Spring Break 2017: Crossing Utah

Departing from Katherine and her friends, I headed north towards I-70. Although I detest driving on the interstate, I must say, Green River to Salina is actually pretty damn amazing. Just outside of Green River you cross up and over the San Rafael Swell and then cross through some pretty mountains before descending into Salina.

Views of the Book Cliffs from US-191:

Approaching the Swell:

I got off the interstate near the crest of the swell to hike out to San Rafael Knob. The beta I attempted to follow lead me to the edge of a cliff. I’m pretty willing to scramble a lot of things but I couldn’t quite figure out how to get back on track for the route. After a bit, I abandoned the hike (fortunately its right off I-70 so making it back here isn’t hard).

It was a nice ramble along the canyon rim even if I never did find a way to penetrate its defenses.

Just after the hike, I started to descend from the swell before heading up into the mountains.

From Salina, I headed around Fishlake National Forest to Delta, Utah. (Delta was mindblowing so it gets its own post…until tomorrow!)

Summer Kickoff Roadtrip

I rolled into Ridgway just long enough to cheers summer starting at Colorado Boy and then I headed out for a little roadtrip around Colorado. The sun was out and there is little that is better than cruising around listening to good music with a pup drooling on my shoulder.

Monarch Pass

We cruised through Cripple Creek, taking a little walk down the strip of casinos and then headed down the road to Victor.

Cripple Creek

From Victor Pass, we got a beautiful view of Pikes Peak (our destination for the next day!).

Victor Pass

Finding a place to camp turned out to be way harder than I’d expected: I always forget there are so many more people out towards the Front Range! Eventually we found a place to sleep although it wasn’t quite as remote and restful as many places we’ve camped!

Central Eastern Plains Highpoints

I have been very adamant about one goal for 2015: I was going to reach 50% on Colorado’s County High Point list. I spent most of #SummitSummer working to make this a reality. I’d secretly hoped to make it to the 50% mark with “real” highpoints (aka mountains and not flat plains points) but that was just a secret hope. When I’d summited Douglas County’s Thunder Butte that had put me within four high points of my goal. I’d toyed with plans that would have let me get a few of the “real” highpoints before the snow fell but thanks to life, they didn’t quite work out.

But, the goal was still in reach, I had the Eastern Plains in my back pocket and I really hoped to make one of what I figure will be three trips before the end of the calendar year. I got distracted by Christmas things (getting my tree and crafting) and before I knew it, I was down to just two windows of time. Pushing it off until the last second seemed a little bit dumb knowing that a winter storm could roll in and make driving hundreds of miles on dirt roads the opposite of fun so we seized on last weekend.

Shay was kind enough to let Sprocket and I spend Friday night at her place. We got up early on Saturday morning to begin our adventure. Just outside of Byers, we saw a herd of bison then a herd of antelope. I decided this whole flat land thing wasn’t that bad.

Bison

We pulled up to the Washington County High Point, wandered around the side of the road matching up the GPS point with what appeared to be the highest non-road spot and snapped a photo with our new selfie stick; Sprocket was a little bit unsure and is demonstrating pro side-eye.

Washington County Highpoint

Washington County Highpoint

Washington County Highpoint

We headed back to US 36, passing through Last Chance, and headed on to the Yuma County High Point, another road side “attraction.”

Last Chance

We wandered around on the side of the road being sure we touched the high ground and enjoyed the sunshine a bit.

Yuma County Highpoint

Yuma County Highpoint

Yuma County Highpoint

Getting to the Kit Carson County High Point and Overland Benchmark East (the Cheyenne County High Point) was a little interesting. Some of the roads I attempted to travel southward from Flagler were just two-tracks between two fields. The dirt was mostly dry but there was some snow drifted in as deep as 9″ in some places but they were just small and never encompassed both my front and rear tires at once. Since, there were ample turn around possibilities and the snow wasn’t that deep so I just kept pressing forward. Ruth didn’t miss a beat and plowed right through the narrow slushy “drifts” and we eventually made it to a windmill near Kit Carson County High Point. Afterwards, we hiked south to Overland Benchmark East where I reached my 50% Colorado County High Point goal for the year!

Overland Benchmark East

It was only about 12:15 when I got back to the Jeep from Overland BM so we headed south to the Kiowa County High Point. Along the way, we reached a fork in the road.

Fork in the road

And then we found an interesting monument:

Interesting historical monumnet

Somehow, the flat wasn’t boring, just kind of relaxing, actually.

Flat.

We saw some more pronghorn:

Pronghorn

We hiked out from the end of County Road 44 to the Kiowa County High Point and enjoy some pretty views of mountains off to the west.

Kiowa County Highpoint

Kiowa County Highpoint

Kiowa County Highpoint

I knew I was starting to run low on daylight so I sadly had to forgo Crowley County’s High Point in order to reach Lincoln and Elbert’s high points while it was still light (they were fairly directly on my way home).

Lincoln County Highpoint

Returning to the mountains

It felt a little bit like we were racing against dark to get to the Elbert County High Point:

Approaching Elbert County Hihgpoint

But we made it, just as darkness was falling, for our 7th county highpoint of the day.

