This week, a friend from college has been visiting. The only week that would work in our schedule for her visit also coincided with my husband’s camping expedition. He would miss out on pretending to be a tourist in our own state, but he was okay with that. He always drives when we go places, so I would miss out on having a chauffeur on our excursions, but I was okay with that.
…until I realized where we were going on Tuesday.
I’d gotten the bright idea to take my friend to the top of Mount Evans. It’s one of the 14ers in Colorado, and the “hike” is relatively easy. You drive to a parking lot at 14,134 feet and then walk up a rocky path to 14,264 feet…to the top of the world.
I’ve been to the top of Mount Evans a lot, and I love it. The views are some of my favorite in the entire state.
I couldn’t wait to share this with my friend, and I thought this would be perfect! Most everyone who visits us has been to the top, so we haven’t gone since Claire was a baby.
Yes, even Claire has been to the top of Mount Evans. Granted, she was just over 6-months old (I can hardly believe it was four years ago!). She doesn’t remember, but she was there. (The other photos we have of her at the very top with the grandparents and our little family of three are some of my favorites!)
This was going to be so much fun, and I couldn’t wait!
Then I remembered a tiny detail of my plan.
I’d be the one driving. Me. The one who hates driving on bridges, through tunnels, on winding roads, or even next to cement barricades.
I’ve been on the Mount Evans road many times, but I’ve never driven it. I’ve been the one in the passenger seat holding on to the door handle as if my life depends on it. I’ve been the one willing myself to take each breath…slowly…again and again…in and out…repeat. I’ve been the one telling myself that the incredible views are worth the hairpin turns and switchbacks. I’ve been the one ignoring the seemingly crumbly sides of the road that reach right out to absolutely nothing at all.
I have no problem standing at the top of Mount Evans and looking out over the world below us. It’s the road that scares me to death. It’s meeting other cars on those curves that nearly gives me hives.
And, it was my idea to do this.
I only gasped out loud a few times.
I didn’t even feel like barfing.
…and I remembered to keep my eyes open the whole time.
As it turns out, my friend prefers to be a passenger rather than driver when it comes to a road like this. She likes to look away from the vast nothingness, and there were times when she pretended to have really intense conversations with Claire in the back seat. For the most part, though, she handled the drive really well.
Claire was completely oblivious to the precariousness of our situation.
For me, there was something relatively calming about having control of the wheel and speed of the vehicle. I purposely forced myself to be relaxed and didn’t grip the wheel tightly. I laughed. I joked. I admitted to myself that I was absolutely terrified, but then told myself it didn’t matter. We’d be fine, and we were.
Who knew that I’d be more comfortable behind the wheel than in the passenger seat?
We made it to the parking lot at the top, and up the rocky path.
Being at the top of the world should have been enough of a prize, but I knew what I’d gone through to get there.
That day, the views were even more magnificent.