25.07.2010 - 25.07.2010 26 °C
Today would involve two activities; visiting Denver zoo and driving to Aspen.
Denver zoo didn't blow me away. It was much like any other zoo, but I was really surprised by how cramped the enclosures were. It didn't help that it was a very hot day and I was still pretty exhausted after a lot of driving.
The enjoyable activity today would be getting to Aspen! We set off at roughly 4pm for what should have been a straightforwards three hour journey. We carved a way through the Rockies, snaking up and down the moutain roads. These roads are very steep. Let me explain describe how steep. They are so steep that there are run-offs where out of control lorries can hurtle up the moutain sides to reduce their speed. We didn't see any being used whilst we were on the road, but the tyre marks in the gravel as we passed them indicated their recent use.
Independence Pass is a narrow road cutting up and over the mountains near Aspen. On the way to the pass I stopped us off reguarly to appreciate our breathtaking surroundings. Eventually Independence Pass came and I was impressed by well my car handled the steep climb. Then we hit the summit. I described our surroundings to this point as breathtaking and to use the word again here would not only be poor use of English, but would wholly fail to acknowledge how impressive it was up at 12,000ft. We arrived at the Pass' summit just as the sun was setting (8.30pm) and the setting sun painted the sky salmon pink and reflected itself in the summit's lakes. I scrambled to photograph the moment and was hit by the effects of the altitude for the first time. Nearly every step I took in the thin air exhausted me and I had to set a steady pace as I moved around. It was easy to spend twenty minutes up there enjoying the sights and the cold was easily ignored.
When the time came to descend into Aspen it was a case of both headlights and concentration on. This descent was perhaps one of the most enjoyable drives I've taken since passing my test some four years ago. I accelerated down the winding mountain path, passing a ghost town and rivers on the way. Jetting down the mountain, my breathe catching up with every metre down, I felt like I was in an episode of Top Gear, and for the record, the car performed very well. I think my passengers just appreciated us getting down to the valley in one piece.
Well it ended up being a very enjoyable day, but it's again been a long one I my mind more than anything else needs to shut down.