Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Bouncing over Rocks and Breathing Dust

The last few days of the trip in Colorado have been spent trying find mountain wildflowers for Mary Ann to photograph. That means getting in the Jeep and heading high. It's been interesting driving through these old roads, which I'll always call 'Jeep Trails' even though these days the Four-wheelers and trail bikes outnumber the Jeeps quite a bit.

Day one, we went over Cottonwood Pass into Taylor Park, with the intent to go over Tin Cup Pass and return via Chalk Creek.

Ah, Tin Cup Pass. I have fond memories of traveling that extremely rough road in a B300 van, back when I was a lot younger. Honestly, I don't think that's possibile anymore. These old trails, cut back in the gold mining era, haven't been maintained since then. The road was nearly impossible back then. I can't imagine being able to drive it today. Not without four wheel drive. This time, we had to traverse the bad spots twice, since the pass was blocked by a large snow bank.

The next day, we came up the Chalk Creek side to St. Elmo and since Mary Ann was driving, taking an old route she remembers traveling in a regular car back when she was a teenager. Again, the road was much worse now that our hair has lost some color. But some of the old landmarks were still there, like the house that's been on the verge of collapsing onto the road for as long as I can remember.

"Get a photo of that," I said. She shook her head. "The lighting is all wrong." Photographers! I pulled out my point-and-shoot and told her to drive on up under it. "Okay, but you'll have to explain it to Debra if it collapses down on me." I got the shot.

While our insides were thoroughly scrambled from bouncing over the rocks for two days, the third was over in the Crested Butte area, and had it's own troubles. The mountains in that area were weathered slate, not the granite that we'd bounced over before. The rocks had turned to powder, producing a thick soil that was just perfect for wildflowers. Unfortunately, that meant all unimproved dirt roads generated enormous clouds of dust that settled in to the Jeep, covering everything and getting into everything, including eyes and noses. But at least her pictures were good. And that's why we were there in the first place.

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