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Zion National Park & Bryce Canyon

April 29 – May 6

We were excited to explore more national parks, so we headed north to Zion. Along the way, we stopped to let the pups stretch their legs. When we walked back up to the trailer, we noticed the front underside had fallen down! There was insulation falling out, our propane line and electrical wires were dangling. Slight panic. Thankfully we were in a giant parking lot and had tools in the truck. There was an epic bridge nearby, so it was also kind of a photo op spot. Bus loads of people were coming through as we drilled and riveted. We paused several times as enthusiastic international travelers asked about the trailer. It took longer, but it helped lighten the mood. We couldn’t completely repair it, but within a couple of hours we had it rigged so we could finish our travel for the day.

We found a BLM (Bureau of Land Management) camping spot half an hour from the park. It was tight quarters on a creek and we were lucky to grab the last spot as the sun was going down. There are campgrounds in the Zion, but once reservations open up six months or so out, they book up quick. True in most National Parks. Zion National Park is beautiful! Its small, there are lots of visitors, but it is super organized – kind of run like a theme park in a way complete with shuttles with recorded greetings. One hike in the park allowed dogs, so the pups could walk around with us for a bit. Our major hike was Angel’s Landing. It was a longer hike, the first half is full of steep switchbacks on mostly paved walkways. In the second half you are climbing up skinny ridges. There are chains to grab onto for balance, but it felt slightly life-threatening. Definitely the scariest hike I’ve ever done. Post-hike we googled if people had ever been injured on the hike and it did indeed have a death toll. Sheesh.

There was a tool rental place in a town nearby where we could rent an air compressor to finish fixing the underside of the trailer. Beehive Tool Rental saved us. We had to buy a few more things for the repair, but we were able to rent the air compressor and set the trailer up just across the street from the rental place. We patched the section that was missing, drilled new holes in the steel chassis, added new rivets all over. It was a little stressful, because the damage looked so bad initially, but in the end we were able to fix it for less than $150 and we walked away owning our very own rivet gun.

We were so close to Bryce Canyon, we decided to head there for the weekend. We drove through Zion, cutting through the mountains in narrow tunnels and found a BLM camping spot close to the park entrance. We had a beautiful hiking day there. There isn’t much else around, but the canyon is really unique with bright orange hoodoos (the spired-shaped rock formations) everywhere. We were glad we stopped over, but we were ready to continue our pursuit for cooler weather.

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Phoenix & Sedona

April 17 – April 29

After a lot of remote living, we decided a city was in order. We stayed in an amazing campground full of saguaro cacti in Mesa. Seeing city lights in the distance felt very comforting. If I had to choose between a walk down a dark city alley or a walk in a wide open valley at night, I’d take the alley anyday. I definitely enjoyed our stint in the wild, but the change was welcomed.

Being able to switch so frequently between rural and urban has been a fun experiment. As soon as you are sick of the quiet or the traffic, you can switch! Phoenix was exactly what we needed, but after a few days the season flipped from crisp desert weather to OVEN. We also saw a giant rattlesnake on a dog walk, so we packed up and headed to Sedona. The secret is definitely out – Sedona is beautiful and full of visitors. One side of the town feels like the southwest with orange soil, open spaces and rock formations and the other side was a pine forest. After so much time in the desert, we went for the pine forest. We stayed in a tree-filled campground 20 minutes from town. On some of the more popular desert-side of town hikes, tour groups ride in hot pink jeeps down the wide trails. This is kind of obnoxious and really freaked the dogs out, so we hiked closer to where were staying. The hikes were beautiful and basically empty, but also vertical. The town is a little kitschy, but we found a great sushi place, washed the truck, watched Cool Hand Luke and really enjoyed our peaceful campground.

After a taste of warmer weather in Phoenix and Sedona, we decided we wanted to fit in a few more weeks of crisp weather, so we headed north.

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Desert Driving

April 9 – April 17

We drove west from Taos, through northwest New Mexico and southeast Utah. The drive through this part of the country is really wild. You drive forever and it is incredibly flat and windy. Then, all of a sudden there is an epic canyon or rock formation. You’ll have miles and miles of tan and then its a deep orangey-red. We bounced through, just staying at each place one night or so. There is a lot of land available for free camping through the Bureau of Land Management. Free is amazing, but can also be a smidge creepy. We’ve developed a helpful measurement when assessing if a camping spot is safe or not. We simply ask “How murder-y does this feel?”.

So far, so good.

After a week or so of dry camping, we moved to an RV park on Lake Powell for a few days. To our surprise, it was an international tourist hot spot. Truly, I think 30 countries must have been represented. The Grand Canyon is close-by, so it kind of serves as a stop over. It was still pretty cold, so more sweaters by the lake than swimming in the lake. It worked for us for us to get caught up on some work and laundry and what not. We also really wanted to visit Antelope Canyon, a privately-owned slot canyon. You climb down a steep set of steps to the narrow floor. The light and the shadows in this canyon were CRAZY. I assumed the photos we saw before going in person had been edited a bit for dramatic effect. Nope, it looks like that.