Iceberg Lake

Saturday, September 26

The first Saturday of autumn dawned clear and cloudless and looked to be another beautiful day. I didn’t have any plans.

Some time ago, I was browsing Foster’s guide looking for lakes I haven’t visited that aren’t found at the end of long hikes. Iceberg Lake jumped out at me – it’s only two tenths of a mile from the Lava Cliffs parking area on Trail Ridge Road. As Foster puts it, “millions of people view this lake” but very few visit it because there’s no trail. Today would be an ideal day to go there.

After breakfast I called Jerry. He also had no plans, so he agreed to go with me. As the journey to Iceberg Lake hardly qualifies as a hike, the outing would be more of a drive to view the turning of the aspen.

All the local news channels have been touting the aspen for the last few days, so I expected quite a bit of traffic. I wasn’t disappointed – the roads were packed. On the way to Estes Park, we seldom were anywhere near the speed limit. Arriving in Estes, traffic was backed up all the way across the lake. As we were headed to Trail Ridge instead of Bear Lake, I made the mistake of actually going through town. I was thinking I’d take US 34, but traffic that way was pretty bad so we went right through the center of town.

The lines into the Park on 36 weren’t too bad; we were third in line in the express lane. The card reader there was acting a bit wonky and each driver had to swipe their card multiple times to get the gate to go up. While I was struggling with it, a woman from the car behind us ran up: “Mind if I get a picture of your car?”

There aren’t really that many aspen on the way to Estes or in the Park, so I suspect folks were out more for a pleasant drive than to see the autumn colors. Signs at the junction with the Bear Lake road indicated that, not only was the Bear Lake parking lot full, but the park-and-ride lot was full as well.

From the entrance to the Park all the way up to Rainbow Curve, traffic moved pretty slowly, which was okay with us. The weather was as close to perfect as you could ask – clear, calm, sunny, and not hot. Our only concern was that all the parking areas were packed and had people waiting for parking spots. Of course, Lava Cliffs is well above treeline and there aren’t any aspen reasonably visible from there and we had our choice of parking spots.

Before I could get my boots on, an SUV pulled into the empty spot next to us. A guy wearing a Wisconsin Badgers cap on got out and said “Somebody’s a Packer’s fan!” My normal retort to this is “Puck the Fackers”, but I was relatively polite instead and just shook my head and gave an emphatic “No!”

The descent to the lake is pretty straight-forward. We worked our way to a steep grassy ramp, avoiding the worst of the loose footing. The ramp leads down to a pile of loose volcanic rocks. We zig-zagged our way down this talus to the lake and found a spot on the shore of the lake, out of sight from the parking area above. From the looks of things, I expect show covers our picnic spot until quite late in the summer.

To our surprise, although we were quite close to the road we could hear no traffic noise. We sat there for over an hour, watching the world go by. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, so I didn’t bother running the camera for a time lapse. It’s too bad I didn’t have this calm weather last week, but so it goes.

Given the amount of traffic we faced on the way up, I was expecting to crawl all the way back to Lyons. Evidently, our stay was brief compared to most other folks and we were in traffic that moved more or less at the speed limit all the way down..

It was a nice leisurely day – no need to be on the road before dawn, a hike that was less than a thousand paces each direction, and a pleasant drive to view the aspen.

A Discouraging Wind

Sunday, September 20

Denver’s forecast for Sunday was mid-80’s and clear. It sounded like ideal weather for one last hike above treeline. The goal this time was Isolation Lake. I’d been leaving my options open; there are two lakes above Bluebird Lake that I’ve never been to. Junco Lake is about a mile, across terrain I’ve not gotten a good look at. Isolation Lake is at 12,000′, accessed via a bit over a mile of open tundra. I was undecided which I’d visit until I got to the Park.

I wanted to be on the trail about 7:30. I wasn’t sure how long it would take me to get to Bluebird. It’s 6.3 miles, with the last mile fairly steep. I figured the stretch between Bluebird and Isolation would take an hour, so I wanted to be to Bluebird by eleven. I was between Boulder and Lyons for sunrise. Not a cloud in the sky. The drive all the way to the Park was pleasant – there was almost no traffic.

At the trailhead I snagged an end spot. The lot was perhaps a third full. Somehow I got the idea that the bridge had been repaired at Ouzel Falls, but they had signs up saying it was still out. I could try that way on the hike out, as it would only cost me a mile or so if I had to turn around.

