You may have heard a quip or two about the schizophrenic nature of Rocky Mountain weather during the spring months (and snow on the 4th of July). If nothing else, I’m sure you are conjuring images of naked skiers with big grins and see-through skin underneath shiny-blue skies. The reality here in our first year is that after planting our garden too soon on exactly March 20th, the Sahalee Off Grid weather station recorded a high of 76 and low of 19 for the month of April (on the 18th and the 5th, respectively), we battled hail earlier this week, and it’s snowing as I write this! The week before that, we unexpectedly encountered the fallout of Spring’s moody temperament while on the road to visit family in Montrose, CO for the holiday.
Those of you following Sahalee Off Grid on Instagram have seen that there is a much less glamorous side to springtime in the Rockies than ski bunnies in bikinis, and it is spelled M.U.D. (We’ve discovered the soil here has a wonderment of it’s own kind- especially when you consider that the adobe buildings built with local substrate a hundred years ago are still standing!!) During the thaw, when rivers and streams swell with the persistent melt brought by warmer temperatures, and the first buds of green and flashing pink and orange faintly speckle the landscape, we’re more than happy to hit the road for some fun-filled family time and stunning seasonal views as a way to escape the clingy brown muck.
Seasonal driving has its own setbacks, however, and we were reminded about how important it is to choose your routes carefully when taking road trips this time of year. There are official signs posted in the high country that actually say “Do Not Drive in Mud,” and maintenance is limited to arbitrary points on the road in front of locked gates that may or may not be clearly marked well ahead. You can run, but you can’t hide from the mud!! The state’s road services try to impart their knowledge to travelers by posting closures on websites, but these digital notices aren’t always accurate, easy to read, or accessible when the cell signal drops at a time when you need it most. Lesson-learned: Stop in town and ask the locals first if the road is open.
You can see the result of our most recent road trip follies in the interactive map below, just click in the upper right corner to make it full screen.
Needless to say, we never made it over the hill and the through the woods to officially traverse the glorious Uncompahgre Plateau. Said the kind woman in Nucla, “Well, if 90 and 25 are closed, then you’ll have to go back around through Ridgway… Unless you want to go to Grand Junction!” (We hope she fetched her little girl’s kite out of the tree.)
We showed up late to dinner for a second time, but getting lost in the woods is not necessarily a bad thing when you are amid such a breathtaking scene!
Funny story about the blue lights you see in the picture above… Coming down the hill from Ridgway, a nice officer informed us that it is illegal to drive with blue lights on your vehicle in Colorado. Perfectly allowed in New Mexico, we had no idea this would cause a traffic stop. So grateful for the warning!!
Who’s going out to look for wildflowers?
— sahaleeoffgrid (@sahaleeoffgrid) April 7, 2017