Going to Arriba, Trail Roads and My Jersey Mind

I recently made a trip to a Sacrament of a relative.  Unfortunately, Kevin had to work so I was alone with the children on this journey.  The journey was about a hundred miles, a hundred miles from the middle of nowhere to the middle of nowhere.  There were two possible routes there, the pavement or going by Arriba.

Arriba, pronounced with a short i, is a town here in Lincoln County.  Believe it or not, I had never been in the town of Arriba.   Since I was running late (of course) I choose to go by Arriba, since that way was supposed to be quicker.  Although I had been to the town where the Sacrament was before, I had only been the Arriba way once before, about six years ago when I was a newlywed.  I didn’t remember it, so I looked at the map online before I left.  It should have been simple.  I would drive by Arriba and end up in that other town.  What could go wrong?  I drove and drove and drove.  The one particular dirt road that I was on seemed to get narrower and narrower.  There was grass growing in miscellaneous places on the road.  I had to take it easy.  I did not pass even one other car.  I never thought much about it because Arriba is not exactly a destination of choice to most.

And then the road turned into a trail….

What is a trail road? you may ask.  A trail road is a dirt road that you should really have pickup for.  There is usually grass in the middle of the road.  A trail road is pretty much a set of tire tracks that happen to be on the map.

On my way to [that other town]...

On my way to [that other town]…

I had checked the map.  This particular road went all the way through to where I need it to.  Reality was different.  I had to backtrack. Between having to drive slow on the road and then the backtracking, I think I lost the time I would have saved by going by Arriba.  I was still late.

Don’t rely on the map. should be a cardinal rule in Eastern Colorado.  They should hand out pamphlets explaining this.  It’s something that I can’t get through my Jersey mind.  For this recent trip, I should have asked someone about the particular route.  They would have gladly explained that the road that really went through was three or four miles away and parallel to the trail road.  Yet this seems to be a lesson that I have to learn again and again.

I remember before I moved out here I was visiting.  We weren’t married yet.  I was looking for a job.  I had an interview or something. Earlier that day, Kevin and I were in [that same town where the interview was].  When we were on our way back to [that other town] we passed a dirt road.  “If you’re ever going from [that first town] to over where my parents live, ThatRoad is a shortcut.”  I filed that information in my Jersey brain.  A few hours later, after my interview, I happened to be going from [the first town] to over where Kevin’s parents lived.  I thought I was doing well when I saw ThatRoad and I turned right.

ThatRoad was one of the most frightening experiences of my life.  Really.  ThatRoad had an unsigned railroad crossing.  I had never seen one of those, except in a Lifetime movie or something when someone dies there because they don’t see the train.  Then there was a cattle guard.  I had seen one of them before in the middle of nowhere in Nevada.  I felt smart because at least I knew what that was.  ThatRoad continued.  There was a little bit of grass in the middle, under the car.  Also, apparently some rancher owned the pasture on both sides of ThatRoad.  The grass in the middle of the road seemed to get taller.  How much longer could this road be?  I thought.  I drove on.  And then there were cows.  Yup, cows in the middle of the road.  The rancher owned both sides of ThatRoad, so the cows just hung out where they wanted.  I’m thinking they weighed more than my Corolla.  Move it cows.  A Jersey girl is a long way from home. Cows do not move unless they want to.  I drove on.  Slower now.  The cows moved a bit, taking their sweet bovine time.  The grass under the car in the middle of the road seemed to get taller.  Should I turn around?  No, cows in the rearview mirror.  I pressed on.  Another cattle guard and then I finally made it, made it to pavement.  Hooray!

This is a sample of a cattle guard.  Take heed- there will be cattle on the highway.  And this road really is the Eastern Colorado version of a highway.

This is a sample of a cattle guard. Take heed- there will be cattle on the highway. And this road really is the Eastern Colorado version of a highway.

“You are really brave to take ThatRoad,”  Kevin said, when I told him about this.  Brave? No, stupid.  I was stupid.  Roads like that are not met for Corollas.  Most people out here have pickups, so they would think nothing of a road like ThatRoad.

When I was 39 and a half weeks pregnant with my second child (no exaggeration, literally 39.5 weeks pregnant), I worked for the Census.  I was basically in charge of the Eastern area of the local district, an area geographically way bigger than New Jersey.  I had to train my crew leaders.  They sent us one area to practice on. It was about 25 miles from the site of the training.  We were supposed to be checking for “living quarters”.  We were two cars full of about 9 people.  Did I mention that I was due in a few days?  The CensusRoad turned into a trail, too.  Let’s reflect on this:  For our supposed training, I led 9 people out into the “country” 25 miles or so from a gas station to a trail road where there was no cell phone service to look for missed houses and to distribute censuses.  The map never indicated that CensusRoad was a trail road.  In retrospect, it’s no wonder that I didn’t go into labor or break my water or something.

I have learned this lesson, again and again and again… Don’t trust the map.  Any road can be a trail road.

So what about Arriba?  I know all of your inquiring minds want to know.  We actually went back home through the proper-not-a-trail dirt road and this time drove into Arriba.  Arriba unfortunately suffers from Eastern-Colorado-town-past-its-prime disease.  It was pretty sad town, with a population of 244 in 2000. Did you know there’s a Clown Museum in Arriba?  Sigh, we’ll have to make another trip…

You can say that again, Arriba.

You can say that again, Arriba.

And then I think of Ma and Pa Ingalls.  Pa drove their horse and buggy over 600 miles from Pepin, Wisonsin to  Missouri and then to Independence, Kansas.  Laura and Mary were toddlers. They didn’t have a cell phone or a car or even a trail.  Pa didn’t even get lost.  I should be able to handle the trail road, yet I can’t…

Posted in Culture Clashes of a Jersey Girl on the Colorado Prairie, Touring Eastern Colorado by with 2 comments.


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