Through the San Juan Mountains

The evening time of September the 8th in the year of our Lord 2011 found me grateful to be alive. We drove from Bernilillo, New Mexico to Ouray, Colorado on highway 550. The later half of this trip, the stretch from Durango to Ouray is the scariest road I’ve ever driven in my entire life. If you are ever in the mood to jolt the living peewaddin out of yourself, this is the way to go. It’s a thrill a minute and terrors galore. Miles and miles and miles of narrow winding 2 lane road with no guard rails and hairpin turns. My knuckles are still white.

Curdle Your Blood 10 mph Mt Pass

I wonder how many people have died of a heart attack on that road. I’m a changed woman. When we finally arrived at the Ouray campground I gave serious thought to going home and never leaving my house again. But then I’d miss out on all that fun/heart stopping adventure.

Deceptively peaceful field of daisies at 11,000 ft.

In the future I will pay much more attention to the difference between “peak” and “pass” on the map. I thought we were going to have a lovely view driving by the mountains safely in the lowlands. Instead we drove over not one but 3 mountain passes. Coal Bank pass, 10,640 Ft., Molas 10,910 Ft. and Red Mountain Pass at a whopping 11,008 Ft. I didn’t even know one could breathe at that altitude.

After creeping around one particularly hairy turn which looked like I was driving right out into the sky, I contemplated pulling over and calling for a helicopter rescue. The only thing that gave me the courage to continue was the that I would never hear the end of it from Mr. Husband. He would tease me about it to my dying day.

The next morning we went to the visitors center and asked them which way was the flattest way out of town.

16 responses

  1. You should ALWAYS be grateful to be alive!
    Great post, though.

    1. I am usually grateful to be alive, with occasional bouts of wimpiness. Part of being human I guess 🙂

  2. […] Her mission is not to stagnate in her retirement, so she’s undertaken several adventures since her “freedom” began. The latest is a camping/road trip which starts with the post It’s 5:00 am Again– Time to Change My Life (just keep reading all the posts after that). One of my personal favourites from this trip (thus far) though is Through the San Juan Mountains. […]

    1. thank you for thinking my life is interesting 🙂

  3. We have roads like that here. I remember being terrified driving down a steep winding mountain years ago with the kids. Felt like we could fall off the side. I know just how you felt!

  4. This is so funny! We have quite a few mountain passes where I live, and I’ve often had the same thoughts. Don’t ever voice them though for fear of being called a sissy.

    Have really been enjoying your posts about this trip.

    1. Thank you Lisa, trust me you are not the only mountain sissy. I proudly wear that hat now. And thank you for a trackback. 🙂

      1. Your trip post made me laugh every time I read them, so I felt I had to share.:-)

  5. There’s nit enough Xanax in the world to get me through that drive–yikes! I’ll happily live vicariously through you while far, far away from guard-rail-less hairpin turns.

    1. Oh didn’t think of Xanax. Probably would have been too scared to pull over and dig it out of my luggage. 🙂

  6. I’m picturing the movie ‘The Long Long Trailer’ with Lucy and Ricky,you’re Ricky.So glad you’re writing all this stuff down (you brave thing),great post!

    1. That movie was hilarious. I made sure I didn’t fill up the car with rocks.

  7. Been there, done that, loved it. Enjoy!

    1. Well I love it now, but at the time I was terrified 🙂

    1. Glad you liked it. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

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