Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Alpine Loop

The summer I came home from college mom, dad and I set out on a crazy adventure. Dad had just bought an international Scout II and wanted to test it’s limits so we planned a trip to Colorado. He welded a rack on the top of the Scout to hold our gear and we hit the road.

The plan was to drive the Scout up through ATV trails and camp, in a tent, in remote areas that big campers can’t go. We drove through Wolf Creek pass, into Silverton and Durango. At the time I bemoaned the fact that Dad would wake up every morning and drive us into town for a donut and to find a Kmart. He was in search of the ultimate mattress pad that would make sleeping on the ground more comfortable. With every stop to Kmart the gear on top of the Scout would get higher and higher. It got ridiculous. We looked like a band of Gypsies pulling into town. To make matters worse, every morning we had to restack all our gear onto the top of the Scout so we could set out on the next adventure. When we’d pass under a bridge dad would jokingly ask me to get out and check the clearance.

One morning, mom and I came out of the KOA bathroom from taking our first real shower in days. Dad was sitting behind the wheel with his cap on looking at a map. He had found an old mule trail, called The Alpine Loop. It was a 65 mile strip of road full of hair pin turns through the San Juan mountains boasting two 12,000 foot passes. It was one of those, “Only the strong will survive” kind of drives. Dad wanted to drive it and he wanted mom and I to go along.

Before I knew it I was staring down the side of the mountain. There were literally only inches of clearance on the side of Dad’s tires. The mist was making the mud slick. At one point the nose of the Scout was pointed directly up in the air but Dad just kept climbing up the mountain, loving every minute of it. Once I realized we probably weren't going to die, I could appreciate the rare and beautiful view of the terrain.

I’ve been thinking about my dad all day. I miss him. I wish I could thank him for sharing so much of his life with me. He blessed me in every way he could. Most importantly, he showed me how much better the view is when you dare to take the road less travelled.

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