Above Copeland Falls they’re nearly done with significant repairs to the trail, damaged two years ago. With the bridge out, I had to take the campsite route to the Thunder Lake trail. I’d been calling it an unimproved trail, but the bridge out sign called it “primitive”. It’s your basic forest trail that gains about seven hundred feet of elevation.

The trail to Ouzel Lake follows the spine of a ridge that was burned in the Ouzel fire in 1978. It’s like a big eraser went through there, removing a strip mature forest a half mile wide and several miles long. This time of year you get a better sense of how much of this strip has been filled in by aspen, the only aspen visible south of the St. Vrain. This section of trail is exposed to the wind and sun. The sun was shining brightly in a clear, deep blue sky. On a July or August afternoon this would be a fierce sun but this morning was quite pleasant. It wasn’t calm, just a light breeze.

Before exiting the burn scar and returning to the forest we pass just above Chickadee Pond and Ouzel Lake to the south. The trail makes climbs a quick four hundred feet, flattens out to cross a talus field, then climbs another four hundred. In this second climb I chatted with a hiker on his way down. “Did you spend the night up here?” “No, thank God. The wind is bad, maybe sixty miles an hour.”

That was a bit discouraging. From Bluebird to Isolation is open tundra, so I’d be hiking into the teeth of the wind. I can assume I might find a big rock to use as a wind break when I got to Isolation, but don’t really know. While it is probably quite pleasant to sit at 12,000′ in bright sunshine and calm, with any sort of wind it will be cold.

When I got to Bluebird I didn’t even take a picture. The wind was fierce. Maybe not sixty but easily forty miles an hour. I took one look in the general direction of my goal and turned around. Although the hike to Junco is more sheltered, the wind wouldn’t be any better. So Plan B is picnic at Ouzel.

Chickadee Pond

Rather than go back to the trail junction, I bushwhacked the hundred yards or so from the Bluebird Lake trail, going between Chickadee Pond and Ouzel Lake. It’s a forest lake, without an abundance of rocks. I tried to find a spot on a rock, in the sun, out of the wind, close to the water. Today, no such place existed. I did find a spot in the shade, slightly protected from the wind. I didn’t set up for a time lapse as there still wasn’t a cloud in the sky.

Ouzel Lake

Below Ouzel Lake I ran into a guy coming up. “Boy, am I glad to see you and this trail!” He didn’t see the bridge out sign at the trailhead and made his way to Ouzel Falls. He went upstream on game trails until he found a spot to cross, but went a long way before regaining the trail. There was no point in heading to Ouzel Falls now that the missing bridge was confirmed. Ouzel Falls is only a nice spot for a break if you’re on the other side of the river.

I took another break on a rock outcropping on the campsite cutoff. Even so, with the shortened hike and abbreviated picnic, I was back to the car by 2:30. Traffic was not nearly as bad as I expected. I assumed lots of people would be driving around viewing the aspen. There was some of that; lots of convertibles and even a couple of early sixties British sports cars. But not heavy traffic, and everybody managed to go as fast as the speed limit for the most part. That is, until reaching Boulder where a biker raced to get to the front of the line then proceeded to putt along at twenty under the limit.

The hike itself was quite pleasant. Once away from the lake, even on the exposed ridge, there was no wind to speak of. And I didn’t see a cloud in the sky the entire day. I didn’t bag a new lake today, but that’s okay. I can pencil another attempt at Isolation on the calendar for next August.

Fay Lakes

Sunday, September 6

I wanted to visit Fay Lakes last year. In October I got to the bridge over the Roaring River to find that it had been washed out in the previous year’s floods. There was a log that I could have used, but it was covered in frost. So I chickened out and went to Lawn Lake instead.

A couple weeks ago I asked the forum at ProTrails if the bridge has been replaced. It hasn’t, but one hiker said there was an easy crossing about 250 steps upstream. As it turns out, the water is low enough I was able to easily cross right where the bridge used to be. There are warning signs posted: “BRIDGE OUT – Flood Damage – River Crossing Not Recommended”. Hazards include risk of injury and drowning. Not so much in the first week of September – biggest risk is a wet foot.

Once past the Roaring River, the trail climbs to the crest of a ridge. There’s a section of forest here that fascinates me. I haven’t been anywhere else like it. The ground is covered with deadfall and dead pine needles, everything gray. I’d guess just about every place in the region has burned at least once in the last 500 years, but this one small area may have gone twice that long without.

