Sept 20, 2013
Also seen on Overdrive Trucking Magazine
Photos and Story by Don Christner
What an incredible opportunity and challenge! If you have been listening to or watching the news in the past week, you know the recent floods in Colorado have been very destructive. People have lost their lives, homes, businesses, roads, and bridges. Hard-hit Boulder, Colo., was in danger of losing its ability to process drinking water, and the water treatment facility needed the product that I carry — the problem was most of the roads were simply gone! Ordinarily, I’d just come up I-25 and go through Boulder.
However, this time the Cummins motor in the 2009 Kenworth pulled up Floyd Hill going west on I-70 out of Denver into the Rocky Mountains, then to Clear Creek Canyon on Highway 6. I then traveled past the casino towns of Black Hawk and Central City, Colo., and up the Peak to Peak highway into Nederland, Colo. Earlier in the day they had called me and the voice on the other end of the phone said the “Colorado DOT won’t give you clearance on Highway 119. The only other road to get here is Sugarloaf Road.It’s a high mountain gravel road, very steep grades and sharp switchbacks. If you don’t want to drive on that road, I’ll understand, but if we don’t get your load, there will not be any drinking water in Boulder. It is an extremely critical load.”
Being an old cow hauler who’s seen many challenging roads and situations, I looked forward to the challenge of Sugarloaf Road.
After traveling about half a mile down Sugarloaf, red lights from a Sheriff’s Deputy appeared in the mirror. With a dark scowl on his face, he said, “Now just where are you planning on taking this thing?”
“City of Boulder,” I said.
The scowl drained out of his face, and he said, “Oh, you’re the one they’ve been talking about all day — follow me and I’ll take you up there.”
A City of Boulder pickup appeared and the man connected to the voice on the phone was there looking for me, too. It’s good when they want your load this bad! A utility vehicle joined on, and the four of us, with red flashing lights leading, went on. On ahead they cleared the road and I railed around the corners and drove down the middle of the road.
It was a grand and beautiful drive. I was having a blast, the twists, turns and climbs of Sugarloaf were a pleasure. Cresting a very steep pull, Boulder and the front range came into view. There was a lot of floodwater damage along the road, but I pulled into the water treatment plant and delivered the much needed product! It was a good day and a grand adventure!
Held annually, Presidents Day weekend, in Saratoga, WY. This is a very exciting event to attend!! The Snowy Range Mountains in the background, the sound of the horses, the horse racing, and the local western flavor make for a good opportunity to shoot photos!!
The Indy Car series 2011 Finals in Las Vegas was a very different day than I had anticipated. At first it was very exciting, the cars looked fast beyond belief, then on lap 11 two cars bumped went up into the wall from there cars just went spinning. Smoke, tires, car parts, sparks, fire, broken cars, and cars coming from behind looking for a clear path went everywhere as more and more cars were collected in a horrible accident. A flurry of track activity followed, a medical helicopter lifted driver Dan Wheldon to the hospital, the race was red flagged with the cars all parked in pit lane, Two hours went by. It was obvious that something was very wrong. A nervous fear in my stomach grew as time stretched on. Then, the worst, it was announced that Dan Wheldon had been Fatally injured in the accident. Everyone in the grandstands remained seated in oppressive 95 degree heat. The remaining cars drove the track three abreast in a five lap tribute to Dan Wheldon. The leaving race fans were quiet, sober, and contemplative!! It was a very different outcome, a terrible loss for the Dan Wheldon Family.