Thursday, September 1, 2011

Rocky Mountain National Park... and the big bad idea.

Yesterday I drove 2 hours northwest to Grand Lake to pick-up the trailer. The guy I bought the trailer from had the tires and wheels here in Denver so, I filled them with air, and had one tire replaced with a good used tire. The tires are in rough shape, but I had hoped that would make the two hour trip home. 

The guy had also taken off the hubs on one side of the trailer. He told me the lug nuts were rusted on, but actually, he was turning them the wrong way. Back in the day they would reverse the lugs on one side, theoretically so they wouldn't un-screw while driving down the road. Once I found the trailer, I made fast time getting the drums back on and mounting the wheels, but before I could get moving, another tire went flat. I took it off and headed to near-by Granby to get it fixed. 

Finally, everything put back together, taillights hooked up and blinkers working it was time to head out. No insurance, plates or title I decided that avoiding major roads would certainly be the best route, and if I could toss in some beautiful scenery that would be great too. Up and over Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park? Perfect! 

I reached the ranger station and asked him how tough is the drive. How steep? 7% he said, no big deal. Sharp turns? You betcha, but you can make it. Just go slow and don't get intimidated by the people behind you....

You'll notice that there are no pictures of this part of the trip. Going up was hard, the little Astro was pulling as best as she could, in first gear, at about 15 miles an hour. Sharp curves every quarter mile, cliffs edge on both side. White knuckles, stress, and no way to turn around. 

I eventually made it to the top, 12,000+ feet above sea level. One thing the ranger neglected to tell me, (b/c maybe all good Colorado residence should know) Trail Ridge Road is the highest highway in North America. Did I mention I was stressed-out?!?!?! 

I was hopeful that the way down would be easier. Hopes dashed! No guardrails, 1000+ foot drops on either side, and the little Astro with no sway bar or electric trailer brakes. I put her in 1st and rolled down slowly, traffic piling up behind me. I think the classic Michigan plates might have saved me here. Maybe the folks behind me gave me some slack...

About half way down the mountain I realized that one of the 4 trailer tires was flat. In retrospect, all four tires replaced would've been a smart idea. After another 5 miles I found level ground, changed the tire, and continued into the town of Estes Park, on to Lyons, bi-passed Boulder and took the back roads into Broomfield. Home.

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