Colorado in the Rearview Mirror: Cruising to Colorado – Day Seven, Eight and Nine

Waking up in a dry, warm room the morning after a long day of trail riding was one of the most blissful moments of the trip. Combine that with homemade bread being delivered to our room made for a great start to the seventh day of our escape from reality.

(Click on the following days to read more of my “Cruising to Colorado” series. Blog post: Day One, Day Two, Day Three, Day Four and Five, Day Six)

We snacked on the bread until we caved and warmed up leftover pizza and quesadillas…breakfast of champions, am I right? We couldn’t waste all of that delicious food we had left and with a microwave in the room the decision had been made quite easily. We got our smorgasbord of food and went outside to the balcony, enjoying our “brunch” and watching traffic go by.

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The balcony is a perfect place to drink coffee!

After spending some more time enjoying the luxury of an actual room, we packed our belongings and hopped back into the truck ready for another day of exploring the wilderness. On the itinerary was the Corkscrew Gulch trail, located back toward the direction of Silverton on the Million Dollar Highway. It gets its name “corkscrew” from the switchbacks you have to take to get to the top of one of the mountains.

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Goodbye, Main Street Inn!

We made sure this trail would be a fairly easy ride after conquering Engineer Pass and Mineral Creek yesterday. We wanted a relaxing trail filled with beautiful sights and Corkscrew Gulch seemed like it would fit the bill. It was a perfect day for driving after the misty rain that took place the day before. The sun was shining radiantly and cotton ball clouds were floating in the clear blue sky.

Getting back onto the Million Dollar Highway was something I dreaded but also anticipated. We would be seeing some beautiful parts of the country while driving on an incredibly narrow road and with the wrong turn–off the cliff you would go. So, my feelings were without doubt mixed on the way to the trail.

Corkscrew Gulch

Once we arrived to the trail head, Cody did some tweaking under the hood to make sure the truck was good to go. We didn’t want to be on the middle of some switchbacks and the truck give up on us!

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Starting out on this trail, I already knew we were going to have a good time. We went through woods, streams, rocky areas and up a mountain–this trail had the best of everything for people who may want to give off-roading a shot. Vibrant, red mountains were visible while driving on the trail, something we hadn’t seen in Colorado yet.

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The switchbacks weren’t too difficult when we went up the mountain. If you don’t know what a switchback is, it’s basically a very abrupt turn in the road while going up a mountain. There typically is more than one switchback, meaning you drive up a path carved into the mountain, turn abruptly to go the other way and keep repeating this process until the switchbacks are over with! They can be nerve-wracking; turning that quickly doesn’t leave much room for error.

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Once we made it to the top, the panoramic views of mountains encompassed us. For the second time on our trip, I felt like I was on top of the world.

Traveling down the switchbacks was more challenging since we were going downhill in a standard and felt like we could’ve easily slid off the edge and down the mountain! Thankfully that wasn’t the case. We made it to the bottom and parked in an out-of-the-way area, popped the tailgate and used our Coleman burner to warm up chili for a late lunch.

The Truck on the Fritz

Once we got back into Ouray, we explored through some of the gift shops. While perusing the stores, we both suddenly felt homesick, missing the familiar sights of home. Instead of staying at the Ouray KOA, we decided we would hit the road one day early to make the journey back home.

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The main road in Ouray.

As we drove out of Ouray, the truck seemed to feel a bit homesick, too. It had gradually gotten worse after we had returned from the trail we had been on earlier. Leaving Ouray, we headed toward Montrose leading us through some small bits of construction which didn’t sit well with the truck. It would backfire and cut out sporadically.

We always kept the reminder in the back of our mind that Cody’s family could come get us since we had discussed it before leaving. They had a truck and trailer that would be able to haul the truck back home if needed. We hoped it wouldn’t come to that so we kept on with the slow drive back home.

Once we made it to Montrose that afternoon the truck still was backfiring. Being in a congested town with an unpredictable truck wasn’t a great mix. We planned to get out of the town as soon as we could. But, of course, the truck had to put on a show while it had the chance! When we drove through the town, we spotted a cop and Cody was hoping the truck wouldn’t act up then…well, I’m sure you can guess what happened next! The truck backfired incredibly loud right as we drove by the cop! Nothing came of it but it is still something we remember.

We kept on driving a slow drive. We were about 10 miles from Gunnison when the truck had all it could take. By some miracle, when we pulled the truck on the shoulder a campsite was right up the road on the right side of the road. We walked over to the campground and found out they had open spots. We didn’t know how we would get the truck to the campsite, but another miracle happened. When Cody tried to start the truck again it fired back up and we made it right to the campground before it died again.