Rewind a bit. I hit the trail a few minutes before 8. I had to park in the smaller lot at the base of the horse trail. I’m guessing I just missed the last spot in the main trailhead parking by a few minutes. Another hiker started at the same time I did. He was headed to Ypsilon Lake so we hiked together. We made good time, passing a few hikers before crossing the river and a few more just after. I neglected to get his name. He was visiting from northern Illinois. He makes a trip to RMNP every year about this time for bicycling and hiking.

We made it to Ypsilon Lake at about ten. I asked if he wanted to continue on to Fay Lakes with me, but he declined. I told him I thought we made great time; he said my pace challenged him a bit on the steeper parts. Based on how much bicycling he does, I’m not sure I challenged him all that much.

Foster says to “bushwhack northeast through dense forest” to Lower Fay Lake, but that it “is easier said than done.” Somebody has put a fair amount of effort into placing cairns along the route. Even so, it is challenging at times to follow. I lost it for a while on the way up but did manage it on the way down. The route climbs a shallow gully for a while; I regained the faint trail here and followed it to the lower lake.

Lower Fay Lake

Lower Fay Lake is pretty much what I expected. It’s small a small forest lake with no spectacular views. At this time of year the grass around it is dry, but is certainly quite marshy earlier in the season. The faint trail disappears entirely here; I didn’t see a single wildlife trail or cairn from here on.

Between the lower and middle lakes there is a section of dense forest that was some slow going. After that I reached the stream connecting the two lakes and followed it straight up. It got steep in one place and I had to scramble up a few rocks in one spot. I refilled my water here on the return trip.

Middle Fay Lake, from Upper.

Middle Fay Lake sits at the foot of Fairchild Mountain’s gentle southern slope. To the west, the easternmost buttress of Ypsilon Mtn thrusts itself into the sky at a jaunty angle above a grassy ramp. The summit of Fairchild is actually farther away than the summit of Ypsilon, but Ypsilon is much more dramatic.

From here, it’s a simple walk up the grassy ramp, about a quarter of a mile and two hundred feet of elevation, to reach Upper Fay Lake. I crossed the stream about half way up; the stream is so small now that it doesn’t take a long stride to do it. This puts me at the northeastern shore of the long and narrow lake. The water level in the lake is quite low, leaving a mosaic of vegetation and voids.

Upper Fay Lake

I found a nice picnic spot near the south eastern shore. After I ate I explored the area. There was a nice view of Fairchild and Middle Fay from the ridge behind me. To the southeast a grassy ramp rises and the map indicates that the other side is much like this one. Foster indicates a route directly back to Ypsilon this way. I considered going back that way but decided to retrace my steps.

Ypsilon Mtn

After an hour I headed back. The walk from Upper to Middle is quite pleasant – grassy, with open views and easy walking. Most of the day is spent in the forest, with only glimpses of the peaks so I particularly enjoyed the dramatic vistas. There is no trail, but it’s easy to see where the big animals have been. Following the bent grass is like playing connect the dots with deposits of pellets.

The section between the Middle and Lower lakes is almost not so pleasant. It starts with the only part of the hike where I had to use my hands. I refilled the water bottle here, then negotiated a dense section of forest. I never had to deal with willow on this hike, but this section of forest was criss-crossed with maze of deadfall.

Approaching the Lower lake the terrain levels off and transitions to grass, and, finally, the marshy shores of the lake. This hike would be much different in July; much of my route would have been marshy or spongy. I wouldn’t call today dry, but there is little flowing or standing water and the lakes are low.

At the Lower lake I find the trail to Ypsilon. On the way out I managed to stay on the trail. There’s a stretch where the cairns are quite close together and yet sometimes challenging to follow. I both appreciate all the work that went into placing the cairns and wish they’d done more. I felt a nice little satisfaction when I got to Ypsilon Lake without losing the thread.

I took a fruit break at Ypsilon, chatted with a couple of hikers there. One saw my Fitbit; she was wearing one as well. Back at the river crossing I met a couple I had passed on the way up, not far from here. The crossing was giving her some consternation. I crossed the same way I did in the morning and he followed me. Until he couldn’t – “Your stride is just a couple inches longer than mine!”

They asked if I was the guy who hiked to Fay Lakes. They’d talked to my companion on the way up. They, David and Deborah, are from Cincinnati and spend a couple weeks in Estes Park every year. They’ve been doing it for eighteen years. They make sure to take a lot of walks in the weeks before their trip, so they’re prepared for hiking.

