Flat Expanses, Highpoints, Jackalopes: ‘Road To OR’

Snow blows sideways across the road. We’re driving westbound on I-90, the headlights and predawn darkness creating tunnel vision as we begin the trip. It’s 1,200 miles to Salt Lake City, our final destination on the “Road to OR.”


It’s January 3rd, and we’ve just left the Minneapolis airport, picking up Zach Doleac from a redeye flight into town.


A Winnebago Fuse will be our party bus and portable home for the coming days as a small crew courses west in search of adventure en route to the Winter 2016 Outdoor Retailer trade show.

Fat biking in Minneapolis before we hit the road

Along with Doleac, we’re riding with Lauren Steele, the duo employees of Columbia Sportswear and serving as the company’s “Directors of Toughness.” Myself and Joshua Van Patter, a filmmaker, round out the crew leaving from Minnesota.

The true Iowa high point

Twice a year, the OR Show provides a mecca for gear junkies to see new products coming to market.

We have made the pilgrimage for years now, the show serving as a massive sneak peek at to-be-released equipment as well as a barometer to the state of art in gear design.

Hawkeye Point

But before we arrive, the plan is to absorb the experience that is the Great American Road Trip.

Signs direct to 50 high points around the USA

This will involve truckstops, freeways and winding back roads, great flat expanses in Iowa, Nebraska, and eastern Colorado. And we might just find a jackalope along the way.

The lonely Nebraskan road

I write this from Denver, where we’re picking up GearJunkie editor Sean McCoy before heading into the mountains today. For now, take a look at the sights we took in for the past 24 hours on the road to OR.

Stephen Regenold

Stephen Regenold is Founder of GearJunkie, which he launched as a nationally-syndicated newspaper column in 2002. As a journalist and writer, Regenold has covered the outdoors industry for two decades, including as a correspondent for the New York Times. A father of five, Regenold and his wife live in Minneapolis.