Sunday, August 31, 2014

Driving Country Colorado

I'm very lucky in my job, in that folks allow me to use their vehicles while they are away.  Yesterday, my friend Bea and I went for a road trip, with Tessa in the rear of the van...   I had read that driving on Oh My God Road was a harrowing experience, but that the views were magnificent.  So we decided to drive the old mining road between Central City and Idaho Springs on the last weekend in summer.  Tessa loves to travel, so she loaded up in the rear, with the back seats lying down, and we stopped frequently for photos and to let Tess out to explore.  Most of the time we were in the Arapaho National Forest, or driving along small valleys high in the peaks on unpaved roads that were one- and, sometimes, two lanes wide, with occasional pull-overs for on-coming traffic.  We had a fantastic time.  The photos I took did not do any justice to the stupendous views that we saw all around us.
   First, we drove up Magnolia Road on Magnolia Mountain to avoid all the traffic in Boulder Canyon; then we turned south on the Peak to Peak Highway and had a blast.  We drove through Black Hawk and Central City, and then on Upper Apex Road and back along the Apex Valley Road.  Then we took the Central City Parkway to Idaho Springs, and (I finally) asked for directions to Oh My God Road.  The Colorado Gazetteer lists the road as Oh My God Road, and I found it on-line under that name...  But I never saw any street signs with that name.  One of the local men told me that Oh My God Road was actually named Virginia Canyon Road, and with that important information, we headed back out.  Wow.  It was amazing. Parts of the road are paved, and others are not; there are gradients of 8, 9, and occasionally 12%.  We were in a Lexus van, which I kept in low gear on the grades, and we had absolutely no trouble.  Most of the scenery was breathtakingly beautiful, but halfway through the drive, a couple of locals in open Jeeps ran up on my back bumper, and I had to stop taking photos and drive on.  (Rats!)  I couldn't find a pull-over for the young men to pass me by, so I had to keep going....
   We meandered around on more dirt roads near Central City after we completed Oh My God Road, and then we drove through the "town" of Central City.  The last time I was there was in 1974, before casino gambling was approved.  Talk about a change!  Huge casinos and gambling halls were everywhere.  We finally headed back home, the long way.  We drove through Clear Creek Canyon and up to Golden, and then back up 93 to Boulder.  We had planned ahead  and had water, drinks, and snacks for both of us and Tessa, so we did very well.  I was amazed to find that we averaged 26.8 miles per gallon driving on the back roads - but there were few cars and views were fantastic.  It was well worth the time and effort.

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