• The sun goes down on Battle Rock, Port Orford, Oregon, and my time on the Trans-America Trail. I was as filthy as the Jeep.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • A special mention to the folks running the Bighorn RV Park and Campground in Coaldale, CO. A whole lot nicer than a lot of places I stayed, and for less money, and the owners were excellent to me.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Another benefit of Bighorn? Hop into Salida (pronounced suh-LIE-duh) and get a Fiesta Burrito at Fiesta Mexicana. A local recommended it, and she did not steer me wrong.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Dip into southeastern Utah from Colorado, get past Monticello, and it's desert farms and rickety fences under big skies and ever-distant mountains.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Then climb up to high plains on the way to Geyser Pass. This is the *other* Utah.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Take the back way up to Geyser Pass and you'll find some impressive boulder fields. It was kinder on everyone to leave just two wheels in the rocks and put the other two anywhere else.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Another reason why the Jeep and its ilk are the right size for deep backcountry work. I probably could have gotten a full-sized truck through this patch of trees, but neither the truck nor the trees wouldn't have looked the same when I was finished.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • The trail opens up, and you can see the target in the distance. Somewhere up there was Geyser Pass. In between here and there were a lot of rocks, dirt, serious holes, and roads that weren't on any map.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Coming down the pass, a pullout offers a grand view of the Spanish Valley. Moab's down there - Jeep City, USA. And see those clouds? A storm's a-comin'. *Another* one.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Ah, there's the place. This was not far from Slickrock. I wanted to do the trail, but a Biblical deluge beat me to it.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • I got out of the Moab storm and far away. As I headed to the next town, I saw this one coming in...
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • This is what it looked like on I-70 West. I wasn't even going five miles per hour. And I was passing other vehicles on the highway who were going slower than I was.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • The reward for making it to Salina? A DOUBLE RAINBOW!! WHAT DOES IT MEAN??!!
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • After Salina I climbed up into Fishlake National Forest. More high plains. More grazing cattle. More gorgeous.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • The further west I got, the more times I had to turn around. The trail was designed by motorcyclists, for motorcyclists. So this time, in Fishlake, the trail got too narrow for the Jeep to pass.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Cows normally scurry out of the way. Not this one, who stood in the trail, looked at me like I'd clearly made a wrong turn, and silently suggested I turn myself around and go back where I came from.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • We settled our differences and he let me past, into some lush stands of greenery.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • West of Sevier, UT on the way to the Nevada border, the trail leaves the mountains behind for golden plains.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Blackrock Road, still hauling Utah and Colorado filth. Jeep engineers found a way to get mud thrown by the front tires to stick behind the door handles and dry there, so my hands always looked as dirty as the Jeep.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • If you ever need to outrun Armageddon, Blackrock Road's a great place to start. Huge speed for huge miles, huge rooster tails of dust.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Just more Utah, this time not far from the Nevada border and the city of Baker.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • And more Utah, because... well, look at it.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Saw this in Baker, NV. I can see the ad now: "No lowball offers, I know what I've got. And no tire kickers."
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Across the road from that Jeep, this place. Know what that sign says?
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • MUSEUM OF THE FUTURE! Coming soon. Soon-ish.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Like, I wouldn't wait around for it to open...
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • In fact, you might want to give it a while. How about we call you when it's ready? In the, uh, future...
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • There's a stretch of US-50 in East Ely, Nevada that bills itself "The Loneliest Road in America." But make a right turn onto the dirt road, and it gets mighty lonely out there.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Didn't take long for the trail to turn into sandy powder. I made impressive clouds of the stuff on the way to Lund, NV.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • I also made an impressive mess in the back. Like I said before, two tiny cracks between the soft top panels only let in a wisp of sand, but when you do as much high-speed sand driving as I've been doing, the layers add up.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Scorched Nevada hills. While I waited, two helicopters flew in to deliver fire crew assistance.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • The haze from the Oregon fires. There's a mountain range on the right. On the left, a billboard asking people not to start forest fires.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Not long after, the haze got worse. Couldn't see a thing in the distance, but there are more mountains back there.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • So I stopped to check out the only thing I could see, and paid tribute to Popsicle.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Starting in North Carolina, I've seen a lot of collections of... curiosities, shall we say?... in a lot of people's yards. I've seen "antique" shops that sold all kinds of signs. But never had I seen a place with a nine-foot-tall Shell sign...
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • The big sign even had a little brother. Trivia sidebar: the shell on the sign is called the 'pecten,' which is a genus of large scallops or clams. And Shell has been a godsend, since they gave me a stack of gas cards to keep it moving for this whole trip. But even I'm not buying giant signs.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • What I could see of eastern Oregon through the haze, as with so much of the trail I'd been through already, was beautiful.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • But this is when I went from wildfire haze to actual wildfires. And even more U-turns and detours.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • On a ridge above Glendale, Oregon heading into what I thought would be an easy 114-mile celebratory parade into Port Orford. Moments after I took this photo, things went south. Way south. First came an hour's worth of finding my way out of a maze of unmapped trails.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Then came more wildfires. As I picked my way through nearby fires, I had this one in the distance to look forward to.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Then came The Peak of Fallen Trees.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Trees everywhere. With no obvious reason for having fallen.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • I picked my way through all I could. It doesn't look like it, but this one was too big to drive over, so I worked the winch for the first time.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Turned out to be lucky for me. Whoever had the Jeep before I did had wound the winch cable so badly that I couldn't pull it out. I had to use the weight of the tree to unspool the line.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • I cleared the path. After this would come 90 more minutes of winching, some axe work, crawling through strewn trunks, and then... 
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Rocks. They were a bigger problem than the trees, but I could have got through them...
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Only it would have been useless. A bit further down the trail, a chunk of mountainslide had come down. The trail was closed. At least I knew what I was facing on the way back, like the trees and...
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • Another wildfire. The Oregon National Guard had been called in to help with this one.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
  • At *************** last, I got to Port Orford and some fish and chips. Then I filled up and headed north. And just as I pulled out, it rained.
  • Image Credit: Jonathon Ramsey
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