Our snow storm is over and we had glorious blue skies and sunshine today. Joe had to drive up to an appointment in the mountains so I took my water bottle and book ("The Missionary Movement in Christian History: Studies in the Transmission of Faith by Andrew F. Walls_absolutely fascinating and eye opening) and tagged along.
We drove south through a couple of old coal mining towns (around which have developed a lot of attractive housing in the past 20 years) a few miles and then straight up the front slope of the Wet Mountains on Oak Creek Grade (this narrow dirt shelf road appears to angle up the side of the mountains at about 45 degrees). Just beyond the first ridge is a lovely little valley with a tiny fruit farm tucked in the bottom. There are gnarled antique apple trees as well as a new orchard of small trees on the other side of the road. They also have a nice size vineyard where they grow grapes for the Abbey Winery in Canon City. I told Joe that the first family to start growing fruit here (probably in the silver mining days) had to have been cockeyed optimists.
After driving about 25 miles up and down and around and around through the canyon and mountains, we turned onto a side road that was quite steep and very slippery. As a proficient control freak, when I feel out of control I panic! It's a good thing Joe was driving; after years of driving firetrucks and wreckers in Eastern Colorado, he knows how to handle a car in these circumstances (we were not driving an SUV like the people who live up there have to). We finally made it to the top of one of the lower mountains where there was a fantastic view of the snow covered Sangre de Cristos looming over the Wet Mountains.
I can see why people want to live there, but it requires a good four wheel drive vehicle, the fortitude to live with a dish internet phone system that isn't very efficient or effective, and numerous other challenges. Many of the residents of the mountains don't even have electrical service and have to depend on generators or solar energy systems. They also have to pay a considerable mileage fee to have their appliances repaired. This gives me the opportunity to take some lovely rides with Joe, meet some fascinating people and admire their interesting homes.
Driving back down that slippery road was easier than climbing it had been, but veeeery slippery. On the way back down the Oak Creek Grade I was able to get some wonderful shots of Pikes Peak, north beyond the Arkansas River Valley and Canon City. We then drove back home through Chandler Canyon and came into Florence on one of the numerous back roads. Joe says he has to get the high pressure washer out tomorrow to get the mud off of our white Chevy. We used that rather than his business van because it doesn't go up hills very well.
When you look at these photos (please click to enlarge them and get the effect better) you will realize that the main reason I have this blog is to let people know what a gorgeous place I am blessed to live in.