10 and 2: Back to “Reality”


The time spent away from the van was a good break.  It provided us the chance to reboot a little bit.  Our return to Salt Lake City was a bit of a temperature shock — it was nearly 90 degrees at dinner time.  The van was stuffy, and it was hot enough that the sheets and blankets were warm from retaining the heat radiating through the drawn sunshades on the windows for just over a week.

Thinking back to New York, we had a great time with the change of scenery.  The Adirondacks are a pretty stark contrast to the Rockies.  Returning to Salt Lake City, we made a longer-than-anticipated stop in town to see some friends before heading toward the Uintas Wilderness northeast of the city.  The Uintas Wilderness is an oasis less than 2 hours from the heart of downtown SLC.  The area offers a tremendous amount of camping at well-maintained campgrounds, but it also offers a nearly limitless amount of dry camping for those who want a more rustic experience.  The trick here, however, is to find a location that isn’t heavily used by quads, side-by-side ATV’s, or dirt bikes. 

After searching for solitude on perhaps the busiest recreation weekend of the summer (Labor Day weekend), we found a location tucked away in the pine trees up a secluded forest service road.  We were even lucky enough to have the rainy weather break that allowed us to build a campfire and do some real camp cooking over wood coals.  The menu was turkey burgers with fire roasted poblano and fresno chiles, jicama and mango slaw, and grilled broccoli with red onions – if I haven’t mentioned it yet, my girlfriend and adventure partner is an executive chef, so I get to eat pretty well on the road.


After a cold night around the campfire and waking up to ice-glazed windows in the van (and needing to run the furnace for the first time in nearly 4 months), we headed into the Uintas for a hike to stretch our legs and warm up.  We chose a loop that would take us past several alpine lakes as we crested a pass just under 11,000 feet of elevation.  We were rewarded with amazing views of the mountains, beautiful clear lakes, and a pretty great workout over five miles of trail. 


Throughout our van adventure, our mantra has been, “if it looks cool, interesting, or weird, do it”.  So far it’s served us pretty well, and we’ve made a lot of stops at places that we’d likely never see otherwise, some of our favorite being ghost towns.  We noticed the old town of Sage, WY on the map and made a short detour to the ruins of the old ranching community there.  Not much is left except for a few very dilapidated buildings, a couple small homes, and a few barn structures, but it was a nice diversion from the highway.


We’re continuing on towards Grand Teton National Park, followed by Yellowstone National Park, with a quick layover in Jackson, WY to get some work done, empty the laundry bin, and re-stock the cooler and pantry with groceries before some more quality mountain time.  More mountains, more spawn-colored brown trout, and (hopefully) fewer crowds after the holiday weekend.


So what is 10 and 2? Meet Ryan and learn about why he’s on the road with Crown & Caliber.

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Ryan O’Connor is recovering from a decade of work in the investment management industry. He’s currently living out of his van and traveling the United States with his girlfriend, taking a very long route to Texas. In addition to long walks on the beach, sunsets, and production paperwork, he digs photography, fly fishing, hunting, rye whiskey, and Texas BBQ.

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