• Dennis O'Heney

Across the Country and Back in a Weekend

Did anyone say road trip??

This is a trip that I have been wanting to take for the better part of two years now. It involved driving across the country, from New Jersey to Utah, and back over the course of a three-day weekend in order to get one glorious day of unbridled glory climbing splitter cracks in the desert.

So to back up for a second here, I LOVE crack climbing. I also have this holier than holy view of Indian Creek, even though I've only been fortunate enough to climb there once. And to top those off, I really do like me a good old road trip. So bringing those three things together only seemed natural.

Final piece of background, we were hit by a Nor'easter that dumped about a foot of snow the night before we left, and rather than taking advantage of the fresh snow, we thought it'd be funny to just drive on off to the middle of the desert.

Now back to the story.

Having convinced my friends Ryan and Cody to commit to the roughly 60 hours of driving and 4,500 miles round trip, we all arranged to be out of work on Friday, officially hitting the road at about 7:30 pm on Thursday night. Ryan and I started things off, picking up Cody in the Harrisburg PA area about two and a half hours into the drive. So far so smooth.

So, i'm not gonna lie, even though I love a road trip, and have no real objections to driving, a large majority of this trip is now a blur... The net of things, though, is we had three people total, rotating between the key roles of driver, copilot, and designated sleeper. Having the bed in the back of the van has officially revolutionized road tripping for me, as you are no longer stuck trying to make due with that half slouched over position in the back seat where you wake up afterward and can't move your neck. But I digress...

I took the first big shift driving with Ryan continuing copiloting duties and Cody grabbing some shut eye in the back. We made great time through the rest of Pennsylvania, hitting a snow storm south of Pittsburgh and into Ohio, and moved right along into Indiana. I forget exactly where we switched up drivers, but it was however far two tanks of gas will get you . from Harrisburg, somewhere between 8 and 10 hours. Having slept for a while, Cody took the reins while Ryan continued copiloting and I went to pass out in the back. I was only able to get about an hour of sleep in, but it was a welcome opportunity to take a break from staring at the road. Not being able to fall asleep though, Ryan and I swapped out so he could rest up to take the next driving shift.

I won't go into detail about all the intricacies of timing shifts and rotations, but we generally rotated every-other tank of gas and made pretty good time. We pushed on through, only stopping when we needed to refill the tank, with the only exception being to pick up Ryan's girlfriend, Jordan, as we drove through Denver. We had her on the phone and slowed the van down to about 15 mph, opening the side door for her to hop in. We were planning on only dropping to 25 mph, but she did bring me a cup of coffee, so we gave her a little extra leeway. This was right about around the 24 hour mark (26 hours of total driving with time zone changes) and we continued west through the mountains and then eventually south toward Moab and finally Indian Creek.

We finally arrived at the Superbowl campground in Indian Creek around 2:00 am on Saturday morning, where we were greeted by the stars.

We ended up in an open bivy under the stars, figuring sleeping in the van on a night like this would be such a waste. That being said, Cody didn't bring a sleeping bag, so he slept in the van....

Now, I'm going to hit the highlights of our big day in the creek here, but then just follow with a photo montage, because there's no way to describe how incredible the creek is with words... So! High level items. We climbed at the Scarface area, sandstone is amazing, our friend Amanda drove down from Salt Lake City to join us for the day, and we only climbed three routes but they were pretty dope and we were tired... queue the photos!

And just like that, 17 hours after arriving at the Creek, we were departing Moab, starting our 32 hours back to the east coast. As hard as it was to leave, I had a very important meeting for work in New York City that I absolutely had to attend on Monday morning, so the clock had officially started. We generally cruised along pretty well, being a little more liberal about how often we stopped. We also hit another snow storm on the way back driving through Missouri, which adds a pretty cool dimension of having driven through snow to and from the desert.

Anyway, Ryan and I dropped Cody off back at his car, and I took the wheel for the final 2 and a half hours back to New Jersey. I dropped Ryan off back at his house and was able to swing by my parents house at 6:30 am for a shower before heading on to my meeting. All in all it was an incredible trip, and one that I'll be telling stories about for a while. And to answer the question that everyone's asked me: Yes. It certainly was all worth it.

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