Last month I was sweet-talked into something by my very persuasive family. I was duped into joining them in attending a gathering of macho Toyota Landcruisers enthusiasts in Colorado at an event called “100s in the Hills.” John and Jamison attended last year and had so much fun they immediately planned on returning this year to the 4th Annual event. John half-heartedly invited me. I realize now that he was trying to spare me from a terrifying experience. As the song goes, “The things we do for love.”
My husband, like most husbands, think they know their significant others a little too well, and I thought it was my duty to shake things up a bit. John was well aware that my idea of camping was an Airstream trailer with all of the comforts of home. However, against my better judgment I decided to shock them. I took a deep breath and agreed to go on this “boys’ trip.” I now exemplify the meaning of, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.”
John warned me that it gets very cold at night and rain was expected. As we set up our tent high in the Colorado mountains, the rain began to pour and it never really stopped. Then as if on cue, the temperature crashed. That night I curled up in my sleeping bag in my favorite hot pink polka-dot fleece pajamas wringing out my rain soaked hair and whimpering, as the wind and rain violently shook our tent. John slept peacefully away in his sleeping bag, while the boys were tucked into their rooftop tent. I was wide awake and was expecting my husband to calm my frazzled nerves, instead he was peacefully slumbering with a contented look on his face. So, I did what any loving wife would do. I unzipped his sleeping bag and introduced his warm legs to my freezing feet that I could have sworn had icicles hanging off of my pink painted toenails. Now he was awake with me and I had a smile on my face.
The first trail was Clear Lake. This was an easy trail according to our very experienced and enthusiastic trail leaders, Stan Wright and John Harris, who have driven these trails more times than I can count. I admit that this trail was a nice warm up, and Clear Lake was so gorgeous that my worries honestly seemed to lift. “Huh, this isn’t so bad.” I admitted as we had a picnic in front of a setting that I thought existed only in movies.
On our second day we tackled Imogene Pass. This was the highest of all the trails. I was handling the tight roads that jaggedly went straight up on one side and steep cliff drop-offs on the other side relatively well, until I spied a memorial set up complete with a cross and flowers on the edge of the road. I became obsessed. I stared at it forgetting to breathe. I heard Jamison, in the backseat mutter, “Ok, we lost her. Deep breaths, Mom.” Austin, my 13-year-old, exhibited some interest in Jamison’s comment in the backseat and said, “Hmm, look at that, see any carnage down there. We are kind of high. Yup, dangerous.” Then he causally laid back on his pillow. Jamison patted my shoulders as my hyperventilating began. Austin couldn’t contain himself as I heard him say, “We will go down like Wile E. Coyote. The Roadrunner goes, ‘Beep, Beep.’” He then made the whooshing noise the coyote makes as he falls straight down from a cliff. A visual was brought to mind that was almost too much for me to take. My left eye began to twitch.
The granddaddy of all trails, Black Bear Pass, was scheduled for our last day. While this trail wasn’t quite as high as Imogene, it was a much trickier trail and one that John had been licking his lips to try. Almost immediately I started crying like a baby and questioning my sanity at agreeing to come on this trail. I must explain that I was functioning on nearly three sleepless nights and exhaustion was setting in. Once again, Austin reared his head from the backseat and whispered, “’BAM!’ and ‘Beep, Beep’” in my ear. Jamison rubbed my shoulders and reminded me to breathe, as he noticed that I turned an unusual shade of green and I couldn’t force words out of my mouth. John calmly asked me if I was alright, told me that he really had to keep his eyes on the road, and begged me not to throw up in his beloved Landcruiser. Violent eye twitches returned and I couldn’t mutter a response back to him if I tried.
When we arrived back at the ranch, I was thankful for a little dry, dusty, crunchy, and flat South Texas soil. John smiled sweetly and handed me a bumper sticker that he had picked up in Colorado, stating “You don’t have to be crazy to drive Black Bear Pass but it helps.” Actually, in my opinion, you do need to be a little looney to leave a nice, comfortable house, do without plumbing, and drive trails that would even make a mountain goat puke.