Tuesday, December 29, 2015

There's Two Kinds of Traveler's Out There

  Three brown, leather suitcases of various sizes are laid out end to end on Amy's bed. Each suitcase is open. In the largest, Amy has packed the clothes for her lower half such as shorts, Levi's, and just in case she has thrown in one of her more flattering skirts. It's short but not too short. Next to those she has stacked a few tank tops, tee shirts, one long sleeved shirt and a nice blouse. In the smallest of the three bags she will pack her undergarments, a swim suit (maybe two swim suits), a hair dryer and brushes along with other small necessities and of course two or three different types of shoes. When she finishes packing this bag she will place it inside the bag slightly larger bag that is still empty. This bag is of course for souvenirs that she may or may not even buy but she feels better having it just in case.
  Once the bags are packed she will look through each bag at least three times to assure her mind that she has everything she needs before placing a TSA approved lock on each zipper. She'll print out her flight itinerary and put it in her purse and she will also double check to see if she has a copy of the itinerary on her smart phone. Her ride to the airport will be ten minutes late (she always is) but Amy has planned for that. She has planned for everything. Where she will stay, where she will go and what to see when she gets there. She knows what food she wants to eat and what restaurants to avoid. Amy has done her research.
  Bob has a duffle bag hanging over the arm of the couch. Worn spots and small tears hint at the bags age but the zipper still works so why not keep using it? He has enough room for his pants and shirts, and socks and underwear when properly folded don't take up much room. His small shave bag will be filled with a comb, a razor and a stick of deodorant. He has, on occasion, forgotten his toothbrush but today he's on his game and it's already packed, somewhere. He thinks.
  His flight itinerary has been printed but he has misplaced it twice but that's fine because the information is in the airport's system and they can just look it up. He knows he's going to head to the beach after checking in at the... what was the name of that hotel? Oh well, he has no place special he needs to be for the next few days because he's on vacation.

Okay, so I've had a little fun being dramatic about our fictional characters of Amy and Bob but we all know someone who seems to follow one of them and that's why it's funny. Me personally, I fall in the middle. I don't really stress out about what I'm going to be doing but I do need to know where I'm going and what I want to do. I guess it's a flexible itinerary where I know I want to see this or that but I'll always leave room for things that just pop up. Except when it comes to the airport. I hate flying. It's a horrible experience so to make it easier I lean toward the knowing and exactness of my friend Amy here. I am going on vacation so I want to explore but I don't want to be stressed and to me there needs to be a fine balance of structure and fancy free attitudes.
  What I find the funniest about Amy and Bob is that they could easily be married. Two polar opposites grinding each others nerves as they try to plan their trip. Maybe that's why Bob is using the couch to pack. But what do you do if your partner is on the opposite plane as you are? Do you try to meet in the middle? Do you take turns planning vacations? Or do you take separate vacations (gasp!) I can't tell you the right answer but I will tell you that I would like to think that we would shoot for the middle ground. What about you guys? Where do you fit? Are you an Amy or a Bob? I'd like to hear your take. Leave us a comment and let's discuss. And for Pete's sake Bob don't pack your toothbrush in your socks.


Friday, December 25, 2015

Please Pass the Fruit Cake

  Merry Christmas to all! By now you've been through the process of opening presents and are sitting with your feet up and enjoying some family time. We hope that the holiday season has been good to you. We can't complain that's for sure.
  As much as I'd like to be relaxing I still find myself thinking, scheming, and planning for the upcoming year. There are just too many great adventures waiting for us out there for me not to think about them but we'll discuss all of that later. For now we here at Route to Adventure want to wish your families the best on this Christmas day. Be safe, have some fun together, and we'll see you next week!

