Cold Springs Ranch: Trip West 2003

Trip West 2003

I have been making road trips to the great American West for about 12 years now. Me and my traveling buddy Kenny have gone every year since 1992 except for 1999-2002 (due to the building of my house and the death of my Mother). As of 2003, I've been to every state west of the Mississippi except Oregon and Washington. I've also made a short jaunt up into Alberta. I really enjoy diving and always felt like the week+ long trip was more of an extended Sunday drive. I can't tell you how many times I've gotten the "..and you D R I V E out to Montana...!" from people when I tell them about my vacations. Yes I drive. To me it's not just the destination, it's all the points along the way. I have discovered many back roads, seen many incredible sights, and met many memorable people on my treks through the hinterlands. None of which would have happened if I had not been just driving along and said, "Hey let's go this way...", and then off into another adventure. All that is something you miss out on when you fly over it all. You just see where you left and where you arrive. I like all the points in-between too.

But I can understand how folks in the South would get this attitude about long drives. On most southern Interstates and highways there is nothing to see. The roads are bounded by a continuous strip of trees, kudzu, and/or development. If you're lucky you may see a quarter mile off to each side. The most enjoyment you can have on most southern roads is ... listen to music ... ? ...

When I head out West, I load my truck down with everything you could possibly need. My luggage, Kenny's luggage, truck repair gear, camping gear, video equipment, camera equipment, laptop, cooler, dog food, dog water bowls, human food, human and dog snack food, ... you get the idea. It never fails that the bed of my truck is filled at least to the top of the tailgate before we leave. Of course by the time I get back I have to cram and stuff things to the very roof of the camper top. My truck basically becomes a comfortable home for us all as we watch the continent roll by. And what a continent it is. Once I get across the Mississippi, its nothing but a beautiful and a wonderful drive... except for the big cities like Denver and Salt Lake City and even then you can see the awesome mountains.

Well, because I've put so many pictures (and these are still a small portion of what I took!) I decided to break the trip into different regions and days, each with it's own page. You can follow my trip through Illinois and Missouri, up through Nebraska and South Dakota, then on through Wyoming and Yellowstone, and finally Montana, Utah, and Colorado.

The Midwest

When going out to Wyoming and vicinity I usually take I-40 W to Nashville, then I-24 N through Kentucky and into Illinois and merge into I-57 N. I then turn right on I-64 W at Mt. Vernon IL and on into Missouri. Since there usually isn't too much to see that' radically different from home, I usually don't take any pictures or video until I'm heading out into the different terrain of the Midwest...

Day 1 September 27, 2003

Day 2 September 28, 2003

The Plains

The first time I headed out for Wyoming, I had roughly planned out path a on the map of the way I would take to Yellowstone. I roughly guessed the amount of time I would spend on a certain leg of the journey, what if anything I thought I might like to see along the way. When it came to the Plains states like Nebraska and South Dakota, I didn't expect much. You hear all these tales of hundreds of miles of flatness with nothing in it. Just mind numbing boredom. Only hearing the typical stereotype of what the Plains were like I really didn't plan on spending much time there. I figured I would just push on through them to the Rockies on the other side. But then I crossed over that invisible 100th degree longitude line on Nebraska 2, the old Oregon trail. Somewhere between Broken Bow and Dunning I entered a different land, a special land. It was early October, and all the land was golden. Ranches as big as only God knows. Windmills dotting the land every few miles, pumping water for the cattle wandering vast fields of dry land. As I drove on through the Sand Hills, through little one store towns like Thedford and Mullen, I fell in love. I've been going back ever since. There is a special spiritualness of the land and sky and elements. When you top one of the hills and can look out over the vast undulating land that spreads out to the horizon as far as you can see, like an ocean. The sky over head is as big as can be. Big, but somehow comforting.

Day 3 September 29, 2003

Day 4 September 30, 2003

The Yellowstone Area

Coming Soon....

The Rockies

Coming Soon....

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