Nick & Sara’s Tour de West – 16

Sun, 20 Sep 09

The end of a trip is often a bittersweet affair – you’re kind of glad to be getting back home and back to familiar environs, and sad the trip is ending, just the same.

So, this is the final push – from Salt Lake I really have two choices – head northeast on I-80 back through Wyoming and then down I-25 home, or head slightly south on I-15 to UT 6 southeast to I-70 and back home. I did the portion of I-80 through Wyoming on the way out, I hate to repeat myself, and I’m already slightly south of Salt Lake,so I opt for the southern route on I-70 through Colorado.

Silly me.

The trip on I-15 and UT 6 is uneventful. There’s a few rain showers and light thunderstorms in the area, which provides some interest to the drive although it makes the roads kinda sloppy and wet. For the most part, Sara and I take it easy all the way through Utah to I-70 in Green River, not too far from the Colorado State border. This is all pretty familiar territory at this point, as I’ve done the drive through this part of Utah on several occasions to go mountain bike riding in the Moab, which is near here and considered one of the meccas for mountain biking in this country.

Even the first half of Colorado goes smoothly – through Grand Junction, the high country on the Western Slope of Colorado, on through Glenwood Canyon, on into Eagle, Vail.

SCREEEEECH! Traffic comes to a grinding stop in Vail. Uh, oh..should have thought about the choice between I-80 and I-70 a bit longer. I-80 goes through basically nowhere and doesn’t get backed up. I-70, on the other hand, is the main artery between the ski resorts of Beaver Creek, Vail, and Summit County and the Denver Metropolitan area. And it’s a Sunday afternoon – always the worst time for traffic out of the ski areas. And it’s peak Aspen viewing season – always a busy time.

Add to all of that apparently there’s construction going on between Vail and Copper Mountain (about 20 miles away), and the road is down to 1 lane in a number of places. For the next 20 miles, we poke along. Stop, start, stop again, start again. It takes 2 hours to go the 20 miles to Copper – and this is all stop and go traffic, in a Porsche with a stiff clutch. By the time we get to Copper my left knee is aching and I’m seriously thinking of pulling into Breckenridge for the night. I can take another day off and get home tomorrow.

Fortunately traffic eases a bit after Copper, and while it’s still not completely smooth sailing (it never is on a Sunday returning from the mountains), it’s not terrible, and buy the time we reach Breck I’ve decided Sara and I are going to make a run for home tonight. We pull back into Boulder about 2 more hours after that – 7ish at night – exhausted but happy to be home.

So, that’s the way it ends, not with a bang, but with a whimper and a sigh of relief. It’s ironic that in the 3800 miles of driving over 2 weeks, the worst part was the last 100 miles back from Vail to Boulder.

Save for that last 100 miles and a few similar miles into Portland one night, it’s been an enjoyable journey. I didn’t come up with any life-changing revelations along the way, nor did I “fix” my life in any meaningful sense while I was gone. Or course, I’m not sure my life needs a complete “fix” – may a tweak or two here an there, an adjustment perhaps, but overall, it ain’t too bad. I’m still an “N,” though I’ll have to admit sometimes this “S” stuff – flying more by the seat-of-the-pants and less organized – is kinda fun.

For those of you that have read all of these notes and have come along for the entire ride, thank you. It’s been as much fun writing these and bringing you with me as it has been taking the actual journey.

I can’t wait to read about your adventures. And who knows, maybe in the spring Sara & I will get the itch to drive the southern half of the west coast and complete the circuit.

Google Maps link to the route: