-of-control day with an ENFP behind the wheel..

we drove north on the windy mountainous 550 to Silverton, a small rustic mining town with brightly painted storefronts off of Main Street, and a visit to NA Graphics, which holds the files to the history of all the Vandercook letterpresses, one of which sits in our garage now converted to art studio.. and from there we’d go four-wheeling.. either up Kendall Mountain that overlooks small-town Silverton (a trail I had already looked up at webejeepin.com), or take the 45-minute drive through Ophir Pass to Telluride (through word-of-mouth with some Silverton locals).. we (I) opted for the greater unknown and tried Ophir Pass, no map in hand, no clue where it’d lead (and no clue how we’d get back to Durango)..

wow, what a drive, first time four-wheeling, holding on for dear life with a ‘death-grip’ on the steering wheel (and now feeling it in my left wrist), as we wound up the mountain pass, wheels a feet from the edge of the cliff side, and up into the mountain glaciers and a light drizzle to sprinkle grace into our new ventures into the unknown.. an added thrill to see my father-in-law glee in delight at the awesome sights..

so about an hour later, we wind up in Telluride, where they’re in the midst of a Bluegrass festival.. we didn’t go to the main stage, and didn’t know much about the town, but quickly picked up that this was no ordinary small town.. it was more of a ritzy-glam town, an excursion for the well-to-do, and Roo spotted an art gallery, into which we strolled, and saw some exquisite artwork, where pieces have sold for $500,000 recently(!!).. more visual beauty to the delight of my wife..

our attempt to return on another mountain pass, Tom Boy Road, turned out to be more than we bargained for.. the UPS driver said it’d be just as quick to take this “shortcut” than to take the circuitous highway route.. Tom Boy Road took us, eventually to Imogene Pass, altitude 13,000 feet, and we couldn’t go any further!.. we had to turn around, go back to Telluride, and take the paved highway, returning home by like 9:30pm, missing dinner..

cliches of breath-taking views, exhilirating, unbelievable, beauty, wonder, et al, could be words to etch here, or photos frail attempt to capture a glimpse of what we saw.. and having viewed the photos that night, neither words nor pictures can describe or capture the experience.. it has to be experienced, and it was wondrous to experience it.. would I have done it if it were planned, or if I were in a vehicle smaller than a Grand Cherokee? probably not! I’m not one for risky adventures nor heights, frankly if I lingered much more to savor the moment, I might’ve gotten queazy.. and such was the case when we were up at 13,000-feet of Imogene Pass, me shivering a bit in the 30-degree chill, and didn’t trigger the panoramic feature of my new digital camera to capture the view of being so high up..

a most exhilirating day filled with beautiful sights and sounds, with a little residual survivor-guilt for missing a dinner engagement that was scheduled at the top of the day..

[update 6/23/04: photos now online!]

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  1. Jay Voorhees says:

    What a great day! Kay and I were in the Ouray, Silverton, Telluride area for our honeymoon and it’s one of my favorite places in the world. I hope the wildflowers were out because my memories of Yankee Boy Basin (on the back side of the mountain from Telluride) are filled with those flowers. Your story makes me want to head back soon.