Merry Christmas

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

To Bag or to Bed

  The limbs are numb and plead for rest. Fog fills the mind and eyelids that took in the views of the world now struggle to remain open. A warm meal and a comfy bed are all that remains to cap off a perfect day. But when it is finally time to slip off to sleep will you be in a bed or would you rather be on the ground curled into a warm sleeping bag? Is this even a fair question with a correct answer?
  The more interesting question is, do you choose your adventures by the amenities you have after the fun is over? Would you still visit Yellowstone if you had to ride horseback for two or three days and sleep in a bedroll? To me that kind of sounds fun but others may turn their nose up to the idea and admittedly I'm not sure how long I could do it. Lucky for them you don't have to do that in this day and age. Today you can do most anything and still have a bed waiting to hug you at night. Notice that I say a bed without elaborating on it's comfort. I have slept in many a hotel bed that were less than welcoming and I have found that the bed's comfort has nothing to do with the price of the room, I'm looking at you again Disney.
  Next fall we will be taking a trip that is unprecedented for us. The ten day excursion will take us through two or more ghost towns, one very long and rough jeep trail, and will end in a national park. We will leave Salt Lake and head toward California to do the Rubicon Jeep trail. Our first night will be spent in a hotel room in Virginia City, Nevada where we'll learn about the Comstock Load but then we will travel to the Rubicon trail and spend two to three nights camping in the Sierra Nevada mountains sleeping on air mattresses and cots. Once off the trail we'll spend one night in South Lake Tahoe and take in the sites and sounds of that little town and recuperate in a bed, hopefully a comfy one. To end the week we'll head south to Yosemite to bask in it's beauty. We have yet to decide whether we'll hotel it or sleeping bag it for this part of the trip because there are pros and cons to each but the entire trip is shaping up to be one of the most exciting adventures we've ever taken on.  
  After we get back it will be interesting to see what parts of the vacation people liked and would do again versus what we didn't like and would choose not to do again. With ten to twelve people in the group we'll have a lot of opinions to sift through. But what about you? Would you camp while traveling or would you only stay in hotels? Do you like both but would only do one or another during a trip? Let us know in the comments or on social media. I'm interested to hear your take.
  Friday is Christmas and it's a busy week for all but I will still have something short for you to read as you try to recoup from all that family time so have a good week and have a happy holiday.


Friday, December 18, 2015

Do Or Do Not, There Is No Try

  Here we are, one week from Christmas. There are still a few gifts waiting to be purchased, the chocolate in the children's advent calendars is dwindling and I don't have tickets for Star Wars today. Well two out of three of these things seem to be normal (not having movie tickets is just sad) or par for the course as they say. One could argue that late shopping and advent calendars are just as much a part of tradition as seeing family and gift giving. But yesterday I realized that our little family has reached a crossroad pertaining to our Christmas traditions.
  Christmas day involves a little time at home in the morning before we scamper off to visit all of our families. It's an exhausting day that always goes by too fast and leaves us wishing we had more time to spend with our loved ones (that would be toys if your my kids.) To top it off, December in Utah is typically cold with various amounts of snow. I will tell you now that I really am not a fan of snow since very few of my recreations of choice involve cold and wet. So to me I think that it might be nice for a change of pace. What if I went somewhere warm and mild for Christmas? What if I were to travel for Christmas?
  Besides visiting the family and opening gifts there was only one thing that anchored us to home for Christmas. Santa. Yes the jolly, fat elf that delivers all those gifts to the children of the world in one magical night. Kids eat that stuff up don't they? I admit that seeing Santa through the eyes of an adult has been fun for the last thirteen years. It has given me a joy that I couldn't have understood without being a parent. Of course there is a time limit on magic and here in our household it has come to an end. We mourned for a few days (I as much as the children) but soon acceptance sunk in and we moved on. Moved on to thoughts of starting new traditions.
  I never thought that I might travel over Christmas. I'm not even sure it's wise. I imaging a lot of people travel for the holidays but in my mind they are still visiting family for the most part. Could a Christmas vacation work? I can see spending a few days in national parks photographing snow sprinkled red rocks in Bryce Canyon or Arches or maybe an air boat ride through the Florida Everglades. That could be fun. Christmas day would be the hardest I suppose since everything would be shut down on that one day but I could bring along a little Charlie Brown tree to set on the hotel rooms desk and order room service to get by. Yep, I'm starting to think I can make this work.
  On the other hand I don't like big crowds so a trip to Disney is out. There would be those family members that would either have to grumble about not seeing us on Christmas or they would have to travel with us which doesn't leave a lot of room under my Charlie tree. Decisions, decisions.
  With my children growing up and other family members having moved away 2015's Christmas will be different in many ways but one thing will remain the same. I'll be home as I have for every other Christmas in my life and though I may be tired, I will still have a great holiday. Or maybe I'll skip it and go see Star Wars.


