As we were packing up this morning in the shadow of the sands one walls, a ranger stopped by to offer a tent space for the rest of the weekend. No, thanks, I replied, we're done (well, well done).
The campground was full for the weekend in spite of the plan to limit annual visitor count and protect the artifacts in Chaco Canyon NM mint plan clearly depends on long dirt and gravel approach road to limit annual visitor count. Limited sources of potable water help, also? But the campground was full for the weekend in spite of it all.
North into Colorado! The odometer showed over 3000 miles on the road since we left Pilot. The mountain ranges grew taller as we approached and then started up US 550 toward Red Mountain Pass (11018 feet). Four lanestar slimmed down to a wide two lane, then to two narrow lanes, and then to white road borders crumbling and falling over the cliff edge. Sean quietly asked, "Why aren't the any guard rails?"
Time to change drivers ... Tess took the wheel at Silverton, with 24 miles of UP! left to reach Ouray, and headed for the pass. Subaru still had 5/8 tank, amazingly.
Engineers Mountain towered above a wonderland of stone, trees, and waterfalls; trucks and RVs struggled up and careened down, accompanied by a flock of subcompact and pickup trucks.
Avoiding distraction by the fumbling photographer in the second seat, Tess whipped through the 10 mph hairpins next to the crumbling white lines while reassuring her son that she was going to get him to California, and that the Subaru would carry them through like it always has. He agreed on complete trust in his mother's ability, but -- what about some accident that might happen? Nothing Will Happen, said the Final Voice. Five minutes later, he was also cheerfully snapping pictures, and Nothing Happened. Amen.
The Subaru? Half a tank remaining ... and a good thing, traffic was backed up further west, blocked over a two hundred yard section by a rock slide. Fallen rocks, from overhanging cliffs not much different from the ones we had been sleeping and driving underneath for the last day....
Construction sign as we left the work area: "ROCK SOLID SOLUTIONS thanks you!" Thank you, Rock Solid!
Amy the Navigator missed another construction update, but recovered and led us to Laurie Johnson's door. We were welcomed with air conditioning, iced tea, and kisses from Negrita.