Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Staycation: Idaho Springs to Central City via Virginia Canyon Road

Early on in our marriage my husband and I agreed there were certain things we shouldn't participate in together to ensure a lasting relationship between the two of us and a two parent family for our seven children. The first was wallpapering; the second, installing a ceramic tile back-splash. There's no need to elaborate on those dreadful memories. Suffice it to say those experiences were not marriage strengthening for either one of us. Last weekend we added a third item to our list of never agains. I'll simply label it "off-roading."

Last week I published a post about our Staycation to Mt. Evans.

Now for the rest of the story...

It truly was a fabulous experience going to the top of Mt. Evans, but by the time we got off the mountain -- due to high altitude and sheer drop-offs -- I had a headache and stress level that would measure 9.9 on the Richter scale. We stopped at BeauJo's in Idaho Springs for lunch -- a must do when visiting this area -- which relaxed me enough that my headache was reduced to a dull roar. It became my desire, however, to high-tail it home as fast as we possible could so I could throw down a handful of ibuprofen to alleviate my discomfort. 

As we entered Idaho Springs we noticed I-70 east had been reduced to a crawl for reasons unbeknownst to us. Unfortunately, the cell phone coverage in Idaho Springs was spotty at best, so we turned to locals to help us navigate a way back home that didn't require traveling on the freeway. We had parked in front of two shops -- a candy store with a little old lady in a lace apron standing behind the counter and an ultimate mountain bike establishment with two extreme mountain biker salesmen manning the shop. My husband chose the latter for directions. I deem that as his first mistake.

He marched into the bike shop and asked if there was another way to travel over the mountain to Central City on the other side without having to take I-70. One biker came forward and enthusiastically described a mountain road called "Virginia Canyon Road." {Before I continue it's best you understand that I do not have one adventurous bone in my body. Not one. As I mentioned in my previous Mt. Evans post, I am also afraid of heights.} This particular salesman looked as if he purposefully placed himself in risky situations on a daily basis, so I broke into the conversation and added, "I have a little headache since we just visited Mt. Evans. Would you mind telling me if this is a 'normal' road or if Virginia Canyon Road is a mountain road with twists and turns and scary drop-offs?" At this point the biker became very animated and stated that the locals have a nickname for Virginia Canyon Road. The nickname: "Oh My Gawd Road." At that moment my heart dropped, the pounding in my head became more pronounced, and I knew I was in deep trouble. You see my husband has an adventurous spirit, and I detected in him a sudden interest. In situations such as these he had perfected the art of "a blank stare" not to arouse my suspicions, but in his excitement his eyebrows raised a wee bit and the edges of his mouth turned up ever so slightly. I should have decided right then and there to walk home.

The hubs never did ask my opinion as to which route we should take as we sped out of town toward Virginia Canyon Road. Within a mile we were skidding along a skinny dirt road, skirting a  mountain on one side and sheer drop-offs on the other, and going higher and higher into no-mans land. Seriously. I'm not exaggerating. Higher and higher and higher. On several occasions there were forks in the road, and it is only by the grace of God that we took the correct fork every time. My testimony of prayer and a loving Heavenly Father grew by leaps and bounds that day.

When we were near the top of the mountain I asked my husband to stop. He mentioned that he couldn't just stop in the middle of the road. I calmly reminded him that we had seen only one other car the entire time we'd been on this forsaken gravel road, and that I was sure that our chances of causing a 19 car pileup were next to nothing. Here's the photo I took looking down on I-70. {We were one block away from I-70 in Idaho Springs when we started toward Virginia Canyon Road.} I stumbled back to the car after taking that picture not sure I would ever see my loved ones again. 

It's best not to detail every little thing that was said between me and my husband during that drive. Like wallpapering and tiling, some things are best forgotten. In my defense, however, since arriving home I learned that a high-clearance four-wheel drive vehicle is suggested when traveling along Virginia Canyon Road. I don't believe a Ford minivan meets that criteria.

If you'd like to travel along Virginia Canyon Road from Idaho Springs to Central City, I found this YouTube video for your enjoyment. Fortunately, for you, the video is in time lapse and you need only watch the first 4 1/2 minutes to experience the entire road for yourself. I would suggest a dose of Dramamine before starting the video.

After almost 37 years of marriage, I'm thinking a short list of three items isn't too terribly bad. 


Reno said...

Oh- no thank you!
I could only watch the video for under 2 minutes.
Your short list isn't too bad at all.

Unknown said...

WOW!!! You are a real trooper! :) I was laughing out load at your "commentary" of the experience...you are too funny Suzanne! I do agree, that is NOT a road I want to travel...the video made me sick to my stomach. :) Glad you made it back in one piece! Lets hope your next Stay-cation will be a little less stressful. :)

Amy Johnson said...

Hysterical post. TFS!

Amy Johnson said...

Hysterical post. TFS!