Elbert County Highpoint

Elbert County Highpoint

On The Screen: Easy Rider

A few days ago, via my Tumblr feed, I came across an article from Outside Magazine about the glories of road trips. In the article, author Mark Jenkins references five classic literary and movie road trips: On The Road, Travels With CharlieZen and The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance, Blue Highways, and Easy Rider. I have read all of the books he mentioned multiple times but I had never seen Easy Rider.

Easy Rider Movie Poster

Known as a “cult classic,” I was fascinated by Easy Rider. During the first scenes of Wyatt (Peter Fonda) and Billy (Dennis Hopper) riding through the Southwest F and I tried to name the places they were traveling through (and based on the location list at IMDB, we did pretty well). I’m always a sucker for beautiful scenery shots and this was no exception. Aside from the scenery, I was really impressed with how current the film felt to me. Aside from the undercurrents of hating the long-haired hippies, the themes of freedom and stylistic choices felt like a modern independent film. Sometimes it felt a bit contrived but it was that good kind of contrived, if that makes any sense.

Easy Rider Stil

Easy Rider Still

The whole film was summed up by George (Jack Nicholson), in his discussion with Billy about freedom. It’s not a rosy vision of freedom but rather a dark and realistic one.

George: You know, this used to be a helluva good country. I can’t understand what’s gone wrong with it.
Billy: Huh. Man, everybody got chicken, that’s what happened, man. Hey, we can’t even get into like, uh, second-rate hotel, I mean, a second-rate motel. You dig? They think we’re gonna cut their throat or something, man. They’re scared, man.
George: Oh, they’re not scared of you. They’re scared of what you represent to ’em.
Billy: Hey man. All we represent to them, man, is somebody needs a haircut.
George: Oh no. What you represent to them is freedom.
Billy: What the hell’s wrong with freedom, man? That’s what it’s all about.
George: Oh yeah, that’s right, that’s what it’s all about, all right. But talkin’ about it and bein’ it – that’s two different things. I mean, it’s real hard to be free when you are bought and sold in the marketplace. ‘Course, don’t ever tell anybody that they’re not free ’cause then they’re gonna get real busy killin’ and maimin’ to prove to you that they are. Oh yeah, they’re gonna talk to you, and talk to you, and talk to you about individual freedom, but they see a free individual, it’s gonna scare ’em.
Billy: Mmmm, well, that don’t make ’em runnin’ scared.
George: No, it makes ’em dangerous.

Easy Rider sits with me sort of like Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance did; there’s a lot to relate to and a lot to ponder. Lots has been written about this movie (this original NYT review is pretty neat). It also makes me want to drive through the southwest.

 

P.S. Just found this picture of F’s truck he had when I met him. I’m sorta sad that he got rid of the Easy Rider poster:

Box truck motorhome garage

Wedding, Part 1: Departure

I had planned on working Monday and then a half day on Tuesday before the wedding but things sort of fell apart when, on Monday morning, the office manager asked me if I was working a half day and then hitting the road. Right there my motivation to be in the office drained away. Since I’d sort of been given permission (I mean, she had suggested it, right?) I called F and told him I’d be home by 3 and we could go.

So happy we have a van for all this stuff

When I got home, he had the van all ready to go. We put the hitch on the front of the jeep, hooked it up, put the bike on the back of the jeep, and hit the road.

Adventure train

We made a stop in Missoula to hit up Costco, Walmart, and Albertsons for the fresh ingredients and food for the week. The Costco Polish dogs for dinner hit the spot! It felt really good to get back on I-90 and feel like we were on our way “for real.” Monday night we made it to the truck stop in Butte, filled up both the van and the jeep, and crawled into our cozy Sprinter bed.

Sunrise over the Continental Divide

Tuesday morning we were up way before the sun and it started to crest the mountains just as we were passing (back) into Idaho. We made good time down to Salt Lake, fueled up and grabbed lunch at In-N-Out. The haze we’d driven in through most of Montana and Idaho seemed to still be surrounding us but we hoped that in the next few hundred miles it would dissipate. As we descended into Price we were disappointed to note that the haze was still following us. Reaching I-70 I was elated to be almost there but really sad to note that we could barely see the La Sals.

Fall color along Highway 6
Coal seam on Highway 6 descending into Price, UT
Highway 191 heading towards Moab

Once we arrived in Moab though, the smoke didn’t matter at all—it felt so good to finally be there! We drove to Danette’s house where we washed the van and the jeep and just finished as she and Robin pulled into the driveway. We got to catch up and discuss our plans for the wedding and relax with a beer or two before heading to bed.

On The Page: Travels With Charlie

Being one for travel books, I recently consumed Travels with Charley in Search of America by John Steinbeck. Published in 1962, the book recounts Steinbeck’s  cross-country journey with his poodle Charlie. While Travels with Charley in Search of America did not supplant Blue Highways as my favorite travel book, I was enamored by some of his thoughts on travel and how it becomes a part of your soul.

The very first paragraph of the book drew me in (and was read aloud to Forrest):

When I was very young and the urge to be someplace else was on me, I was assured by mature people that maturity would cure this itch. When years described me as mature, the remedy prescribed was middle age. In middle age I was assured that greater age would calm my fever and now that I am fifty-eight perhaps senility will do the job. Nothing has worked.

Continue reading “On The Page: Travels With Charlie”