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Living In History

  If you were to stop what you are doing right now and took a moment to study your surrounding what would you see? Would you see a desk filled with paperwork awaiting your attention? Perhaps you would be staring at rows of houses slammed together on tiny lots with matching colors and styles and covering the landscape as far as you can see. Now look deeper. Try to picture your location without the desk and the paperwork. Think of a time before those houses were built. What do you think you would see then?
  This may be obvious but during each moment of our lives history is being written. Some moments will live in our memories forever such as Armstrong walking on the moon or that time you tripped walking up the stairs when that cute guy or gal was next to you. Okay some things we are better off forgetting but what I'm trying to get at is if you can look past all the "noise" that surrounds us on a daily bases you can actually find something special.
  In a remote canyon in central Utah lies what is Nine Mile Canyon. Don't let the name fool you especially since I kind of just mentioned that it is forty miles long so don't forget to bring a lunch and leave early because this trip will take you all day. In this canyon you will be able to get up close and personal with thousands of petroglyphs (nearly 10,000 individual petroglyphs from what my research has turned up.) In case you don't know what petroglyphs are, here is a photograph. Okay, basically
they are ancient carvings in rock but
the fact that they were carved by people (the Freemont and Ute Indians) hundreds of years ago is pretty cool. Rock art like these can be found all over the state of Utah but there isn't another place around with a concentration of them like there is in this canyon. There are over 1,000 documented sites and more are being discovered each year. Some of their locations haven't even been shared with the public yet. With so many sites to visit it's no wonder this place is called "the world's longest art gallery."
  If you have a pair of binoculars or a spotting scope you will have an opportunity to see some old ruins built during the same time period. We found one of these to be a little difficult to find but once you see them you'll be glad you did. They look like a stack of rocks but it's still neat to think of how long they have stood. I doubt any of the homes we live in today will stand for 800 years. Along with the ruins and the petroglyphs you will also find some pictographs. Pictographs? What are those? Oh, they are painted version of petroglyphs but even more fragile due to the fact that they were created by using dye made from plants.
  The road had been unpaved until a few years ago when a deal was reached with the Bill Barrett Corporation that primarily uses the road to access their natural gas mine deep in the canyon. The company actually had the road paved to keep down the dust that large trucks kicked up as they came and went that was found to be damaging the rock art. So you can thank them for the easy drive you will experience especially if it's raining as it did on the day that we visited.
  Speaking of the road. The road through the canyon was originally built in 1886 by the 9th Cavalry Regiment to connect the city of Price north to Fort Duchesne. This was an African American regiment and the soldiers were referred to  as Buffalo Soldiers. These fellas were mainly the security of the western part of the country defending settlers from Indian attacks, Mexican encroachment, and your basic criminal elements. Early on the Mormon settlers were afraid of these soldiers but soon grew to love and appreciate their efforts. The 9th Cavalry Regiment is still around today and their history is worth reading about.

