Each year I make my annual pilgrimage back home to the Boston area over the Thanksgiving holiday. This time I would arrive in style in the Bumble Beast. The restaurant I work for closes each year for two months during the fall which gave me plenty of time to vacation across the country and back. Court would be able to tag along as far as Denver so we tried to jam pack as much climbing, mountain biking, and skiing in as we could up until then.
Our first stop would be just a few hours out of town to ski a big pumice field. I’d never skied on rocks before so I was very excited. Unfortunately, as most trips begin, we were running late and got there barely before sunset.
Court and Stoke on the up
We opted to only go halfway up because of the failing daylight but we were at least able to enjoy a pretty sunset
Busted! Skiing in jeans! I’m also looking a little gaperish with the way my skis are mounted on my pack. This shot does a good job at showing the size of the rocks though.
Since it was so dark we were unable to take any pictures or video of the actual skiing but it sure was fun and I look forward to going back someday. We continued driving that night to Bishop where we would sleep in a Von’s parking lot. “Stealth camping” would be the mission for almost the entire trip. This meant a lot of rest areas and parking lots. It may not be the prettiest place to call home for the night but it was free. But come to think of it most of the parking lots were pretty scenic
We spent the next day climbing in Owens River Gorge
After a full day of climbing we hopped in the van and drove 5 hours to Las Vegas where we would call Red Rocks Casino home for the following 3 nights. Can you tell which one is us??
Red Rocks is home to a few thousand climbing routes so choosing what to do in our 2 days there was no easy task. We settled for some short sport routes in an easy area for day 1. The colors of the rock here are fascinating
The second day Stoke went to doggie day care and we did an awesome 4 pitch 5.7 called Johnny Vegas.
Bolted belays make me happy. I spy Court
The descent was just as much, if not more, fun than the climb itself. 6 rappels would take us all the way back to the bottom.
One of the bummers about traveling this time of year is how short the days are. The daylight failed us again but it did so with style. I snapped this pic while Court was lowering himself down the 5th rappel while screaming of tarantulas darting across the rocks below him. I was less than psyched to join him at the next rap station…
That night we hit the town! I had never been to Vegas before so I figured a walk down the strip was a must.
Which left Stoke alone in the van…
Don’t let his size fool you, he is still a puppy and still gets himself into trouble. You try to chew my helmet, you wear my helmet as punishment!
And he killed his poor Bumble Bee. He seemed pretty proud of that though
The next day we were off to Sedona, AZ, one of the most beautiful and unique places I have ever been. That being said its weird I don’t have more photos of it. Must have been too busy enjoying the short time we had there. We were able to sneak in a little bike ride around Courthouse Butte before that nagging sunset crept in.
Next up on the itinerary was Zion National Park and the surrounding areas. Adding a couple hours to the drive allowed us to visit the Grand Canyon. National Parks aren’t too keen on dogs (they are only allowed on paved surfaces, which is like nowhere) so we put our best tourist faces on and braved the crowds at the paved pullouts. Lucky for us though high winds kept the crowds thin but the winds and cliff edges also scared the crap out of Stoke (why did I name him Stoke??) so we left him in the van and had ourselves a little photo shoot
Lunch with a view
Stoke is thinking, can I go back to the van yet??
One of the hardest part about planning this road trip was deciding when to do all the driving. I didn’t want to waste daytime on the road but I also didn’t want to do it all at night because we would miss out on the amazing views. The struggle is real people…
Later that night we landed in the Walmart parking lot of Hurricane, UT where the rain was coming down hard. We had hopes to do a popular bike ride (Gooseberry Mesa) and climb while here but the rains made that impossible. The clay on the Gooseberry trail takes a few days to dry out and the same goes for the sandstone. We stopped by The Edge bike shop and they recommended Hurricane Rim as a rideable trail in wet conditions.
