Riding high on our success of the 2009 Colorado trip, we were amped up to head out west again in 2010. But our plans were nearly ruined when I was unable to obtain a suitable 4×4 to take out west (the Cherokee market dried up, thanks Cash for Clunkers!).
But all was not lost due to an offer from a very generous friend. We were able to make the trek out west in his essentially stock (save for 30” tires) ’97 TJ. I zipped the back seat out of it, and loaded it for bear!
We survived the trip, but I think we might have both suffered some hearing damage after listening to the top flap for many hours on the road at interstate speed. I’m not sure we’ll make that trek again in a soft top Jeep, but who knows what the future will hold?
The following is a copy from our post on the SIJA forum and was written as we were experiencing it. I’ve gone through and fixed some of the context errors, but I’m sure there is more in there. Enjoy!
Well we made it safely to Moab Utah today after a marathon drive that started yesterday (Friday night) at 5:30 and ended with us getting to Moab at around 2 today. Needless to day I’m a little weary right now, so if something doesn’t make sense, I’m running on fumes (not that anything I say makes sense).
This year, we’re rolling around in a borrowed TJ from a good family friend. This has worked out great for several reasons as I was seriously contemplating picking up a Barbie Jeep for our next “long haul” toy. I’ll save my initial comment for a little later in the post…
So as noted, the wife and I took off after she got home from work last night. Not much to see picture wise as it was dark and most of you know what highway 70 looks like going through STL anyway 🙂 We got snagged in a little traffic, but it only slowed us down about 20 minutes or so.
After escaping STL, it was onto the grueling grind through MO and KCY. Once in Kansas, the SWB Jeep started weighing on me. For the better part of the trip through MO and All of Kansas, I was battling a pretty hefty wind, either driving into it, or even more fun, the cross wind. So by the time 2 a.m. rolled around, I was “feeling it” so to speak when something not so fun happened.
Rolling along at about 70 mph, I saw a very large (about 30” in diameter), soon to be biological speed bump, that was grey in color, enter the field of my head lights. In a split second my thought process went something like:
– WTF is that thing!
– I can’t hit that (stock TJ) that’ll kill this poor jeep
– Evasive Action Needed!
That last part turned out to be a bit white knuckled as I yanked that wheel hard while doing 70 mph. When I clipped the bio speed bump, It was enough to get a brief three wheel action going on. Which of course freaked out the wife! I drove another two hours before giving any further thought to it, any guess what could turn itself into a 30” ball and be grey in color????
Thankfully, they don’t appear to have punctured the sidewall (sunk in about 1/8” deep). After playing with the quills, I’m amazed at how sharp they are. Not just on the points, but every edge is razor sharp. Don’t play with them if you find one in nature kids!
We continued on for another 4 grueling hours and stopped for breakfast in Denver. I was this I-I close to stopping for a nap, but I just couldn’t let Rob win that bet 🙂 Thankfully, the food perked me up, and we were off again!
Amazingly, this TJ with 85 octane in the tank, will run the speed limit going up the hills leading out of Denver. Granted its 4th on the Floor, but its keeping up! I’m still not sure how one can go down hill and still gain elevation though.
We’re staying at the La Qunita Inn which is pretty swank, but the internet connection kinda sucks so my photo uploading won’t be that much. So use your imagination.
So after spending way too much time in a TJ, I’ve got a new respect (or fear?) of those of you that make the CO/UT trip in a regular basis with a soft top Jeep. I must be getting old, but by the time the CO/KS boarder showed up, I was over my love affair of the open top Jeep. At least for long distance driving anyway@ Around town, its been a gas, and I’m sure on the trail it’ll be fun to. But man I was seriously contemplating renting a U-Haul and just towing the ting the rest of the way out to Moab 😆
After checking in and taking a brief nap. We went to Arches Park tonight to do some sunset photos. It was nice to pull the windows (since the A/C was acting up) and cruise around the park like that. I’ll give the TJ plus one for that. Another plus one for having a 5 gear, that alone makes it really nice to cruise down the mountains (yea for engine braking!)
And some more tired random rambling….
– I like the desert, its nice and dry so I can actually breathe through my nose again
– There is a ton of awesome rigs floating through this town.
– Apparently I can run for about 41 hours on 1.5 hours of sleep and mostly make sense still.
– The Moab Brewery isn’t bad eats, their onion rings were pretty dang good.
– Having a great time so far, looking forward to hitting the trails tomorrow!
A beautiful day today, 12% Humidity is awesome! Even though its 100°F outside right now, it’s quite bearable, which is good as the TJ A/C only works in about 5 minute spurts! Though Window down fun means that there’s a nice red hue to the interior of the Jeep at this point (and our snot is a pretty red too).
