Cascade, Colorado – July 14, 2014
We decided today was the day to meet our dear friends for lunch. We opted for The Wines of Colorado in Cascade. Leslie and I had been there several times before. Mom and Tyler joined us, in part, because they had never been there. Our guests of honor were Deacon Ken and Lorraine Huard. We had not seen them for some two years.
We had a great time catching up. One has not “been” to The Wines of Colorado if one does not sit at one of the tables beside Fountain Creek. So, that is where we had lunch. We talked, ate, and sipped wine for quite some time. As I was paying the check, it began to rain. Boy did it start to rain.
Leslie and I thought nothing of it and continued our wine tasting (after lunch) to determine what we wanted to buy. When we had finally selected and paid for our wine, I ran out to the van. It was still pouring. I drove to the front door and dashed back inside the restaurant to gather up my riders and head down Ute Pass. That was when the Colorado State Patrol showed up and closed eastbound Highway 24 (Ute Pass). Flash flooding concerns caused the cautious road closing.
We all sat in the front dining area and waited. While we waited, we began considering our options for getting back to Colorado Springs. We were only about 10 or 12 miles from home. One option would take us through Deckers and Sedalia, only about 100 miles. Another option would take us through Canyon City, only about 100 miles. None of those options sounded great. Nevertheless, if the road remained closed or worse yet if the way sustained flood damage, we would be forced to take one of those options. We decided we would try the Canyon City route because we thought there was a paved road for the entire distance. The Huard’s decided to wait a while longer.
As we headed west on Ute Pass toward Woodland Park, we drove into a winter wonderland. A severe hailstorm left behind four to six inches of hail. The road was completely covered. There was so much hail on the road that the county called out snowplows to clear the way. It was amazing.
Once we made it to the west side of Woodland Park, the hail dissipated. From there it was clear sailing to the town of Florissant. Upon arrival in Florissant, I stopped at the Subway. Leslie went inside to ask and ensure that there was a paved road from Florissant to Canyon City. The local behind the counter assured her there was such a road.
We set out south toward Cripple Creek.
The drive from Florissant to Cripple Creek was beautiful. I had not been that route for umpteen years.
Entering the outskirts of Cripple Creek, I decided to stop at a gas station. My memory of the road from Cripple Creek to Canyon City was of a dirt road known locally as Phantom Canyon. Leslie went inside on this visit too. She returned with the news I had dreaded; Phantom Canyon was a dirt road. The local said we could travel about halfway back to Florissant, turn west to Guffey, and then southeast to Canyon City. That would add untold miles to the already long journey.
I remembered another road out of Cripple Creek, the Gold Camp Road. That road, although it is dirt, goes to Colorado Springs. I opted to go that route. We drove through Cripple Creek toward the Gold Camp Road. Just as we turned onto the Gold Camp Road, Claude called to provide us a weather and road updates. During the conversation, mom told him of our plan. It was a good thing she did–the road was closed some three miles from Colorado Springs. That would have been a drag to drive all that way only to have to turn around and drive back.
Now it was on toward Divide.
I have driven from Cripple Creek to Divide many times. It is a pretty drive, but on that day, I thought the journey from Florissant to Cripple Creek to be more beautiful.
As we were approaching Divide, we found out Ute Pass was reopened. At Divide, I turned right to head toward Colorado Springs on what I hoped would be the last leg of this arduous lunch journey.
Driving between Woodland Park and Cascade, we did notice quite a bit of flood damage. However, once we entered the narrow area of the canyon between Cascade and Manitou Springs, we saw no evidence of harm.
We made it home right at 17:00. Our departure from Cascade initially was 13:00. A quick call to the Huard’s revealed the road opened shortly after 13:00 and they were home by 14:00, just three hours ahead of us! Even though the drive was a little horrific, it was worth it for the lunch company.