Susy Flory posted this great Memoir Starter for her Everything Memoir group: “Summer entices families and friends to hit the road to faraway destinations. Sometimes road trips are fabulous adventures, and sometimes they turn into uncomfortable or awkward situations we’d rather forget. When you hear the words “road trip,” what comes to mind? Give us a quick little story of your most memorable road trip, and don’t forget a sensory detail or two!”
Here’s what I came up with. I call it The Road to Hell Might Have Switchbacks.
We flew to Vegas, rented a car, and headed out on an adventure of the Grand Circle Tour. An epic two-week road trip, six national parks, one national monument, two state parks, several dirt back roads, and crazy weather. Did I mention we left home on July 4? Going to Nevada, Utah, and Arizona? To say it was hot would be an understatement.
The red rocks were beautiful and the lightening storms were fascinating. We hiked up the Narrows River in Zion, down into Bryce Canyon, and down the Grand Wash in Capitol Reef. We were having a blast. Nothing could go wrong.
Until my sweetie decided he wanted to take the Shaffer Trail Road from Canyonlands National Park Island in the Sky down into the canyon below where the Colorado River flowed. The ranger said it would be no problem in our rented Santa Fe. No problem at all.
I think when I told her we had taken said vehicle on Hell’s Backbone she heard Hell’s Revenge. The former is a well-graded gravel road, two lanes wide, up and over a beautiful ridge. The latter is a bunch of rocks that hardcore four-wheelers drive up and over outside of Moab.
Once we were headed down there was no turning back. I mean, literally, there was no place wide enough to turn around. It was sheer drop-off on one side and straight up the other, on this single lane dirt road. As we zig-zagged down the side of the canyon I couldn’t look. Every time I ventured a peek, I would burst into tears, sobbing uncontrollably with my head in my hands. I have never been so terrified in all my life, and I’ve been skydiving.
At one point my husband said, “It’s okay Hunny, God’s not going to take you home today.”
“You don’t know that!” I said, as I burst into tears again.
When we reached the bottom 45 minutes after leaving the mesa above, we proceeded on the barely discernible Potash Road back to Moab. The car thermometer said 106. It took two hours to go the 20 miles into town and there were many sketchy spots I wasn’t sure we’d be able to navigate.
Once we got to the paved road, there’s another great story about a rain shower, but I think I’ll save that for another day.
And lest you think I’m exaggerating, you can check out someone else’s video of this harrowing drive here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qGpaILHYK-A