Saturday, March 17, 2012


I never experienced a fear of heights until after the birth of my first child.  Shortly thereafter, I thought I was going to "lose it" on the ferris wheel at the county fair.  And then a few months later, we attempted the trip to the top of the St. Louis Arch -- a sight I hope never again to experience!

For nearly forty years I have avoided air travel like the plague.  I had hoped the fear would dissipate once the kids were grown, but it didn't.  I bought the books and avoided the mountain roads whenever possible.  I reluctantly made the trip to Silverton from Durango but lived in fear of the trip on to Ouray because of the stories I had heard about Red Mountain Pass.

Little did I know when we took ownership of the RV School that I would become a guinea pig.  Yes, we were in Congress, Arizona at the Escapees' North Ranch park when our instructor, Denny Orr, pointed out the mountains in the distance and the two lines along the side of the face of them and told me that was where he took his students.  I later shared this information with George, whose reaction was "Oh, Denny is just kidding."  I was rather confident that Denny was not kidding about the matter.

As fate would have it, around the first of February, a new instructor we were wanting to train did not have a student and was scheduled to leave the next day.  So, we decided that the thing to do was to allow him to ride along as Denny gave me another lesson.  

The Mountain Directory West states that Highway 89 is "Not recommended for trucks pulling trailers over 40' long."  Between Congress and Yarnell, Highway 89 has a 5-6% grade with lots of 25 and 30 mph curves and some 20 mph hairpin curves for approximately 5-1/2 miles.  This is what it looked like from the dog park in the distance...

Weaver Mountains between Congress and Yarnell (highway lines are barely visible near the top).

Denny began with some serious backing exercises.  I backed the Mandalay onto a small side street, into his driveway between Dennis and Carol Hill's awning and Denny and Susie's rooftop.  We then began the climb up the mountains, on a road on which I told Denny I probably would not have allowed George to take the motor home.  After a short break at the top in Yarnell, we began the drive down the mountain where I pretty much had to look at the valley below me and watch the rocks that jutted out nearly to the roadway.  I could do this!  I had not one but three instructors on board!

At the end of this lesson I felt much more confident.  I could back it.  I could climb mountains.  I could descend mountains.  Actually, I think it probably felt better from the driver's seat than riding along next to the cliff.  Another pat on the back!

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