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on the road with gwendymom
I recently made a emergency trip to Grand Junction Colorado with my eighteen year old daughter. I drove through most of the western side of Kansas to hit I-70. Then drove through the middle of Colorado until 30 miles before the Utah state line. It was a long and exhausting trip.
I should give you a few details about my past so that you can understand the state of terror that I was in driving over Loveland/Vail pass.
I lived in Colorado for many years and spent lots of time there during my childhood. When I became an adult and had two of my three children, I decided that I wanted a part time job. At that time I lived in Durango, CO. I picked up the newspaper and read an add for delivery drivers for the Denver Post. I thought that this would be the perfect job for me as I could work early in the mornings before the kids could wake up and I had a family friend that would be able to watch the kids when I was out. Needless to say I didn't even consider the winter driving, or the that the newspapers have to be delivered seven days a week. Yep, hindsight really is 20/20. I went in and applied for the job, and got it. My route would be about a 90 mile trip through mostly rural country.
I realy enjoyed this job at first, I loved to drive, I loved being away from the house for a little bit, and the pay wasn't bad either. Everything was good until the winter months. There was a certain part of my route that actually closed up during the winter months, that should have given me some kind of clue as to the trouble I would soon be facing, but of course in my mind I was thinking, this is great, I don't have to do almost a quarter of my route and I still get paid the same. I sit here now nodding my head. That was a stupid thought.
At this time I drove a very very small car. It was great as far as the gas thing, not good for safety. I did really great for awhile, I got stuck a few times, and learned to carry a bag of kitty litter in my car. I never had an accident with another vehicle or any non-moving object. I did however hit a few deer. Deer are now my mortal enemy.
There was a particular area of my route that I knew would be trouble. It was toward the end and I had about five or six houses on the top of a very steep hill. one morning after a pretty good snowfall I tried to make it up that hill to deliver the newspapers. Here is how that whole thing panned out.
First run- Nice and steady on the accelerator, slowly climbing. Can't climb anymore. Going down the hill backwards.
Second run- Ok, a little faster now. Climbing a little faster, halfway to the top, I slide down the hill again.
Third run- Ok, gun it. I think I might make it this time. Almost to the top. going down the hill backwards again. I have to run into a snowbank to that I don't take out a street sign.
Fourth run- Same as third.
Fifth run- Same as fourth.
Ok, I give up, maybe tomorrow.
The next day.
First run- Same as the day before.
Second run- Same as the first.
Third run- same as the second
Forth one- same as the third.
I will try again tomorrow.
First run- Same as yesterday. etc etc.
I ended up losing my job because I could not make it up that stupid hill.
I then went to work for The Rocky Mountain News. I didn't last too long with that job, as I started having car trouble and it was becoming hard for me to able to be reliable. I wonder if running my car repeatedly into snowbanks could have had anything to do with the car trouble?
I have always been a fan of little cars. I have also hit many deer in these little cars. I have now discovered that I am night blind and should not be driving little cars at night.
When I moved to Oklahoma I was offered a job delivering The Daily Oklahoman, yea, I have a really thick head. I took the job. This job actually worked out very well for me. I would get up every morning at 3:30 am drink some coffee to wake up and leave my house at about 4:00 am. I then drove to a small town and picked up my papers. I then drove to another small town and then another. I could be done with my route in time to get my kids up and ready for school, when I could then take a short nap. At this time I was driving a 1995 Plymouth neon, if you have ever seen these cars then you know they are tiny, low to the ground, and have a perfectly sloped hood that will launch animals (like deer) right through your windshield. And that my friends is exactly what happened.
I consider myself very lucky that my daughter and I survived that accident pretty much unharmed. The deer hit the side of my car right before my windshield. And yes, he hit me, I was driving along minding my own business and he ran into me. The deers head came through my windshield and his antlers got caught in my steering wheel, at this point the deers neck was snapped and his body began tumbling down the side of my car, taking out the front door window the rear view mirror and the back door window until his antlers broke off and he was dead on the road.To add insult to the injury, one week to the day I hit another deer in my husbands newly painted classic truck. I was a little afraid to go home that day and tell my husband what had happened to his truck, but he has forgiven me, almost.
This is the point where I finally learn my lesson. I do not drive a little car anymore, I drive a huge SUV that no deer has any chance of making through my windshield. From that day forward I have been terrified of driving at night and avoid it anytime I can. I do have to say that I think I may be the world's best bumper bullet hunter.
This is when we get to the story of driving through Colorado. I have come to the conclusion that I have been a flatlander way too long. Driving through the plains of of Kansas and the eastern slope of Colorado was great. No trees to block my view of suicidal deer, and I was driving in the light of day. I drove through Denver without too many problems, although I will say that by the time I got there it was rush hour and driving a huge SUV through rush hour traffic is definitely a challenge, but I made it ok. It was not long after leaving Denver that the terrain had changed and I was driving in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, darkness was falling upon me quickly. Here is where my first incident happened. While driving I see out of the corner of my eye big horn sheep. I did not see just one big horn sheep, I saw 6-8. These sheep were so close to my vehicle that if my daughter had stuck her hand out the passenger side window she could have touched one. I was a little shaken and decided to slow down.
The next incident was when we started driving over Loveland/Vail pass. By this time it was getting darker and colder and then the rain started. The rain quickly turned into snow as soon as I reached the top of the pass. Of course. Now is the time when my windshield wipers decide to crap out on me and I have a semi behind me on a 6% grade. This was not a good situation. I then put my vehicle into four wheel drive and wrap both hands tightly around my steering wheel. I then have a white knuckle ride down this mountain shaking the whole way. When I reached the bottom of this pass I had to stop at the first gas station I came to, to use their bathroom. After a short wait at the gas station and a frantic phone call to my husband I hit the road once more.
I made it through the rest of the trip without any trouble, but I was a nervous wreck the entire time. The drive on the way home was easier, and I got home in one piece. It was nice to drive through the most beautiful part of Colorado when I was able to see it and appreciate it without worry of hitting animals and driving in a snow storm. I will probably make this trip again, but I will plan better and make my husband drive.