Destination: Ouray, CO
End of Day Odometer: 177,374 km
I was feeling quite a bit better after sleeping today, but it was such an odd experience last night and I wasn’t exactly feeling one-hundred percent, so we skipped stopping for any food before we left El Paso. Unfortunately, this meant missing Rosa’s Cantina, which to be honest probably wasn’t a huge loss. I mean sure it was in the song, but from looking at the menu, it really didn’t seem to be anything crazy special. Perhaps if the building hasn’t been torn down next time I’m in the area I’ll pop in and see if Felina is still kickin’.
While firmly within the Breaking Bad zone of New Mexico, we drove north towards Albuquerque before being stopped at a Customs and Border Protection checkpoint. The whole area is obviously in a heightened state of vigilance against illegal immigrants. The existing wall in El Paso was probably high enough, but I suppose it doesn’t hurt to double check. After confirming we had documents in the trunk, we were on our way. I reckon we weren’t very suspicious.
Despite my earlier thoughts, as we travelled we started getting hungry and regretted the previous decision to leave El Paso without food. We were now firmly in concrete cowboy territory and so were limited to the meagre road rations of McDonald’s. The location was actually extremely nice, nicer than expected, and the offer of fresh beef instead of frozen convinced me that a Double Quarter Pounder was the way to go. John was still sad about breakfast and so went down that route. The building’s posh (for McDonald’s) look didn’t translate to the employees however, and the experience was on par with any other below average fast food outing.
One of the mistakes I’ve made in the past, shared with Bugs Bunny, is not making that left turn at Albuquerque. Prepared not to make it again, we turned left onto highway 550, heading back towards the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, specifically the Million Dollar Highway through, among others, the Red Mountain Pass. While not as high as Pikes Peak, there was actually significantly more snow up in the pass and it was quite cold. Thankfully not freezing temperatures, but still cold enough that I was worried about the Dunlop tires.
As it would turn out, temperature was not to be our enemy, but rather the remaining gravel left on the roads through the pass. As they bounced off the undercarriage of the car, you’d never know what to expect through the mostly guardrail-less hairpins as we slowly lost sunlight. While still one of the best mountain roads I’ve driven, it certainly tamed the excitement.
When we got to Ouray we checked in at our well rated, but ultimately awful motel, the Ouray Chalet Inn. I’m not sure if other people got better rooms or if they’re in the process of renovating or what, but it was a strange experience. The sink area was barricaded by a set of saloon style doors before entering the bathroom that had a very low showerhead in an old, poorly tiled shower. The shower contained a window. The window made it feel like a prison cell, and the mold growing on its ledge did little to assure you it wasn’t.
While enjoying the comforts of our new temporary home, we took a look to see if there were any places to eat. It turns out that there basically isn’t past 9:00 pm. Unless you just want to get drunk at the local alcohol-only bar that is. Or, maybe, if he feels like it, you can get a sandwich down at Chief O’Brien’s Pub. He’ll serve drinks until 11:00, but the best he could do for us was a cold sandwich. He offered us a corned beef on rye, and we accepted. Based on the way the night was going I wasn’t expecting much, but it was a proper sandwich, with a nice side of creamy coleslaw. I had nothing to complain about.
Tomorrow we grind away kilometers as we head towards the final driving highlight of the trip: a small section of road south of Spokane, WA.
Day 11 Destination: Twin Falls, ID