I was back to the car by 4:30. Traffic was horrible. Leaving Estes I wanted to get around a trailer (just because), but an SUV got in my way. If I’d have gotten around the trailer, I’d have been happier. The car holding everything up was in front of him. I’d have easily passed one slow car, but I had no chance being fourth in line. The slow guy never went the speed limit and was often twenty below it. Oblivious to the line of cars that stretched out of sight behind him, he never considered using one of the many slow-vehicle pull-outs.

LOG 35, Day 4

Monday, August 24

The printed schedule indicated an 8am start for track day, but this was incorrect. At the buffet last night, Ross made an announcement that we should be there at 7 instead. So it’s another early morning; I left the hotel before 6:30, stopped at the gas station to top off the tank, and headed south on I-25 to PPIR.

I was thinking I’d arrive just on time, thus being one of the later arrivals. To my surprise, the gate wasn’t open yet and we were queueing up in two lines. It didn’t take long to see that I was one of the earlier ones and we’d soon have people stacked up on the interstate. A few of us started directing traffic down the side road to a dirt lot. So much for the 7 o’clock start; the schedule would be shifted an hour.

After signing the track’s waiver at the gate, we stopped at another line before entering the track where we turned in our paperwork and picked up our numbers. I’ve done nearly 30 track days and this is the first one I’ve had to have a number.

I’ve only run laps at PPIR once before, with CECA. That time we were in the garages which was quite nice. Plenty of room to put our gear, out of the sun and wind. No garages today, though. After emptying the car and affixing our numbers and letters (I was A group, car 25) we went into the classroom for the drivers meeting.

Usually they go over all the rules – which flags are in use (typically just yellow, red, and black) and tell us where we are allowed to pass. They did talk about flags but passing zones must have been discussed in yesterday’s meeting, which I missed due to being here at the autocross. No worries; I’ve been here before and know the drill. I did get some good news and some bad news. The good news was that I didn’t have to have an instructor with me, not even for the first session. The bad news, I had to keep the soft top on. So the camera got mounted on the harness bar rather than top center where I have the new adhesive mount. I later found out I wasn’t allowed to take a passenger.

I didn’t count the A group cars. There were perhaps a dozen for the first session. Greg in his formula car, a couple Esprits, a couple Evoras, a couple Exiges, me and few others. We were the first group to run, so I was in a bit of a hurry after the meeting. This is when I found out that after upgrading my phone, I needed to sign on to my RaceChrono account in order to get lap times and OBD data. Unfortunately, I was unable to remember my password, so no data acquisition today. Oh well.

This was my first track day since I started wearing the Fitbit. I was curious how much I really work in the car. But I didn’t think of turning it on until the third run, and then I forgot to turn it off for a half hour. Maybe next time I’ll do better.

Today wasn’t really a track day – it officially was a driving school. That’s why I couldn’t take a passenger – only instructors were allowed passengers. Much as our autocross was run by SCCA, the driving school was run with the aid of the Mercedes Benz club. I’ve never run with them; because we were using their insurance we weren’t allowed to go topless unless we had arm restraints. This has never been the case for me before.

IMG_1473sBecause this was a driving school, I was a bit surprised to see nobody had put cones out on the course. Usually the organizers place cones at the apex of each turn at a minimum, plus turn in and run out. I assume they got the cones out after our first session as they were there next time. In any event, I had my line figured out after a few laps.

This is not my favorite track. No, that’s not true. It’s my least favorite track. We run on about three quarters of the speedway plus the small infield section. The road course section of most ovals takes up the majority of the infield. Here at PPIR, more than half the infield is taken by parking lots, garages, and other buildings. With so little room for the road section it’s a bit rinky-dink. And, of course, I’m not going to push very hard on the speedway section – a mistake here and you’re in the wall. All other tracks I’ve been on have plenty of room if you go off – there’s nothing to hit unless you really screw up.

IMG_1475sMost of the cars in my group were faster. I passed a yellow Esprit several times, and a blue Evora. But because we were not a large group, I only had to wave by faster cars a few times. In the second session, just as I was catching the yellow Esprit, Greg caught me in his formula car. The yellow Esprit waved him by, then waved me by. By the time I completed my pass, we were well into the turn on the speedway. A few corners later I was shown the black flag. Oops, I should have waited to pass him. I think I was the only driver given the black flag all day.

Between sessions I visited with a number of people. Most track days, I know many of the people from other events – the local track rats. Today I had the opportunity to socialize with folks from all over, including a couple from Ottawa. They had flown in, so weren’t participating; he said he enjoyed running at Loudon, New Hampshire. They solve their small infield problem by running a road section outside the oval.

