Outdoor Connection

Durango Drifters U.S. road trip

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More from Outdoor Living Newsletter September Outdoor Living Newsletter
Durango Drifters at Mt. Rushmore
Durango Drifters at Mt. Rushmore

Take a group of five 20 year olds. Put them in a Dodge Durango for 38 days. Let them roam the country, visit National Parks, stay at sub par campgrounds and generally fend for themselves. What happens? That's what we wanted to know. And so we did. We contacted the Durango Drifters to get their take on the ultimate road trip. Here's their story.

Who are the Durango Drifters?

We are a group of 5 friends in our 20's who love to adventure and explore. At the beginning of the trip we were Kristina, Tricia, Billy (whom are brothers and sisters) Amy, and Kyle. By the end of the trip our names changed; Kristina was called the Scavenger, Tricia was titled "alchy", we called Billy the ring leader, Amy held the nickname Bevy (in reference to Beverly hills) and we called Kyle COBRA.

How'd you come up with the name Durango Drifters?

It has a lot to do with the vehicle we romped cross country in. It's a Dodge 'Durango' and drifters just rolled off the tongue. Durango Drifters. It stuck immediately.

How long was your trip for?

Our itinerary set us out for close to 40 days. But all said and done we arrived back home on day 38. We set out on May 24th in Pike County, PA and started heading west. We stopped in Cleveland, Chicago, Minneapolis, Mt. Rushmore, Yellowstone National Park, Jackson Hole, Salt Lake City, Lake Tahoe, San Francisco, Yosemite National Park, Death Valley National Park, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, the Grand Canyon, Zion National Park, Bryce National Park, Arches National Park, Kansas City, Nashville, and the Outer Banks. In total we drove more than 8,200 miles. We closed the road trip out with a marathon drive in which we drove 35 straight hours from Colorado Springs to northeast Pennsylvania.

How messy did the car get after traveling for such a long time?

Very. We experienced a dead animal stench for a couple days. The Durango was also, at times, covered with branches and twigs we had collected along the road - mostly because we were too cheap to buy firewood. We later found out that that dead animal stench was a case of mildew under the passenger seat's door mat.

Did you come up with a name for the car?

Not officially. At times we called it our 'home', other times we called it 'come on please make it out of death valley' and unfortunately at times we called it a 'sob' when we had some unexpected delays due to mechanical problems. However, in the end, she did it. She took us on an unforgettable journey!

How did you pack for a trip like this?

Everyone was allowed to bring one standard size duffel bag, and a backpack. Except some of us missed the cue of "standard size". The scavenger, Kristina, somehow got away with a boatload sized duffel bag. But into the trip we came to the realization that we were wearing the same outfits day in and day out; shorts, a tee and sandals.

In terms of actually packing, it's not easy. With climate changes and different adventures we needed all types of gear and clothing. Somehow we made it all work, except at Yellowstone National Park where it was below freezing and we were poorly under dressed and to top it off our fire pit was flooded. Try starting a fire in a pool.

What was the fastest you've driven on the trip?

I think we clocked out at 96, not purposely.

Did you get any tickets?

The California police did get us once driving to Arizona. The convict was going 86 in a 70 but claims the 75mph zone was in the distance. The ticket wasn't cheap.

Where did you sleep?

We slept either a) on a rocky surface in a tent at various campgrounds b) hotels/motels and c) relatives along the way (Home-cooked meals are indeed the best!).

What's the best place you've visited so far?

I believe the general consensus of the best place visited is as follows in no particular order... a) Yosemite National Park (half-dome hike) b) grand canyon c) spelunking in Mt. Rushmore cave d) Moab UT, CO river rafting trip!

What was the most surprising location you visited?

Hands down San Francisco and the "bush man". He sits in front of a garbage can and puts two large bushes in front of him. When people walk by he pops out from behind the bush and scares them.

What have you learned along the way?

I think we all learned to never stop exploring, and like our mission statement claims: always continue to live out loud!

Any advice for fellow road trippers?

Yes we will leave you with this. Expect some butting of heads, but most of all expect a time of adventure, laughter, and above all memories that will last forever!

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