Here’s a screen shot from my GoPro of the aptly named Hurricane Rim
The weather cleared just enough to give us confidence to ride far away from the van and then BOOM the torrential downpours came back. Luckily we happened upon a lovely outhouse that we could seek refuge in. We enjoyed lunch here at the “Vault Cafe”
The next day we headed over to St George, UT and hit the Bearclaw Poppy Trail. We had a blast messing around on the fun features this trail had to offer. Starting out small on the Acid Drops
Court and Stoke riding off the left Finger of Death
It was a long and tiring day so we thought we would treat ourselves to a pizza night. Yes, we got pizza delivered to the van in a Walmart parking lot. I should probably be feeling more ashamed than proud of this…
The real reason for incorporating Zion NP into this trip was so we could do The Narrows, an amazing hike up the Virgin River in the narrowest part of the Zion Canyon with walls towering up to 1,000ft feet above you on either side. This was another one of those things where Stoke wasn’t allowed so he got to go to the Doggy Dude Ranch, where he got to play outside all day with all sorts of new puppy friends.
It was much colder than we would have hoped but it was still an incredible experience. The short days continued to haunt us, but it gave us some incredible lighting
For our last night in Zion we decided to splurge and get a campsite. The views did not disappoint.
The next day we hit Coral Pink Sand Dune State Park for some sand skiing.
Stoke really liked it here
The skiing itself wasn’t as exciting as we would have hoped. Speed was required to actually make a turn but by the time we got going fast enough we were already at the bottom.
But we still had fun playing around and soaking up the sun after a cold couple of days. After a couple of runs we drank beer and had a goofy photo shoot
Then it was back to the open road again where the views continued to impress. This was in the Escalante area which has made its way to the top of the list for future travels.
This was just outside of Bryce NP, another newly discovered must visit park
Moab was the next destination. Moab is home to world class mountain biking and stellar climbing. We decided to climb our first day at the Ice Cream Parlor wall which features a mix of sport and trad.
The next day we hit the world famous Slickrock trail. The weather was perfect and the views were fantastic
Stoke found himself a bath. The sad truth is Stoke probably bathed more than I did this trip
But, technical difficulties forced us to retreat after just 2 miles
We got his bike fixed up at a local bike shop but unfortunately the Slickrock trail is an all day loop so we were unable to go back. The guys at the bike shop pointed us in the direction of the Bar M trail system for some afternoon riding which also offered lots of fun and amazing views.
Arches National Park in the distance
Turns out this trail system is in an open range. Stoke, who will run away in fear of his life if a chihuahua looks at him funny, is not shy when it comes to cows. He was great to have along to keep the trails ahead clear.
Next stop was Fruita, CO for the last of the mountain biking. The biking here was lots of fun, very flowy compared to what we are used to back home in Tahoe.
The sections going through the washes were a tad technical but my main problem was route finding. I wound up riding this wash longer than I should have which caused Stoke to panic and run a mile back up the trail looking for me. Shortly after, though, we were all able to regroup.
That night we headed towards the Rockies to start the cold portion of the trip. I took advantage of my Epic ski pass and hit A-Basin to ride their white ribbon of death. Three crowded runs later and it was back to tailgating in the parking lot. Which really meant giving strangers tours of the van. I thought I blended in???
A long lost friend Ashley was able to stop by to say hi and have a quick climbing sesh
Our goal for the next day was to climb in Boulder canyon, but a 30 degree temperature drop has us quickly changing plans. We decided to check out El Dorado Canyon on the way to Denver instead. Just before the entrance gate we spotted this. I pulled an Austin Powers and did a 17 point turn to get into position to snap this picture.
Our hike became snowier than expected
Once back at the van we enjoyed making goofy faces (probably due to whatever was in those cans), lunch, and movie
From this day forward I didn’t see temperatures higher than the teens until I got all the way to Boston. We were meant to stay in the Boulder area another night but decided to go visit a friend of mine, Emily, who lives in Denver a day early instead. Court flew out of the Denver Airport the following day and I was on my own for the duration of the trip.
Snowfall and near subzero temperatures forced me to overstay my welcome with Emily but we had a ton of fun catching up and torturing our doggies with endless photo shoots
Stoke made himself at home right away by taking over Emily’s lap
And Harry’s little bed
A few days later the snow stopped falling and temperatures rose (slightly) so Stoke and I hit the open road. Unfortunately this portion of the trip wouldn’t be as fun as the last. It looked like this for many, many miles
And our nights looked like this
Finally it got warm enough to venture out for a bike ride.
It got cold and dreary again in the following few days so we just beelined it straight to Danvers, MA to stay with my parents for 2 weeks to see family and friends. This was by far the best road trip I have ever been on and I look forward to many more in the Beast in the future!