My first spring road trip
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.