During the last week of my Appalachian Trail Thru-hike, it occurred to me I had spent quite a bit more time with millions of trees and very few people on-trail, then the other way around.

Back to Society

Considering I was due to be in Las Vegas in less than 2 weeks for a wellness convention, the prospect of hopping on a plane and dealing with airports and cramped quarters inside a fuselage was very unappealing.

In that moment, I decided that I was going to drive from New Jersey to Las Vegas instead of flying. After being home for 36 hours from my Thru-hike, I was done being inside. I threw my mountain bike backpack and tent into the back of my Audi station wagon and off I went back to nature!

The Recon Trip

I had also determined on my hike there was a high probability I would relocate to Utah, Colorado, or Wyoming. So, I decided to make it a recon trip, while also decompressing and re-assimilating back into society.

I camped all the way out there, with the exception of one night where I opted for the Best Western in Park City, as I had popped my air mattress (on my bike brake lever) when stuffing it back in the car earlier that day.

No worries, I ordered a new air mattress and had it shipped to Vegas so I could camp all the way home.

Of Course I Stayed at Mom’s House

I did stay one night at mom’s when I visited her in Michigan along the way.

The Adventures I Had

Some of my adventures on the journey included mountain biking outside of Omaha Nebraska (feeling quite spazzie, after having not ridden my bike for 9 months) and hiking in lamb Canyon outside of Park City.

I  also mountain-biked in Wyoming near Laramie, and stayed one night in a state park in Iowa (wasn’t there long enough to appreciate the lake-front tent site)…

Then had a nice stay at the Venetian in Vegas.

Talk about extremes… lol!

On The Road Again

After my conference, I drove to Hurricane Utah to ride the Gem trail system, before driving to central Utah and camping in a town park.

The next morning I drove through the Canyonlands and then pulled into Moab for some stealth camping and an awesome mountain bike ride the next morning.

I checked out Arches National Park, then explored downtown Moab until I found an epic brunch. Next, off to Fruita, Colorado I went.

I spent the night on a very sloped tent spot alongside of a roaring Brook, right near Vail.

Woke up (unrefreshed) next morning and drove to Boulder, so that I could explore the area where my daughter was going to school in the fall, and I even made some new friends there.

I Stopped for a massage south of Fort Collins and then drove through the night all the way to Lincoln, Nebraska.

No Sleeping Allowed Sir

I thought I had found a quiet place to pitch my tent at 3am and had just fallen asleep when I was promptly rousted by one of Lincoln’s finest who decided that at 4:30 in the morning, I should not be camping in the arboretum… most unfortunate! I was tired!

Driving For Sleep

Back up again, I proceeded to drive for another 4 hours into Iowa, and then I pitched my hammock under a picnic enclosure at a roadside rest stop.

It’s Just My Beard

I woke up a couple hours later to a friendly bearded employee asking me if I was hitching, not all that surprising given I looked about as ratty as he did with my 6 months of beard.

I pointed to my Audi and we both laughed.

Good Times

From there I made a push to my mother’s and nephews up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, spent a wonderful 18 hours with them and then the next day set off for the home stretch back to NJ… hard to think of 9 hours as the home stretch, but it’s all relative!