So, with regrets, we pulled outta Moab. It was just such a pretty little campsite, the night at the brewery hanging out with Chris and Moki was heaps of fun, and the sheer bravado of the natural world there is humbling.
But, we did have quite a carrot at the end of our drive. At long last.... The Starlite Classic Campground was on the horizon.
But before the Starlite came the dastardly mountains. Now, I have detailed our run in with Cabbage Hill, Oregon. Now Cabbage Hill is 3,573 feet at it's summit. You lose 2,000 of those feet in a mere six miles, which is why it is so deadly. But... today we faced the real deal: The Rocky Mountains. Yup. Monarch Crest, with a, gulp, elevation of, hang on to yer seats, folks: 11, 312 feet. Just to be sure you got that: 11,312.
Now, had we not been so damn determined to see the Starlite we woulda probably bailed. I mean, look at the map: you can head straight down to Albuquerque with far fewer challanges. And, as I mentioned, our top speeds on Cabbage Hill- even post-repair, were about 35 mph. But, we all just kinda silently agreed to not over think it- meaning stfu and just drive.
So, up we went. Up. Up. More Up.
Crap, will we never get outta here? UPPPPPPPPPPP.
Finally, we wheezed, and I do mean wheezed into the family owned gift shop/ restaurant/ sky tram atop the Crest, which, incidentally, also straddles the Continental Divide. Normally one to shun crappy tourist trinkets we practically skipped into the gift shop to buy proof of our heroic climb. I promptly bought a bumper sticker for Big Blue and a fleecy blanket for the trailer, both emblazed with "Monarch Pass, elevation 11,312, Colorado." No one on top of Everest or Kilimanjaro, or whatever other high place you can tempt the Death Gods from, was ever prouder.
We also, ahem, got to meet most of the people who had also traveled up the hill at 35 mph, while looking at our trailer's rear end. Oh well. Lead Dog and all that.
And we got a baffled, and not very polite, imho, "WOW! My daughter and I did NOT think you were gonna make it!" Uhhh... gee, thanks? Eff off? I mean, what, precisely, is the right response to that kinda "encouragement"? My laser-eyes-of- death feature was temporarily offline, on account of my giddiness at being alive. So, I just mumbled something along the lines of "Don't underestimate the sheer will of three chicks and their vintage trailer mission, lady" and left it at that.
So, at this point, we had souvineer crap in hand- as if we'd ever forget- and we took one look at the sky tram and said, "Hell, yeah". Up, up, up some more, only without our beautiful albatross.
Now, I'm told the whole pass is one of the most beautiful drives in Colorado. I have no idea about that personally. I spent most of it clutching the wheel or praying for the person who was clutching the wheel. So, finally on the sky tram I took a look at the enormous, majestic, huge mountains, wide open skies and 50 surrounding miles... and almost peed in my pants when I realized we still had to go DOWN the other side.
Shortly after we got in the car to start our decent Sylvia from the Starlite called, which was delightful. After brightly chatting for a few minutes, I told her we were, in fact, terrified and needed stiff drinks upon arrival. To which she replied "Margaritas or Pina Coladas?" which assurred me it was all gonna be worth it.