The interstate east of Glenwood Springs passes through Glenwood
one of the most beautiful places on earth. Traveling through the
canyon always combines both delight and cringes of discomfort for me, close to tears. I remember it
from the 1950s, when we would drive to my grandparents' house. I
remember peering from the back seat of the car, rolling along the narrow
two-lane road without guardrails (this was before interstates, of course), across the
tumbling, shining water, studying the light on the rocks, and following the railroad tracks on the other side, appearing and disappearing as they traveled in the open or through tunnels.
At that time, the canyon was obviously the thoroughfare of its
time, with both cars and trains traveling through it, although the natural features of the place far outweighed the human intrusions. It still is the thoroughfare of its time,
although now the road is a massive interstate, intricately
constructed to damage the canyon as little as such a project can. However, the balance between geology and engineering has shifted.
Whenever it's even remotely feasible (nearly always), I take a rest stop and walk down to the
river and re-imagine what this place was like a half-century ago.
I think what I really need to do is bring my bike. There's a trail
the whole length now. Biking wasn't possible before the massive construction,
because the roadway was so narrow. Maybe I can relocate the magic by traveling on two
But that's for another trip, and it would have to be a trip that was planned for that purpose. It's hard to break loose to just go somewhere just because, but I may have to figure out how to make that happen.
Here's a view looking east from one of the rest stops:
And here's looking west, from the edge of the Colorado River at the same rest stop:
While the water looks moderately calm above, a significant piece of what I remember is this:
Must come back with the bike. Sixteen miles (26km) one way, a total of thirty-two (52km). I think I would like
it. I think my close-to-tears might be of the good kind.