Friday, August 10, 2007

Pike's Peak



We're going to die....
Not so close to the edge...
SLOW DOWN!!!!!
This is scary.
Don't look out my side, Emma.
That's a beautiful view.
Wow!
We're going to die....
We're going to die....
Adam, are you scared?...no (of course I was)



These are a few of the phrases you'd have heard in our car as we drove the winding 19 mile drive to the top of Pike's Peak in Colorado. It took us about an hour and a half to drive to the top. It was a scary beautiful drive.

When we got to the top we found a bumper sticker we had to buy. It said "Real me don't need guardrails," and they aren't kidding. Parts of the drive, where there should be guardrails, only a thin line white line (no shoulder) separated our tires from a a steep (and I mean steep....read straight down) drop of probably 1000 feet. I played it cool as we drove up so as not to alarm my beautiful bride and kids, but let me tell you I had a white knuckle grip on the steering wheel. I was going so slow people were ten cars deep behind me. Cars would pass me when they found the opportunity. I didn't care, they were crazy.

The kids were cute. They found themselves caught between the beauty of the drive and the threat of death. Isn't that what makes an adventure? The feeling of wanting to do something but having to risk to do it. What is it within us that compels us to do something like drive up Pike's Peak? It was scary but I think all five of us were glad we did it. Even Emma who's afraid of heights. Emma enjoyed the view but I think she enjoyed the love her brother and sister gave her as they comforted her.

Emma didn't want to go. She didn't want to go at all and if I'd have let her sit and wait for us (the round trip took us four hours) at the bottom of the mountain she would have have taken my offer. But mean Dad made her go. She was on the verge of tears but I still made her go. I felt bad and actually uncertain about my decision. I thought to myself "What kind of Dad am I to scare my daughter so much? Why are you doing this?" But I still felt she would work through her fear and enjoy the adventure eventually.
Andrew and Laura were on the outside of the row and Emma was in the middle. They each held one of her hands and comforted her as we made our ascent. If the precipice was on Andrew's side, he'd tell her "don't look out my side." As we switched back to the other direction Laura's say "look out Andrew's side." It was so cute to see them tackling the adventure as a a team. The views were beautiful but the kids loving on each other is what I'll most remember about Pike's Peak.
Emma did eventually enjoy the adventure. I don't think she would go again but I think she's glad she 's been once. I think she's happy to know how much Andrew and Laura love her.

As for other notables during the trip. Charlotte was the one saying "we're going to die." And it's no exaggeration to say she said it hundreds of times, normally in rapid groups of two, "we're gonna die, we're gonna die." "No we're not, honey, it's fine" I'd reassure her as I thought to myself we will die if I sneeze and jerk the wheel the wrong direction. I can't believe people race to the top and back. They must have a death wish, there are no guardrails, after all.

It was so cool to be on top of Pike's Peak. It was a beautiful day. there was great visibility and we could see for miles. The kids thought it was neat to see snow on the ground in July as we drove up. They also thought it was cool when it snowed when we were at the top. At the summit we enjoyed their "world famous donuts" bought a few souvenirs and then began our adventure to get down the mountain.
The scary part about the drive down is overheating your brakes which leads to a brake failure. Have you ever wondered when you'd use the low gear on your automatic transmission? If you drive down Pike's Peak, you'll use it. The kind Park Rangers check the temperature of your brakes half way down the mountain. Our brakes were fine but there were may cars who had to pull over and let their brakes cool before there were allowed to continue down. Makes you wonder how many people's brakes failed before they started checking the temperature. I didn't mention this to Charlotte at the time but I had a plan if our brakes failed. (I'm a pilot. I'm trained and I train people to think of what to do in emergencies.) I planned to grind our car to a stop against the side of the mountain if the emergency brake didn't work. See why I didn't brief the plan to Charlotte? :)



All in all we had a great day. It is one of the highlights of a great and adventurous week. We enjoyed part of God's creation together as a family. And we did it safely.

Mission accomplished...

8 comments:

Kate said...

I can totally hear C saying that all the way from here! ;)
WOW, what views. I loved reading about this adventure. I cannot wait for the day that I experience that part of God's great country!
And isn't so true that you remember those cherished moments (sometimes rare!) when the kids are just oh so sweet to each other?! The best!

Bill Darden said...

Been there, done that, and almost bought the T-Shirt! I drove up Pike's Peak with Drew Ham during a visit in 1997. It was a warm October day in Colorado Springs, but the gate shack on the road to the Peak warned of cold weather on top. It was 20°F with 50 MPH winds at the top. Two twenty-something men made it to the top without one 'We're gonna die' comment, but it was the most focused drive of my life! The switch-backs near the top are truly something to experience. I read they are paving the road all the way to the summit - that will ruin much of the 'fun' of the drive!

maudie-mae said...

I took the train trip up Pike's Peak from the other side. It's a guided ride with a "commentator" telling riders various trivial informational bits such as, "If you drive up the mountain, it's like adding a full thousand miles to your car for the wear and tear it puts on your car." However, being at the top of the mountain is an experience not to be missed. There are so many spiritual similarities, even the parts that have no guard rails.

KY Transplants said...

I am with C and Emma. I would be petrified and saying "we're gonna die". I am terrified of heights, but would love to have the experience of seeing Pike's Peak. I would, however, like to skip the drive. Great post, A, thanks for sharing!!

M

Stringer Zoo said...

Phenomenal adventure!!! I'm so excited for you guys. How awesome it was to see it through your eyes.
Have a great time together.
~J

KY Transplants said...

That was a smart decision not telling Charlotte about the "emergency breaking" plan you had. You could also just destroy the transmission by throwing it into Park. Were you in a rental car? That would have made that decision MUCH easier to gring the mountain wall.

Enjoyed the story.

R:)

a soldier's wife said...

Beautiful pictures! It sounds like you all had a wonderful time. The comments sounded like what my husband, who despises heights, said the whole time we were hiking Diamond's Head :)

California Dreamin said...

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T&C Poole