June 2006 was a turning point in my life. It was the first time that I owned a vehicle that was not only capable of taking me cross country, but it was just as capable off road. Not only that, but this was the first time in my life that I had an opportunity to travel in a way that I have come to enjoy. Over the first half of the year, 2006, I was dreaming of going on a journey. On this journey I hoped to visit some friends a few states away, see some out of the sights, and feel the “freedom” of the road I had heard so much of in my life. There had been a few times I had felt this “freedom” before, I needed a big dose of it. Prior to this point in my life, I had never really driven east of my home in the Sierra Nevada’s just west of Lake Tahoe, California. There was one trip to Santa Fe a couple of years prior, but that was only a shotgun trip over one weekend and most of that time was spent flying. Not exactly a leisurely sightseeing type of trip, in any way. I had driven to Oregon a few times to see Crater Lake and the Pacific Coast, and driven to Port Angeles, Washington a few times to check out the Olympic Peninsula, but still nothing quite as big as I was feeling the deep down need for.
So one day towards the end of the month of June 2006, I set out with my truck, some camping gear and my camera and took a look at some of the most beautiful places in the country.
Leaving my world behind, I headed east over the Sierras into Nevada, where I spent my first night camping. Night time in the desert alone was something for me to get used to, but this would not be my first. I actually have come to truly enjoy the desert.
From there I headed down to the Grand Canyon, where I spent the next night in the desert, under the stars. I had no idea that a crack in the ground could be so powerful. I wish that I had stayed longer, but that will be for another day.
After spending some time contemplating erosion in the Grand Canyon, I decided to head north and look for more examples. It had always been a dream of mine to visit a little town in the south east part of Utah called Moab, so I made a b-line for it. There I found exactly what I was looking for, the town I still to this day vow to live in at some point in my life. Moab is surrounded by every type of cool and crazy out doors type of thing to do, and I spent a couple of days checking it out. First I went up to Arches National Park and had a look around. Then from there I started to think about a place to camp, and a local told me to head to Canyonlands National Park. I found all the camping I could ask for there, and much more. I did a little four wheeling, and a bit of hiking, as well as some swimming in the Colorado river. Moab rocks!
From Moab, I decided to head to Colorado Springs, via US highway 50. This road branches off of I-70 in Colorado and heads over the Rockies on a far less traveled route. It was quite a kick to head up over Monarch Pass at 11,312 feet elevation, the highest I had ever been.
Once I made it to Colorado Springs to visit with friends, I decided to visit a couple of the local spots worth seeing. The first place I went to was the Great Sand Dunes National Park, and I even got to sneak in the back door through the Medano Pass Route. The dunes are a sight to see, and the Park is pretty low key so there’s not too many people around to spoil the views. It was a good stop for me.
Of course, if you’re ever in Colorado Springs, you have to drive up to the top of Pikes Peak. The views are outrageous and it’s great to get up above 14,000 feet!
Coming down from Pikes Peak I decided to take the long way around and come out over Cheyenne Mountain. This was a side trip well worth the time, and it was a good glance at what the Rockies are really like.
This got me fascinated with the beauty of the Rockies, so I decided to head out from Colorado Springs to the north and go to Rocky Mountain National Park. I’m still in awe to this day.
Not that I could ever get enough of Colorado, but it was getting to be time to head back home for me at this point. I headed up north from there over to Cheyenne, Wyoming, where I cought up with I-80 and headed back west to home. Boy does Wyoming seem like a big state! At least it did driving through that day. At least I got a picture of the Lincoln head!
Two weeks, three thousand miles and a good bit of money later, I was a happy man. This trip made me realize that there are so many things in this world worth seeing, and they are all just waiting for us to come. All we have to do is figure out how to get there. That is when I pledged to see as much of the world as possible, by any means.