4-Corners Trip

Following this lovely lady across state lines. The best sort of deja vu.
James, taking his usual stance on the 7-hour drives. Audio books weren’t enough for him, I suppose.

I spent a good deal of my childhood on the road, but haven’t had a proper road trip since our honeymoon almost 7 years ago. Evan and I had been mulling over the idea of an epic road trip in the good old U.S.A., down to the place where four states meet: Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. That area is full to bursting with incredible scenery and natural beauty. We plotted and schemed and somehow convinced my parents they should make the journey as well.

A little back story for a better understanding of the meaning of this trip:

Growing up, most of my young life was spent with my mom, dad and my cat, Pixie as we traveled all over the United States. We lived in a 36′ Avion. A silver bullet that was the most wonderful home I could ever have imagined for all our adventures. It was the 3 of us against the world and I loved it. Picking up and leaving my little friends was rough but I always seemed to make more friends. The excitement of what was just around the corner did my little heart good. The south, Georgia and Alabama, were some main places we lived, but we were in almost every single state. So the route that we would be taking now, some two and 1/2 decades later was familiar road. It was to be a meaningful and wonderful journey. A return home, of sorts.

Our journey started  in Oregon, of course, and then headed southeast. Evan had just started a new job and had a business trip we had to work around. Thankfully he had been in Salt Lake City and James and I were able to pick him up there and continue on our journey.

Our humble little campsite. This was one of the worst camping nights of my life. Looks pleasant though.

Did I mention this trip involved camping? Lots and lots of camping?

From Salt Lake City we headed to Moab, Utah for the next several days.

Oh, Moab. Home of the most beautiful red rocks, valleys, peaks, arches, sunsets and sunrises and … the heat.

We spent several days in Moab, Evan, James and I camping in that red dirt. My parents languished in luxury in the air-conditioned Avion. I’m not complaining though, we were thankful for all of the cool hours spent there.  There is a plethora of gorgeousness around there!  Canyonlands National Park, Arches National Park, as well as Dead Horse State Park (which we were not able to squeeze in, unfortunately), which interestingly enough does allow dogs. Clearly, we had our priorities backwards.

With so much to do there and just having scratched the surface, I would love to go back and spend a week or so. I’ve heard that the mountain biking in Moab is fabulous, as well as rafting and of course, endless hiking. Maybe don’t go in September though. Pick a cooler month.

Would you know, all RV’s are not created equal. Some, like this fellow here, had their homes kitted out to the 9’s. Why wouldn’t you have a flatscreen on the outside of your house? If it gets too cramped inside, the world is your back yard…. to watch baseball instead of the sunset…

 

James, taking me on a walk.

Looks like James got the divine approval via sunbeam, even though the National Park service wasn’t thrilled.
…”feel’s like someone’s watching me”…
Have dog. Will travel.

Fun fact learned on this trip: National parks are not friendly to dogs. The temperature was about 100° at 10am and we weren’t about to leave James in the car on our hikes through Arches National Park. We had to get… creative.  James was ever the good sport and handled it like a champ.

Landscape Arch

Pine Tree Arch
Some perspective on one of the smaller arches. Pine Tree Arch

My dear mama. Love her!

So, so much to see/do around Moab. We headed out to Canyonlands National Park close to sunset. It was a magical and incredible evening I’ll not soon forget.

Canyonlands National Park

Probs one of my fav pictures of us.

 

After leaving Moab, the actual 4-Corners was next on our list. The unique place in our great nation where the perfect 90° corners of Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico meet. I have to say, I was expecting more than a haphazard square of wooden booths selling native jewelry and trinkets out in the middle of nowhere, down a potholed lane with old chains and a gatehouse as the sentry. Cash Only! $5/person!  They are definitely not reinvesting in the site.

The very spot.
Getting everything we could out of that $.
A typical Monday; being in four places at once.
So many, many miles.

The downside (well, in my book) of Evan starting a new job was that he didn’t have the full 2 weeks off to galavant around the nation with James, my parents and myself. After visiting the 4-corners monument, we hit up another national park on the way to Durango, CO for his flight home.

(Did I mention the all the camping included a good deal of me camping by myself??  I consider that pretty hardcore for me. Even if I was right next to the Avion. And the bathroom.)

So, the Mesa Verde National Park. It was incredible to see the Cliff Palace, even if seen just from here! We had hoped to take the tour and be those down in the thick of it, but it was just cutting it too close to get Evan to his flight. Next time around.

The Crow. Mesa Verde National Park
Mesa Verde National Park
Bursts of color, everywhere we looked.
Bluff, UT

Coming out of Bluff, UT into Monument Valley, I drove right through a massive lightning storm. I wish I had better pictures, but the sounds, smells and rolling clouds are something I’ll never forget.

Monument Vally peeking through the haze and sunset.

Parting shot of Monument Valley

After biding farewell to Monument Valley, it was Lake Powell and Page, AZ. There happens to be a certain canyon outside of Page… one that has been on my bucket list of places to visit, Antelope Canyon. So please forgive the multitude of seemingly similar photos to follow. It was all I could do not to add another 20 or so. Truly one of the most beautiful natural wonders I’ve ever experienced. And it is an experience, each twist and turn of the canyon is different and unique and amazing.

