We love to drive. We will drive anywhere there is a road. Anywhere. Recently we took a trip to Arizona. We only had a short amount of time so we flew there and then rented a car. We took a day and drove out to Tonto National Forest. The drive was beautiful. The cacti were green, the rocks were golden red, the sky was blue and vast, and the sun was shinning. After the winter we were having, this was heaven. I see now why people move to Arizona.
As we drove along, we enjoyed the world around us. Windows were down, music was on, conversation was flowing. It was us and the rental a Dodge Charger. On these trips Paul is the driver. This is a good idea since he will get car sick otherwise. He has been known to drive 18 hours of a 21 hour journey, only giving up the wheel when he is to tired to continue. I am the navigator. I love all things maps. I program the GPS and then find routes that look interesting along our route. Today, we decided to make a huge loop out of Phoenix into the National Forest, north and east before looping back south and west.
The first leg of the journey was uneventful. We stopped at different pull-outs along the way, taking pictures, and basking in the sunshine. About three hours into our drive we reached a sign. It was unlike any sign we have seen before. It stated: Unpaved road, next 30 miles. WHAT? We have driven unpaved roads, deserted roads, mountain roads, beach roads. We have driven all across the country and this is the first time we have seen an unpaved road sign for that many miles. We are driving a Dodge Charger, do we continue, or do we turn around? We take the first pull-out we see to look over the route. We watch other cars coming and going. We determine that some of the other vehicles were just as reliable as ours so…..what the heck, let’s go for it! Besides, it’s a rental anyway.
So we take off. The road is winding, back and forth, up the side of a mountain. Out Paul’s window is the mountain side, out my window is a straight drop down. The road is one lane across at times, most of the time. Switch back road, up we go. Dirt route with nothing ahead of us but road and nothing behind us but dust. The conversation begins—do we turn around? How far do we take this road? The whole 30 miles? What is the point of no-return? We agree to keep going. We aren’t traveling faster than 30 mph, and plenty of cars have been passing us from the other direction, so we carry on.
Up, up, up we go. Back and forth. At one point the only way to see if someone was coming was to watch for the dust trail they may lead and by looking across the ravine to the road at the other side. Then you would see if you would eventually run into someone. Proceeding with caution, moving forward, dust behind us. Definitely one of the more scary roads we have traveled.
Then we reach the summit. The view, breathtaking. Miles to see in any direction. Yellows and Greens and Blues and Reds. Color and quiet and peace.
And then we begin the journey down, down, down. So glad we saved this for last. Down involved one lane bridges that cross ravines. Down involved steeper grades with less room for error. Down involved a one lane road wide enough for one car and no ability to see beyond the curve until you were into it. Down involved a sheer drop off on my side and a overhanging cliff on Paul’s side. It looked as though this section of road was still being carved into the mountain side. Everyone we met proceeded at a snail’s pace. Down, down, down we go, back and forth, off the mountain side.
Finally we reach pavement. We were never in danger, yet being so close to the edge made me afraid. Paul and I loved that road. We always choose the road less traveled. We always find the more scenic routes. We have found that these places lead to something spectacular, just waiting to be captured in film or in our memories.