Usually my friends and I take one car trip a year for a little R&R to get away from the daily grind, and that trip is usually a trip to the Dragon with our sports cars. This year, due to scheduling conflicts, we were unable to make it to the dragon in time (once May hits it gets too busy to have real fun on the Dragon) so I decided to do a different kind of car trip, I figured I'd take my Jeep to do some real offroading, as there is nothing within a 500 mile radius of the tristate area for any decent wheeling...a few BS fireroads, but other than that, nothing.
So, only one friend was able to go. He has a Jeep as well, but we decided since it's only us two, it would be more fun (and cheaper...gas was quite an expense) to just take my rig.
We packed up the Jeep, and headed west. The route was from NJ to Moab through I70.
We left at night, to minimize any NYC area traffic. It was nice to have 70+ speedlimit most of the way.
By morning, we made it to Ohio...which was pretty damn hilly, killing my MPG.
We got hungry, but didn't feel like wasting time looking for a decent meal since we were trying to make good time, so we just hopped into the closest rest area food joint, which happened to be a Mcdonalds. Now normally I wouldn't bother with this detail, but they had something I had never seen (you guys might have, but it was new to me....)
It was their coke fountain machine....
It was a touchscreen, and every "major" flavor ie coke, diet coke, sprite, etc, had a submenu with a heap of other flavors. I have never seen anything like it. I also noticed that the machine was very pretty looking and well styled...which seemed "odd," until I looked down....
After Ohio, it was a whole lot of nothing...driving, driving and driving. Passed through Indianapolis, which from the highway, looked like a cool city to check out...but we had no time, so we kept on truckin. Missouri was mostly farmland (along the highway) and many many religious roadside attractions
Finally we got to Kansas, which is a lot hillier than most of us believe...my MPG took a beating again.
Once we passed the Topeka signs and neared the western side of Kansas, the terrain flattened out, and we made good progress. Speed limits were 75mph which on hilly terrain, my rig struggles to hit with the current gear setup/tires. I will pay the price for my gears (stock, 3.21s) in Colorado....
We have now been driving for over 24 hours, and we are both getting pretty tired, but decided to crack on. We were taking gas tank shifts, which on the Jeep, was about 300 or so miles (depending on terrain) and about 4 hours...so one drives, the other sleeps.
It was now getting dark, and it was my turn to drive. The flat drive in the dark (being basically the only vehicle on the road with the exception of a truck here and there) began tiresome and booooring. Finally, after a few hours, we crossed into Colorado.....which was flat as hell....my excitement dropped quickly. I pulled into a gas station to refuel, and guzzled down a 5 hour extra strength, and decided to do one more tank and let my friend keep sleeping. So I trucked on....and then I made it to the rockies.....
While I was struck by the beauty, you guys have no idea what it's like to drive an undergeared vehicle up slopes like this. 2nd was revving nearly at 5000 rpm and the temps started to climb (although not overheating) and 3rd was too low to sustain forward movement. I was forced to sit in the right lane doing 35 (speedlimit was 65-70) with my hazards on. I gained some relief seeing trucks doing the same thing. After a serious climb, it started going downhill, which was a MASSIVE relief. However, the drive up the rockies took it out of me, and I couldn't go on any longer. We needed to rest up, so we decided to play it smart and sleep for a day. We had a friend in Vail, and since it was on our way, we booked a hotel right next to the highway (holiday inn in Vail next to I70) and at 6am, checked in and went to sleep.
After a 6 hour nap we woke up and since we were in Vail, we figured we'd do some sightseeing and offroading. We then noticed a serious absence of snow. Once we crossed the rockies, the Vail side was bone dry.....as a result, our friend informed us that it's the dead season in the area, and most things are closed for the season. Shrugging our shoulders, we decided to do some wheeling...nothing crazy, just try a couple of high passes. Looking at traildamage.com, I decided to hit the closest trail to us, which was shrine pass.
Went up there, and found this....
The trail was not "closed" but was blocked basically by 3 feet of snow. Not wanting to waste any more time and gas, I decided not to try and hit anymore trails. A local then told us to check out an old mining town nearby called Minturn, and to check out a forest road there, so off we went. There wasn't anything serious there, but we did spot a herd of elk, which isn't something us North Easterners see often, which we found kind of cool.
Towards the evening, we went to grab dinner at Vail village (a beautiful place) and turned in for the night.
We woke up the next day, and continued our journey to Moab...only 400 miles to go!
Colorado really is gods country....everytime you turn, the view gets better and better....my desire to relocate there got stronger and stronger.
Finally, after some of the most gorgeous driving I have done in quite some time....we reached the border....
After another 125 miles or so, we arrived at our digs, the Archview RV and Campground resort. The word "resort" is used a bit too liberally...but it was an incredibly convenient location, smack on 191 and 313....3 miles from arches and 20 miles from canyonlands. Time to unload!
While some say "why didn't you camp instead" the answer is simple...while I would have loved to, there is no wilderness camping allowed (meaning, camp where-ever you want.) Camping must be done on designated sites, and is on a first come first serve basis, and being that we were that far away, we couldn't chance it. It was also nice being able to take showers after every day, as we would get REALLY dirty some of the days we were there.
After 48 hours of mostly crap roadside food, we wanted a decent meal, so we went into town for a little BBQ.
I've been to Moab a number of times in my life, and it's amazing how the town is expanding and improving. Clean, hiring signs everywhere, tons of new businesses, etc. I guess their tourism is stronger than ever, as evidenced by the hotel prices.
Now, I've been to Moab a number of times (never with a Jeep) and have never EVER seen anything even resembling rain...it rained almost everyday....not to mention a blizzard, but I'll save that story for later. It was welcome for the most part, as I can't stand heat. While we were there, temps were about mid to high 70s with low 50s at night. The week that we left the temps were in the mid 90s already! As a result of the rain, the trails we were going to hit were altered slightly. The first day there we decided to hit an easy trail, since we didn't have much time left before sunset, so we decided to hit long canyon.
This was a very easy ride, but had some incredible views.
After long canyon, we were beat, went to grab a quick dinner, and turned in for the night, hoping to get a full day of wheeling in the following day.
We woke up the next day, ate breakfast, and went outside...it was drizzling lightly, but the clouds overhead told a different story...it seemed like it was going to POUR....regardless, off we went. Todays trail plan was chicken corners through hurrah pass. Now hurrah pass isn't difficult or anything but it is dangerous in the wet, as is chicken corners. If the rain is bad, you can get trapped at chicken corners since there is a creek which turns into a serious raging river...the creek divides hurrah pass and chicken corners.
As we descended hurrah pass, we came accross the creek in question....it was beginning to build, and had already swallowed a pickup....I was fairly confident that I can make it, but the 5' sand bank coming back would be a difficult hurdle...assuming the creek wouldn't pick up steam....
However, just from watching this pickup get yanked out, the creek rose by over 5"...making a safety call, I scrapped the Chicken corners plan, and we decided to hit a trail that was higher up and away from water-runoff.
As you can see, the terrain began getting worse and worse, muddier and muddier. I wanted to get some nice sunset pics, so we decided to hit up Spring Canyon...
As we were going to spring canyon, I noticed we were climbing higher and higher. This was of concern as I knew that spring canyon was a serious shelf road, which is hard enough in the dry.
Getting to the top of spring canyon, I then realized that the trail is actually DOWN into the canyon....dammit...there goes my hope of no more creeks, but to hell with it, we are already here, so here we go again.