After 2 years of building and dreaming...
I finally made a trip to the Promised Land, Moab Utah. My 11 day adventure was a solo voyage, and since time has a way of obfusacting the past I felt like I should put my experience down in detail, as much for myself as for anyone else who might care to read about it. The pivotal event that this vacation is built around is the 2018 Labor Day Camp Out put on by the Red Rock 4-Wheelers.
Wednesday August 29th
I departed from Fond du Lac, WI around 6PM and arrived in Iowa City, Iowa around 10PM. This little 4 hour drive gave me a head start on the tougher days coming up. The performance of a vehicle is hard to predict the first time you take it across the Rocky Mountains. Some vehicles performed well at 10,000ft elevation and other couldn't maintain 35 MPH. My Jeep doesn't win any races at sea level and I expect it could be slow going in thinner air so I was planned for this possibility.
Thursday August 30th
I departed Iowa City a little after 7AM hoping to reach Denver around 7PM. This allows for about 11 hours of driving plus time for a couple refueling stops.
This leg of the drive is always the worst. Sorry Nebraska and Eastern Colorado but you are boring to drive thru. However I will say that Nebraska has some of the finest waysides in America. Since I wasn't sure how far I'd make it by Thursday night I never reserved a room, so I just drove part-way into Denver and found a dumpy looking Motel 6 for the night.
I didn't realize I had asked for the room where they found the dead hooker but I got it! I mean just look at room 127, it's safe to assume that atleast one dead hooker has been discovered in this room.
Friday August 31st
This was the true first day of my vacation. The Rocky Mountains are amazingly beautiful to drive thru so I always enjoy the drive between Denver and Moab. Just seeing the mountains on the horizon as I drove into Denver the night before brought a euphoric joy to my heart. Thanks to the 4 hours of driving I got in Wednesday night I had all day to make the 6 hour trip. This allowed me to take a couple detours along the way, including Lookout Mountain and Loveland Pass.
The drive to Lookout mountain is very twisty and pretty but what I found most interesting was the urban sprawl, residential housing invaded most of the accessable parts of the nearby mountains. Perhaps if I was going to hike I would have liked it more but I'd skip it next time.
The Loveland Pass route is a beautiful twisty drive over the continental divide and worth the detour. It's nothing amazing but it's a good change of pace if you've already been thru the tunnels a dozen times. If you look closely at the right edge of the photo below you can see Interstate 70, the ridge of mountains on the left is what the Eisenhower Tunnel circumnavigates subterraneously.
I was so excited to see this sign! I live in Wisconsin but I bought and built my Jeep for Utah so it was great to finally get it here.
I got to Moab a little after 3PM. I think I've been to Moab 4 or 5 times, and the only hotel I've ever stayed at is the Apache Motel. At this point I come for sentimental reasons.
For this visit they gave me the goofiest room in the joint, it's like their suite, located at the end of the walkway on the 2nd floor.
The Apache is a bit of Americana with old furniture and old carpet. The only improvements made in the last 20 years are a flat screen TV and a key-card door lock, everything else has been there since the 70's or 80's (including the relic of the ice machine by the pool). However the place is clean, comfortable, and everything works. I also like that it is a few blocks off the strip so it's quiet yet within walking distance. And yes, my room had steps immediately after you walk thru the door.
Just down the road 2 blocks is Milt's Stop 'n Eat. It's a great little gem that would be packed full every night if it where on the main drag, but since it's a few blocks back it's usually quick to get in. The food was great.
After I ate I returned to the birth place of my love for Moab, the otherwise overlooked Hurrah Pass.
Hurrah Pass is not a difficult trail, almost any all-wheel drive SUV will suffice, maybe even a two-wheel drive. The drive to the trail is easy, you can start at the McDonalds right in Moab on the corner of Main & Kane Creek Blvd and follow Kane Creek Blvd to the west. In a couple miles the road will start following the Colorado River as it winds thru a canyon.
Eventually the you'll start seeing campsites along the side of the road and the road quality will degrade to gravel and eventually a rocky trail.
The Hurrah Pass trail is simple appetizer for what Moab has to offer, giving you a small taste of what time and the elements has created in this joyous place. At the pass you are rewarded with a beautiful view that it typical of the Moab area.