The campground name was Stevens Creek located in the Curecanti National Recreation Area right by the Blue Mesa Reservoir. We knew God was watching out for us when a campsite just happened to be right by where the truck died.

The campground was open with spacious site. The Blue Mesa Reservoir offered beautiful panoramic views of the water. We couldn’t believe our luck! To make it even better, several fellow campers were more than happy to push the truck to our campsite and the campsite host was the best! He offered us snacks like granola bars and even fresh fish! You could tell he loved his job and we were incredibly grateful for his hospitality.

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Cody had called his family and they immediately started getting everything ready to come to the rescue! We automatically felt relief, knowing we could relax and not worry about how to get home. So, the rest of the night we enjoyed the starry sky and fried fish in the Dutch oven.

The Day of Relaxation and Waiting

With help on the way, Cody and I were able to relax the next day as we waited for his family. Looking back on the trip, this day was the least stressful and most low-key day we had!

Cody made us a delicious breakfast on the Coleman stove. Scrambled eggs, crunchy bacon, toast and crisp breakfast potatoes was what we feasted on! Cody can make a mean camp breakfast!

All day we explored the campground and lounged in the camper shell. It wasn’t near as cold since we had gone down a lot in elevation. The weather was cool but perfect for being outside. We did plenty of napping and playing Farkle and card games. We really enjoyed the time together reflecting on the trip. Even though the truck didn’t make it the entire way, we wouldn’t trade a single memory.

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When the sun was about to set, we anxiously awaited his mom, dad and brother’s arrival. I practically jumped for joy when I saw the familiar truck and trailer coming down the road! We were about to see familiar faces!

We were all so happy to see each other. The truck got loaded up on the trailer and we headed into Gunnison to eat dinner, which ended up being a Pizza Hut. Since there were multiple festivals happening in Gunnison and the nearby town, Salida, all of the hotels were booked with no rooms available.

We were all so mentally and physically tired, but we were able to find a place to stay in the town called, Saguache, at the Big Valley Motel. The drive took about an hour and when we arrived the motel looked nice but a little sketchy in the back where we were staying. There was a dark building with a broken out window and we were all convinced that was our room! Our imaginations were running wild.

Thankfully, our room was attached to the motel and was a spacious two bedroom and one bathroom suite. We were grateful for the beds to rest in before the long trip back home.

On the Homestretch

We all woke up rested and ready to get on the road the next day. It was great to have extra company and to share all of the great adventures Cody and I had been on during the trip. They also were able to enjoy the drive to get us by stopping in quaint towns and enjoying a small bit of Colorado for a short amount of time.

The plan was to head back through the Great Sand Dunes so Cody’s family could see something neat since they came all that way to pick us up. It was fun being able to go back for a brief amount of time and relive a memory that had happened only a few days before.

We drove back through the town of Blanca and ate lunch at Lu’s Main Street Café, a big red-roof building that simply has the word “café” on it. They had a juicy, delicious burger and fries that hit the spot!

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Source: Wikipedia

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MASSIVE burger from the cafe in Blanca. Delicious!

On the road, we played our fair share of Farkle and did lots of sightseeing from the truck. After getting out of the scenic part of Colorado it hit us all how much we wanted to be back home.

It was nighttime by the time we got back in Oklahoma and we hadn’t eaten dinner yet. We found a Taco Bell on the GPS and could already imagine crunchy tacos and beefy burritos in our hands. As we got closer (or so we thought) to the Taco Bell, the more we realized that there couldn’t be a fast-food restaurant anywhere close to where we were. The GPS had taken us to the boonies. We were on a sand road with a big truck and trailer loaded down with the Courier.

Cody, his dad and brother all had to help each other maneuver the truck so we would be able to turn around and not get stuck. Let’s all remember that trips aren’t ever boring, right? We did get away from the “sinking sand” and never wanted to go to that Taco Bell again!

Eventually, we did find a real Taco Bell and filled our bellies with all types of “healthy” options. From then on it was a straight shot to home. Everyone was worn out and ready to be in a bed, not asleep in the truck.

We got back home around one in the morning and couldn’t wait to be in our own beds! The Colorado trip with Cody was something we would never forget. If we could make it through all of the hectic adventures we went on and still want to be around each other, I think we were doing pretty well!

We learned a lot about each other and road trips in general during that week. Just a piece of advice–never turn down an opportunity to travel somewhere new, whether you’re alone or with your best travel companion, an adventure will always await. You never know what great story will come from stepping out of your comfort zone and exploring the world.

 

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