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Like nearly a million other people, we found ourselves with some extra time off last week.  Never one to pass up the opportunity to hit the road, we decided to get out of Dodge again.

After toying with (and sadly abandoning) the idea to truck out to Arizona to see my dad, we decided to stay a little closer to home and check out Ouray, Colorado.  Ouray is the ice climbing capital of the world, apparently.  Since it is past Labor Day, and nowhere near ice climbing season, we figured it would be a good time to visit.  And whoo-hoo, we were not disappointed at all.


We took our time getting things together on THursday, and consequently only made it two hours to Buena Vista.  Since we had such a great time when we went there a few months ago, we decided to check out the same “free” campsite we had found.  Not surprisingly, there wasn’t a soul around for miles and we backed in around midnight.  When we woke up the next morning, the rain I thought I had heard was actually snow…  Finn was mighty pleased and was thrilled to be back at the same campsite.  Writing your name in the snow with your own pee may have had something to do with his excitement.

After breakfast at the Brown Dog Coffee Company in Buena Vista (seriously the best raspberry scone I had ever had), we pressed on to Gunnison.  We passed this amazing display of playground awesomeness; holy crap!  How could we not stop?  Three story tube slide?  Don’t mind if I do.


The slide was awesome; and even Nathan and I were grinning ear-to-ear and racing back up to the top for more.  It was FAST… Alice could have done it all day, but one trip for Finn was enough.  He had his eyes on the rock wall.  And loved going down the swirly slide…. Which knocked him on his ass more than a few times.

Wipeout in 3.... 2..... 1....

Wipeout in 3…. 2….. 1….


After a disappointing lunch at Pizza Hut (shock; I know) and hitting three separate Walmarts in 24 hours, we finally managed to inch our way up Monarch Pass.  A temporary road sign alerted us to the icy conditions ahead.  No more than three minutes later, we were driving through a decent snow…  And when we saw a bunch of cars and a crew of people milling about the pull out just shy of the pass, I thought of one thing.

Shit.  We didn’t bring chains.  It is barely even October.

Nathan must have been thinking the same thing; he pulled over to get the latest from the folks coming the opposite direction.  They all looked pretty grumpy and were furiously brushing off the snow from their vehicles.  When we got a little closer, and I started rolling down my window to talk to the nearest guy, I got that feeling that something was a little off…

All the cars were blacked out; Mercedes and tank-like trucks were surrounded by a clan of guys decked out in tactical gear; fatigues, guns, knives, bullet-proof vests.  Holy shit.  What had we just rolled up on?

“Uh… Is it really bad?  You guys needed chains?”  I sorta muttered to this guy who was obviously NOT in the military but had enough weapons to make it through the third round of the zombie apocalypse.  I start to notice the truck behind him is armoured and clearly ready to plow through a shower of bullets, machetes or anyone else, alive or dead, that stands in its path.

photo 1

“Nah..  Just a little slippery,” he tells us with a ridiculous level of nonchalance considering all the heat he is packing.

Nathan chimes in (in his “I’m an official bad-ass, and I know something is amiss” voice), “Are you a cop?  That pattern on your uniform is the new Special Forces stuff.”

A few more seconds into the conversation, and we’re told that they are in Monarch Pass filming The Fast and the Furious 7 (Whaaaaat?  THE SEVENTH MOVIE?  I must be living under a rock, and not following Vin Diesel’s career as closely as I could be.).  The snow has made it impossible to film.  After Nathan and I breathe a sigh of relief,  Nae asks him about the knife holstered in the front of his vest.

“Nah, man.  Just rubber, he bends the handle in half and I am amazed at how real it looks.  And how bizarre it is that this guy just “bent” his knife in half.  “Guns, knives, all of it is just rubber.”

“Are those trucks the real deal, too?” I ask.

“Nah, they’re empty.  No heaters, no radios, just shells.  Sucks, man.”  He smiles.

photo 2

When he asks where we’re headed, and we tell him we’re really not sure, he wishes us well, and tells us it isn’t too slippery up ahead, but we’re gonna get pretty dirty.  Of course, they’re worried about getting dirty.  We didn’t care.  He wishes us well and gives us a very cliché thumbs-up.  We wish him luck for the movie and drive off.  Over the next half hour, we pass three or four sets of identical black cars in triplicate – bigger trucks, and THE Vin Diesel car (or so I think, I’ve stopped caring about Fast and the Furious since I’ve had kids).

“If I cared about Facebook, I would totally put this up there,” Nae tells me.  I totally agree.




Alice drifted off to sleep, and we got to see evidence of Congress’ work ethic.  Every pull-off for the recreation areas, and Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, was shuttered up.

Fuck you very much, Congress.  Three cheers for our Nation’s leaders.

We stopped by the Dillon Pinnacles…


And the Blue Mesa Dam.

And took in the sights of the Black Canyon.  From the road.  Since that is the closest we could get.



By late afternoon, we pulled into Ouray and were taken aback at how picturesque it was…  It was like living in a movie.  Only not The Fast and the Furious.




We took a quick tour around town and decided we would come back the next morning when everything was open.

Stay tuned for more!