It was our third trip as a family. It was my then nine months old daughter, my two step sons, ages ten and 11, my husband and I. We live in South Texas and for this trip we flew to Santa Fe, N.M. and then drove to Colo. We were in route to experience the so called Swiss Alps of the U.S.
Via car, we traveled to Durango, Colo. and then we traveled aboard the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, a coal-fired steam locomotive which allowed us to experience spectacular views of canyons and the San Juan National Forest, and it gave us a feel for the old west.
Silverton is a beautiful town surrounded by mountains. On our first day there, we rented a jeep, and the plan was to explore the town and surrounding areas. At the jeep rental agency we were provided with the keys and a map, and the map advised that “as long as you stay out of the red areas on this map, you will be fine.” It was not long before we realized that the map was not what one would call accurate or reliable. It was too late when we discovered this unfortunate fact.
We took off to our first adventure, and in no time we were halfway up one of the mountains by Silverton. My husband found himself in a place very different than the map described. We were at the highest point of the mountain, which was a narrow one way road with loose gravel on both sides of the car and we were unable to make a turn to head back. There definitely should have been a lot more red markings on the map!
Despite our dangerous location, the scene in front of us was beautiful. We had a wonderful view of a small lake with clear blue water that was surrounded by ice. I, however, wasn’t able to get a picture of this beautiful scene. The atmosphere in the car was very tense. The boys in the back were absorbing the view, and were not entirely aware of the danger we were in, as we did not want to scare them. My husband was very nervous, and so was I, to the point that I was afraid to take a picture.
I looked at the camera and contemplated picking it up, but I was concerned that any movement more than was necessary would cause us to start rolling down the mountain. I also did not want to upset my husband more than he already was. To top it off, my husband is afraid of heights, especially when he can’t see a wall or a rail, and my daughter had developed a fever; she was very hot to the touch.
I don’t know how long we sat there with my husband trying to figure out how to get us back down safely. When we finally reached the bottom, my husband was shaken and stated that he had just put all of our lives at risk. On the way back to our starting point we came across a local guide in a jeep with several tourists. Why did we not come across him when we needed him? The irony of it all was that he actually stopped us to ask us for directions!