(Click on images for larger version … especially this shot)
Falling a bit behind in updating the blog from our Southwest Colorado trip. Things take priority sometimes: you know, like a full-time job and life with a six-month old. Funny how every spare moment — mornings, nights, weekends — I want to spend with her. Just finished getting her down for bed and now I’ll be off on a business trip for three days. So it goes.
But odds are, I’ll have regular updates through the end of the year with this trip, next week’s trips to Steamboat Springs and Snowmass, and then our mid-November journey to Kauai. Good to have new material, for sure.
On the Sunday morning of our trip, I awoke at dawn … groggy, gross and overheated. The hot evening and sleeping on the ground had left me feeling less than ideal. Now would have been a great time for coffee (or a bucket of ice to dunk my head in), but again, we weren’t too adept at this camping thing, so we didn’t have any way to make coffee. We brought breakfast: 12 crummy Target cereal bars. That was it. Grumble, grumble, grumble.
Varenna, however, was her usual spry self. Kids can sleep anywhere. In the future, we’ll camp because of her, not because of us. It won’t be because we thoroughly enjoy it (just being honest: after all, this was the first time we’d camped since we got engaged) or because we love making cowboy coffee over a fireplace. We’ll camp to experience her reaction to it. And that’s assuming she’ll love it (after seeing how she is in the outdoors, I’m fairly certain she will). And then as a result, we will love camping.
We set out along Rim Rock Drive around 7am, catching some of the most brilliant golden light I’ve seen in Colorado.
We experimented with lens flares, shooting into the sun, and comparing the way the Canon 5D Mark II and the Canon 40D handled the light. In fact, in some instances, the same shot came out better on the Canon 40D (I have no idea why).
By 8:30am we were back at the campground packing up. Onward through the rest of the park along Rim Rock Drive, a stop for brunch in Grand Junction, and then a two-hour drive to Ridgway at the foot of the San Juan Mountains. The drive was uneventful through the monument, but twice we heard a weird knocking sound — once pulling into a turnout and again on a steep switchback. Both times while turning. We didn’t think anything of it.
But a mile outside Delta, Colorado — at a speed of 65 mph — it occurred again and there was no way to ignore it. A bang followed by a high, straining whir of the engine. I began to slow down significantly, and noticed the steering wheel was like lead. It took about a quarter mile to stop in the shoulder, but I got it there in one piece. Varenna slept through the whole thing.
Was it a blowout? Nope. A quick walk around the vehicle disproved that theory. When I restarted the car, the transmission light, the oil light, the check engine light and the parking brake light were all on (even though the parking brake wasn’t engaged). That helps.
Long story short, it was the power-steering belt. It flew off because the mechanics who replaced it the week before forgot to clamp it down. For the entire drive from Denver down I-70, up Rim Rock Drive, around Colorado National Monument (alone) in the dead of night under a full moon, this belt spun and somehow didn’t fly off. Fortunately, it didn’t destroy anything else in the engine when it came off, and after a tow to Montrose and a drop off at the airport, the three of us were in a rental car headed to Ridgway to salvage our itinerary. We arrived in one piece at the Chipeta Sun Lodge, the perfect place to chill out after such an episode.
By Monday morning, the belt was replaced, and by noon we’d retrieved the car and were headed to Ouray and then Telluride. Vacation saved.