It started out innocently, a road trip from San Francisco to a friend’s ranch in Colorado. Our jaunty vacation soon turned into a lesson on the wilds of country life. Turns out this Diva had forgotten quite a bit of her Girl Scout survival skills. More on that later.
Unaware of impending natural and human stupidity-caused disasters, our caravan pulled into Reno for a comfortable night’s stay at the Nugget.
On to Zermatt Hotel and Spa in Midway, Utah. One of the perks of arriving off-season is having the pool to yourself. Oh my, those heavenly hot tub jets mimicking the world’s best shoulder massage.
But the best part……
Leaving luxury behind, next stop Moab, Utah. Energized by a fantastic lunch at the Quesadilla Mobilla food truck, we decided to do a little touristing. Shopping score, a pair of $20 leather cowboy boots at Wabisabi Thrift Store. Thanks to our shopping high we were late, but pushed on to Mancos, Colorado.
Up the mountain we went, through the San Juan National Forest, along the decidedly not urban roads to the Double R Ranch.
The proprietor, Robert Urquhart, owns several unspoiled acres and decided to build a destination event space, complete with gourmet kitchen, party tent for 120 people, yurt, guest house, and a brand new lodge. It’s a great place to hold a wedding, family reunion or personal retreat, surrounded by Aspen trees and wide-open spaces.
During our tour of the lower 800 acres, we happened upon some renegade cows. Robert had us city slickers herding cattle! I still have the bruises. It wasn’t like the movies where you galloped on horseback, your trusty dog doing all the work.
Here we were on foot, facing down some pretty large stubborn animals. You have to get pretty close, wave your arms and yell. One by one the big cows stare you down and gratefully decide to move along.
FIVE STEPS TO A SUCCESSFUL ROAD TRIP
• Rent a four-wheeler with high ground clearance and good shocks.
If you are invited to stay at a rustic ranch, leave the compact city car at home.
Climbing the treacherous “roads” meant for pickups and ATVs, our unhappy box of tin suffered a broken ball joint on day one. That means dead car, a tow to the shop 30 miles away in Durango, (good, expensive shopping and restaurants), one week waiting for parts and four days arguing with the insurance company over a very expensive bill.
• Your best friends are now sunscreen, moisturizer, wide-brimmed hats, and water bottles.
Be grateful you bought those leather boots because your cute city sneakers and resort sandals are completely useless. Same goes for your cotton capris and fancy jewelry.
Get used to dust in the air and dirt on your clothes. Don’t even bother to fix your manicure or rescue your hair.
• Bring your cooler. No more lugging ice cubes, we found several coolers that plug into your car cigarette lighter. Here’s a link to Amazon: Wigan Personal Cooler/Warmer
Pack it high with water and healthy snacks, or suffer the nutritional wasteland of processed meats, fried everything, corn syrup, salt, and sugar-laden faux food.
RULES OF THE ROAD:
• Never let the gas tank dip below half-way.
Although it’s tempting to speed and drive 12 hours a day, it’s not worth the risk, or the rath of the local highway patrol. That pickup speeding along the curvy road is probably a local. You can’t worry about keeping up, the idiot tailgaters, or a friend’s text.
•Bring a couple comforts of home you’ll appreciate on the road, like a warm throw and fuzzy socks.
Besides your jeans, t-shirts, and hat, bring layers. It gets hot, it gets cold, so be prepared. Use laundry soap or shampoo to rinse out your undies. It never hurts to bring a cozy blanket. Now’s your chance to buy all those cute travel sized bottles of shampoo and conditioner, and that hello kitty toothbrush. Bring enough lady pads and an adequate supply of prescription meds.
Never hurts to throw in a first aid kit, roadside assistance card, drivers license, current plate tags, and insurance cards. Not that I ever needed them, (false), but those tiny metal ramps will free your back wheels from mud when you didn’t see that sinkhole. It was really dark. Bring enough cash, a couple credit cards for emergencies, and your passport should you decide to investigate Mexican or Canadian border crossings.
Juice up your cell phone and remember the charging cable.
Cell reception will be intermittent, and forget emails. Embrace text and WhatsApp.
Before you leave, download your favorite podcasts, books on tape and some music for when your radio turns to static.
Make sure the glove compartment holds a paper notebook, paper map, a pen, and a flashlight.