The Great Hunt Panel
 Cottonwood Glenn is the only picnic site in the area and has a pavilion and toilets for your use. A small cabin and some smaller structures located here hint at the farming history of the canyon. There is also a commercial campground in the canyon at Nine Mile Ranch which has camp sites and cabins if you'd like to stay in the canyon a bit longer.
  Whew! There's so much to mention about this canyon but I don't need to bore you with my ramblings about it. You should just go visit yourself. So what do you need to get the most out of your visit. First make sure you bring along a lunch and your own water. Once you enter the canyon you are on your own. Second, because you are on your own make sure to top off your gas tank at the gas station where you will turning to enter the canyon. It's a nice place. We stop there every time we head to Moab to stretch our legs and grab a snack. Grab a set of binoculars and your best camera. You can walk up to many of  the petroglyphs but some will have to be viewed with some type of magnification. And don't forget to dress for the weather. Yes it's the desert so it can be hot in the summer but take it from me you can find yourself in a cool, wet storm in a hurry. Be prepared. 
  Okay, now you know that you can walk/drive through 1,000 years of history and actually see it. Ancient writings, historic roads, old farms and modern mining await your visit. You also know what you should take with you so I guess you need to know how to get there. From Price, Utah you will take Highway 6/191 west to Wellington. Once in Wellington you'll be looking for the Chevron station (it used to be called Walker's but it now has a new name. There is a sign in the parking lot that talks about the canyon. Take Soldier Creek Road north into the canyon. You can explore and come back the way you came or you can take the road all the way to Myton and head to Salt Lake from there. 
  Well there it is, Nine Mile Canyon. I'm sure I didn't do this place justice. It really is a neat place to visit and not nearly as boring as this narrative makes it out to be (although it is quiet.) If you get the opportunity I encourage you to visit this location I don't think you'll regret it. See you on Friday!


Thursday, December 10, 2015

Yeah, I'll Find My Own Way

  The line folds back over itself like a maze found on a child's menu at the local restaurant. The woman just ahead is wearing enough perfume to mask the stench of the Cleveland Brown's locker room and the small child that has been hanging on my pant leg for the last thirty minutes doesn't even belong to me. We haven't reached the point that they make you take off your shoes and half the people in the line have already misplaced their boarding pass (yep, the one they picked up just before walking the thirty feet over to this security line.) Ah, the joy of air travel.
  I hate flying. I believe that in the last fifteen years no one has ever gotten to their destination and said, "Gosh that was an enjoyable experience." Yet we do it. It's a necessary evil for those of us that really travel and for some poor souls it's a daily occurrence due to their employment. Yikes. But with only so much vacation time we try to make the most of it so a plane wisps us away across the country to the vacation spots we've spent the last year dreaming about. But have you ever wondered what you miss by skipping so much of the journey? Maybe you should try something a little different.
  Most of you will call me crazy and that's understandable. What I'm about to propose is, in a way, crazy in this day and age. I'll preface it by saying that this form of travel is not for everyone but it is tailor made for those looking to see a little bit more of their world.
  Picture this. You, your spouse and your children, suitcases in tow, loaded into the family car. Yup, there it is. I can hear you already. "But that sounds worse than getting on the plane," you say. Well maybe but think about this. Not too long ago that's how people had to go on vacation and they looked forward to it. Roads were even built across the country for it (looking at you Route 66.) People actually wanted to spend time together and to see the sites that America has to offer. For years my family would hop onto an airplane to fly to southern California to visit Mickey and friends. This is a relatively short flight from Salt Lake City but let me tell you, a lot of crap can happen on a plane in an hour and forty five minutes. Crying babies, suckers being tossed nine rows back and soda spills are just a few of the joys I've experienced.
  "But Brandan, these things happen in a car too." Yes they do. However, in a car I can stop at any time and deal with these issues at my leisure. I can stretch my legs, sing to my favorite songs, smack the child kicking my seat and eat a decent meal at the greasy spoon of my choice. All of this was made possible when it became cheaper to drive places rather than fly. It opened my eyes to how my traveling should be done. I haven't flown to California in over eight years and I don't plan on it any time soon. Why? Because I found discovery on the open road. I've now seen the world's largest thermometer. I've visited a ghost town (Calico, CA) and we even stopped at a killer Greek place in the middle of the desert. Here in Utah you can take a three day road trip and hit five, yes five national parks if you want to rush (though I recommend taking your time.)
  Okay, okay. I'm rambling right now. The point I'm trying to make is that there are times that we should hit the open with our loved ones and actually "see" what's around us. The conversations your family has and the places you'll visit will leave lasting impressions on all of you. Later you'll look back on that time you dropped $20 a head to walk through a run down "House of Mystery" as a positive experience rather than a waste of hard earned cash you could have spent in the casino while the children slept in the room. You'll never know what you can find out there if you don't go looking. An example of that is a little place known as Nine Mile Canyon which I'll write a trip review on next week.
  I'll end up on a plane soon. It's inevitable. But my favorite way to explore may always be with my own four wheels. There's millions of miles of roads out there and I've barely scratched the surface. Maybe someday we'll meet up someplace in this large world. If we do our stories about how we arrived will likely be very different but in the end it doesn't matter because hell, we aren't at home sitting on the couch.


