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.
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…
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.