Fate has a funny way of showing itself when you least expect it. Most would heed that statement as a cautionary tale, but luckily I found it to be fortuitous one October day.
I had taken a weeks leave from my full-time job at the time as I was going to settle on a house and planned to move later that week. However, with a few days to go the contract fell through and alas I was not buying a house.
Though I was unsettled about the turn of events, I now found myself heading into a week of no work and no plans. A friend living in southern Utah had recently traveled to Zion National Park and was posting beautiful pictures from his trip. The next thing I know, one Sunday afternoon, I found a cheap ticket to Denver for Tuesday and booked it. I booked a car rental, packed my drone, camera and a change of clothes and headed off to my adventure.
My father made a career in the military and growing up always iterated to me “proper prior planning prevents piss poor performance.” I am more relaxed and, as my many adventures show, do not always plan properly for my travels. I am more focused on what there is to see and do than the basic necessities sometimes. For this Colorado trip, I had a ticket to and from Denver, a rental car, and a list of what I wanted to see.
With a day to plan, I started calling friends who lived in Colorado to ask their recommendations on where I should go, what I should do. Someone mentioned they always wanted to make it over to Telluride, another buddy lived and hiked in Breckenridge, and a colleague back home suggested Utah for the beauty as well. Though I had a fair list of what to see I didn’t plan much further than the route I would take to get to them all.
For those of you that have not had the experience, flying with a drone is always fun. Especially flying at a Washington D.C. airport with a large black case. This is where my prior planning had helped immensely. All batteries of a certain size must be in your carry on luggage. Further, I do not plan on trusting anyone else to handle the drone so that is in my carry on as well. However, a black pelican case full of electronics and propellers is going to get the attention of any TSA personnel. After a little show and tell, I was on my way with everything that I packed.
Elated that I was on my way, I relaxed and gleefully spent time narrowing down the list of attractions. With a WiFi connection restored upon arrival I delved into the task of determining the route. Being my first trip to Colorado, I relished in the view I had seen from the plane; plains to the east and to the west beautiful mountains that stretched across the horizon.
With the realization that I had no food nor had made plans for sleeping accommodations in any way, I stopped at the grocery store and worried about where I would sleep later hoping fate would be on my side. I packed up the rental car, ready to head down the highway into the endless mountains. My destination was Telluride.
I cannot describe the view of I-70 westbound as you head into the mountains. Being from the east coast, these mountains were substantially larger than I had experienced before. I should have heeded the rental car employee’s advice and upgraded to a six cylinder for the mountain drive. After crossing the first ridge, the mountains opened up to a beautiful scene. A populated grassy plain, surrounded by mountains, topped with a dramatic sky overhead. I teared when I saw the picture later at the simple beauty that was captured.
For someone who had never driven in through the Rocky Mountains, it was amazing. The layers from the Earth’s past, causing vibrant and contrasting colors, that are put on display along towering canyon walls carved with great force, and the sheer size of the peaks and valleys that lay before you. Everywhere you look there is a new beauty. I couldn’t help myself with snapping photos along the entire route.
I continued west towards Grand Junction with the landscape continuing to change. Though the canyons were now giving way to more subdued fields, I was still in awe. I seemed to be behind on my plan but its hard to concentrate on such frivolous things with your head in the clouds. My goal was to make it to Telluride before I stopped, but as fate would have it that was not going to happen.
I passed through Ridgeway, driving east up a road through the mountains. Somewhere along that road I saw beauty that stopped me in my tracks. As the road wound along, it came to overlook the most picturesque landscape of the entire trip. To the west was a giant grassy plain that evolved into hills along the south and further becoming a mountain ridge with snowy peaks along the west. The view was breath taking, worth every second spent on the side of the road staring into the distance with not a soul nor sound around to disrupt this beauty.