It’s week 4, and the van is eating miles like a famished whale. Each passing day, new and varied landscapes are thrust upwards from the curve of the earth as we wind our way down through the southwestern US.
Two days in Grand Teton NP satisfied our thirst for mountain air in measures never anticipated. Before entering the park we knew little more than what we’d gathered from our trusty Nat Geog guide, this being primarily that ‘The Teton Range demands immediate attention’. Safe to say our attention was all but used up entirely once we’d caught our first glimpse of these towering cathedrals of rock.
Eventually we tore ourselves away from the Tetons like manky plasters, our internal conflicts silenced by a reptilian quest for warmth.
Now, the highwaymen are in Utah and have hit desert. Burnt out tyres litter the roadside like carcasses, abandoned to the intermittent silence in the endless pursuit of tarmac and visions of the West.
But there is something amiss – the burnt out tyres are tokens of summers past, for it is not the sun’s rays that strike our windscreen but showers of snowflakes and callous hailstones.
Just when we thought we’d escaped the cold, its nibble is at our necks again and with a vengeance. Apparently a common enough, once-in-five-years phenomenon, mid-May snow in Utah has nevertheless reified for us nature’s forceful unpredictability, and made manifest our total subordination to it as people living in a van.
This is undoubtedly one of the most liberating as well as restricting aspects of our trip. Though we are one night slithering on our bellies along the highway like forsaken snakes, looking for a place to lay our heads because the snow has driven us out of camp, the next we are having van-side breakfast and basking in the morning heat, having rotated the vehicle to accommodate for the sun rise.
Knowing that our lifestyle is determined by the weather has given purpose to this journey, and facilitated truer, more rewarding experiences along the way.
But, an obvious caveat: this is by no means a green trip – something that’s been niggling us both. More on this exciting development next week though, when under our belts we’ll have a selection of Utah’s most sought after National Parks.