|Subject: Re: Backroads!|
Hullo, Amelia. And any other backroading Ziners out there.
Amelia, your mention of Moki-Dugway sent me to Google, where I was able to view photos. I was in that part of Utah many years ago but I did not then know about that drive. Anyway, the scenery is surely breathtaking -- if one dares to look away from the road.
We have a similar thrill in the East: the Mt. Washington Auto Road in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Oooh, it is not for the faint of heart. A sign at the base warns motorists of its narrow, steep, gravel surface. And no guard rails. The eight miles up, your car is on the valley side, and the driver must worry about the steering and brake control of downcoming drivers lest they nudge him over the edge; while the passenger(s), white as a sheet, have only to glance to the right to sense the 2,000 foot drop.
The Mt. Washington Carriage Road first opened in 1861. It availed well-to-do visitors from Boston and Montreal and New York the chance to ride, by horse-drawn carriage, to the mountain's summit, the highest (at 6,288) in the Northeast. The trip up (then, as now, eight miles) took four hours.
A hundred years ago, Freelan Oscar Stanley and his wife made the first automobile ride up in their fancy Stanley Steamer. That took just two hours and ten minutes. Would've taken less except for frequent stops to refill the radiator.
Today thousands of intrepid motorists make the drive. On arrival at the top they marvel at the panorama, the change in climate (40 degrees colder than the temperature in the valley), the winds that whirr past (a world record 231 mph one day, seventy years ago), and the courage of the hikers who make their way to the summit, single file, on a rugged trail. Motorists and hikers alike can't help but notice the beauty of the barren, treeless slopes and the tens of thousands of rocks that stud them. Many people have taken up the Druid sport of piling rocks one atop another to form little towers or cairns, which remain standing how long? 'Til the next storm bowls 'em over?
Anyway, from the comfort of my computer room at home, I just checked current conditions at the weather station up there. I could recite the numbers, but you might find it more fun to do it yourself. Go here: http://www.mountwashington.org/weather/today.html ..... and for a hi-res image of the mountaintop: http://www.davecopeland.com/10.jpg
If you look closely at this image, you can see an itty-bitty car starting down the Auto Road, which seems to disappear around that precarious bend. At the bottom of the descent, you can be sure, the folks in that car will heave a collective sigh of relief.
There are lots and lots of less unnerving, more relaxing back roads in the East. Amelia, have you been this way? Anyone else? I could make really, really good recommendations.
Cheers from New York. TJ