We decided to start out on an easy note and made the run out to Hurrah Pass and Chicken Corners this morning. For those who plan on camping around Moab, you may want to consider camping off of Kane Creek Road. Lots of State camping there, and its pretty nice spot from what we could tell.
Hurrah Pass and Chicken Corners starts off of Kane Creek Road.
Its just silly how beautiful it is out here. Photos don’t really do any of it justice!
For dinner we stopped at Milts eat and go. I highly recommend this place! By far, the best darn burger I’ve ever had. Its even got the perfect ambiance too!
After dinner the wife wanted to head back out to arches park to hike up to see delicate arch. That turned out to be one heck of a hike!
We stayed up there until the sunset, the wife has some neat photos I’ll post up when we get home. I’m amazed at the amount of people were up there, and the majority of them were Japanese.
The walk back down was pretty cool, the plants kinda have a ‘glow in the dark’ hue to them during twilight and just past it. Pretty cool to see, too bad the photos didn’t really show the effect.
After that, we headed out to canyon lands, I’d like to run white rim trail sometime, but I’m a little leery of running it by ourselves. Next time!
After going through that park, we headed back to Moab on Long Canyon road. Its not a hard trail/road, but it was nice to be able to stick it in 4low and coast down some of the steeper sections.
After we got back to Moab, we had lunch at the Moab Diner. After seeing some of the breakfast food that went buy us, I was wishing we’d came a little earlier. The food we did have was pretty darn good though!
We wrapped up the day with another awesome burger (and peanut butter shake) from Milts Eat and Go. Have I mentioned how much I like that place?
Tomorrow, we start making the trek to CO. I’m bummed that we didn’t get to go out and play in the desert as much as I would have liked to, but what little we did see was awesome. The quiet of the desert still gets me, I’ve never been anywhere so silent as when we were back in some of those canyons.
So much left to see, guess we’ll have to make another trip out here some time!
We made it safely to our hotel in Ouray Co (Hot Springs Inn, Pretty Dang nice!). Another trip out to arches park this morning after checking out of our hotel. I keep trying to tell my wife that she see’s an arch every day she goes to work, so one would think she’d be tired of seeing them by now 😆 But we did want to go see Landscape arch before it collapsed. And upon seeing it, I don’t’ know how the thing is standing. So here’s some photos from that walk about:
After we got done there, we headed out on one of the parks “4wd” trails. This is a killer way to see the park away from the masses, and it requires enough ground clearance to keep most Subaru’s away 🙂 The “Tower Arch” road (it doesn’t have a name) is a pretty neat jaunt, though we didn’t run the whole thing. We’d stopped at “Whale Eye Arch” and turned around. Again, noting too difficult, but definitely worth the drive.
After turning around at Whale Eye Arch, we headed out on Willow Flats Road (The Long Horizontal Road in the Travel Photo). This road takes out of the park and onto a county road. There are several places where one could get into a little trouble if you weren’t paying attention.
Once we got back to the highway, we grabbed some food from Milts again (funny how that worked out, most of Moab had a black out going on and Milts was the only place to have power that served food!). So we said “good bye” to Moab and headed out to take the scenic route to CO. Castle Valley Road (Paved Part) to Castleton Gateway Road. This was another awesome road for scenery. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves….
We stopped and ate At the True Grit Café. Food wasn’t anything to write home about, but it was neat to see the John Wayne Memorabilia. And if you’ve seen the movie, its easy to pick out where some of the scenes took place.
The next day we did a little round about trip around Ouray today. We took Last Dollar Road to Telluride, Then made a short jaunt up the lower portion of Black Bear up to Bridal Falls. After which we went up Imogene Pass to Yankee Boy.
The later two tails wound up being a little interesting, but we’ll get to that 😉
A storm moved in and made things very interesting. Visibility dropped to about 1 foot in front of the Jeep. Needless to say that the rain also made the rocks rather slick. Plus, the terrain got noticeably more rough above the Tom Boy Mine. So that whole endeavor made for some very nervous work at the top of Imogene pass. Took us quite a few turn abounds to find our way out of the clouds:
We wound up getting a little bit more tippy than I would have liked, spooked us just a little bit! But it was worth it to see the view!
The next day we spent lots more time in the Jeep, and a very windy day to boot! The wind was strong enough that at the top of a few of those passes you could lean into the wind pretty good.
We ran the alpine loop trail and wrapped up by going through the Red Mountain Mining District which is a large area of defunct mines.
So this pretty much wraps up our stay in Ouray. We then made our way up to Silverthorne (wife wants to go by the strip mall there) on the way back home.
It was around 3100 miles by the time it was all said and done. Defintely worth it, and we hope to make the trek back out there again sometime as there were quite a few trails in UT that we chickend out of. I’d love to run some of the “Rim” trails in Moab, but that takes some dedicated time (Moab Rim trail is ~90 miles I think, I’ve got no idea how long “White Rim” is).