Report of the 2001 Texas to Alaska Model T Adventure

Last Revised: November 15, 2003

Saturday, August 11, 2001

Texas to Alaska

Model T Travel Report


Today's report

sponsored by:

Texas T Parts


Day 67 - August 11, 2001 - We woke up to a bright, clear morning and the sky was dotted with hot air balloons launching from a field near the motel. We started up out of Steamboat Springs on our way to Canon City, Colorado. I say "up" because, immediately after leaving the city limits, the road starts to climb into the Rabbit Ears Pass. This is a seven-mile climb to a 9,426 foot pass. Fortunately for us, there was a passing lane so cars could get around us. Ginger scooted right on up in the pick-up which has a pretty powerful engine with a Model A crankshaft. It took her 20 minutes and she had a 30 minute wait before the rest of us arrived. If you added that up and realized that it took us 50 minutes to climb that pass, you are right. That is how it goes in a Model T.

Crossing over Muddy Pass, a cloud covered the road on the steep decline. We went lower and found totally different country than on the other side of the mountain, much more arid and rocky, not as lush and green. The drive to Kremmling and Dillon/Silverthorne was narrow and busy. It is Saturday and this is tourist country. People come from all over the country to Summit County, home of great fishing, hunting, skiing, boating and other outdoor sports. And most of them were on the road this morning. We drove by beautiful Lake Dillon on our way to Breckenridge and our last mountain of the day and the trip (or so Ben promised me), the 11,541 ft. Hoosier Pass. There is a bike path from Dillon that extends for miles around the lake and through the small towns leading to Breckenridge and we were struck by the numerous bikers on the path. Ben and I have ridden that path numerous times as we used to come to Summit County in the summers to visit my sister who lived here then. In Breckenridge, we were detoured all the way through town (lovely neighborhoods) and out the other side because of some big biking event

The Hoosier Pass was only a four-mile climb but it was a killer. There was no passing lane on this mountain so the cars backed up behind us until there was a place they could pull around or we could pull off. (If you drive a T, you know that you can't stop on a hill. You have to keep going or you may not be able to get going again.) Even Ginger had problems because the numerous S curves took her momentum but, finally, we all made it. Jennifer had the worst time on both mountains because all she has is a standard Ford transmission, Ford high and Ford low. She was standing against the back of her seat to put enough pressure on the clutch to keep it in gear by the time she reached the top. It was here that we found out what kind of biking event was going on. Hundreds of bike riders had left Boulder this morning, riding 140 miles over five major passes, and were finishing with the climb up Hoosier Pass and a ride down into Breckenridge, the finish line. Unbelievable! Last year, out of more than 200 starters, only 20 finished.

We took Highway 9 the rest of the way into Canon City and, for the most part, it had rolling hills and little traffic. We could see the mountains off to the side but our road was no problem. Suddenly, in front of us was a very steep hill, followed by a very steep downgrade the rest of the way into town. We had a great view of the bridge over the Royal Gorge, the reason people come to Canon City, and headed on to the motel where my sister and her husband, Faye and Roy Russell of Denver, came to meet us. It was a good day with some serious mountains, beautiful scenery, and no car trouble. We are looking forward to having a day to play tomorrow.

A special note in response to several emails: We are staying an extra night in Canon City to have FUN, not because of a breakdown! Ross, Jennifer, and Ginger have been wanting to go rafting ever since the Grand Canyon and our schedule and problems with the cars have prevented us from letting them. Colorado is about the last place for real whitewater rafting and, with only a few days left on the tour, we decided to change our itinerary and spend another day so they could raft the Royal Gorge. We figured they had earned a day of fun. Sorry to have frightened those of you who were concerned we'd had more trouble.

811a - Driving out of Steamboat Springs, we started up the 7-mile long Rabbit Ears Pass. It is beautiful around Steamboat, part of the reason that it is such a popular destination. Bruce and Ross have a friend in England who comes to Steamboat fairly often and had suggested that she might meet them here. So they want to know, "Where were you?"


811b - We had been climbing for over 30 minutes at this point, slowly, of course, but steadily. Then we passed this guy who was climbing almost as fast as we were. He was sweating but didn't look like he was working as hard as Ben was to hold the clutch in place. We could not believe that anyone would ride a bike up that mountain. We learned later that people do this all the time! What is wrong with these people?


811c - When I took this picture, I intended to caption it, "the view from the top of the world - Colorado style". However, I found out that we were still a long way from the top. Isn't it beautiful, though? Even though I was nervous about the climb, it is hard not to be aware of how incredibly beautiful it is here.


