Atlanta And BeyondAmanda
Atlanta & beyondest. 2009

Epic Alpine Colorado Jeep Adventures

When I was a little kid, one of my favorite television shows (besides Mr. Rogers–the neighborhood of make-believe always enthralled me) was Little House on the Prairie.  When I got old enough to read, my parents gave me the whole set of books for Christmas one year.  I must have read all 9 of those books a dozen times.  Reading about their lives and their struggles was fascinating to me.  Then, when I was a teenager, my dad was a fan of Louis L’amour books, and I read every one of those too, in between reading anything that Stephen King published.  Nowadays I don’t read fiction of any kind anymore (if it’s a good book, Peter Jackson or Joss Whedon will make a movie out of it), but I still love a good western movie and I will enthusiastically watch any movie starring Sam Elliott or Jeff Bridges.  And don’t tell anyone, but I thought that sci-fi-western last year was pretty alright.  Also, there’s always Firefly, right?

So anytime I travel to the western half of the US, I can’t help but see the terrain through a filter of  ‘Holy crap, someone crossed through here in a wagon pulled by an ox’.  And it’s not just that the mountains are tall or that the canyons are deep.  It’s how you can be cruising along for miles on flat unbroken terrain and suddenly pull up on a thousand foot deep canyon that stretches for miles in either direction, or a series of canyons that create a maze rivaling anything a Greek bard would populate with minotaurs.  Can you imagine?  You’ve been cramped in a wagon plodding along behind a bunch of farting ox-es and your Nintendo has been broken for days, when all of the sudden Boom!, there’s no more prairie.  Bet you’d be miffed.

Colorado is one of my favorite places in the whole world.  The state of Colorado, as you probably know, is an outdoor-lover’s paradise.  No matter what outdoor activity is your favorite, there’s a place for you to play in Colorado.  More than a third of the 100,000 square miles that make up the state are public lands.  More than a third of Colorado belongs to you and me.

So after Bethany and Jason’s wedding, I headed over to southwest Colorado, just outside Ouray to visit with Beth and Forrest.  They’ve recently moved to an awesome little town called Ridgway, and Forrest had just gotten a new Jeep that needed testing.  Naturally, I volunteered to ride along.  For science.  Twice.

Riding in the Jeep with Forrest is fascinating and thrilling. It’s equally fascinating to be outside watching him navigate a difficult part of the trail. He will pull the Jeep up to a rock that I’m not sure I would want to climb on foot and maneuver the vehicle into position. After he assesses the situation for a split-second, he’s climbing the rock that you would never imagine that a car could climb.

Sometimes, (ok once), he pulled the Jeep up on a boulder and the underside of the Jeep hung on a protrusion in the rock. After making a couple of attempts to pass over the rock, he got out to take a look. At this point, there was an option to turn around and skip the tricky section and just keep going, and no one would have blamed him. We’d already climbed obstacles that would make a mountain goat pale. But Forrest calmly analyzed the situation, climbed back in the Jeep and tried a different approach. After a couple more attempts, the Jeep crawled right over the rock and was on top.

And it occurs to me that Forrest’s approach to trail riding probably mirrors a great approach to life in general. Sometimes we’re going to encounter difficult passages in our path in life. And there will usually be an easier option available. But if we take the easy way around every time, we will miss the most rewarding parts of life. Because the best scenery usually lies just past the hardest part of the trail.

Aw, crap.  Sorry about that.

So I bet you’re looking at these photos and thinking how amazing Colorado is.  And you might even be thinking, Gee, I wish I could go on cool trips like that and see those views.  Great news!  You totally can.  Beth and Forrest have decided to offer Jeep tours in the Ouray and Telluride area and beyond.  If you’re planning a trip to Colorado soon, be sure to check out their Alpine Tour Co. website and contact them.  You will love every minute of your adventure.


Amanda Summerlin
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