Monday, August 3, 2009

Pikes Peak

On Saturday, kind of on a whim, Torsten and I decided to spend the afternoon in Colorado Springs, which is about an hour south of Denver. We'd heard that it was gorgeous there, so we picked a brewery to have lunch at, typed the address into our GPS, hopped in the car, and went. I love how easy things are with a GPS.

After lunch we stopped at the visitors' bureau in search of advice on where to go to see pretty things, and that's when we realized that we were right by Pikes Peak. There's a train that goes right up the side of it, and we wanted to do that, but apparently it takes over three hours round trip, and we had to be back in Denver that night for a concert. So, we decided to drive, since that only takes two hours round trip.

I was driving, because Torsten had had a beer with lunch, and that kind of sucked for me, because it was a scary road and not the type where you can take in the scenery as you drive, you know? But luckily, there were lots of places to pull off the road and get out of the car to admire the view and take photos. So I still got to enjoy myself.

But OMG, let's talk about the ROAD a little more. It's 19 miles to the top, and during those 19 miles you ascend from about 7,000 feet to just over 14,000 feet. To do this, you take 150 turns, 50 of which are classified as "hairpin turns," according to the nice woman at the visitors' bureau.

So, yeah, hairpin turns on the side of a mountain would be bad enough, but you guys, whoever built these roads? Had apparently never heard of GUARDRAILS. Or, really, road shoulders. Seriously, you're driving, and just off to the side of you is the side of the mountain, just WAITING for you to plunge to your death. I'm not even scared of heights, but... I don't know, the four guardrails that they've installed on the four scariest curves just aren't enough to cut it, in my opinion. Plus, you can drive as well as you want to, but what if someone going the other way ISN'T driving well? All you need is for them to veer onto your side of the road and you're a goner.

Seriously, in case you don't believe me, check out this road:




AND, on the way down, you have to drive in 1st gear, even if you're in an automatic, AND they stop you partway down and measure your brake temperature to make sure that your brakes aren't going to fail further down the mountain, killing you and possibly people in cars near you. Charming, huh?

Still, it was worth it for the view. I GUESS. (Full set here.)




33 comments:

  1. Awesome pictures! You look fabulous!

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  2. Horrors. HORRORS!!!! I don't even feel comfortable driving in TEXAS, one of the flattest places on earth. This is giving me hives.

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  3. OMG, that road really does look terrifying. I can't handle the roads in WEST VIRGINIA; I think I'd hyperventilate in Colorado. The view is certainly beautiful, though.

    By the way, you look great!!

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  4. Beautiful! I hate roads like that. I likely would have passed out and me driving on that road? NOT gonna happen.

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  5. The pictures are beautiful, but that drive would absolutely scare me to death!!

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  6. Haha! Never in a million years my friend. Those might be the scariest pictures I have ever seen!

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  7. Wow that is seriously gorgeous. You look great!

    (But also, holy cow, I would train it all the way for me. Aiieesh.)

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  8. no guardrails? yikes. I was in Denver the end of June and drove up to Grand Lake for a wedding. I thought that was scary and refused to look over the edge, but thankfully there was guardrails the whole way up!

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  9. This is pretty much one of the scariest things I have ever read. I need more than 6 inches between myself and cliff edges AT ALL TIMES. I am not even scared of heights.

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  10. Those are great pictures, but that road would terrify me! It would be hard enough for me to be the passenger much less the driver!

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  11. Holy cow, that's gorgeous. But, I get you on those hairpin turns. A friend and I had to drive from San Francisco to Big Sur in the middle of the night. We were weary and exhausted. And it wasn't until the next day we saw the road - HUGE drops off the side of the road. Man, we're glad we didn't know that ahead of time!

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  12. Heh. I've hiked that and taken the train up, but never driven. Looks like I wouldn't enjoy it.

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  13. Wow, it's like James Bond would be driving on. And that view is so gorgeous... definitely worth it. The roads aren't nearly as lovely in NC (though, they are lovely). You look great :)

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  14. Reason #937 I'm dying to move to Colorado.

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  15. Those are the most beautiful pictures, what a lovely view. Nope, you wouldn't catch me making that drive, EVER!

    You look mahvelous btw!

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  16. That picture is ADORABLE! Oh my goodness. So cute.

    I would have thrown up after every turn. I will never see that view.

    I have family in CO Springs and I've heard it's pretty too, but my impression was STRIP MALL nothing nothing nothing SUBDIVISION nothing nothing HUGE SUPER TARGET MALL nothing nothing SUBDIVISION etc. Next time I'll have to go see the pretty stuff. That doesn't require nausea-inducing roads.

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  17. ha, once again i'm the weirdo who LIKES roads like that. driving them is fun, but more exciting is on a bike. my ex has a motorcycle, and at first it was kind of scary to do that sort of thing on a bike? but then actually SO SUPER AWESOME. AND, if your bf is driving, you get to just hold on and watch ;-)

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  18. That road is a bit out of control. I think of Shauna and, well, she would not enjoy it.

    The last time I was on that road I was a passenger, drunk, and it was not good. Not good at all.

    I never, ever, want to be the driver. You are brave.

    But! You got an awesome pic of the two of you out of it!

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  19. You know, they hold an auto race on Pike's Peak every July - http://www.ppihc.com/default.aspx?tabid=1.

    And on our last vacation there, my family and I rode bikes down the mountain. There's a company that will take you up and follow you down with the van. You can go as fast or as slow as you want and if you tire, you can get back in the van. Wonderful experience and spectacular scenery!

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  20. That reminds me of the road we took to get to Multnomah Falls in Oregon. Scary.

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  21. Gotta love Colorado mountain roads!

    You should take the Oh-My-God road. I think it's the old road that goes between Central City and Idaho Springs. It's got some exciting bits and lovely views, and there's a bunch of old mining ruins and towns back there.

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  22. That looks like my worst nightmare! I am impressed that you made it.

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  23. It's so beautiful there. I really need to visit CO.

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  24. I'm hyperventilating a bit just THINKING about those turns.

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  25. I love that picture of you and Torsten. Such a great photo. My parents have been to Pikes Peak and LOVE IT.

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  26. WHOA. I got vertigo from the PICS. But also, a desire to MOVE TO CO.

    Beautiful.

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  27. haha I remember when I went to Pikes Peak with my family when I was about 12. I was scared out of my mind on that road... and I love heights! Glad you had a good trip; the pics are gorgeous!

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  28. The cog train is a lot of fun if you guys go back again. The road in Rocky Mtn National Park looks a lot like this.

    Next time you are down in the Springs, go to Garden of the Gods. You can bring Montana there and it is absolutely beautiful!!

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  29. Awesome pictures. My parents went there a few years ago and rode the train up. They absolutely loved it. And the road up the mountain? Yeah, thats how most of the roads around here are (just not quite so high), be glad that you weren't driving it at night. Seriously though, looks like a lot of fun.

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  30. Gorgeous! And I realize that I'm sick and twisted, but that road looks like SO MUCH FUN!

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  31. When we went up Slate Peak in Eastern WA, we weren't even driving but I was sure we were going to die. no guardrails there either and only a gravel road that wasn't even wide enough for two cars to pass each other! Good grief! I HATE heights so it was bad enough being on the inside but when we came back down and I could actually see what was just over the cliff....I don't want to think about it ever. again.

    And checking the brake temp on the way down? That is just too much.

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