811d - We had to drive the entire hill (still Rabbit Ears Pass) in Ford low, which will pretty much pull any hill but goes V-E-R-Y slowly. Ben tried several times to shift up into low Ruckstell but without success and, on one attempt, hit the key and turned off the ignition. We happened to be next to a pull-out and were able to get in there and I jumped out to block the tire. Jennifer and Ross pulled off at the same place because she feared that she was overheating. After giving everyone a chance to stretch their left leg, we started off again.


811e - Jennifer finally reached the top. Or, what we thought was the top. After a brief celebration, we started out again only to find another short climb to the actual summit. The mountains in the background are all around us. Steamboat Springs is in a bowl, fairly high above sea level but still way below the mountains surrounding it.Rabbit Ears Pass was followed shortly by Muddy Pass, an 8722 foot pass which actually wasn't a problem since we were up so high already.


811f - Jennifer flexes her toes and ankles after reaching the summit. As I've mentioned before, it can be very tiring to hold Ford low for an extended period and she had been holding it for 50 minutes.


811g - Ginger, Ross and Bruce smile at the top. Ross has been waiting for the Colorado Rockies this whole trip. His assessment: the hills in England are steeper but not as long. He has never climbed a 7-miles.


811h - The cars at the top of the 9,426 ft. pass. Who would have thought we could have made it here? This is one of the many crossings we have made of the Continental Divide and the highest pass we have climbed. Rabbit Ears Pass was followed shortly by Muddy Pass, an 8722 foot pass which actually wasn't a problem since we were up so high already.


811i - I thought you might like to see the "Rabbit Ears" themselves. They were a pretty distinctive directional point for early explorers and settlers and are still rather noticeable today. (The large moon-shape object in the upper right of the photo is the rear-view mirror, not an original part of the car but an accessory even then.)


811j - This is not fog, this is a cloud! After we came over the Muddy Pass, we drove right down into a heavy cloud for the first 1000 to 1500 feet drop.


811k - The road to Kremmling led through rolling farms like this one, huge ranches (many are for sale!), and two lovely recreation areas. This is totally different terrain than on the northern side of the mountain.


811l - The Green Mountain Recreation Area is a man-made lake and the traffic around it was very heavy. People who are eager to get their boats in the water and their campsites set up are annoyed to find us in their way. For the most, part people were nice but it is unsettling to drive when you are the obstacle. This would be a great place to camp, though, and the lake is big enough to really enjoy.


811m - This is Lake Dillon, one of my personal favorites as far as lakes go. We have gone boating here a number of times and I never get tired of it. The road we took runs over the dam and right along the edge of the lake for about 11 miles before veering off toward Breckenridge and the Hoosier Pass.


811n - Jennifer and Ross round the final S-curve on the road up Hoosier Pass. Breckenridge is high above sea level but the mountains surrounding it are tremendous. That is why the skiing is so good and the passes are so steep.


811o - Jennifer smiles with satisfaction at making it to the top of the 11,500 foot pass. Once again, we have crossed the Continental Divide, our third crossing for the day. The Continental Divide snakes its way across the top of the mountains, sometimes going east to west, more often going north-south.


811p - I had to add this picture of Ross at the summit of Hoosier Pass. I don't think they go this high in England. Ginger had beaten us all up, even though Bruce was riding with her, and she was taking pictures of others so her picture and Ben's is not here.


811q - One group of the riders participating in the mountain bike race. Keep in mind that these people had already ridden up four of the major peaks in the area, over 120 miles already, and are on their way up Hoosier Pass. The motorcycles in front of them are part of their support group and each group of bikers had cars and motorcycles travelling with them, carrying supplies, extra tires, etc. It was fascinating to watch. What is wrong with these people?!


811r - We had to stop on the way down the mountain to let the race pass us by, about 35-40 minutes. We were within one mile of the bottom and could see the town of Fairplay below when they pulled us aside. I think we were as interesting to the others who were stopped as were the bikers. We got lots of questions as to what we were doing and if we thought we'd get there. I imagine some of them were wondering, "what is wrong with these people?"


811s - Nearing the end of our drive, the T's stretch out along Highway 9, through miles of range country. This was a very pretty drive, through rolling hills but none to steep when we rounded a curve and were faced with a long and very steep uphill climb, followed by a long and very steep downhill that took us into Canon City. If you look closely in this picture, you can see the road winding off behind us.


811t - The bridge over the Royal Gorge. From this photograph, it is hard to see that this huge suspension bridge spans a 1000-ft. chasm. The Royal Gorge is where we plan to go whitewater rafting tomorrow. The bridge was built years ago and is now privately owned (i.e., expensive commercial enterprise) but the river is a wonderful challenge for those brave enough to try it.

For Further Information Contact:

Ben or Nancy Hardeman
Texas T Parts
1820 Gray Stone Drive
Bryan, Texas 77807
Tel: 979-361-0271
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