No. The date is not a typo. My generation is usually referred to as the Baby Boomers. Another good name would be the Duck and Cover Generation. The 1960s were the height of the Cold War. The threat of thermonuclear annihilation was ever present. The national Civil Defense Administration promoted the notion that there were things civilians could do to survive a nuclear attack by the Soviet Union. Schools ran drills where kids practiced going to the school basement or hiding under desks when the air raid siren sounded. The catch phrase was “duck and cover.”
In hindsight, hiding under a desk to survive nuclear Judgement Day like in the Terminator movies was pretty ridiculous. When we graduated from high school, though, the threat of nuclear war was in the back of everyone’s mind. In the event of the ultimate disaster, my group of friends resolved to reunite. We set up a date and place for a future rendezvous should any of us survive.
The date was July 4, 2000. An easy date to remember. The place was Pike’s Peak, a well-known landmark near Boulder, CO. The location was also easy to remember, and we figured a mountain would survive an all-out nuclear exchange even if some of us didn’t.
Thirty years after making that pledge, none of us remained in the city where we grew up. We lived in four different cities from the east coast to the west coast. Some of us had stayed in contact over the years, and in 2000 we all got back in touch and arranged to meet on July 4. It was a great mini reunion in a beautiful location.
One of our other good friends, Sarah, joined us for the rendezvous. Her brother lived in Boulder. He was a couple of years younger but he joined in some of the festivities.
The highlight of the reunion was reaching the summit of Pike’s Peak via a cog railway.
The railway opened in 1891 and remained in continuous operation until 2018. It should reopen in 2021 when repairs are complete. The train follows a scenic route from an elevation of 6,412 feet at Manitou Springs to 14,110 at the summit.
The railway is just over eight miles long.
Although there was no snow at the top on July 4, the temperature was very cold and there was a stiff wind chill, too.
At a maximum elevation of 14,110 feet, the Pike’s Peak Cog Railway is the highest cog railway in the world. It is about 3,000 feet higher than the Jungfraujoch Railway Station in the Swiss Alps known as the the Top of Europe.
In 1970 when we set the date for the rendezvous, none of us remembered that July 4 is the date of the Pike’s Peak Hill Climb race. A road runs all the way to the summit. Daredevil drivers engage in a time-trail race from the bottom of the mountain to the top. It is a day-long event.
It was great to see old friends and reaffirm our friendship after some had been apart for 10 to 20 years. Back in high school when we made the pledge, I don’t think we were super serious about following through. The year 2000 seemed hopelessly far in the future. I’m still somewhat surprised that we were able to follow through. We were grateful, of course, that there had been no nuclear holocaust and turned what had been planned as a doomsday rendezvous into a wonderful mini reunion.
(If there had been a nuclear war, Pike’s Peak would not have been a good place to meet. Cheyenne Mountain is within a few miles of Pike’s Peak. Cheyenne Mountain is the headquarters of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). If there had been a nuclear war, Cheyenne Mountain and surrounding area would have been a prime target and highly radioactive for years.)
Having made the pledge in 1970, then meeting in 2000, I think we should make a new pledge to meet again in 2030. I hope American readers are enjoying the 4th and the long holiday weekend.