How do they trust normal, regular civilians, such as my easily distracted self to drive up rainbow road unsupervised? Honestly???
I’ve learned a few things today, the first being the concept of slow drive. I wish I could tell you I don’t feel like a full blown car mechanic just because I know how to put a European car into first gear, but that would be a lie.
“I can’t guarantee that you can get all of the way to the top today because we’ve got some construction going on and it’s kind of a mess, but….yeah, just remember those gears, keep your window cracked the entire time –even when parked– because of the pressure and….enjoy your time at Pike’s Peak!” the joyous ranger shouted, sending me to fend for myself 14,000 feet above comfort level.
At this point, I wasn’t so concerned with what the elevation was going to do to me than what the elevation was going to do to the thirty pack of sparkling water I had perched like a ticking time bomb in my back seat. Now, I am no scientist and I didn’t have any service to google my burning questions about potential carbonation-fueled tragedies on Pike’s Peak, so I took in every breath slowly, reminding myself to not be alarmed and drive myself off a cliff when the backseat battle began.
Once again, how do they trust us to drive on this??? There were no guard rails to use as a security blanket if my curious eyes wandered off to the views instead of the yellow brick road for too long. So, I did what any normal person would do in this situation. I drove straight to the top, no view stops, no nothing—all gas, no breaks. Now, this did not go as fast as I’d hoped, so I had a lot of time to think on the way up. For instance, did you know that Big Foot is like, a huge supporter of Pike’s Peak? No, really. This (maybe not) mythical creature has been spotted all over the area here. However, stepping out of my car on the top of Pike’s Peak, I knew that legend couldn’t possibly be true. If Big Foot did indeed exist, there’s no way he could still be alive, as the wind on top of this monstrous peak would’ve blown him right off. I know you think I’m exaggerating, but I literally had to hold on to my car door when opening it for fear of it blowing back so far that it’d just rip right off and fly down the mountainside. I walked about twelve strides before the wind whipped across my face, tearing my eyes up and I, “Yup-noped,” my way back to the warmth of my car.
Nice view, but not happening. Having driven through the entire road on the way up, I now had a good idea of where the best view stop was, and I beelined my way toward it. I essentially had the parking lot to myself, again, a very surprising happenstance. I guess I just assumed there would be people crawling all over these natural wonders every day, but I definitely was not mad about being wrong. I braced myself and began the short hike through a few boulders, but quickly realized the distance was not the issue here. The wind had me tearing up again in no time, to the point where I could barely breathe as oxygen shoved itself up into my nostrils. Taking cover behind a massive rock, I added “Too much air,” to the list of ways to die in Colorado Springs. Whatever, worth it. Soaking in the scenery, I pulled out my Nikon and began to capture what I’d come here for.
“Do you mind?” a man in what I’ve come to known as the classic American tourist getup asked, handing me his camera.
“I left my girlfriend halfway up the hill,” he told me, trying to explain his solo-ness. I hesitantly grabbed his camera, hoping that the girlfriend stopped halfway due to choice, but, hey, that’s none of my business.
Sprinting back to what seemed to be the only warmth on all of Pike’s Peak, I slowly began my descent, flexing my newfound first gear knowledge. Don’t judge; this was exciting stuff. After passing the finish line (the ranger station), I let out a huge sigh, as if I’d been holding my breath in the entire journey.
If you had told 16-year-old me after failing my first driver’s test that I would drive up 14,110 feet of open mountain range, alone, with a ticking backseat carbonation bomb ready to go at any moment and survive…….I totally would have believed you [or at least that’s what I’d like to think].
However, my day’s journey was far from over. My accommodation for the night was in the middle of the desert at a place called Movie Manor. Movie Manor is a Best Western Hotel that’s connected to an old, historic outdoor theatre. I walked into my bedroom, flinging open the curtains to reveal the big screen and grinned. This was going to be awesome.
Unfortunately, I had a call for work that ran a bit later than I thought, so I missed the beginning of the movie. Deciding I now needed to make up for that by driving around to the lot and getting the full outdoor movie experience, I began to circle the space until I found an entry. There was only one other car here at the time, so I settled into the corner and began to catch up with the plot line. Suddenly, some freak from the other car came over and began to shine their phone flashlight in my eyes.
Is he lost? Drunk? Can’t find his car? I was about to ask when he said, “Did you just drive in through the exit?”
Looking back up, I confidently replied, “Yes.”
“Why,” he stated disappointedly.
“Because….the entrance was closed?”
“Are you staying at the hotel?”
“Yes,” I insisted, waving my room key.
That answer seemed to suffice as he turned off his inspection light and headed back into the darkness. I shifted my gaze back toward the big screen, now smirking.
So you can drive up Pike’s Peak, but you can’t figure out how to enter a parking lot? Classic.