Morning in Aspen was cold. Our friends had told us it would be, but the cold still bit. I believe it was in the mid 40s (F) in the driveway, and I was acclimated to mid 70s first thing in the morning back in Texas. But all we were doing this morning was making it to the car, so I scampered over and started it up.
The peaceful Aspen morning was interrupted by a growling V8.
I tried to be nice as we left the neighborhood. Hey, it's good for the car, too, low rpm, low throttle opening, avoid boost while it's still cold. But soon we were out of Aspen and on our way through Independence Pass. This is an absolutely beautiful area with a wonderful, twisting road. There are straight segments big enough for passing the heavily loaded vehicles that have to take the turns incredibly slowly. There were switchbacks and more gentle turns. There were spots you could see the road you'd be on later, and spots where the road seemed to twist into nothing. We climbed and climbed, and made it to the continental divide (for the second time this trip). This time there was a sign, so we stopped for a photo.
On the eastern side of the divide there seemed to me more meadows, more open areas. The road still twisted and turned, but I could see the elevation drop in the plants and landscape. As we made it out of the pass we reached a turn, Leadville was in the direction we were not going. Nugget's an ultramarathoner, though, and there's a race series in Leadville that's significant. Our goal was to make it all the way to the ranch today, so we didn't want to head that direction, but we did pause long enough for Nugget to get a photo of the sign pointing to Leadville.
We headed the other way and found a coffee shop. A hair over-caffeinated, I keep following the map app's directions as we twist and turn our way through Colorado. We had a 15-ish hour drive to do, and though the app routed us onto some smaller roads, it didn't choose any dirt roads this day. We saw signs warning us of buggies/horse carts possibly on the road, signs warning motorcyclists about tight turns, RVs that didn't know how to pull over to enable passing. We drove through small towns, waving at folks as we went past, and meandered along rivers and creeks between mountains.
Eventually we made our way onto I25, the first divided highway we'd been on in some time. This swept us out of Colorado and into New Mexico, where we exited to head into the plains of the Texas panhandle. In the panhandle we travel between fields filled with both wind turbines and pumpjacks. When I was a kid, we called pumpjacks "ants". The rounded head head moving up and down looks like a worker ant cutting a food item for carting it off, and when a large field of them are all moving, up and down, it's like watching supersized ants hard at work.
We stopped for fuel in Amarillo. We'd filled up in Aspen the day before. The car went 470 miles on that tank of fuel, getting around 28 mpg. Not bad for a turbocharged V8 being driven enthusiastically. Then again, it's a slippery car descending the mountains with speed limits keeping it out of its, "Consumes a huge amount of fuel just to maintain speed" range. Details of our fillup in the screenshot, and you can see the prior tank (going uphill) was not nearly so, er, efficient.
Though lunch had been consumed on the go (in Colorado), we stopped for dinner in Texas. It was just something quick, and then back onto the road. We stopped for fuel in Junction before getting on I-10 for a brief stint. And then we were back in Boerne, back on the familiar 46, nearly home. We got home around 1AM, and were greeted by cats lecturing us about how horrible we were for leaving them for a week. By the next morning we were forgiven.
This trip was wonderful. On our time alone in the car, on the way out and back, Nugget and I drove through beautiful scenery that we watched change as we moved. We saw interesting classic cars and talked with a lot of people happy to chat with someone from not nearby. The Utah Adventure had wonderful roads and great cars, but even better, great people to share it with. Each time we stopped we talked with different people and every person, every group, was a joy. I could not have asked for a better trip from start to finish.
Where to next?