Post details: My road trip out west

Dec 23, 2005 : My road trip out west

It's been quite a while since the actual trip (June 22 - 29, 2005), but I promised (and wanted) to blog about this. A bonus side-effect of waiting so long is that my memory automatically distills out the most important parts of the trip. I've forgotten lots of the details already :-)

My photos from the road trip are in my gallery now so I have no reason to procrastinate on this any more.

First, I'd like to direct your attention to the map of my route.

Day 0 Recieved a phone call from Cornerstone University expressing interest in interviewing me. I was excited, but was planning on leaving the next day. Impressively, they found time in about a dozen peoples schedules to interview me the very next morning.

Day 1 Interviews at Cornerstone University, then had lunch with Cherith at Calvin. She gave me many CDs to listen to, and some paper and colored pencils. Then I started out for St. Louis. I spent the night at my friend Andy's house there.

Day 2 Historical Route 66 goes from Chicago to St. Louis down across the southwest very close to where I was heading. So I often stopped at Route 66 curiosities and I spent several hours this day on the original roads themself. They were pretty slow going because its just a 2-lane road with lots of towns having stop lights and low speed limits. After a while I hopped back on the highway. I didn't make it too far that day. I camped at some random state park. I even had to call my friend Chris to see if it was a park or not, the atlas wasn't too clear. Camped right in front of a lake. Quite nice. There were two people out practicing on their racing boats. Those were pretty loud.

Day 3 Got up real early, around 6 or 7 I think, so I could make up for the short day before. Drove and drove and drove. I had to fill up for gas 3 times. Today was the most fascinating, watching the landscenery change into rolling hills of northern Texas and into the red sand and rock formations of the southwest. Awesome. Pictures don't do it justice; as they don't for many other parts of the trip either. In McLean, TX, I stopped at the Devil's Rope Museum. Tons and tons of stuff about barbed wire. I bought a $1 collector's piece (people collect this stuff!) from a 1800s ranch. There was also this place where an eccentric millionaire (got lucky rich off of argon or something) had several cars each buried half-deep in the middle of a field. People spray paint them all the time. Weird. Before getting to Gallup I took a detour through some reservations and right past El Morro national monument. Rained a little. It was nice. In Gallup, NM, I stayed with a friend's family.

Day 4 Friend's sister showed me around downtown Gallup, which isn't much. Bought a few souvenirs. Friend's step-dad gave me good directions to Glen Canyon. Bought a can-opener at a walgreen's since it was time to start eating canned food (I had packed canned vegetables, cereal, granola bars, and pb&j fixings). The drive was amazing. Cherith would be so jealous of the fantabulous rock formations, especially as my route took me near Monument Valley. Camped right in front of Lake Powell (formed in Glen Canyon due to the dam). Very beautiful again. A can of green beans for dinner. That night there was a cool lightning storm in the distance.

Day 5 Swam for a little bit before leaving. Drove to the north rim of the Grand Canyon. Looked at it. It's big. I was told so, so I wasn't too surprised by the depth or width of the canyon, but I didn't anticipate how many different side-canyons there were. I mean, it's not just straight and long. I had thought about hiking to the bottom, but they really don't recommend going down and back up in single day and you have to get camping permits months in advance. So I hiked down for about an hour and then back up. It was fun, but it wasn't much different than any other steep rocky trail. Camped just outside of the canyon park in a a state park (I think .. maybe another national park). The elevation actually is very high just outside of the Canyon, so it was very chilly. It was pretty rocky too since basically it was lots of woods and you just pick a spot and camp yourself there. I was really cold that night.

Day 6 Drove an hour or whatever to the nearest town and ate some waffles at a restaurant. I needed some tasty food. Drove up through Utah, taking some backroads for a while, which as nice. Then took the highway and saw lots of limestone or salt stuff or whatever (sorry, Cherith! I don't know my geology well enough). Drove to Arches National Park and looked around for an hour or so before it got dark. Spent the night in a hotel in Moab.

Day 7 Went back to Arches Natl Park and looked at everything. Hiking some of the back paths was really fun. To follow the path you had to find a little stack of rocks every 5 or 10 yards. I took one path that was a lot longer than I expected. Drove across Colorado to Denver. I was staying with my friend Aaron there. Hit the city right around 5pm and my exit was right where the rush hour traffic jam started, which was fortunate. Aaron and I went downtown, walked around, and had a few beers. It was fun to hang out with him one last time since he was getting married in a few weeks and would be going to grad school back in Denver.

Day 8 Left around 8am denver time, which is 10am Michigan time. It's a long boring drive and I was going to stop for the night somewhere in Iowa or Illinois, but it was only like 8pm when I reached that point and I didn't feel like finding a campground or a hotel, so I decided to just keep driving. I reached Chicago at around 1am, which sorta refreshed me for a bit. Got back to Grand Rapids around 3:30am. Lotsa driving :-)

Overall I didn't have as much time to be alone and ponder the deep thoughts of life that one might want to after graduation and before getting a job, but that was okay. It was still awesome seeing lots of stuff I'd never seen before and I liked being able to go my own pace all by myself. And now I know more about some of the great spots out there so I can go back with Cherith someday.

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