This post is recycled from events that took place in February of 2008.
It wasn’t really much of a vacation.
Let me start off by saying that I’ve been skiing with this same group of individuals on and off since 1999.
This year, instead of doing a New Mexico trip we decided to ski Colorado, specifically Wolf Creek. That resort is sort of in the middle of nowhere and you must stay about 30 miles to the south or north of it. We stayed south of it, in Pagosa Springs, Colorado.
We were informed by a family friend of mine, a couple weeks prior to our departure date, that they have had a LOT of snow up there this year, in fact, so much that they’re not really even sure what to do with it all and at one time some major roads were closed. I passed this information on to the group, so we mapped out a route that included no closed roads, and mostly 4 lane highway.
We arrived in Albuquerque via a Southwest Airlines flight out of Dallas. We had two rentals- a fancy Chrysler Aspen with a Navigation System for the boys and a Dodge Durango for the girls. Both are 4wd.
Our drive from Albuquerque to Pagosa Spring, CO should take about 5 hours. However due to the fancy navigation system, our original route was ditched in favor of a shorter one. Consequently, we ended up on a bad road; thank you NAV system. WARNING: DO NOT TAKE NM 112. We were all going along at 65mph when *boom* we hit snow covered road. The NAV system said it should save us 45 minutes. Yay. However, we’re now in the middle of nowhere, with no cell service and it’s 19 degrees outside. And it gets worse.
After going through a rough patch of snow/muck covered road, the guys realize that their Aspen was leaking fluid from the radiator. So we have to stop, and let their truck cool- then we go as far as we can until the engine gets hot again, and then stop. Long story short- it took us 5 hours to go 26 miles, and we crossed through an Apache Indian reservation on the way (going over cattle guards every couple miles should have been a good clue). NM 112 is pretty much the road that runs through the reservation. And the reservation roads are all gravel here where we live, And then can get really bad. That road wasn’t even as nice as the road we live on- it’s max 12 feet wide and 10ft in more places than not. It’s not even gravel. It’s dirt. But is there a warning sign if you’re coming in from the south? No. There’s nothing.
In the end, the Aspen finally refused to start again. At this point it’s 2:45 am and I am on 4 hours of sleep, since I was pitched from the back of a piss-headed steed the day before. I’m mad because I can’t call anyone to rescue us and I’m mad because I had told both drivers that we needed to stay OFF back roads. So we have to pile 8 people into seating for 5, and drop some of the luggage into the Aspen and get in to Pagosa, to at least drop off some people and the luggage that we have in that vehicle so we can go back and get the rest.
We finally arrived at our destination at 4am. We could nearly have driven from Dallas to Pagosa in the time that it took us to fly to NM and drive up. We’ve never been so glad to see pavement in our lives I don’t think. And once we got to pavement, we encountered Elk all over the road- nearly hitting one. Once we got cell service, the boys were able to call the rental car company and their insurance company.
Upon our arrival to the condo, the boys unload everything and turn around to go get the other luggage. In the meantime, my friend Kat and I stay up and dial in the NM Hwy Patrol since the insurance company wanted a police report.
All told, Kat and I were up for more than 24 hours. Not a great way to start a vacation.
In the end it all worked out- we were brought a new Aspen, nothing was stolen out of our other abandoned SUV and the NM Hwy Patrol gave us props for making it through that road as apparently people get stuck there all the time and have to be rescued. We were the first tourists that year to drive all the way through and make it out the other side. This vacation wasn’t as fun as others, as we were off to such a rocky start that we were all tired and stressed out already and I think that everyone wore on everyone’s nerves. So much so, that there wasn’t a ski trip planned this year. Bummer.
But I’ll never forget that nine hour drive.