Wanderings of The West

Chapter 1:

Well, it was that time of year again….a year of craziness with two kids, work, and general daily life required us to regain our sanity…so after much debating, a road trip was in order. I had a new Jeep that hasn’t been properly broken in yet (4500 miles on the clock in 15 months) and an outdoor itch that I have been unable to scratch for quite some time.  The plan was, I would leave NJ on Sunday, and my wife would fly to Denver and meet me there on Wednesday. I left myself an extra day in case I run into foul weather somewhere along my journey out west, but as it turned out, it wasn’t me that needed the extra time.  The plan for the drive was basically one I had already memorized…i70 all the way to the sunset.  Our trip was planned only to our first destination, which was Glenwood Springs Colorado.  After that, as so eloquently put by Jack Dawson from the movie Titanic, we were on “god’s good humor.”

Sunday afternoon, the day I am supposed to leave….I get an email from United that my wife’s flight is cancelled. The Snowpocalypse that is supposed to hit the NE monday night into tuesday is going to affect all the flights into wednesday, so they scrapped it. I called United, and they stick her on the next flight, which is thursday. I checked the forecast for the remainder of that week and see more snow in the forecast….I tell the wife that she can take a chance on flying out thursday but by doing that, her insurance policy (me) wont be here and she would have to wait for yet another flight out, wasting valuable vacation time. After a bit of deliberation, she decides the smarter move is to drive out with me, as we would get there the same time as the flight would (or earlier.)

So, having a partner for the drive out, I began loading the jeep up…since the last time I did one of these, I have bought a cargo shelf, which allows me to keep stuff off the floor, and with careful packing, one can have a super comfortable bed for 1. The wife didn’t enjoy the 42 hour drive last time sitting in a near upright position, so I wanted to make damn sure that I had a very comfortable place for us to sleep when we take turns driving. I have received a bunch of emails  after the last post about my packing and such, so I tried to take some pics and videos of it…..

The road and trail kit has tree straps, fuses, winch remote, transfer case linkage thingies, D rings, and things of that nature.

Food bin has 90% of the stuff for food cooking and cleaning.

All literature on where Im going

All survival gear and medication

Dried/Canned food and cooking hardware

All tools except my socket set

Chairs and an arctic sleeping bag

Quick video I made of the sleeping setup…sorry it was a bit dark, but I think you get the idea….

We left at around 11pm to stay ahead of any weather that we may run into, and away from as much traffic as possible. Since it was a workday for my wife and I was off, she would sleep the night while I drove, for a 10-12 hour shift. Usually this brings us into Ohio, Pennsylvania is a lot longer than it looks.
Normally, I don’t really have a hard time with a long drive like this, but this one wore me out. I was driving into a horrible headwind/crosswind which required A LOT of attention and constant steering input (but nothing like my return trip that I’ll talk about later) and I was only able to do about 65mph comfortably, otherwise, the Jeep would get pushed around too easily, making the situation unsafe….the downsides of driving a barn.

After a long night of battling the wind (and having my MPG murdered into the 13s) I was starving, and just like my previous trips, a stop at my favorite roadside breakfast places was in order….

After we loaded up on 6700 calories apiece, we once again hit the road, only the wife would take a short leg to let me catch a few zzz’s.

Shortly after getting back on to the highway, we came upon a wreck where we couldn’t really tell what on earth happened….it looks like a tractor fell out of the trailer!

And just like the other adventures, the wife brought us into Indiana…

After lunch, the wife and I swapped seats again and I took over into Illinois and into the evening sunset.

It was a most welcome sight to see the temps, even at night have crawled their way up…..unseasonably high I was told….We went from freezing to Florida weather in a very short amount of time…

As usual, driving through kansas at night was quite a lonely experience. Howard Stern on Sirius, wife sleeping in the back, and the howl of the wind outside.

You can now officially say you’ve seen the most boring photo in the world…..the above photo is Kansas, at night….not terribly exciting. By the time the sun came up, I have gotten us to the rockies…and now became the fun job of climbing vail pass, which if some of you remember from my previous colorado adventure, was a big chore with my last Jeep with 3.21 gears and 33s. This one has 4.10s and 35s.

Our plan for this trip was to stop in Colorado for a few days to soak in some hot springs and relax for a few days, then pack it up and keep it moving, since most Colorado trails are closed in the winter. Having said that, we actually didn’t plan anything after Colorado. I didn’t book any hotels, didn’t even have any idea where we were going to go…I tossed up New Mexico, Utah, Texas, etc, but for now, we just wanted to get to our destination in Colorado, which was Glenwood Springs.

Driving up Vail pass the snow begin to show, but hardly anything major….we were surprised (and sort of disappointed) considering we left snow storms and bitter cold back home…we were hoping for a proper colorado winter…

But alas, it was not to be. Talking to some of the locals, it has been one of the mildest winters in ages, temps were VERY warm and no good snow in sight. Local businesses were getting killed because of lack of snow.  The day we arrived it was in the low 60s!

Prius? Who the hell needs a prius!

This FedEx driver was absolutely and certifiably crazy. He was trying to hit every apex going lane to lane and was doing a solid 80mph…I kept the hell away from him.

Finally, after around 34 hours of driving, we have arrived at our destination….Glenwood Springs Lodge.

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