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Favorites

  Maybe you enjoy the beach. The sun's glow warming your skin and the sand between the toes is more relaxing than any other experience you've had. Perhaps the crisp, clean air during an early morning hike through dense pine trees is more to your liking. Whatever it is you like to do I'm sure that you have a location where you prefer to do your chosen activity more than anywhere else. Maybe you would call this place your favorite or at least one of your favorite places to visit. Of course if your like me you have multiple favorite places and it becomes difficult to choose where you want to spend your time or maybe your problem is that your favorite place and activity isn't the same as your spouse's favorite place (that can be a problem and your on your own on that one.) But there is something that you both agree upon about your favorite places or you wouldn't be going there (at least not together.)
  Every place I travel there is something that I love about the trip and of course there is always something that I hate about it too. But we're not here to talk about the negative so let's talk about the fun stuff. As we are all getting to know each other during these early posts I think it would be good for me to throw out a few of our favorite locations to visit if nothing more than to help familiarize you with some of the places you will read about on our blog. Please note that this is just a few of the places that we enjoy and that the list will continue to grow as time goes on.

Yellowstone National Park

 I don't think there is a more raw and scenic place than Yellowstone. With beautiful forests and ever changing landscapes YNP never ceases to amaze me. I truly can't seem to visit this place enough. It's the first and in my opinion the best national park I've been to.
 Moab, Utah

There isn't another place around that I've visited more than Moab. I learned to drive on the hundreds of miles of dirt roads surrounding the town and enjoyed it's spectacular red rock landscapes that were sculpted over millions of years of erosion. Here the Colorado River cuts it's way through the canyons traveling south to the Grand Canyon. If the drive into town isn't scenic enough then you need to visit Arches National Park and Canyonlands  National Park. Yup they have two parks on their doorstep.

Disneyland, Anaheim, CA

This one's for the kiddies (or the kid inside at least.) My wife and kids love Disneyland. I don't mind it either but standing in line isn't my strong suit. But as far as entertaining the masses no one does it better than Disney. From California Adventure's thrill rides to the easy going boat ride that is Disneyland's Pirates of the Caribbean there is a ride for everyone (and probably a t-shirt too.) It really is magical place if you let it be. 

  These are just a few of the places that we frequent. There are way to many to put into one blog post but if I did then this wouldn't be much of a travel blog would it? What are some of your favorite places to visit? Let us know in the comments or on social media. I'm always looking for a good place to go especially if they are off the beaten path. 
  Come back on Friday as I talk about how we prepare to travel to these places and what our favorite ways to get to a location. 


Friday, December 4, 2015

What is an Adventure?

  The sun crept behind the distant horizon. Sally had ran out of time. The thick foliage made running difficult and the scrapes on her knees burned with each step she forced herself to take. She wondered if this was even the right direction because no matter where she looked branches filled with dying leaves filled her view. But she couldn't stop. They were still out there. The next step she took found a fallen branch that snapped under her weight.
  "Gothca!" a voice said from the shadows.
  "No!" Sally said. Noise didn't matter anymore. She ran as fast as she could propel herself. Branches scratched at her face and arms but she pushed through the pain. She heard footsteps behind her and they were gaining on her. She saw a light come on in the distance. A light that seemed to be a beacon of hope and she found a surge of relief. She was going to make it.
  "Mom!" Sally said bursting through the trees and cutting across the lawn. The footsteps ceased to follow when she reached the tree line. Her two older brothers watched from the darkness like two predators that had let their meal slip through their claws.

