Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Ode to the Subbie

**this was written while still on the road, so the timeline is off**

As I lay here in a pool of gear in the back of my Subaru Outback waiting on Josh to get a few runs in on Loveland Pass, I must reflect on my vehicle's performance over the last week.

This is the first true road trip I've been on in my wagon. She's been to a couple of festivals, plenty of car camping trips and 100+ mile trips, but not until this week has she provided transportation, shelter, gear tote and overall comfort for an entire week.

Josh and I set off for an intented loop from Jackson, to Moab to Loveland Pass to Boulder and back home. We left Sunday (19th) evening with bikes, climbing gear, backpacking gear, skis, snowboard, boots, camping chairs, a cooler, clothes and a crash pad. We had the seats down and put as much gear as we could fit into the Sky Box. We left Jackson after dark and drove as far as we could. We eventually found some BLM land in Southern Wyoming and found an out-of the way spot to camp- in the car. See, as much as we love camping: setting up a tent just to sleep in, then take it down, repack it into it's tiny little bag and stuffing it back into the car can be a pain. SO, instead we just took the Backpacks and cooler out of the car, and set up camp in the back of the Subbie. With two inflated Thermarests and sleeping bags that zip together and a couple of fluffy pillows, the back is rather comfortable. Josh and I have it dialed in. In the morning, at the crack of dawn, we were semi-ready to get on the road. I had a lot more motivation to get to Salt Lake City than Josh did, so I drove while he slept in the back. After lunch in SLC, I was pooped, so Josh drove and I took a nap in the back. I woke up just as we were getting into the interesting part of Utah.

The landscape went from flat and vast to spiny, rocky and ancient. It looked like we were driving into the Jurassic period. Southern Utah is beautiful. Unfortunately we were pulling into the desert as the sun was setting, so we pulled off the Interstate on exit 131 and drove through the San Rafael Swell towards Goblin Valley. We were deep in BLM land, so it was quite simple for us to find a nice camp site and catch some shut eye. We were able to find an actual camp site with a fire pit and what seemed to be a pretty nice view, but it was dark, and we were lazy, so car camping won out again. This time around, we discovered that if we set the cooler just outside the door, we could use it as a "bedside table" and enjoy a coldbeer before going to sleep.

We woke up early the next morning, to realize that we were about to get rained on. Quicky-packed the Subaru and headed out just before the rain hit. We high-tailed it to Moab, with the Subaru all disheveled and starting to smell a little like feet. The rain slacked off when we got to Moab, so we decided to put my All-parks pass to work (For $80 a year, you can visit every National Park in the Country- a Teton-Yellowstone is $50, so it's a pretty good deal) and go to Arches. The rain held off long enough for us to see one "gaper" set of arches and explore two off the beaten path.

The bottom dropped off on us so we raced to the Subaru for shelter. Once in the haven of our campsite on wheels, we were able to dry off a tad before heading into Moab. We ate lunch at a Mexican restaurant, where the power went out on us. (Apparently Moab is not built for rain.)

While in Moab, we went to a gear shop to find out some insider information about the area. We bought a harness for Josh and a book on slot canyon exploration. We headed back up the interstate towards Robber's Roost. Just outside of Moab, but before you get into the cast Robber's Roost area, there is a little town called Green River. Green River had quite a selection of hotels, and although the Subbie has proven herself comfy and functional, the idea of being able to spread out a bit and dip in a hot tub was awfully appealing. So we stayed at the best Best Western I've ever stayed in!

After an overnight re-coop Josh and I headed out for the desert! Robber's Roost is an area located between the Colorado River, Green River and the Dirty Devil River about an hour north-west of Moab, Utah. We turned off I-80 onto Hwy 24 and drove about 20 miles west. We turned off on a ranch road and headed 55 miles back into the plateau. As we were driving, we consulted the map over and over again because it just didn't seem that there would be any kind of canyons in this vast open space. Finally, the guide book lead us to a spring, and we were supposed to look for some signatures on a wall, then we would find the mouth of the canyon.

Our first Canyoneering experience was a good one.

We got back to the car with plenty of time to travel 70 miles to the San Rafael Swell before we slept. Again, we slept in the car and woke up to a beautiful day in the desert...

We set off for Music Canyon. After traveling about two miles down Music Canyon, we realized that this canyon was not nearly as interesting as the one we had found the day before, so we turned around and headed for another spot just a few miles away. We still never found the one in the book, but we did stumble across a pretty cool drainage that we followed for about three miles before we had to turn around at 5:30 (did NOT want to get stuck in the desert away from the car after dark).

Josh was pretty upset when I made him turn around...

But when we got back to the car just in time to crack a PBR at sunset, he was pretty happy

From the San Rafael Swell we headed back to civilization. I drove well into the night while Josh slept. I pulled over at a rest stop in Rifle, CO around midnight, slept for a few hours then got up and drove to Loveland Pass.

All-in-All the Subaru has been WONDERFUL to us! She never complained when we drove her through treacherous terrain, she sipped gas when we needed her to conserve and kept up when we needed to trek on! She deserves a bath and a good detailing after her trip to the dessert!!

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