My son Sam and I were off to Colorado to tour three colleges campuses in three days.
We flew from Burbank Airport to Denver arriving at 11:00 a.m.
“Let’s rent a Mustang convertible,” Sam coaxed.
“No, this is our covered wagon. Grand Junction, here we come,” I announced getting into the rented Ford Expedition. “We’re part of the Wild West son.”
We took turns driving and napping until we arrived at Colorado Mesa University. This sporty university suited him like a saddle on a horse.
After that tour, Sam started driving as we pushed on to Durango. The long highway stretched as far as the eye could see. At 85 MPH we had the dust at our heels.
Sam saw the police car hidden on the roadside before I did. A well-trained eye I’m guessing. He slammed on the breaks, testing their limits, as we entered this small town’s limits. The speed limit signs rapidly decreased from 65 MPH to 55 MPH, down to 45 MPH.
Immediately, the flashing lights pulled us over.
“Hello officer,” I stuck my head over leaning in front of Sam. “We’re from California, here touring colleges, on our way to Durango, and were lost,” I said batting my eyelashes.
“Mom, the map’s right there.”
“Do you know you were speeding?” He asked Sam. “I clocked you doing 67 in a 55.”
“Thank God!” I spurted, “not 85.”
“I see this is a rental car.”
“Oh, do you now?” said the fly to the spider.
The officer gave Sam the ticket. “It’s a hundred dollars. If you pay it within ten days you’ll only get 2 points on your record, not 4.”
“So this is a speed trap!” I protested.
“Mom, he’s holding my driver’s license!”
The officer ignored me, “If you’re lost, the most direct way is through the Red Mountain Pass.”
I released my seatbelt, “I think I’ll drive from here.”
It was 6:30 in the evening and the sun sets at 7:45. The road narrowed to one lane in each direction, snaking along with sharp, hairpin turns. No guard rails. No street lights. No other cars. Sixty-foot drops. The sun was sinking below the mountains, casting an eerie glow. I powered my way up.
I glanced over at Sam who was curled up on the passenger seat, napping. Wow, time flies.
Suddenly, the road turned sharply. I jerked the car to the right to avoid taking a Wile E. Coyote plunge. The brakes screeched, waking him up.
“AAAHHH!” Sam screamed. “Slow down! You’re going to kill us!”
My heart raced while I floored it, as if we were chased by a bounty hunter.
Butch, who are those guys?
On the other side of the Rocky Mountains, the road was pitch black, but straight.
We arrived in Durango at 11:00 p.m. and found a hotel and a market. We bought fried chicken, mac and cheese, cookies, and a much-needed, watered-down 6-pack of beer.
In the morning, I packed the remaining full bottles. Sam posted a photo, “Traveling with my mom.”
“Wow. You drove through Red Mountain?” The campus guides were impressed. “It’s known as the most treacherous pass in the United States.”
The college in Durango was lovely, small, not a good fit for Sam.
Onward. Eight hours of driving later, we arrived at the University of Colorado, Boulder for our final tour. My God, it’s a beautiful campus!
I’m proud of Sam’s acceptance to this wonderful institution. Unfortunately, the tuition is about the same as buying a house.
Here is my advice to parents, don’t take your kid to the Ferrari dealership when you’re buying a Honda.
As I have always known, the perfect school finds the perfect kid. Colorado Mesa University here we come! Ye-Ha!
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