Alright world! Its January 28, 2017 and James here is itching for some adventure! Its basically been a full month of indulgences: seeing great people, singing memorable songs, eating the tastiest of treats, sleeping more than any man, woman or child should! Needless to say I’m well rested and quite energized and ready for some real road time.
So quick updates…
I bought a mini van. It’s a 2005 Toyota Sienna mini van and its stocked up with a new bed, all my gear, and a few extra sweet perks. The van was sold to me by the gracious Ray Smead who went out and bought a 2006 Sienna with half the miles on it the day after he sold me his 05’. Guess it goes to show the van is a badass way to go. So far it has seen me through from Boulder to Salt Lake City. And from Salt Lake to Mancos, Colorado where my older sister Alys lives. Currently I am posted up in Mancos and setting up a bit of a home base where I can plan and organize from.
It’s good to know that the van that I bought is in fact deer resistant up to at least one impact, seeing as it struck one poor ungulate a few years back and still manages just fine.
It’s large enough to accommodate both me and at least one guest. I’m sure we could stuff a few more in beside though.
It gets better overall gas mileage than my Subaru did.
It has an unreal turning radius.
I can change into whatever gear I need to comfortably in the back space.
It’s strangely kinda has a cool counter culture vibe to it. Dirt bag lifestyle in a soccer mom rig. (who’da thought?)
It carries a kayak. ( I picked up a kayak, thanks Ed.)
It can accommodate my bike rack. (Thanks u-haul.)
It can double as a party van. (Shout out to my new friends in SLC Isabella and Maya. Isabella has one eye by the way, bumping her to the top 10 coolest people that I know. (I’ll let you all speculate whether or not you’ve been bumped off the list, but considering the eye thing is a selling point, Peter LaBlanc you’re still firmly in.))
So the snowboarding gear got organized today, starting tomorrow, Monday the 30th, I will begin some scouting hikes in order to find some backcountry lines in the area. I’ve been doing a little bit of reading and have a few really great starting places. Might as well enjoy the snow while I have it! Chicken Creek is my first pick for tomorrow.
So far from my rather slow start to this trip the one thing I’m learning is that I really don’t need a lot to be happy. Just a few good people, who you can literally meet anywhere, some ambition, a weird amount of motivation, coffee, and a van. Clothes and gear are cool and make things easier but just not really 100% necessary to living a great life. i.e. spend more time naked.
Here is a few pictures of the van cause why the fuck not…
Alright so totaling my Subaru Forester has turned out to be one of the biggest pains I’ve dealt with in a while, but it also happens to be a blessing is disguise. The Forester was a totally rock’in car, but because I wrecked it I got an even better ride and a couple extra bucks for the road…
Right after hitting a deer with great velocity and splattering the poor animal all over I-80, I was hell bent on getting my Subaru repaired and back on the road, well after the news came back that it was totaled I was a wee bit upset. The forester represented to me a massive financial investment in addition to symbolizing a freedom I’d only come to know while having a car. With the Subaru I had the ability to travel anywhere, do anything. I could adventure far and wide explore new places, meet new people, gain a larger appreciation for the world, specifically the natural world around me.
The Subaru spawned and facilitated a variety of adventures from: road tripping, and tripping booms in the northern forests of Arizona outside of Prescott. On this trip I also brought my two bikes and did some excellent trail rides in addition to riding a pretty badass BMX track in Durango, Colorado. That trip was just around 1,700 miles total. I had numerous ventures just north of Boulder to a place called Vedauwoo just south of Laramie, WY. Here I’d scramble giant boulders, cook bacon, and sleep under an amazing array of stars. It was also here that I’d have one of the sketchier moments of 2015.
It was early February in 2015 and myself, Tyson White, and Zewek Kilonoski drove about two hours to Vedauwoo to go shooting. It was still winter and we knew the area had recently been snowed on so we decided to take Zewek’s Jeep Patriot. The drive up was quick and painless, the sky was mostly overcast making the day feel colder than it was. We arrived at Vedauwoo right around 11:30 in the morning to find that most of the back woods 4×4 trails were covered by deep snowdrifts. Well being the arrogant asses that we are, we decided to push on to a back corner of the recreation area. Within about 300 yards of leaving pavement we got stuck. We had no shovels, no real snow gear, and no change of or back up clothing. Naturally we dug ourselves out with our hands and continued on our way, because why turn back? The time was just approaching 1:00pm. We finally snaked our way through a maze of snow drifts frozen puddles to our own personal shooting range. It was here we let hell loose for a few minutes and had an absolute blast, blasting clay pigeons and other assorted items. 3:00pm approached and we began to realize that if we did not head back soon we’d be driving back to the main road in the dark and avoiding the drifts had been hard enough in the light of day. So promptly turning back toward paved roads our misfortune started. Gunning the Jeep through small drifts was not only easy but fun, the issue with something like this though is that it builds confidence. Zewek, who was behind the wheel, gunned it into a drift that we had driven through on our way to shoot earlier that day, not only did we not make it through the drift, but it also became perfectly apparent that we would not be digging ourselves out of this one. Even if we had had shovels. The car was buried up past the front axle with some snow covering the hood the vehicle. We immediately knew that we were in trouble. Each of us jumped into emergency mode, first and foremost calling and notifying a few of our friends of our location, as well as our current situation and status. One of the people we called happened to be my boss at the time a fellow by the name of John Ryan. John had survived around four nights in the backcountry of Keystone after getting lost while skiing out of bounds, John’s story is impressive but should be told by him. When John heard of our situation he kind of gave us one of those laugh snorts, where it was clear he was thinking, “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me?!” John gave us a few short words of inspiration and told us not to worry then proceeded to tell us that he could not come get us, disappointment. But understandable the guy has a kid. So we called around for a few more minutes trying to raise on of our friends from nearby Fort Collins, Colorado but alas no luck. Realizing that staying with Jeep was not really an option as we had no food, no water, no warmer clothes we decided to walk out to the freeway to try for a ride and maintain better cell service. As soon as we conceived the plan of hitching a ride we had to veto it, realizing that we were three grown men carrying five guns, no stranger would pick us up. We walked to the freeway anyway hoping to run into someone with a better 4×4 vehicle who might be willing to pull us out.
