14,000 FEET

I drove through the “Cimarron Pass.” We wanted to get to Telluride, Colorado. We were in Lake City. There were two main roads, one north, one south, that circumvented the considerable mountains. They call them “THE FOURTEENERS” or 14,000 feet up. Four hours each way around.
Usually I’m the cautious one. Margaret’s “spirit” is amazing. I am grateful now for all the times she’s challenged my “timidity.”I looked at my map. There was an obscure line that looked like a road. It was 21 miles long. Twenty minutes instead of four hours.
I asked a local if we could take that road.
“What you driving?”
“A convertible” pointing at the Sebring.
“No way man, four wheel dive jeeps have trouble with that road.”
Why, I didn’t know but to ask an obvious drunk, carrying take-out BBQ, the
same question. “Sure, piece of cake” as he walked out. My guess is he’s still laugh- ing. Wicked Jerk.
Against Margaret’s objection, the most concern I’d witnessed, we took off. I’d show her courage.
Actually about six or eight miles of that road is simply a dirt road. No worse than a thousand a redneck like me has traveled. “The drunk was right, must be some local ‘wussies’ around here.”
The road ran out. Hardly a visible path. We were literally riding “through the mountains.” The warm weather was melting the snow. The tires spun in the mud and on the rocks. Rear end bouncing everywhere. Two miles per hour max. Margaret had to stand up in the convertible front seat to spot a route. “A foot left, no, no, back, ouch!” The bottom of the Sebring banged rocks, mud flew everywhere. We pushed it six times. And it was getting dark. We came to a “Y” or what looked like two roads. Which one goes to Silverton, our destination?
We guessed right and to the right. We found out the other road would have taken seven hours. Alone at night with the grizzlies?
Silverton is one of those train ride towns, where you hang over the mountains, wondering if the engineer was still driving. Now, I’m the engineer.
Never been so scared for so long. At twilight, near darkness, we spotted what might be a road, or a sophisticated path. It led to a better road. Then a house. Civilization.
There was a “yuppie” party in full blast. Music, booze, all turned inward from the visible balcony. One guy stood, drink in hand, overlooking the road I was meandering down, top lowered.
He stopped the party! “Damn ya’ll come over here.” The music stopped, the yuppies wandered to the rail.
Quiet now, I heard the guy marvel, “That Son of a Bitch drove that rental through the Cimarron Pass!”
I stuck out my chest, felt like John Wayne, and waved.
When we got about to Silverton my instructions to Margaret were: “We’re stopping at the first motel open. You rent any room at any price.”
When she opened the motel door I went directly to a bed, laid down and thanked God. I didn’t move till morning.
The Sebring was so muddy I felt I had to have it washed. I told the attendant what I’d done and asked if we should examine it underneath?
“Mister, I believe I’d just try to turn this one in, if you can get it back.”

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