All we wanted to do was explore some public lands, but various storms along the way made the journey a bit more complicated! This story isn't exactly a stormy day in a National Park or on our Public Lands, but it's an overall experience I'll never forget. Back in 2009, my buddy and I rented a car to travel from Michigan to various public lands in the west. We had reserved a large sedan, which was cheap and had enough room, but our plans were foiled and we were stuck with a Chevy HHR. The HHR is a tiny wagon and the first part of the "storm" that was the spring break road trip of 2009. We started off a little rough, but we were not deterred. We packed that HHR to the brim with supplies and gear and set off towards Sacramento with a few stops planned along the way.
We were cruising along with our first stop planned to be Arches National Park in Utah. We get all the way to Denver without an issue, tour the city quickly in the early morning on a Saturday, and continue west toward the Rockies. We hit a blizzard around Vail and see cars in the ditches, had zero visibility, and didn't have rental car insurance. Everything was fine, we kept going because what was the point of turning around halfway through a blizzard? We had plans to stop at scenic turnouts, but this icy roads had us white knuckled all the way through the mountains, leaving little room for extra adventure. Eventually, we reached the western slope, found dry ground, and thanked mother nature for having mercy on us. We set back out towards Arches in hopes for some better weather.
Arches is a beautiful place, any time of year. We camped, hiked, and enjoyed every bit of daylight we could. Camp had a great view, but nothing beats the views from the various day hikes. A big benefit of going in the end of February/first week of March is that no one is there! That night, after hiking all day and already being quite chilled, we crawled into our sleeping bags and listened to the wind toss our tent around. The temperature had dropped to 11 degrees Fahrenheit, with strong winds all night. I slept in my clothes plus winter jacket, gloves, and hat. After a windy and cold night like that, coffee and sunshine were the most welcome things of the morning.
Leaving Arches, we set off to drive through Monument Valley, through Grand Staircase Escalante, with a final camping destination along the loneliest road - US 50. We stopped at a BLM spot, Petroglyphs Interpretive site in the and set up our tent next to some snow. There was no storm at this portion of our journey, but it was still cold. We left the next day and headed west on US-50 toward California. Once through Nevada, we hit the Tahoe National Forest on I-80, through the mountains, and another snow storm threatened our rental car. We finally made it to Sacramento, despite the blizzard, and in plenty of time to pick our other friend up from the airport.
Our journey continued north, hitting another rain storm in Redding, California and mixed precipitation on our way to Eureka through the mountains. We drove through the Redwoods, up the coast, detoured to Portland and Seattle, and went to Cape Flattery with sunny weather on our side. We had major rain in the Hoh Rainforest, but nothing else the entire trip back to Michigan, minus some mild snow in the Midwest.
We may have avoided storms while being out on the trails or at the campsite, but we endured some severe weather to get to the places we love. When you save money, make a plan, and set out to see something beautiful you don't let things like blizzards and rain storms get in the way. We made this trip the best adventure we could, despite anything Mother Nature could throw at us.
This post was created in one hour for the #NatureWritingChallenge.