The three of us trying to find another truck to pull us out of the snow bank.
On the way in we had seen around five or six other cars each of which was either a jeep or larger burly looking truck. None of these cars remained. In fact walking three miles back towards the road in the snow in our tennis shoes we didn’t see a single other person. Just the headlights of the cars on the freeway heading back towards Cheyanne. It was around 6pm when we finally got ahold of one of our friends, Parry, who agreed to come and get us, only issue was, she was over 4 hours away. After the relief of knowing we had a way out of our situation, we began the waiting game. We continued our trek to the freeway posting up in the tunnel that cut under the road. It was here we waited and fantasied about a heater for just around five and a half hours. Right around 11pm that night Parry found us shivering, but otherwise just fine, minus the fact that we were leaving Zewek’s jeep in the middle of nowhere. Focusing on getting home and warming up we but the loss of the jeep out of our mind temporarily. It wasn’t until four cups of coffee and one amazing nights sleep later when wheels started turning to recover the entrenched jeep.
Making a few phone calls I was able to arrange to borrow a Toyota 4Runner from an old friend of mine the next Saturday and just like that Zewek and I were head north again this time to retrieve his car. Upon arriving in Vedauwoo we immediately noticed the reduced amount of snow coverage and grew suddenly more optimistic about or recovery mission. That was until we saw that the jeep was still very much so stuck. The warmth from the sun heating up the metal of the car, radiating out it made the snow around the jeep melt and allowed the jeep to sink deeper into the drift. On top of that the temperatures were still dropping well below freezing at night and so the jeep was now trapped in a frozen drift of ice. Somehow still feeling optimistic, we proceeded to begin cracking and breaking the icy ring entombing the jeep. After removing a sizeable swath from in front of the jeep we hooked up a tow strap to the chassis of the jeep and to the tow point of the 4Runner and slowly started to pull the jeep out, or so we thought. The tow strap we were using snapped. The end of the strap whipped forward and through the open hatch of the 4Runner smacking the headrest of the driver’s seat four inches ways from my face. The jeep had moved less than an inch. Our hopes were immediately dashed. We could probably have dug the vehicle out entirely by hand but that was not something we really wanted to do. And just at our lowest moment, a few rednecks mobbed by us on a variety pack of 4×4 toys. Seeing the jeep in such a deep hole the group of four decide to stop and help us out. Pulling out their own tow straps, and helping to shovel an even wider path in front of the jeep we tried again to pull the jeep from its frozen grave. This time to wild success. Every time I go back to Vedauwoo I think of this story, and every time I have a car adventure I remember to pack the right gear to get myself out of any hole, whether figurative or literal.
So that was a bit of a tangent as this is supposed to be more of a eulogy for the Forester… so I’ll carry on my reminiscing. The Subaru got me to Salt Lake City and Durango on more than one occasion.
It traveled to Moab about three times. It carried bikes, climbing gear, and often times found itself topped with a canoe for water adventures on the reservoirs of the Front Range. The back of the Forester became a home away from home, a place I’d often sleep if the weather or road conditions became to extreme while driving I-70 to Summit county. The forester pulled itself up rocky embankments on the Switzerland Trail, and crawled down slick rock outside of Escalante. It brought me safely home for just over two years. Then I exploded a deer with it. What a way to end an era.
But the era of adventures and life on the road is merely beginning. A dear friend of mine just sold me his 2005 Toyota Sienna minivan, helped me build a bed, and restored my dream of being on the road for the next few months.
My names James Hansen and the next time you hear from me this sucker should be packed and ready to roll!
One interesting experience after another. I guess that’s why they say make big choices on an empty stomach. Over the last 24 hours I’ve had one of the most annoying, inconvenient and rather hilarious experiences I’ve ever had while trying to fly. But allow me to back track ever so slightly in order to properly bring you up to speed.
Christmas Eve 2016 I hit a deer.
