Thursday, March 29, 2007

2007 Las Vegas Trip Part 4

Well, that fateful last day arrived. Old Dave and I made that last drive past the Railroad Pass Casino over the hills and viewed the valley of lights for the last time. We arrived at the casino for breakfast just as usual. Old Dave went in to eat that final breakfast before leaving and I had my last conversation with the old wise truck.

He told me to remember what we had talked about the last two weeks and to be loyal to my owner. I really respected that truck and made a pledge never to forget about what I had learned the last two weeks in the wee hours of the morning in that parking lot. The time seemed to pass quickly this morning and before I knew it Old Dave and I were whizzing down the highway headed for home.

It was pretty routine the first couple hundred miles. Old Dave directed us a different way back home. We spun off on highway 70 headed for Denver and high level mountains. Little did I know what lay ahead.

We climbed up to a quite high elevation and scooted across the high plains. As we got closer to Denver we started to climb. Higher and higher we climbed. My computer chips began compensating for thinner air. Still we climbed higher. Past 5,000 feet. Then 6,000 feet. Still we climbed up and up. 7,000 feet, 8,000 feet. Was there no end to the climb. Digital signs began indicating commercial vehicles needed chains ahead. Great! Not only did I leave my chains at home, but my snow shoes and extra weight were in the garage at home. Now what would we do.

Old Dave never flinched a single wink, but pressed on as the road conditions began to get worse. Cars and trucks were spinning and off to the side of the road because of lack of traction. Still we edged on climbing up the grade toward Vail Colorado. Soon the road traffic ground to a halt and no one could get started again which blocked the road. So there we were stuck on the road in the middle of the night.

I couldn't believe it when Old Dave talked with a State Trooper and found out that there was no turn around and the road we were traveling was another 5 miles to the top. Old Dave just smiled and popped open the cooler and began to eat a sandwich. What was he thinking? We could be stuck here all night and he was eating and drinking as if nothing was wrong. I have to confess I was getting a little impatient.

"Here comes a tow truck. Wait Old Dave is getting out."

"No don't get out. No wait .....don't ......get out. Aaaaaah, he never listens."

"Don't talk to the tow truck driver. No way am I going to be embarrassed by being towed. No way. I'm telling you no way. Computer send out a signal and lock up the ABS bakes. I'm not moving. I'll just sit here til' summer. I'm not gettin' towed and that's final."

"What Old Dave's getting a shovel and helping the road crew throw something from the side of the road onto the road for traction. He just can't keep from helping no matter where he is."

"OK, Old Dave's coming back to the truck. The left lane is open and it looks like we are going to make a try at going up the hill. Well, what do you know the road crew is going to help me get going. I guess Old Dave knows how to make friends and get going."

"OK, a little boost and we're moving. I know I can. I know I can. We're doin' it. Oh yeah I'm good. Oh yeah, I'm good. We moving 20 MPH....25MPH......30 MPH. We're making our way up the hill. Around the corner and ........... Oh no a blocked road ahead. Both lanes blocked. OK, slow down and maybe when I get there the road will be opened. Just keep moving and no stopping. Come on people move it. Move it will ya."

Slower, slower, creeping, ...... stop. (Big sigh)

"I just know we are stuck. I just know it."

"OK, traffic's moving."

"My turn. Here we go. Oh no my wheels are spinning. Come on Old Dave give me the juice and I'll burn my way up the hill."

"Why is he stopping. What now we're backing up just 10 feet. OK, give me the juice and I'll get up the hill. No, don't stop because I'm spinning. Why is he backing up again? Now we're trying to go again."

"Wait I feel a little traction. I'm moving up the hill. Yeah, we're going faster.
5 MPH ....... 7MPH ........ 10 .... 15 ..... 25. Oh, yeah we're makin' it. Oh not again. Another blocked road. Don't these guys know how to drive in the state."

Three more times Old Dave masterfully maneuvered me up the slippery slopes of Vail Colorado before we made it over the top. We made our way down the back side past Copper Mountain, past Breckenridge, and into the town of Dillion. We were moving now. Then we began to go up again.

"Oh boy here we go again."

This time though the sand trucks had been here and it was a uneventful climb up to the Eisenhower Tunnel. After the tunnel it was down hill all the way into Denver. The roads cleared and dried up and our travel home continued.

We did our routine fueling in Denver and sped off into the darkness on I-76 with visions of home dancing through our minds. The rest of the trip home was pretty much routine and we arrived in Omaha about noon the next day.

I for one was glad to be back home. So reflecting on all the adventures of the last two weeks I drifted off into a sleep in my nice garage room as Old Dave did pretty much the same.

This vacation adventure came to a great end.


cousin John said...

Dave....I took that route one spring in my new Oldsmobile. As I neared the highest elevation a trouble light came on on my dash. Over the top I stopped at the first town on the way down & asked the Olds dealer what my problem was. His reply..."Due to lack of sufficient oxygen up here too much co2 is coming out of your tail pipe. Go down another thousand feet & I'll bet the light will go off". He was right.
Another year on a similar trip we were taking an old couple back to Lincoln to visit their relatives. He insisted he had heart problems and brought his oxygen tank along....& put it in my trunk. It was a beautiful morning & we were admiring the scenery when I noticed a sign "Continental Divide, 11M ft...
I said "Bert, how are you feeling this morning?" He said"I feel great....having the time of my life". "Did you see that sign?"..."No".....I said " We're on our way down from a few minutes you ought to feel even better". We never had the oxygen tank out of the trunk during the trip. Cousin John

Anonymous said...

Lynne Stratton sez:

Geez Neighbor Dave, you were never this fun when we lived there. Look what happens when a couple of youngsters moves next door! Great stories and Ricky is quite the writer. Maybe Carolyn and I will have an adventure on our way up to Omaha in a few weeks.

Linda said...

Dave, I sure enjoy reading your stories! You make me smile. Crystal drives the I-70 & Eisenhower Tunnel all the time now. She lives in between Vail & Breckenridge. Someday soon, we'll make a trip there to see the beautiful scenery she is always talking about. I only hope that the road is snow-free & that the Eisenhower Tunnel is open! That means we'll probably have to go between June 30 & August 30th, though, huh? Thank you for the posts, and for the smiles. You have quite an imagination.