Colorado’s fall colors are a site not to be missed. Since moving to the Rocky Mountain State, I’ve made sure we spend at least two or three weekends every leaf-changing season to explore some of the rainbowed aspen groves. On the top of my list: supposedly one of the largest living organism in the world (aspens are connected by a shared root system), the aspen grove near Kebler Pass just outside Crested Butte. It’s nearly four hours from Denver, so though we’ve been once before, never during the full glory of fall.
We took the long way to get there, traveling through historic Leadville and then over the subalpine terrain of Independence Pass to the upscale streets of Aspen, still trumped by the changing foliage of actual aspens in the hills above. We stopped off in Carbondale and then down to the Kebler Pass turnoff. While the trees all along this route, and the route home over Monarch Pass, displayed beautiful shows of fall, this year we hit the Kebler Pass grove at its peak, and there’s nothing more stunning . . . a few trees remained in the trademark deep green of summer, while others transitioned into the lime green of early fall, but most blazed with yellow and orange and red and the burnt red that shimmers in the wind. This diversity and depth of color is exactly what we look for, because, well it’s just simply breathtaking.
On the way home the next day, we traveled through another shade of travel which reminded me why we must still take caution during our wanders. About 30 miles from home, the right rear tire of Lindsay’s Subaru blew out. The only flat tires I’ve experienced happened sometime over night, when I’d find my car in the morning sitting lower than it should be. I often wonder what happens when a tire goes while moving 75 miles per hour; I always wondered if I would know I had a flat. Let me assure you, you know.
In the first second of rumbling and shaking I assumed the lane I was in needed some typical Colorado summer repair, I slowed down and shifted to the right lane. In the second moment, the car still shaking and rattling, I pulled over to the shoulder, precariously perched between the onramp and three lanes of I25 traffic. Once clear, I made a dragging move across the onramp to a much larger shoulder near much slower-moving traffic (for once in my life I’m glad people rarely use onramps to get up to speed with the quickness they should).
40 minutes later, our new friend from AAA, Michael, puts a spare tire on with ease, ironically next to the resting skeleton of a deer, or a large dog, (look in the lower left corner of the photo and decide). We thank Michael profusely, shake his grease-stained hands, and head off into another shade of Colorado travel, the ubiquitous front range sunset, a site that can be seen from our front porch, but seems so much more marvelous from the wandering, complicated, colorful road.