Wanderings of The West

Chapter 9:

Well, time to wrap this little adventure up. After a nice few days in vegas, we need to start heading back home, and we have a long LONG way back…actually, I have a long way back, 2600 miles to be exact….the wife just needs to get to Denver and fly home…

On the trip back, somewhere in Utah, rig hits 9000 miles

And into the night we go!

After going through one hell of an ordeal with United (which reminded me again how much I appreciate driving myself and not have to deal with these people at airports) and after the wife has made it through the security at the airport, I depart Denver towards my next and final destination….

I book a hotel near the destination in Kansas, and after driving through Colorado all night long, I crossed into the Wheat State right around sunrise, and what a beautiful sunrise it was….

I made a note that sunrise was around 5:25am, so that tomorrow morning, I can plan my sunrise photos accordingly.  My plan was wake up before the sun comes up, get to the destination, and wait out the sunrise….

I arrive at my hotel at around 12pm, and the hotel was nice enough to let me check in early…they weren’t exactly expecting a rush of guests in the middle of Kansas, and my sob story of driving 1000 miles scored me some points with the front desk girl…..to my amazement, the room was VERY VERY nice, nicer than Paris rooms, which were old and bleh (I usually stay at the bellagio but for $49 a night you can’t beat Paris) and I plop on the bed to relax for a bit. The smell outside the hotel was …well, lets call it “pungent” and I believe there is a gas station/petting zoo across the street that wasn’t doing my delicate nasal passages any favors, but luckily, the aroma did not penetrate the walls into the room.  I get up at around 6pm to grab some local dinner with some of that fine kansas beef, but the only place around me other than a gas station was a “steakhouse.” I go in order a KC strip mid rare and a baked potato. Waitress tells me I can help myself to the cold salad bar….which looked very suspicious looking with their mealy tomatoes and wilted greens.

I took the safe options…

After waiting what felt like forever (the restaurant wasn’t very crowded,) the waitress finally comes over and brings me my meal…

It was a baked potato that looked like it was from 1976 with a slightly sad looking gristly steak which was festooned with the magnificence of a sole lone ranger onion ring.  Not one of my best meals, but it sure beat gas station rotisserie hot dogs.  After dinner, I head back to the room and call it a night.

I wake up the following morning at around 4am, since my final destination is about 30 minutes or so from the hotel…so I pack everything, check out at the front desk and head out.

I drive on a single lane 65mph road in complete darkness (other than my lights obviously)…..basically using my navigation as my “eyes” as well as all my lightbars. Finally I get to a turn off onto a dirt road, with 6 miles still to go…..

I cautiously drive down the dirt road but I have to speed up because driving slowly blows a cloud of dust in front of my face and I can’t see a damn thing…so Im doing 35mph until I come to something that literally scared me…..I felt like I was in a Silent Hill movie and possibly chopped into cat food with a power tool of the larger variety….remember, this is in the middle of nowhere and in the middle of even more nowhere….with the wind howling like crazy and not a soul in sight….this is what I came across that spooked me and I slammed my brakes to make sure I wasn’t about to get chainsawed to pieces…

Tell me that wouldn’t freak you out if it came out of nowhere!?

After swallowing what felt like a bowling ball, I turned on the 50″ bar and proceeded with trepidation…..

Things continued to look Blair-Witchy…..

After 3 more miles of driving, I finally arrived…..

So the place I’ve been wanting to go (but missing every time since I pass through Kansas at night) is Monument Rocks. This place is very cool. These “rocks” are basically compressed chalk and they crumble and errode fairly quickly. The monument is technically on private land, but part of the deal for the buyers was that they must keep the monument open to the public at all times, and they do.

Now, remember when I said the sunrise was at 5:25am? I got there around 4:40 or so and was planning on catching every ounce of sunrise, but when I didn’t see the sun even REMOTELY appear at 5:10 I realized what happened…I set my navigation for Vegas time when I got there, and never changed it back…so the navi clock was an hour ahead. Oh well, amazingly, I had full AT&T LTE service so in the pitch black darkness with the wind howling like crazy, I watched a bunch of youtube waiting for the sun to show….and show it did…..(pardon the gratuitous jeep advertisement nature of some of these photos)

I didn’t notice it when I pulled up because of the pitch black darkness, but there are 2 formations there…. 2.1 technically (you can see the single column remaining from a 3rd formation)

View of the first formation from the second…

In front of the second formation

Looking back at the first…

Well, after spending the entire morning shooting, it was time to head back…..

Much MUCH less scary during daylight…

Scary trees no longer scary

This is something I haven’t seen before on any vehicle, but I suspect the Jeep’s barnlike aerodynamics have something to do with it……

As I was driving back down the i70 in Kansas, the crosswind became insane. The wind turbines were spinning like crazy and the jeep was literally being blown off the road at 70. Even at 65 (10mph BELOW the speedlimit) I had to actively countersteer the entire way…almost the entire state of Kansas…I counter-steered for so long the computer thought the steering wheel was no longer centered and my traction control light went on as a result, fortunately, as I left Kansas the winds died down the light went away.

Well, I hope you guys enjoyed reading about some of my little adventures (and misadventures,) and hopefully, I’ll see you on the next one. Remember, life is a journey, take the dirt road.




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