Thursday, July 19, 2012

Thursday's Treasure (aka Treacherous Thursday)

So, there's a lovely little place in the mountains near Moab called Miner's Basin.  At almost 10,000 feet, the clean air and scent of pine trees fills your whole self with joy.  A place like this isn't easy to come by, and it's been about 7 years since we've all been up this way.
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Now that Sophie is old enough to enjoy a day in the mountains, we decided that it was high time we managed to get up here.  I say "we" loosely- Nana wanted nothing to do with this particular adventure.
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I don't have any pictures from the actual ascent, because it wasn't pretty my friends.  Like the responsible adults that we are, we checked with the visitor's center before heading up to make sure that the talus slopes had been recently cleared and that there were no surprise issues on the road to Miner's Basin.
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See, it's a rock and gravel one lane road with sharp switchbacks and about a 20% grade.  3 miles long, 4x4 only, sharp rocks and holes to navigate.  And did I mention the several hundred foot sheer dropoffs on the mountainside?  And no guardrails?
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We had two rental cars.  Mike and I were first in the Nissan Rogue.  Nana, Pa and Sophie followed in their Toyota Rav 4.  About halfway up the mountain, I noticed that Mike was driving extremely slowly.  Dangerously slow- you have to keep moving over this terrain or you'll get stuck!  He told me he was doing the best he could and to please be quiet.  It may not have been such a civil conversation.
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Imagine please that everything in the car is bouncing all over the place, and that the side of the road drops off on my side.  One glance out the window, and all I see is down.  Once again, the car is barely moving.  When I pleasantly (ha!) mention that he needs to GO, Mike informs me that the car engine has absolutely no power.  It will not go.
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It won't go?  I radio Nana and Pa to let them know that we are stopped in the middle of the road.  Is there any special reason why, they ask?  Oh no, I answer, not wanting to alarm anyone.  We're just getting ourselves together for a minute.
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It becomes clear that we are not only NOT going forward, but that every attempt has our wheels slipping toward the ledge.  I get out of the car and we come clean to Nana Pa.  We can't go up. 
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The course was clear.  My father and Mike backed the cars down to a flat spot near one of the switchbacks.  Nana, Sophie and I waited in the road, with 3 differing ideas about what we should do.  Nana wanted to leave.  I wanted to walk up.  Sophie wanted to catch grasshoppers.
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Losing power, say from a storm, at your home is unpleasant enough.  Losing the power to GO in your vehicle, in such a scary situation, is kind of terrifying.  We decided to assume that our car overheated- though that wasn't indicated on any of the panels etc.
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We all piled into the Rav 4 with our picnic supplies and headed up the last leg of the trip.  We made it!  Nana made sure to let us all know, however, that this was STUPID, STUPID, STUPID and that we NEVER should have attempted this trip.  Never, never, never.
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We got to the top, got as unbunched as possible, had a picnic, took a hike, and enjoyed each other's company.   Later, we slowly edged down the road to our car and were all relieved when it started up easily.  It had cooled down sufficiently, and we were able to navigate our way down the slope without further ado.
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Nana says she will not go up to Miner's Basin again.  It will take all of us some time to get over the stress, but one thing is true.  It's the times like these that create the stories that get told and retold in families.  If everything had gone without a hitch, we'd have great pictures and great memories but no STORY.  Now, fortunately for all of us, we have all three!

6 comments:

gillyflower said...

Sounds like you had a bit of a scary trip! Poor Nana, never again by the sounds of things!
Glad all was well in the end and you safely enjoyed your day - what an adventure for Sophie, one to remember!
Gill xx

Runs With Scissors said...

I try to imagine myself inside one of your vehicles and I must say, I'm with Nana!

You tell a great story and I'm so glad you are here to tell it!

Hookin It With Mr. Lick Lick said...

Just from what you describe it sounds like your vehicle was not equipped for high elevations. Vehicles are manufactured differently for different parts of the country. Like if I brought my vehicle from Georgia to go where you went, I doubt my vehicle would make it either. I can't remember exactly what it is, maybe the carb and emissions or maybe a combination. I just know that I've been told in the past that a vehicle manufactured to drive in the south can't make mountain trips because of the air, or lack there of. Glad you made it ok though! Myself? I would have been freaking out!! :o)

Donna -Little Tiny Stitches said...

Oh... my... God... !! .

I would have been petrified!! You brave, brave people carrying on with your trip!! Bless you all!

Please don't do anything more scarey like that jennie as my heart was racing just reading it!!!

I hope you all had a stiff G & T when you got to the bottom!

Aaaww, i think you should have stayed with Sophies idea of catching grasshoppers :D

Happy day my dearies!
xxOOxx

MoabMama said...

Wonderful narrative of a most horrifying ordeal! Being one of the vehicle occupants (the Nana one!)I can say with absolute honesty that you very delicately manuvered around the language obstacles (coming from me, of course!)and I marvel at your ability to glide over my obstinance when writing about going on up those last few hundred yards! I'm not going up and I'm not going down is what I remember saying over and over as we waited for the men to figure out what was wrong...I just wanted to get back down those 10,000 feet the regular way and not via a rock slide or bouncing down the side of the mountain! What a day, what an adventure, what joy I found when those four wheels got us back down to earth! Thank you for the adventure and your grand write up!!

Jennie said...

Hookin It! I definitely think there is something to what you're saying. Mike said several times during the trip that he thought it had something to do with the altitude. We always rent our cars for these Moab adventures at the Salt Lake airport, so you'd think they'd be equipped for the thin air. But, they are rental cars and who knows where they shuttle them in from. This Rogue went Rogue on us for sure!! Thanks for your comment.