This Park Is Beautiful. It’s Even More Terrifying.

We drove Rimrock Drive and hiked Serpent’s Trail (“the most crooked road in the world” when it was used to haul coal 80 years ago) at the Colorado National Monument during our stay here. Upon arriving, we also dragged Libbie up three miles of a twisty, cliff-edged road to camp at the top of the world, with campsite vistas for 50+ miles.

It was all beautiful. And terrifying.

I overdosed on both.

See for Yourself

This is beautiful. And this. And this. And …

So many stunning, eye-popping vistas. 

My eyes got full.

My head got even more full of all the horrible ways we could tumble down the infinite chasms and die in fiery doom.

Too Much of a Good Thing

To see each of these impossibly gorgeous views, we drove Rimrock Drive, a 40-mile there-and-back exercise in “too much for Glenn.” Well before we had completed the round trip, I was a quivering hyperventilation of anxiety, completely over it. On the last few scenic overlooks, where Rachel stepped out to fill her camera with even more stunning photos, I remained in the passenger seat, trying to slow my breathing and heart rate.

Up until now I’ve had more seat time towing Libbie, so when we arrived I drove her up the initial 20-minute (terrifying) climb to the campsite. Rachel has more sangfroid, so she drove the remainder of the (TERRIFYING) 23-mile Rimrock Drive the day after we had unhitched our house.

Here’s what I’m talking about. FWIW, I can barely stand to watch this.

Make no mistake. I would have been physically incapable of driving the two-hour route that she did. Had I been behind the wheel for more than a few minutes, I’d have coasted Kyrie to a stop, turned off the ignition, and crawled out of the car to the non-cliff-of-death side, where I would have remained, whimpering, until some park ranger hoisted me physically out of the park. I would have, of course, left the vehicle behind as too terrifying to ever drive again.

Enough Is Enough

Adventure is a good thing, and I suppose you can’t have adventure without some peril. But it’s also useful to know that not every adventure needs to peg the danger-meter.

Because sometimes, too much of a good thing is just too much.

Terrifying P.S.

On our way out of the park with Libby in tow, just after we had started our twisty, 3-mile exit descent of horror, and well into into navigating those drop-offs of dying death and doom, we turned a particularly perilous hairpin to find, blocking the lane in front of us, 3 official pylons, whose implicit message of “do not proceed” brought Rachel and me to a paralyzed stop, but not before I had already steered our rig slowly around them into the oncoming lane as if to suggest that maybe we should ignore these official beacons and take our chances with whatever danger lie ahead.

Upon even a moment’s reflection we decided that of course we could not ignore these pylons. They probably signaled that the road ahead had fallen completely off the mountain that morning. But we also couldn’t go backwards, because that would entail BACKING UP BLIND ON THE MOST PERILOUS ROAD IN THE WORLD (when I’m only just learning to back up a trailer on wide, dry, flat, land as it is). So, well, that putting-it-in-reverse option was pretty much off the table.

After a couple minutes of rising anxiety, and in the face of traffic accumulating in the uphill lane that we were now blocking, we decided we had no option but to back as carefully as we could into our original downhill lane, risking sending Libbie and us tumbling off the adjacent cliff that was right there, and then park the rig smack in the middle of the downhill lane and hoof it back half a mile up the mountain to the ranger station to ask for guidance.

So I backed Libbie up, on a blind cliff, with impatient drivers watching, and my anxiety level pegging the chart. With Rachel standing cliffside and guiding, we inched our way back into our own lane, put all the brakes on, and let all the climbing vehicles pass on our left.

Then a ranger showed up and removed the cones.

“We had this downhill lane blocked all morning for some road work,” he said. “It’s clear now. You can go ahead.”

I have never loved a man in uniform so much in my life.

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