Princess: The Jeep’s last day |

Princess: The Jeep’s last day

When we moved to the Fryingpan Valley, everyone told us about someone they knew who got into a horrible accident there and either died or dumped their car in the river.

What’s with people? It’s like, “Thanks for the positivity, dude!”

Never mind that this has to be one of the most spectacularly scenic valleys anywhere in the world. You would think the first thing out of their mouths would be, “What a cool place to live,” not, “Good luck not dying on that road.”

Here’s the thing: They were kind of right.

Of course, we were like, “Give me a break — I’ve lived in Colorado for umpteen years. I know how to drive in the snow.” Or, “Hello — it’s a hell of a lot safer than Highway 82.” Or, “You just have to go slow.” Or, “You just need good tires.”

Then one day it does snow downvalley, and for the first time you drive home in a blizzard and can’t see 2 feet in front of you and the road isn’t plowed because I guess it’s not high on the “plow right away” list. You have to go as fast as you can just to avoid getting stuck in the deep ruts where the one car belonging to someone stupid enough to be out driving had trudged through.

Or you get stuck in your own driveway because you were checking your mascara in the rearview mirror and front-ended your Audi (the one that’s supposed to be so great in the snow) in the snowbank and can’t get out. Even though you think you’re so badass by trying to shovel the snow around each tire and thinking, “See, I’m a badass mountain girl who lives in the middle of nowhere. I can be self-reliant and get myself out of this pickle.” But it’s not until your husband and three other big dudes push you out that you’re able to finally de-wedge yourself from your own sheer stupidity.

My street is not maintained by the city. Our neighbors, Paul and Kip (who deserve a big shout-out), plow it for us when it snows. But you never know exactly when that’s going to happen, so when it does, we’re like, “Yay, the Plow Fairy came, the Plow Fairy came!”

Of course, I tried to hire someone to do it for us, but when I told them where I lived, they either hung up on me or said, “We’re not taking any more clients right now,” as if I don’t understand what that means.

People act like we’re crazy to live up here, even though we’re only 5 miles up the road from the nearest town — hello. Who cares if we don’t have cellphone reception, cable TV or Internet? That’s what they make satellites for. It’s OK if I have to drive 20 miles round trip on a treacherous road to buy milk and eggs. It’s scenic.

So anyway, one morning a few weeks ago, Ryan was driving to work early in the morning. It was during that warm spell we had, and the road looked wet. It hadn’t snowed for weeks and the temps were in the 60s during the day, so as far as we knew, global warming had finally caught up to us and we were living in a desert.

He came around a sharp curve just past mile marker 4, the same sharp curve he drives past every single day and knows is coming the way one might anticipate a technical section on a beloved mountain-bike trail.

But a car was coming in the other direction too close to the middle. Ryan startled and jerked the wheel to the right. His rear tires slid off the road onto the gravel.

Then they slid the other way, back onto the road, which was not wet at all but was covered in black ice with gravel that did nothing to provide traction but acted more like ball bearings. He lost control of the car, and it went off the road toward the river.

He was going slow enough that he was totally aware of what was going on the entire time. The Jeep flipped upside down, and he braced himself for impact. Would he land in the river? Flip again? Slam against a tree? In his mind he is saying, “No, no, no, no,” and, “Why is this happening?”

He landed four tires down next to a downed cottonwood, shaken up but uninjured. With no cellphone reception, he had to climb up the steep embankment and onto the road, where he could hitch a ride home to call the police. I honestly don’t know if anyone would have seen the car had he been hurt. At least not right away.

The Jeep was totaled. Gonzo. Bye-bye, white Jeep — I will always remember you fondly and all the good times we shared. Summers with the top down, or the time Dina and I drove to Jackson Hole and smoked like 1,000 cigarettes and were so pent-up and toxic after partying for three days straight that by the time we got home we were like dirty sponges. Or the time Ryan took you hunting and stuffed a dead animal in the back and it stank like blood for three weeks. Oh, my cute, little, white Jeep, I will miss you.

And I will thank you because, damn, you are worth a lot more than I thought! Wow! You were actually the first good investment I ever made! Is this figure right? I should probably shut up now.

So we went to Denver and bought a new truck, one we never could have afforded in a million years had this not happened. I’m not sure what lessons were learned from this except that living on the Fryingpan has been pretty damn profitable so far. You just have to slow your roll.

The Princess is counting her blessings. Email your love to

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