I only ran three sessions. I normally have an extra five gallons of gas but didn’t bring the can with me on this trip. I normally try to run as many laps as I can – get my money’s worth. But missing a session here didn’t bother me that much. I was all packed up and on the road by 3:30 and home by 5:30. I’d almost forgotten how much fun rush hour traffic can be. I’m spoiled by working at home.

I couldn’t check out the Fitbit data until after I got home. I always knew I was working hard in the car – I’m often breathing pretty hard, and your basic rule of thumb is four heartbeats per breath – but I had no real sense of how hard. The Fitbit tells me I was in peak zone for three minutes and the cardio zone for fourteen. Total that’s a bit over half the time. When I wasn’t in the cardio zone my heart rate was still above 100 much of the time. So a half hour running laps in the car is not quite as strenuous as hiking for a half hour.

LOG 35, Day 3

Sunday, August 23

Our first event of the day is the group drive to the summit of Pikes Peak. We had arranged with the city (the Pikes Peak road is operated by Colorado Springs) to be on the mountain before anybody else, so that meant another early rise. We left the hotel at 6:30 in a giant caravan to the North Pole parking lot where we lined up and waited for the Rangers to give us our passes. We pretty much filled their lot. Rangers passed out brochures – these were our tickets in. They did this instead of putting stickers on everybody’s windshield.


We passed the dozen or so folks lined up at the gate. It was pretty well known that we wouldn’t be staying within the speed limit, but we were told not to go crazy – if we overstepped we would be shut down. I later learned Clive Chapman led the charge. We were nowhere near the front of the line, but it was certainly the fastest I’ve ever made it to the top.

We got there 40 minutes before the store opened. It was cold and a bit windy and several folks really wanted to use the restrooms but we had to be patient. When they finally opened, the clerks said they weren’t warned so many people would be there; they were overwhelmed. It’s always cold and windy on top of 14ers, so the weather wasn’t unexpected. The smoke was bad again, but not too bad, and we were above it.


I assume most people headed out on one of the three scenic drives. We did our drive to Cripple Creek yesterday because I had autocross in the afternoon. Genae isn’t at all interested in standing around in a parking lot for three or four hours so she went to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. I headed to PPIR.

We were on the schedule for 2pm. I’d been telling people it would be more like 3 or 3:30 but there was no general announcement. I wish I’d been able to get more people signed up the evening before. It was kind of hectic – I had forms and numbers and a notebook but no where to spread out. The wind was blowing, so everything had to be in the passenger seat of the car. At first I was able to deal with the entrants one by one but before long they were arriving two and three at a time, I eventually had everybody’s forms and had assigned a class and number.

The SCCA guys were great. We had a short meeting then set off to walk the course. Before the cars were let loose, Bill and Jon set the “slow” times in their wheelchairs. I’m pretty sure Bill has done this before – he had a more favorable final drive ratio or better charge in his batteries or both. Skip ran in his Baby 7, a one-third scale Lotus 7 go-kart. Eric and Kelly Dean not only had their Lotus but entered their Tesla as well.

I was working a corner for the first group. Second group was Elise and Exige, first group was everybody else. Nobody ever hit a cone in our sector, but we had several people DNF. The most fun was trying to get Skip to complete the course. The first time, he cut about a quarter of the course off. Each time after that I tried to point him in the right direction.

SCCA said we’d get four runs, I asked for 5 if we could be finished by six. In any event, we’d all miss the track day drivers meeting that somehow got scheduled for 5pm. We did get five runs and were done a few minutes before six so nobody would be late for the Mexican buffet that started at seven back at the hotel.

This was my second autocross. I had four different passengers on my five runs, going out solo only once. My first time was a 58 and I got better each run until the last, when I got sideways. Had I kept it straight, it would have been my fastest run. I’ll admit to being pleased that I was setting pretty good times. At my first autocross, I was about mid-pack among the rookies but only at the top end of the bottom quartile of all competitors. Today, most of our group were rookies or hadn’t done autocross often or recently.

Everybody seemed to have a good time, so I think it was a successful event. I hung around for a few extra minutes to collect the results, which Cynthia and Terry volunteered to collate.

I was back to the hotel just in time to stand in line for the Mexican buffet. After we ate, Ross made some announcements, then I got up and presented the results. People were very gracious and applauded everybody, even me when I said I’d gotten second in the Elise NA class. We all collected our trophies and sat down to watch Ross do a Tonight Show with Johnny Carson routine to chat with the evening’s guests – Clive Chapman, Arnie Johnson, and Dave Bean.