  So, what does that have to do with anything you ask? Everything. It is intended to allow you think about what adventure is. A child has multiple adventures each day. Whether it's because they are using their imaginations or because they are experiencing something new. To them it's all the same and it's fun. Hopefully you were sucked into Sally's adventure for a moment as you wondered who she was running from and why. Maybe you were let down to find out Sally was a child. Maybe you were relieved. I'll never know but it was fun. To be fair the scenario I've written here was only fun to two of the three but I guarantee that little sis had just as much fun as the punishments were enforced later that night. That's just part of the game.
   Adventure is built into our DNA. We need it. Without it the new world would never have been discovered (okay bad example but you know what I mean.) Lewis and Clark wouldn't have explored the country, Armstrong would have always wondered what it would have been like to walk on the moon and you would never have gotten that date to prom. Does this mean that an adventure has to be perilous? No. It can be anything as long as you are on the path to discovery. Taking in the countless artifacts in a museum can spark your inner Indiana Jones. Hiking a well worn trail you've never traversed may be old to some but it's new to you. There are no limits. Make your adventures as perilous or as easy going as you'd like and like a child, use your imagination. An adventure is whatever you do that get's you away from the everyday and makes you happy.
  I've read the definition of adventure according to Webster and he did a pretty good job. He makes it sound exciting. He makes if sound fun. It sounds like something that would make a kid happy and I don't know about you but most of the kids I've seen are a lot happier than me. If you can relate to that than you my friend need to get out more. So enough of this. Let's go discover something new. Let's go find our own definition of adventure.

Next week we'll explore some of my favorite places to visit and how I get there. Stay safe.


Tuesday, December 1, 2015


  Welcome to Route to Adventure. We're happy you found us. A few of you have been with us since our days as AWOLAdventures.com our first little attempt into the world of online travel. Unfortunately the format made it difficult to use and almost impossible to update on the road. This coupled with the fact that there were a lot of different groups using the name AWOL Adventures helped us stay in obscurity I think. This led us to change things up a bit and start over and make things better. Under the blog format we can bring more adventures to you from anywhere which I think is the most exciting prospect of the change. We will miss you AWOL but this is for the better.
  Okay enough of that, here is what I want to tell you.  In this blog we want to take you along on all of our adventures, whatever they may be. To me anything can be an adventure. If it's exciting, you're learning something new, and you aren't sitting on your couch then you are having an adventure (no you don't need to be in peril to have an adventure but that does make for better stories.)  You will see a lot from the state of Utah since that's where we're based but we also have plans to go beyond Utah's borders to explore other regions of the US and sometimes even the world.
  2016 is looking like a big year for us with trips planned for: Easter Jeep Safari, Moab, Utah. The Rubicon Trail in California. The Paiute ATV trail system, Utah and so much more.
  So here's how we'll start. We're planning on posting twice a week. Tuesday's and Friday's will be those days and will vary in stories depending on what's going on in our travel's and whatever is on our minds. This time we have expanded the formats that we will be working with making it easier for you to follow us and get it touch with us. You can follow us on Twitter @Route2Adventure, Facebook, and Instagram right now if you haven't already but what I personally am the most excited for is that you will be able to view us on YouTube. Yes we will take video of our adventures and put together some interesting videos for your viewing pleasure. Video is something I played with years ago and couldn't really do anything with it other than fun (boring) home videos. With today's technology and outlets it is now possible to provide you with fun (not boring) informative video to show you locations that you may not have known about and more importantly to inspire you to go out and find your own adventures.
  We are excited for the future and are ecstatic to be taking you along with us. We hope you'll be patient as we explore this new format. We'll give you the best stories we can write, it just may not be pretty at first. Thank you and we'll see you on the route to adventure.

Brandan Rowley