Friday, March 13, 2009

Mountain Road Trip: Shredding the Nar, Loving the Pow Pow, Encountering UFOs

1889 miles. 30 runs. 5 nights. 3 states. 1 UFO watchtower. It was a heck of a road trip.

Megan's job offers one benefit that few other "grownups" get to enjoy--Spring Break. Around the time her Spring Break was getting started, I noted a lull in my litigation calendar, a brief window free of briefing deadlines and discovery due dates. So we capitalized in a big way.

We left on a Thursday morning for Amarillo. Thursday night offered the theater as two of my siblings, EmElise and Barrett, were starring in Peter Pan. The play was a tale of daring and danger (literally, as it turns out). The set included a gigantic pirate ship, and sword fights were plentiful. All in all it was a good stop.

We left Friday morning for the long drive to Denver. The towns fell by quickly as the elevation increased. The drive was noteworthy for a tasty stop at Tequila's in Trinidad, but perhaps more noteworthy for Trinidad's one-stop shopping, including this store that peddles antiques, jewelry, and liquor. Notice the dreamcatchers on the roofline . . . just great.

After nearly 8 hours on the road, we made a sling-shot around Denver and headed up a canyon near the Red Rocks concert venue. Megan's conversation gave way to a repetitive mantra: "I can't believe they live here." "They" were friends from college, Megan's roommate Erica and her husband, Spencer. "Here" was just past Morrison near the lovely, bustling town of Conifer. Their gorgeous house sat on a hillside with great views of nearby mountains. They had arrived, and fortunately, so had we.

Shredding (Shifting) the Nar

Well rested and very well fed, we skied like champs, like the kind of champs who flawlessly pose for cheesy ski shots like the one above. Megan's progress throughout the weekend was incredible. She began the first morning expressing her growing nervousness at having to dismount from the chairlift, a mundane task, for sure, but really the first test of one's ability to stay upright while sliding downhill. She got on and off the lift flawlessly, and we knew it would be a good day.

The snow was falling quickly, and the air was cold. None of this stopped Megan from perfecting a gorgeous parallel turn . . . as long as she was turning left. The right turns were lacking, but, after a couple of afternoon beers and some coaching from Erica and me, things started coming together. Finally, by the close of day two, Megan was turning left and right like a pro and selecting blue runs over greens. She had graduated from shifting to shredding the nar.

Alien Encounters

The drive to New Mexico was incredible. We left Erica and Spencer's retreat, turned right on 285, and drifted by the Collegiate Peaks, 14,000 foot giants that took our breath away. We were immediately thankful that we drove instead of flew.

As 285 took a hard turn south, I struggled as I drove through Poncha Springs without turning toward Monarch Pass, the cite of a legendary ski trip that Tom and I took several years before.

Fortunately, the San Luis Valley opened up before us, and we soon found ourselves distracted by the UFO Watchtower in Hooper, Colorado--a research facility, museum, and energy vortex dedicated to the extraterrestrial. It was a unique visit, and the owner of the property invited us to leave objects in one of the vortexes to contribute to the positive flow of energy. I noticed one person who ditched their smart phone--while I felt a similar inclination at the moment, I settled on a rubber band. Megan contributed a pen cap. If the universe seems more harmonious this week, you now know the cause. Below are some snapshots of our stay.

We left Hooper and headed to Taos where we enjoyed enchiladas and avocado pie at Orlando's. From there, it was onto Santa Fe and the familiar comforts of Ten Thousand Waves and the Compound. The trip, it seemed, was coming to a comfortable conclusion.

Heading Home

But an unexpected thing happened--Santa Fe ski area got 3 fresh inches of the white stuff. Never one to neglect a fresh batch of the pow pow, I found my dear wife convincing me that we had time for one more morning on the slopes. While I knew we had a roughly 650 mile ahead, I also knew the end of that drive would present zero inches of delicious powder. So, we donned our ski garb one more time, pointed the car up-valley, and prepared for another gorgeous morning.

The snow fell softly as Megan skied blue after blue--each run with increasing confidence and increasingly beautiful right turns. I bombed Muerte once, for tradition's sake. Just less than three hours and eight beautiful runs later, we were back in the parking lot saluting ourselves on a job well done.

While rational people would have then pointed the car east and worked their way home, we had one more stop to make--Pasqual's where Megan chose the huevos motulenos. This was another tradition that couldn't be avoided. And, while we were at it, we picked up an art gallery here and there, and finally, yes finally, we headed toward Texas around 2:30 Mountain time.

The drive back went quickly at first as we chattered with the last remnants of the morning rush. As we cleared Clines Corners, we knew we were in for a long haul. By Amarillo, we were thankful to stop at Mom's house for some food and conversation. By Claude, we had begun the longest road-sign alphabet game ever. That came to a close with the "z" in "fertilizer" as we passed through Memphis. In Childress, we started picking out hotels that seemed inviting. By Wichita Falls, I was doubting whether we would make it Dallas alive. At 3 AM on the spot, we pulled into the driveway with 1889 miles on the odometer. We had arrived.

Travel Blogs - Blog Top Sites