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HEADER PHOTO DESCRIPTION: Desert Storm
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Wednesday, October 1, 2014
One Last Fall Album, On The Eve of Departure
A curve missed between between Durango and Lovely Ouray is the last mistake some drivers make. Carry just a little too much speed into a switchback, maybe hit some loose gravel or a patch of black ice in the wrong spot and you're in big double trouble. I'm intrigued by the automobile carnage left to rust away at the bottom of un-guardrailed portions of The Million Dollar Highway.
Twisted. Mutilated beyond recognition. Ghastly half-buried compound fractured metallic limbs protrude from red rocks and soil like something out of the mind of Poe or King. I don't know if the occupant(s) of the above vehicle survived. The car's deformed remains makes identification nearly impossible; there is hardly one square foot of metal that's not creased, caved, or crushed to smithereens. It would take a forensic automobile aficionado to identify this "body," maybe even a little DNA. It must have rolled and rolled and rolled—tumbled side-over-side and end-over-end for what must have seemed like an eternity. I can't imagine.
Snowplow drivers risk this fate daily (and nightly) every winter. Over the years, several have been carried to a death by avalanche. You think about the random uncertainty of Life more when navigating The Million Dollar Highway during winter, on your way to play under "eves" cocked and loaded with a billion tons of snow.
We stopped at the "played-out" Idarado Mine a few miles down on the Ouray side of Red Mountain Pass in order to wander through a collection of old teetering mine shacks. Now vacant relics from the past, they once vibrated with life's essentials... hustle, hardship, and hope. Inside one room I found lockers laying in disarray, purposely ripped from the wall then left behind as though, "Aw, the hell with it." File cabinets with once important information—type-written on some vintage Royal with an inked ribbon—lay toppled, their drawers hanging out like dog tongues. I could almost hear the Royal's clack, clack, clacks, see a harried secretary with piles of paperwork on her desk shunning flirty hard rock miners, all competing for her attention as they passed her door on their way to uncertainty—ore cars that they would ride thousands of feet under-mountain.
A chipmunk stood frozen amid broken window glass, as if measuring the odds of whether I would throw him a snack, or make a snack out of him. In a blink he was gone, suggesting he might live to die of old age, unlike most miners that once peered through the very same glass when it was whole, still puttied neatly into the window frame.