Green River, UT to Denver, CO – On Wednesday, I woke up Colorado-bound. Moab tempted me but I wanted to make it to Denver by night. I was a little wistful looking off to the dark hills about 40 miles away in the distance, wishing I was there and not driving once again through the desert. Then I started to see ladders. Along the highway runs a barbed wire fence. At no point is there a gate. Maybe there were gates along the roads but from the highway, it is only long strands of barbed wire fencing running for miles. Every few miles, there is a steel ladder so a person could possibly climb from one side of the fence to the other. It struck me that, should you get lost in Moab and happen to wander across the desert, braving rattlesnakes and wadis or whatever else is out there, the state of Utah must know how much you paid for your patagucci pants and not want you to rip them after all that so they provide you with convenient ladders at 5+ mile intervals to climb the fence. Again, Utah knows she’s beautiful.
As you drive from Grand Junction to Denver, you feel like you want to look over your shoulder and say, “Kids, welcome to the wild west.” I said it to my sleeping bag and bike pump which were thrilled at the news. Every stop seems to have an outlaw story. Parachute in particular has a great rest area complete with a kind volunteer who shows you where the water is. They even have a photo of a person in full winter gear in her car with the windows slightly cracked. As she presses her hands desperately against the window, her dog is outside with the groceries to demonstrate what it’s like to leave your dog in the car in summer in Colorado. I appreciate visual creativity like that.
To make the drive more interesting, I turned off to Breckenridge on Highway 9 and stopped for mac and cheese at the Blue River Bistro. Pricey little noodles that seem to keep jumping into your mouth but well worth it. Breckenridge also has their own Patagonia and North Face stores. I will refrain from judgment or envy but I think the people who live there know they are lucky. Speaking of envy, then I took the mountain pass south toward Alma, the highest incorporated town in the US. The pass winds and winds and winds up then down through picturesque ranches. I met a grocery semi and that man must be paid a lot to drive that. It hailed the whole way over the top. After Alma is the real South Park and then comes the little town of Fairplay.
I asked a guy in the car next to me at the only stoplight if Fairplay was a good place to live. He said, yes, if you don’t mind being 20 minutes from anything.
The drive out of Fairplay on 285 is one of the most beautiful pieces of road I’ve ever seen. Have your camera ready. Green fields line the road, cattle browse off in the distance with mountains standing guard on all sides. I recommend stopping at the scenic overlook to see where you came from out of Fairplay if only because turn-around is…well, you know.