My Heart In The West A road trip story

March 19th, 2016

Oklahoma City KOA Camp

Day 1

I woke up at 4:00 am at Dustin's for the large journey ahead. A slight rain greeted us before we left but we were quickly on our way. After catching up on some sleep and getting gas, I started my portion of the stove when we left St. Louis. We made a quick stop at Missouri's largest waterfall and did some late night bouldering outside of Tulsa. After a little more driving, we ended our drive in Oklahoma City's KOA Camp and set up in complete darkness.

22 hours awake

Joplin, Missouri | Grand Falls

March 20th, 2016

Santa Fe National Forest

Day 2

After being up for 22 hours, sleeping till 10:00 felt great. Ethan drive to our first gas stop right when we crossed into Texas. I drove the rest of the way. We made a big stop in Amarillo for clothes, supplies and authentic Tex/Mex food. We were also able to stop and see Cadillac Ranch which we absolutely beautiful. The sun fell as we entered New Mexico and we saw the silhouettes of the mountains as we passed through Santa Fe. We then began to wind upwards through the mountains to eventually reach our campsite yet again in the pitch blackness of night. One surprise that no one saw coming was that because of the altitude, there was snow on the ground. I set up my tent and went right to bed as i was eager to see what surroundings I would wake up to.

14 hours awake

Amarillo, Texas | Cadillac Ranch

March 21st, 2016

Santa Fe National Forest

Day 3

Day 3 was spent entirely in New Mexico. What a relief it was to not have to pack up camp immediately. I was the first to wake up so I decided to go on a small hike. After climbing up the side of a mountain, I found a very rewarding view. I returned to find almost everyone up and making breakfast. We soon left for the Valles Caldera. It was a million year old super volcano which erupted and left a great plain surrounded by mountains in its wake. We hiked around a portion of it and had lunch in the center. We left around 4:30 and ended up stumbling on a beautiful waterfall and river near the side of the road. Next stop was to take a dip in a nearby hot spring. After our relaxing swim, we drove back to our site in the dark again. It was a bittersweet moment coming back to rest after a long day but knowing it was our last night in New Mexico. I will miss this place, but I am excited for what's to come.

16 hours awake

Santa Fe, New Mexico | Santa Fe National Forest

Santa Fe, New Mexico | Valles Caldera

Santa Fe, New Mexico | Unknown

March 22nd, 2016

Comfort Inn: Gunnison, Colorado

Day 4

Again I was the first awake but today my hike was much less memorable. Everyone else got up early too but by that time I was already packed up. I showed the group I spot I found the previous day and then we left for downtown Santa Fe. We ended up in the art district of the city which was beautiful. I found some vintage western style clothes and we all had some fantastic food. After that short break we got on the road for Colorado. It was a short trip with not much to see until it was too dark to make anything out. I am now writing this on the floor of a hotel room fit for four people but all eight of us and our gear are in here. I am extremely nervous about the trek up the mountain tomorrow.

17 hours awake

Colorado / New Mexico | Colorado / New Mexico Border

March 23rd, 2016

Grand Canyon Village KOA

Day 5

Today was the first day of the big hike up the mountain. We woke up around 6:00 and were totally ready and driving to the base by 9:00. We were about halfway to the mountain when we decided that the weather conditions were just too bad to risk going up. We decided to turn around a head back to Gunnison. This is when my car came up with a very far fetched play of going to the Grand Canyon. We got the other car to pull over, told them our crazy idea and they loved it! So yet again, the majority of our day was spent in the car but we were hoping it'll all be worth it. But we made it to Arizona and I am so excited to hike down tomorrow.

17 hours awake

Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah | The Four Corners

March 24th, 2016

Grand Canyon National Park

Day 6

After another brutally long drive, we made it to Arizona. We woke up early to made the most of this place. I was totally in awe at the surreal size of it. It is ineffable. Words cannot describe it, pictures cannot show it. Your eyes can barely comprehend that it isn't just a picture. I feel so blessed that I was able to see this wonder of the world and was able to walk down into it. I wish we could've gone deeper but I know we were stressed for time. I am now writing this on public land outside of the Grand Canyon and our plans for the next two days are still very much up in the air. Whatever it may be, I'm sure I will enjoy it.

16 hours awake

Arizona | Grand Canyon

Arizona | Grand Canyon

March 25th, 2016


Day 7

Today was spent at camp. Just relaxing and in no hurry. But we all knew that our next drive would be through the night. Rotating between 4 drivers gives you plenty of time before your next shift. That's if you can sleep. We plan on taking I-40 intro Memphis and then spending some time there until we start to head north. This trip has been truly amazing but the drive has taken a tole on me. It has been the way we all move from each amazing place to the next but it's starting to feel like a prison.

26 hours awake

Flagstaff, Arizona | Kaibab National Forest

March 26th, 2016


Day 8

My life is a highway, and I want to get off of it. I have been in this car for far too long. I am going crazy..."All work and no play makes Austin and dull boy." We are heading to Tennessee now to climb. That will be a nice break until our final drive home. Unless I go insane before we get there.

36 hours awake

Shady Grove, Tennessee | Obed

March 27th, 2016

University Of Cincinnati

Day 9

At this point I'm not sure where which day ended and where which one began. All I know is that after climbing, that was it. Sarah offered to drive home but after awhile she said she couldn't do it anymore. That final drive home was brutal. I had to force myself to stay awake and I was in constant fear that I would kill everyone in my car. But time passed and I soon saw signs for Cincinnati. This trip truly opened my eyes to where I belong in the world. Ohio is a beautiful state but I never felt so at home and at peace while I was out west. I plan on returning soon and I hopefully will end up living out there. This was probably the greatest trip I've ever been on and I am so thankful that I was able to be a part of it.

40 hours awake

- end of trip -


I truly believe that everyone should get out there and see the world. You'll never find a place for you unless you look for it.

Created By
Austin Vesely

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