First running stop: the Snake River along Twin Falls, Idaho.

Roving through the snow

Jan. 6, 2019

If you'd rather click through the photos in a gallery, go here.

The Element was a little mad at us on New Year's. For the first time ever, we didn't take it on a big road trip.

See, we knew last year's luck with the weather wouldn't hold every year, and the old Honda doesn't have four-wheel drive. So we bought a 2005 Land Rover LR3 this fall to prepare for the big annual December trip to Kansas City.

Good thing we did because this year the weather was not so cooperative.

Last year we hopped over the mountain passes between storms and encountered just a little ice,  so the Element was still perfect. But this year, we were quite happy to have the Rover.

We built a bed, which I plan to write about in the next few weeks. The mutts seemed to enjoy the comfy ride and nightly snuggles.

First mountain pass (Snoqulamie) was easy breezy.

Pretty stop for a driver switch in central Washington.

We tested the new car camp setup just outside Twin Falls, Idaho, that night. Our first night's assessment: It's a little more cramped than the Element's bed, but the thicker mattress was nice. We definitely built the bed a little too tall.

Tully and I ran along the Snake River Canyon the next morning to Snoshone Falls. 

It was a mix of residential and open space and included a ramp Evel Knievel built in an attempt to jump the canyon. (Short story: He didn't succeed but avoided death.)

While we ran, Mikey walked Winston around and watched several BASE jumpers take off from the bridge over the Snake River.

After breakfast, we headed east for a couple of days at our usual hotel, restaurants, and trails in Denver.

Passing through Utah and Wyoming.

The next morning, I took Winston to one of our old favorite foothill trails. The old man, who will be 13 in three months held up pretty well. I had to take it easy on him coming back down, but he recovered strong.

That afternoon all four of us went for a walk at Red Rocks.

And Tully and I got in a few miles before heading to KC the next morning.

We visited my sister first. The mutts had to share space with my sister and brother-in-law's three dogs, including their new 1-year-old dog. Daisy really wanted Winston to play, and he wasn't thrilled. Tully dealt a little better and mostly observed all the doggie craziness from the safety of our feet.

I spent the next several days running with friends and drinking wine with my sister's family. My nephew arrived from D.C., and we got to spend a night catching up.

Scott and I found some solid dirt on the trails closest to the old house/Don dug his running shoes out of the back of the closet to join the mutts and me for a few miles/Tully waiting not so patiently for yet another photo/Jaime and I celebrated the winter solstice/Christy, Winston, and I did most of a winter loop at Wyco/Michelle joined me for my coldest run of the trip/Lindsey and I met Christmas Eve in Lawrence for some trail time while her husband and a friend ran the levee.

Susie and I didn't get to run with Jennifer, as she was just about due to have her baby, so we went on a walk along the river in Lawrence. Her and Tyler's baby boy arrived Dec. 29!

I got in a couple hours of climbing, too, with Gregor. (Sam couldn't join us, as she was at a dinosaur march on the Plaza!)

I started a sore throat Christmas Eve and ended up in bed all Christmas, missing the Schmitz celebration. I took it easy the day after Christmas, too, and we left the next day. 

The mutts opened their presents Christmas Eve.

The drive to KC had been easy with no weather events. But shortly after we left Topeka, Interstate 70 closed in western Kansas. So we dropped south, anticipating we could sleep that night in Albuquerque.

At first the drive was slick and slowed by traffic but easy enough in the Rover.

Passing through Guymon, Okla., at sunset.

But New Mexico ended up having a blizzard that evening. We decided we couldn't trust drivers anymore and looked for a hotel room in Santa Rosa, N.M. They were all taken, but no worries. We pulled into a truck stop and crawled into our bed in the back. I felt bad for the less prepared drivers. As they balled up, cold in their front seats, I was plenty warm under wool and puffy blankets with a husband and two dogs to snuggle.

The streets of Santa Rosa had a couple of inches, but I'm guessing that's a decent amount for lowlands in New Mexico/We maybe drove the Rover through a little mud.

View from Interstate 40 while we waited for the highway to reopen.

At sunrise we took off in the fresh snow for Albuquerque. Unfortunately, a semi blocked both directions of I-40, so it took about six hours to drive the 120 miles.

We got to Albuquerque with enough time to eat at our favorite restaurant and snag some awesome fabric from Stitchology. (So excited to work on some projects soon!)

After sleeping in a more spacious bed and showering, we got back on the interstate. I was starting to feel a little better, good enough to run anyway, so Mikey dropped the mutts and me at a trailhead in Flagstaff, Ariz., and he took the mud-caked Rover to a car wash.

The three of us hadn't run for four days, so we loved moving. My muscles had gotten so stiff!

Goodnight, Arizona.

We drove through Nevada that night and passed through Death Valley National Park, which was otherwise closed during the federal government partial shutdown. (A lot of visitors have been trashing the parks during the shutdown, and Death Valley has been hit with people driving offroad illegally and leaving behind their messes.)

We camped that night on the east side of the Sierra Nevada for a short sleep in a beautiful site. Much to Winston's preference I skipped the night-sky photography (we arrived at 1 a.m.) and opted for sunrise shots instead.

So we got a decently early start, and I found a trail I wanted to run at Lake Tahoe. When we arrived at the trailhead, Mikey vetoed my icy, steep choice, and we made our way north again. Instead I found a great little trail system in Susanville, Calif.

We continued our way north, aiming for Portland, Ore. We had to cross the Cascades in a small snowstorm, and the Rover lost a trim piece that had come loose in the New Mexico blizzard. But we made it late that evening and had a wonderful breakfast and run in Forest Park the next morning. 

That left us with a short drive home New Year's Eve. Mikey power washed the Rover, and we ordered a replacement trim piece for my door. Unfortunately, when I drove the Element to the grocery store the next day, it lit up the check engine light and had troubles with idle. So off it went to Honda for repair. I guess the Element didn't appreciate being left at home for two weeks.

The Land Rover was great for the big trip, and we've already adjusted the height of the bed setup. We've done a few other small modifications, and I'll work in the next couple of weeks on a short photo gallery of the work we have done. Look forward to another big (but closer) trip this spring!


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