There are a few interesting driving techniques that will need to be applied when you take your first trip to my neck of the woods. I’m not sure if reading this will reduce or increase your stress, but at least you can say you were warned. And, just in case anyone in the Colorado State Department of Motor Vehicles decides to add this to the manual, I have come up with this intro:
“The following shall serve as an addendum to the Colorado State Drivers Manual. Anyone who lives in, near, or thinks they may ever drive through Canon City, Colorado, must read this addendum before operating a motor vehicle in the vicinity.”
Here they are, in order of difficulty, from easiest to hardest.
1. Roundabouts. If you haven’t encountered a roundabout in your driving career, they are pretty simple. You just need to slow down as you come toward the driving circle and look left. Then:
a. If someone’s coming, don’t go. Stop. Literally. There’s not a stop sign, so it feels kind of weird, but stop anyway because your other alternative is getting T-boned in the vicinity of your left front tire and driver side door. Once the coast is clear, proceed to step “b”, below.
b. If no one’s coming, go. Merge to your right, into the roundabout. Stay in the roundabout until you get to your desired right turn and take it. If you miss your desired right turn, you can continue around the circle until you reach your desired right turn for the second time. Try not to miss it again, the risk of dizziness and confusion increases exponentially. Note: The Walmart Roundabout contains a pinkish, flatish center portion. This is not a lane. You will be quickly identified as an Out-Of-Towner or as Extremely Elderly if you drive on that.
The roundabouts are the simplest of the odd ball driving situations in Canon City, so practice those for a while. Once you master the Walmart, Cemetary and 15th Street roundabouts, you’re ready to progress.
2. Canon City S Turns. Somewhere in the road planning past, the main highway cut through Canon City flanked by frontage roads on either side. This creates a challenging situation when one wants to turn left from one frontage road, cross the highway and end up going the same direction on the opposite frontage road. This is what I now term the Canon City S Turn. Brace yourself.
Let’s say you want to get from Ace to Big 5.
Step one. Get into the left lane when you come to the stop light on the frontage road.
Step two. Stop, pull the emergency break, turn off the car, recline your seat. You’ll be there for a while. The lights in Canon City are notoriously long. After you finish your cup of coffee, turn your car back on, release the emergency brake and prepare for your green light.
Step three. When your light turns green, proceed. There’s one way to take your first Canon City S Turn and that is with white knuckles and your eyes closed. Assuming you stay the course but before getting to your final destination, you will pass under and next to various red lights, all of which tell your subconscious to stop because that’s what they taught you in driver’s ed. But, do not follow your gut because your gut will tell you to stop mid turn, which will leave you smack in the middle of 7 or 8 lanes of traffic pointed at you from all directions. (Picture being stared at by a giant fly eye.) Silently curse driver’s ed for not teaching you about Canon City S Turns. Fix your eyes on the lane you’re aiming for, say several Hail Marys and gun it to your to your destination.
Step four. When you arrive in the correct lane on the opposite frontage road, open your eyes, release your hands to resume blood flow, take a giant deep breath. Congratulations. You have successfully arrived at the other side of a Canon City S Turn unscathed.
Good luck. If you are a person who learns by experience, come on down and give driving a try in Canon City. Let me know what you think. If you are a seasoned pro, give some advice in the comment section. If you’re somewhere in between, drive safely.
Adios for now,
P.S. No, you actually probably shouldn’t close your eyes because that would be even more dangerous than the S Turn already is.
P.P.S. After a few times through the Canon City S Turns, you may consider starting a turn at the tail end of a yellow light. This is understandable because you know if your light turns red, you’ll be there long enough to brew a pot of coffee. In any other situation, this may be a viable option. But here, I would urge you to reconsider. Remember the fly eyes? If you’re in the middle of the S when their lights turn green, you’re toast.