Christmas Day drunk in a hotel.
New Years Eve I stayed in for the first time in 5 years. (Been bartending the last 5)
Three dentist appointments.
One visit to the ocularist, the guy who made my eye.
Four breakfasts out on the town.
A few late nights.
Insurance company issues.
A check from the insurance company.
No fucking luck.
Raymo (Basically my grandpa) calls to say he’ll sell me his van.
Bought a ticket back to Denver.
Issue after issue arises with the flight making for a comedy of errors.
So what has actually happened here? Well on January 6th a bought an airline ticket through a third party reservation system called CheapoAir, they have lived up to their name. It has been mess. My flight which was originally scheduled for take off at 5:05pm on Monday, January 12th was canceled due to weather conditions here in Moab, Utah where I’m typing this silly little piece. Normal enough, flights get canceled all the time. So I head home and try to reschedule my flight. However, not a single person with CheapoAir can help me reschedule my flight. After about the first 45 minutes of calling, “Customer Service Professionals”, their words not mine, and getting placed on hold for over two hours, I decided to call the airline itself. Which after cutting some red tape and arguing for an additional 30min was more than accommodating.
But now I’m stuck in Moab. As of Monday night I was able to get my flight changed to 2pm the following day, today which is Tuesday. The plane took off on time, one small pit stop in Moab and then on to Denver right? Wrong. The flight that I had been rescheduled for was a round trip Salt Lake to Moab and back to Salt Lake, just not even remotely close to what I needed. After about another 30min of jumping hoops, some of which were on fire I might add, I had a spot secured on a PC-12 aircraft
at 6:15 from Moab to Denver. That means I only have three more hours in Moab, I can work with that.
Three hours and thirty minutes later…
The plane that was supposed to be back 30minutes ago never made it back. I doubt that it has even taken off from SLC airport. Which means I’m stuck in Moab for the night. I’m not sure what I’m gonna do yet. Might call Kari (a friend of mine I think still lives here), might just check into a hotel and post up for the night until a plane can make it here to get me to Denver. Kinda an unreal amount of bull shit if I’m gonna be honest. I should have gotten back on the plane to SLC and bought a flight from Southwest or some larger company. To say the least flying with a small airliner like Boutique is kinda fun, but so not worth the hours of waiting about I’ve had to do. It kinda feels like that movie where the guy gets stuck in the airport terminal for a few weeks and he just lives outta the terminal for a while. That being said, my terminal is a series of hangers, some shady looking tarmac, a few disgruntled old pilots, and a exceptionally loud Coke machine. I’m not spending the night here, or shaving in the sink, but the idea is still amusing. Its super quiet here, no one is behind any of the work desks, the one attendant has kept himself in his office, I’m pretty sure he is annoyed as fuck with me for whatever reason. The little gift shop for RedTail Air Adventures is the only thing lit up by the river of fluorescent light that moves in a straight line over the ceiling. Well that and the god damn Coke machine. Really I’m not sure if my flights been called off yet, I’m just assuming as much because it’s 30 minutes past when it was supposed to land. That being said every sound I hear I expect to be the annoyed clerk coming to tell me to find a hotel for the night. Load of bullshit. What a couple of days its been flying with this company.
First radio chatter I’ve heard in a long time, no news of my flight though. Still just posted up typing to save my mind from wandering. It’s amazing how quickly one gets annoyed, anxious, and angry when things don’t happen as efficiently as we are used to them happening in our modern society. So far, this trip I’d say the most important thing I am learning is patients. When I hit the deer, I was pissed because it was changing my plans, when this flight mess started I was upset because again it’s adversely affecting my plans. That being said I have no real reason to be upset. I’m alive and well. I have money enough to deal with my situation. I am stuck in one of my all time favorite places, I have friends here, I am currently warm and dry. I am annoyed that I am not back in Boulder with Tyson, or back in SLC, with my fa
mily. But I am also far from actually upset. I guess its all part of adventuring. The small aircraft thing though, that’s an immediate correction to my agenda next time. Never again. They just can’t fly through shit weather. Which is something that actually bothers the piss outta me.
I think the reason the annoyed clerk hasn’t come to give me any details about the plane is he doesn’t want to give me the news that I am not gonna make it to Denver tonight. Which is honestly just fine with me. But I would like to start setting up other accommodations for myself.
We will see what happens. Gonna check out on a movie for a minute. Oh shit… I hear a prop plane. Sounds like my flight just landed! All that ranting for not. Let me see if I make it to Denver now…. Fingers crossed. This is James signing off!
One day later…
Heyyyyoooo! I’m back in Boulder! Tyson snagged me from DIA last night and after all my fretting. That being said it is really great to be back in Boulder. So big news of the day, I bought a 2005 Toyota Sienna mini van! Retrofitted with a bed, removed the seats, this thing is gonna be one hell of a home for the next few months! I’m pretty stoked to get back on the road, but depending on weather I’ll probably end up staying in Boulder till after the weekend. Alright well, I’ve got a beer to finish and a dog to scratch behind the ears…