As I contemplate turning another year older, I got to thinking about some of the past birthday celebrations. Some were downright wild and crazy ... others were mellow and mild. But the one that stands out most is my 30th birthday...
We were living in the foothills west of Castle Rock, Colorado and decided to drive back to Kansas City to spend it with my dad and family. Each time we made the trip back home, we would take Highway 86 out from Castle Rock to Limon. Generally, it was a well maintained 2 lane blacktop that cut at least an hour off our journey.
Well, it just so happened that a spring storm hit hard but my hubs (being a typical “my 4wd can get through anything” guy) decided to forge ahead even though it was getting wicked bad with drifting snow reaching well up to our thighs in places.
As we headed out, we made it through Parker and Elizabeth – and by the time we hit Kiowa, and started the trek out on the open plains to Limon, we weren’t able to see where the highway was except for an occassional mile marker that showed us were were still on the blacktop.
The storm got worse and worse - and we got high centered in a terrible drift. I got out of the truck to see what was up ahead and hadn't ventured much further than 15 or 20 feet in front of the truck when my hubs started blowing the horn. I turned around to see what was wrong and realized that although I could see the truck fine, Darrell had lost me in the white out. Trying to get out of the jam we were in, we decided to rock our way off the mound that was holding us captive. What happened felt literally like God picked up our truck and set up down on a clear place.
As we headed back for the safety of Kiowa, Colorado - the last town we had driven through, we saw another car with a family of 4 had gone off the road. We were able to find a spot that was safe to stop and we picked them up and prayed for a place that was open in this little town.
I'm not sure how it has grown since those days, but back then Kiowa was a "blink and you miss it" kind of town. Although it was the county seat, it consisted basically of a gas station, very small convenience store and the Courthouse where a jail was housed in the lower level. As it turned out, the county jail was the only building that showed signs of life and as the 6 of us entered the jail, we saw many others who were seeking shelter from the storm. We ended up being snowbound for 3 days in that jail! We played cards with the inmates and lived on tv dinners that the sheriff had stockpiled.
After the 3rd day, we got word that the highway department finally got a path cut from Colorado Springs out to Limon via 24 hwy and the sheriff's department started taking single line caravans of cars out to Limon. We drove down to the Springs, rented a hotel room to enjoy a hot shower before making the trek on to Missouri because we weren't letting this storm deter our plans to see my dad!
I must say, driving down the one lane path in the pitch black night, the lane was cut through the drifts of snow with walls on both sides at least 20 ft high. It was one of the most eerie feelings I've ever experienced, watching the caravan of headlights bouncing off those icy walls. It created a very claustrophobic feeling!
I did not take pictures of the trail cut through Highway 24, but I found a photo online that might come close to the feeling we experienced. Just imagine this going on for miles and miles in the pitch black of the Colorado plains.
As long as I live, I don’t think I will ever forget that birthday!