IMG_1476sUnfortunately, I missed much of what was said. Just after it got underway I realized our results didn’t include Phil. He’d been running autocross with SCCA all day, so he already had done his paperwork and gotten a number. I didn’t put him on our entry list, so I never got his results. Turns out he was second in our class, so I gave him my trophy. I felt I couldn’t take the third place trophy from the guy we announced, so Tatiana and Jeremy gave me the 2nd place autocross for the race prepped car class. There were no entrants in that class.

It’s a pretty cool trophy, even if it’s not exactly what I won. Tatiana and Jeremy did a fantastic job making these; it’s a pretty neat little memento.

LOG 35, Day 2

Saturday, August 22

The first event on the docket for Saturday was the panorama photo. We arranged a location with a view of Garden of the Gods and Pikes Peak. We first time LOG attendees were told that quite a few people want to arrive at the photo location early so they could get a prominent spot up front. So we volunteers had to arrive early; we were to direct people onto the lawn and get them lined up in good order. So I was up before six even though the photo wouldn’t actually happen until 9:30.

I didn’t count but we had something like a dozen folks directing traffic, starting in the street, winding through the parking lot, over the sidewalk, onto the lawn, then around in a large arc to get people lined up in concentric semicircles. Some had asked if we were going to try to arrange the cars by model or to abide by the “Ross Rule” – adjacent cars can’t be the same color. Attempting either of these would be futile and time consuming. Our task was simply to get them lined up.

IMG_1436sVolunteering for this task had two nice side effects. First, I got a spot in the front of the photo. Second, and perhaps more interesting, I got a good look at every car as it came in and was able to chat with many of the owners. I never did see an official car count but there were something like 130+ cars there. Of course, I’d seen the cars in the hotel parking lot but generally the owners weren’t there.

Of note, there’s a rare Autumn Gold car with Colorado plates. Only eight of that color were imported to the USA. One was totaled and another went to Norway. I wondered how we had a local car like that and I’d never seen it before but somebody told me he’s from Pagosa Springs, so he’s not really local. Another interesting and rare color was Ice White. I’d never seen one before and asked if it was a custom color. No, just rare. A couple from California have an Isotope Green Elise. It wasn’t the only IG car there, but it was the only IG car with matching fuzzy dice and beanies.

The weather couldn’t have been much better – the morning was cloudless and clear of smoke.

IMG_1429_stitch_crop_resizeOnce we got everybody situated, we just had to wait until the sun was high enough to chase the shadows of all the cars. This allowed plenty of opportunity for folks to take pictures. Some put in more than the usual amount of effort – one guy brought out a drone. We take two pictures – one with people standing by their cars, one without. Each photo is comprised of about eight shots. I ordered a copy of the one with people.

After the shoot we headed back to the hotel. The rest of the morning was a Concours. Two, really – the judged one and the people’s choice. We didn’t enter the judged one, it’s more for the classic cars anyway. And we had no chance of winning the people’s choice for two reasons – first, there were a hulluva lot of great looking cars and second, we weren’t there. Most folks would be doing the road trips after Pikes Peak. I was doing autocross, though, so now was the time to do it.

First I had to try to resolve a dilemma. I was signed up for the track day but because I was out of town all week I didn’t have a chance to get the car inspected. BOE Engineering was a sponsor and had a large presence. So I went to their trailer and asked if they’d be kind enough to take care of it. The guy I talked to said I should return at 3 and they’d take car of me.

Three drives had been mapped out – a short one, a medium one, and a long one. Because we had to be back by three, we had little choice but the short one. Which worked out fine, as that was to Cripple Creek. I’ve lived in Colorado for more than forty years but have never been there. Genae’s never been there either.

US highway 24 headed west from I-25 is always crowded. On a summer weekend, it’s your basic stop-and-go bumper-to-bumper slog.¬† It started loosening up once we passed the turnoff for Pikes Peak, tomorrow morning’s destination. Before long we were in Woodland Park. I’m pretty sure I’ve never been west of Woodland Park on US 24 before.

At Divide, we make a left turn to head south on CO 67. The road was bumpy and crowded but scenic. I say “crowded” but it wasn’t too bad. There were no long strings of cars, and we were even able to pass a few slow ones. It’s a very scenic drive. The route we took had us loop back to US 24 via Teller County Road 1. It carries less traffic and was quite pleasant.

