Yesterday I decided to play hooky from work and go for a drive… My year old Nissan only has about 2000 miles on it, and with gas being “cheap” at $3.99 a gallon right now it seemed like a good idea.

Up front, I have to say that road trips would be immeasurably more entertaining without all of the people.

The route I took was roughly 350 miles:

  1. Parker Rd. south to C-470
  2. C-470 around to I-70
  3. I-70 west to Avon
  4. Avon to Eagle-Vail for lunch
  5. Eagle-Vail to Leadville via US-24
  6. Leadville to I-70 via US-91
  7. I-70 east to C-470
  8. C-470 to Parker Rd.
  9. Parker Rd. back to the house

I left at about 9am, and got back at about 5pm; eight hours. Of this about three hours was creeping along C-470, a six-lane super highway, because of the bumper-to-bumper traffic…

Once I got up I-70 a ways, past Idaho Springs, things got much better because there’s a lot less people up there. Sure, there’s still slow moving RVs and even slower moving semis to contend with. But with the dramatic reduction in people it’s not so bad.

My car did far better than I assumed it would. See, the Kicks is a ‘city car’ – it’s designed for stop and go traffic in dense urban centers with narrow roads and tight parking… Accordingly it’s got like a hundred horsepower, a CVT transmission, and a 0-60 time of about 10 seconds.

If you turn the A/C on, the 0-60 time rises to an impressive 15-ish seconds, which is slow enough to get you killed merging onto the 75mph highways we have around here.

The tradeoff for this lackadaisical performance is the thing gets an average of 33MPG in town, and will push close to 50MPG on the highway. Just try to never be in a hurry because the car has zero hustle.

Anyway, given this I assumed taking the Kicks up into the realm of 6% grades for 5-10 miles at a shot would be, at best, comical… But the car did pretty good! Once it’s up to speed, the infinite gearing of the CVT can keep the car at 60-65 at pretty much any angle.

I did worry a bit on the long hill out of Georgetown to the Eisenhower Tunnel, because the engine in the car stayed at 4000RPM for a good ten minutes. But it seems no worse for it.

Eventually I pulled off I-70 just west of Vail and took US-6 into Avon… I drove by where the Pawnshop used to be, some of my favorite hangouts around town that are long gone, and drove past the old house on Deer Blvd… The house is really run down; few people take care of things anymore.

Satisfied with the sight-seeing, and the fact it was approaching noon, I wandered back down US-6 to where Paddy O’Days used to be… Used to – it’s now the Route 6 Cafe. The Route 6 Cafe used to be a mile east on US-6, and was a breakfast / brunch place with really good food that I ate at fairly often – so I decided to try out the new incarnation in the building that used to be my favorite burger joint…

It was weird to sit in my usual booth in the back corner of the bar section (near the bathrooms), with the old booths, bar, and stuff on the walls – but not be at Paddy’s.

Looking towards the bar from the main door. My booth is to the left in the back, and the space on the other side of the bar used to be an in-house pizzaria

The pizza side of the place is now a half dozen pool tables, but overall the vibe is the same – which is good.

I got the patty-melt to check if things were still of a quality to drag people up here for lunch, and yeah – they still make an amazing burger.

On they way out I got a chance to talk to Ollie, the owner, for a couple of minutes. Apparently the head cook is still the same guy from my years in the valley, which explains the continuation of quality.

Having been fed, watered, and relieved, I headed west on US-24 though Minturn and past Redcliff…

I stopped at a few of my favorite places to sit and read a good book. One of which is a big flat boulder south of the Gilman mine a bit and across the valley from a huge series of waterfalls…

From Battle Mountain, looking west

It’s hard to see the falls because they are about two miles away – but see that big pine tree in the foreground? Just to the right of its top you can see the silvery line of water.

Photos simply can’t do scenes like this justice, because there’s no sense of depth. For example, those power poles on the left are about two hundred yards away. But if you look really close on the right side you can see more power poles, and those are probably a mile away.

I sat here and watched the storm roll in as the temperature dropped from 65 to about 50 degrees, and then drove down from Tennessee Pass under leaden skies. By the time I hit Leadville it was raining, and by the time I made it to the Climax mine, it was a biblical downpour.

The rain continued to fall in buckets all the way back down I-70 until I reached the Denver side of Floyd Hill where, as usual, the rain shut off like someone turning a valve, and it went from 65 to about 100 degrees.

Denver is literally cursed.

Listening to "Dropping Anchor" by Jimmie's Chicken Shack