Spring Roadie

My first spring road trip

Gripped - - EDITORIAL - Abbey Road Bran­don Pul­lan

was in April, 2000. I’d been star ing at a poster of Devil’s Tower, which was loosely taped to my bed­room wall, since I’d hung it on Y2K. I wanted to climb the tower’s basalt col­umns, I had not climbed in Wy­oming, and the op­por­tu­ni­ties seemed end­less. Though I wished for a camper­ized Chevy 2500 van, my part­ner and I set­tled for my bur­gundy Lu­mina: wheels are wheels.

Our goal was to climb the Dur­rance Route, which was first climbed in 1938. We made no other plans, ev­ery­thing would fall into place. We packed it all, from ice climb­ing gear and bivy bags to gui­tars and a five-man tent. I had splurged some of my stu­dent-loan money on a dou­ble-rack of cams. At noon, with more packed than we would ever need, my friend Noel Gin­grich and I pointed the car south for Sioux Falls, S.D.

As the empty cof­fee cups piled up, we stopped at a gas sta­tion in Worthington, Minn. and de­cided to con­tinue to Wy­oming. It was cold when we left On­tario, but by South Dakota the warm spring air had our win­dows rolled down.The Bea­tles’ played on my then-new por­ta­ble com­pact-disc player. The sun set, we were in the zone and our next stop was Devil’s Tower.

With heavy eyes we rolled into Wy­oming. We drove through the night. Devil’s Tower, if you have never seen it, ap­pears as a thim­ble on an other­wise flat hor izon. I did a dou­ble-take, the moun­tain in the poster tapped on my bed­room wall was get­ting big­ger and big­ger. The 18- hour dr ive was a dis­tant mem­ory as we parked be­neath the 140- me­tre mono­lith. It was 6 a.m. and we had not slept, but the weather was per­fect. Who could re­sist: we racked up and climbed.

By noon, 24 hours af­ter leav­ing Canada, we stood on-top of Devil’s Tower, we were the only people who climbed Dur­rance Route that day, and we signed the sum­mit reg­is­ter. The foot­ball­field-sized sum­mit plateau was un­like any sum­mit I had stood on, a bizarre place in­deed. We ticked our first spr ing road-tr ip climb. Back at the car, sight­seers cur ious of the tower’s sum­mit brought us or­anges and beers. We talked their ears off. Back on the road, we had no plans, so we drove west.

This spr ing, ditch the win­ter tires, check the oil and point the car north, south, east or west. Pack ev­ery­thing or pack noth­ing, turn off the so­cial-me­dia de­vices and hit the road. There is no bet­ter start to the year than a road tr ip. Maybe I will see you there, wher­ever there is.

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