We’d like to go back explore more of the region. The town itself is no longer interesting to us. When limited stakes gambling was first allowed, one of the big selling points was that the revenue would be means for historical preservation. I view it along the lines of the Vietnam war: “we had to destroy the village to save it”. I have no basis of comparison for Cripple Creek, but huge swaths of old buildings were removed and replaced by casinos in Black Hawk and Central City.

We stopped for a bite at Arby’s in Woodland Park and in spite of two navigational errors were back to the hotel a few minutes before three. I went over to the BOE trailer but the guy I had talked to earlier wasn’t there. The BOE guys said I should talk to the Concours Auto guy next door. He said I could show up at their shop Monday morning and get my inspection. Clearly, he wasn’t tuned in to the fact that track day was Monday. I thought I had him talked into doing one there in the parking lot but he decided not to. He said his liability insurance wouldn’t cover him if he did the inspection away from his shop. Does them doing an inspection actually imply liability? I don’t think so, but whatever.

So I went back and cornered one of the BOE guys. He and his colleagues closed up their trailer, then they abandoned him with me. I told him I’ve been throwing lean codes with the new intake. He told me a tune would run me eight hundred bucks. I think I’ll pass on that and just put the stock airbox back¬† on. He also suggested I replace the bullet studs the previous owner installed and use the ones I have on the left rear. I will take that under advisement. He was very friendly and helpful.

Saturday evening was the big banquet. Genae had talked to Ann about the dress code so I planned to get all dressed up. My maximum is a sport coat and a tie. I think it’s the second time I’ve worn a tie in six or seven years.

The banquet starts at seven, with a social hour prelude. Instead of being social, I needed to get set up at a table and try to register my autocross attendees. We gave no notice we were doing this, and I didn’t even get a table until the last minute. Ross told me to share the table with the panorama photographer. He needed the whole table. The other table already there was for Bobby Unser to sign autographs. Finally the banquet staff brought me a table.

I needed to get each entrant to fill out SCCA’s weekend membership form and assign them a class and number. I had printed a bunch of numbers to be taped on the cars. I had a dozen of each digit. So I spread all this out on my table. It was funny watching people trying to figure out what I was selling. Something like 35 people had signed up for autocross but I only managed to get a dozen taken care of.

Not long after I got set up, Bobby Unser and his wife arrived and sat at the table to my left, signing autographs. He had a line of five or six people at one point, but generally there were only ever one or two people at his table. A woman approached me and said, “I understand you’re signing autographs.” I’ve either been mistaken for an 81 year old man or somebody was looking to get an autograph of somebody they know nothing about. I point to Unser and tell her, “You probably want him, but I’d be happy to give you my autograph.”

Later I made the same joke with another woman. She said, “You’re very attractive and all, but…” just as Genae walks up. “She was flirting with you.”

At seven I packed up my numbers and forms and headed to our table. Genae had the beef, I had the chicken. We’d been carrying the dinner coupons on the back of our name tags. Chicken was on yellow paper, salmon on pink, beef on red. When my name tag was showing the wrong side out, it identified me as “Chicken”. After we ate, Bobby Unser got up on stage and told stories of Pikes Peak and Indy, then answered questions. He’s a fairly entertaining fellow.

One question was, “How did the deaths of other drivers affect him?” He says he never feared death, and, as bad as it might sound, was indifferent to the deaths of his competitors. He had to be. He was injured many times; spent a lot of “sheet time” (time in the hospital). He now has difficulty walking and can’t stand for any amount of time.

Festivities wrapped up at ten to end a full day of LOG.

LOG 35, Day 1

Last weekend was LOG 35. What’s that, you say?

Lotus Ltd is the national Lotus owners club. Every year they have a national meet – the Lotus Owners Gathering, or LOG. This year is LOG 35. People come from all over the country, some driving their classic cars, others flying in. Activities include a concours d’ elegance, banquets, and scenic drives. There’s always a panoramic group picture of the cars. There may be a track day or an autocross as well.



Lotus Ltd handles various administrative tasks, but the majority of the work is done by volunteers, usually members of the local chapter that is hosting the event. This year Lotus Colorado hosted it in Colorado Springs.

These are major events. We basically took over a Marriott hotel and overflowed to another hotel nearby. We used all the hotel’s conference space – ballrooms, meeting rooms, a tent pavilion outside, and, obviously, the parking lot. We had a store on the premises. They even let us take down all the art they had in the common areas and display our own. The portrait of JW Marriott himself was about the only thing of theirs we left up.