These are prehistoric raptor tracks. I realize this is a rather awful photo of them, but it was the best I could do on our tour. This was right outside of Antelope Canyon. I cannot convey how thrilling it was to touch these! Geek at heart, I suppose.

My mother and I decided to take the Lower Antelope Canyon tour, since after doing some research online it looked like the most idea time to visit the Upper was around noon when the light was perfect. The Lower had a reputation for being more consistent during afternoon hours, so that’s where we were headed.

Entrance to Lower Antelope

Above is the entrance to the lower Antelope Canyon. It was crazy how the desert had normal undualtions until we rounded a corner and came upon this crevice with stairs. Oh, the treasures that lay below…

The following photos were taken by either my Samsung Galaxy S7 or my Nikon SLR D60.

The lighting was crazy in the canyon. Sometimes the rocks would glow and other times the hues were more subdued. Thankfully, the Lower canyon was more forgiving light-wise.

Goals: Upper Antelope next time.

 

Looove this photo. Thanks, mama!

From Page, AZ we headed to Kanab, UT, another familiar place for us. We had lived there for a while when I was just a tot, and oddly enough, we stayed in the RV park/Campground where we had lived all those years back. The town had grown so much!

It’s long story, but while there, my mama found a stray kitten that they ended up adopting through the help of an amazing organization, the Best Friends Animal Society. It was founded in 1984 with a no-kill shelter, they have grown exponentially since then and are now nationally involved.

The Sanctuary, one of the unique features of their mission, is located in Kanab and is home to over 1,600 homeless animals with over 20,000 acres for the animals.

“Dogs, cats, horses, bunnies, pigs and other barnyard animals come here from all over the country, each and every one seeking a safe haven where they can find refuge, love and acceptance”

They also work with animals with special needs. We coincidentally ended up meeting the founders at dinner in Kanab and fell in love with them and all of their work. It’s an amazing and beautiful place.

Alfie (the kitten) decided he liked James straight away. This was James’ look of protest after the kitten commandeered his sleep spot and tried to snuggle.
My mom: an indefatigable hiking and adventure buddy. Kanab, UT
We saw a lot of these funny little fellows on our hikes.
And this plump little murderess…
Best road trip buddies ever. Las Vegas

The only photo of the 4 of us on the entire trip! Oh, and Evan is back! We picked him up in Las Vegas on our way through. Vegas is an absolute oven in September. I don’t know how the residents can survive there year ’round.

From here, we parted ways from my parents: they took a more northwest route while we headed west to Carmel, CA.

8+ hours later… bam! Ocean goodness.

First time seeing the Ocean. He loved it.

This was James’ first time at the beach. Somehow it seemed appropriate that it was Carmel, one of our favorite stretches of the west coast. And also that he somewhat blended in with the sand.

We had a little over 24 hours in Carmel, due to needing to get Evan back home in time for work…

You know, if we wouldn’t have had his harness on, I doubt we would have found him again.
My Loves, waiting for me to grab the goods at a coffee shop in Carmel, CA.

On the drive home on I-5, we were able to stop in Redding, CA and see some old friends. Talitha was in town from Berlin, Germany for a few days at a conference. I hadn’t seen her in something awful like 10 years. Shauna, another dear friend happened to live near there. So good to see her and her boys and sis.

Thirteen years ago I met some of my dearest friends(including these girls!) in Recife, Brasil on a YWAM mission. So getting this mini reunion was bliss.

Talitha!! Haven’t seen this German beauty in far too long!
So happy to see my dear Shauna again. It’s been ages.. since her wedding, + 2 (well.. 3 now!) kids ago. If only we had longer. Even the dogs were behaving! PS- Thanks for the delicious brownies, Nikelle!!

We all made it home in time, in one piece, with no car (or truck/Avion) issues. That’s a lot to be thankful for right there.  All of the natural beauty that we were able to experience– even those bumpy sleepless nights in a tent!  I’m thankful for the adventure: the dirt, heat and chance to get out and see it for ourselves.

Such beauty. Counting the days ’till we return.
Until next time!

2 Comment

  1. Thank you much dearest Jenna for documenting so well this loveliest of trips and the adventure of a lifetime we got to have with you and Evan!! Your wonderful photos of such beauty it couldn’t be described just took us right back instantly. You’ve included a great many wonderful highlights. Thank you for being so sweet and including us and making it a forever memory to cherish. We love the amazing story you have created here!!

  2. twoOregonians says:

    Oh! So wonderful to see the whole collection of photos in one place. All those gorgeous details and vistas… The patterns in nature are incredible. I’m curious about the tent picture and the terrible night, but I won’t bring up the crummy bits 😉 Bravo to you four – five, including James! – for pulling it all off. What a story. (And I love that I have those memories of you way back when, when we were 11 and I first saw that shiny silver Avion. Amazing how life unfolds…) Can’t wait to hear about the next adventure!

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