Sorry I missed the Alaska weather feature last Monday, but I wasn’t in Alaska. I was in Colorado, headed with a cousin, the cousin’s son and the son’s significant other from a family reunion at the YMCA Camp of the Rockies to the Denver Airport. We drove through Rocky Mountain National Park, and an unexpected severe thunderstorm.

We started out with plenty of time, and decided on the scenic route — up Fall River Road (one-lane gravel and one-way uphill) to the Alpine Visitor Center (11796 feet) where we would rejoin Trail Ridge Road, and then south through Granby to I-70 into Denver.

At least that was the plan.

Trail Ridge RoadWe started out badly by missing the turnoff from Trail Ridge — the main road through Rocky Mountain National Park — to Fall River Road. Even Trail Ridge has a lot of curves and switchbacks, and we lost quite a lot of time getting back to the Fall River turnoff.

I’ve been up Fall River several times, and it was as spectacular as ever. But even on a Monday we were caught in a line of slow moving tourists. Really slow moving — one of the cars nearly gave us all heart attacks with a child riding on the roof. Still, we would have made it to the airport in time if the weather had cooperated.

It didn’t. Clouds had been building, and as we turned into the parking lot at the visitor center, we were hearing thunder. By the time we found a parking spot and my cousin and I ran for the restrooms, lightning was flashing, and we exited to rain coming down in sheets, hail, and continuous (and close!) thunder and lightning. Sadly, I was far too concerned with getting back to the car to take pictures.

delphiniumsWe knew we were pushing it on time by then, but we ran into more intense storms, with hail and rainfall rates beyond the capability of the windshield wipers, before we reached I-70.  And with the delay, we hit Denver rush-hour traffic.

My cousin and I made our planes (in spite of the TSA) but her son and his companion had to reschedule. Still, it was a beautiful drive, and I’m sure the rains were welcomed by most of the residents.

(P.S. — the delphiniums were in full bloom when I got back, all 9 feet of them. And the zucchini got so far ahead of me in one weekend that I had to make a run to the food bank Tuesday. The first golden beet helped with supper last night, too.)

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