To make one of these work, pretty much everybody in the club has to contribute. I volunteered (or was selected, it’s all a bit fuzzy) to be the autocross event chair. I think I had the easiest of the jobs. On the more difficult side you had people working with the hotel, obtaining sponsors, finding guest speakers, making trophies, making signs, running the concours, running the drivers school, and the list goes on.

As I said, I had one of the easier jobs. SCCA actually put on our event, all I had to do was liaise with them and make sure the entrants filled out the right paperwork. That said, when I took on the task I had never even attended an autocross.

I knew that an autocross is a competitive, timed event. A course is laid out on a parking lot using traffic cones. Cars run the course one at a time. Competitors are divided into classes based on size, horsepower, tires, and other factors. That was about all I knew. I fixed that by attending my first autocross back in March.

So that’s the background.

Friday, August 21

Let’s actually start Thursday evening. I flew in from Albuquerque, arriving at about seven. I didn’t have a window seat (I prefer the aisle) and the guy next to me kept the blind closed for the entire flight. I was surprised, then, to find that smoke from the wildfires in California and the Pacific northwest filled the air. Visibility was only about five miles and the sun was a dull red disk. When I got home, I pulled the dirty clothes out of the suitcase and repacked it with clean.


S1 Elise

Friday morning Michael and I mounted the track tires on the car as I was doing both the autocross and the track day. I needed to wash the car as well, but there wasn’t time for that. The track wheels were clean, though, which went a long way to making the car presentable. When I backed the car out of the driveway the tires were rubbing something awful. Somehow we’d managed to mount the left rear wheel on the front. I’ll blame Michael, but it was silly of me not to see it right away. That remedied, I ran off to the barber to get myself presentable.

We packed all our stuff in Genae’s car. We had far too much to carry in the Lotus, but the real reason to take two cars was so she wouldn’t be stranded. I left the house a few minutes before she did. I mentioned to her that I’d avoid the interstate but didn’t think to mention how much longer my route might take. I w

ent through Sedalia and Palmer Lake; a much more scenic and relaxed drive than I-25.

By the time I got to the hotel, Genae had checked us in to our room. We made two or three trips carrying stuff from the car and when that was done we registered for LOG. It’s much like registering for a conference – go from table to table, signing forms, collecting a goody bag, getting a name tag. We even got signs for the parking lot so we’d be in the same spot all weekend.


Westfield Eleven

We arranged to have people park by type of car. To get into Lotus parking you had to do the “Lotus limbo” – drive under a horizontal pole. This kept the riffraff out. The more rare classic cars were closer to the festivities, the newest and most common cars (Elises, natch) were the farthest away. Conveniently, though, the car wash we set up was in our area so I took advantage and had her bathed – she was cleaner than she’d been for two years.

Genae is a big fan of Godfathers Pizza. They make a taco pizza that’s her favorite. We’ve tried making them at home but haven’t come close. A bit of research told her there was a Godfathers on the Air Force Academy, so after the car was washed we headed that way.

Civilians and visitors have to use the north entrance. It used to be that you could just drive in, but now I’m guessing its SOP to stop every vehicle. When we pulled up we were about eighth in line. Some got waved right through, some took a bit longer. When we pulled up, the sentry asked for my ID and I gave it to him. He also said “I’m gonna have to ask you to pop the trunk.”

There’s no “popping the trunk”. I shut it off, got out, opened the boot. Nobody else had to open their trunk. “What’s a car like this cost?”



Our GPS wanted us to take Parade Loop, but a sign indicated it was closed. I asked the sentry how to get to Godfathers and he said just to stay on this road. So we did. The road took us around the north side of the campus complex, past the practice fields and to a guest parking lot. No restaurant in sight.

The next turn on the road revealed the visitor center, so we stopped in there and asked for directions. “Drive your vehicle to the guest lot. There’s a glass front building there, that’s where you’re going.” These are not the best directions: all the buildings are glass front. Genae phoned Godfathers for about the fourth time and was told they were in Arnold Hall. (This, presumably, is named for General Hap Arnold, Chief of the Army Air Forces in WW II.)

We joked that this pizza better be worth all the effort it took to get here. The restaurant is part of a small food court along with a Subway and a wings place. It’s now the last Godfathers in Colorado.

The evening was spent socializing – drinks in the hotel bar, wandering around the parking lot seeing who drove which car from where, and then dinner in the pavilion. We had our choice of turkey or roast beef followed by a choice of desserts. After dark we even had a short laser light show back in the pavilion followed by announcements of the next days activities and schedule.