The hardest part about this post was trying to decide which photos to use.
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Big Bend National park was the start to my week of solitude. Not solitude in the sense that I didn’t see or talk to anyone, because if you know me, that’s impossible. This is the week of national parks and “camping”. I did talk to people on the phone from time to time but it was hard because i wouldn’t have service a lot of the time. I also had a snap chat conversation with my bestie, which was hilarious! I was a little worried about this week since I am a very social person, but I absolutely loved it! I’m so excited to share this part of my journey with you.
As I travel from state to state, I find out more things to do and see in this country. I could do this forever and not see everything. I’m so happy and grateful to be taking this journey. The drives alone are amazing. I have realized that when I’m on a scenic drive I cant listen to books on tape because i stop paying attention. I switch to music and soak in all in. I have so much dash cam footage that I have filled up my brand new computer and had to dump it all on my external hard drive.
Enough chit chat! Onto the good stuff.
New Mexico is a beautiful state. I definitely didn’t get enough time there but I have my priorities. I stopped at White Sands National Monument. This one of the many natural wonders of the world. It is the worlds largest gypsum (soft sulfate mineral) dunefield. The surrounding area is desert with the San Andres and Sacramento Mountains surrounding it. There were tons of people picnicking, sand sledding, and hiking. I arrived just in time for sunset.
I drove the rest of the night to Albuquerque just to stay in a hotel. I was exhausted from so much driving. I headed to the four corners monument in the morning. This is exactly like the reviews say. Its in the middle of no where but its one of those spots your just want to stop and see. I helped a family of four take a picture which was funny because the two boys fought over which state they wanted to stand in. Utah and Colorado apparently are the best. I didn’t have to fight. I got all 4 to myself. Take that Brett!
After that quick stop, I made my way to Moab, Utah. There are no hostels around the national parks, but i found lots of cheap hotels. Around 2am, I woke up to the fire alarm battery beeping because it was dying. I couldn’t call the front desk because I was at a cheap motel. I just put ear plugs in and turned the TV on loud to drown out the beeping. I went to the front desk in the morning and they were very nice and fixed it. I heading out for a beautiful day at Arches National Park, which was only 4 miles down the road. Half of the sites I stopped to see, i was completely alone. I hiked about 9.5 miles that day. Some of the trails were “primitive” and you had to follow the rock cairns, which is basically rocks in stack. Sometimes it was hard to find the next cairnes. I made some friends on the trails and we might have taken a few wrong turns here and there, but always eventually made it. The pictures really don’t give this park justice. In the picture with the double arches, if you look closely at the bottom you will see something black. That is a person hiking up under them. That is how massive it is. Absolutely incredible!
After all day hiking, I was worn out, my feet were killing me, so I decided to stay another night in Moab. When I drove up to my motel there was a pest control company tenting the main office which was a separate building from the rooms. This obviously did not make me feel comfortable that my room didn’t have bugs, but i was too tired to care much. I went out for some dinner, came back and was asleep by 9:00. I woke up at 11:30pm to someone banging on the door. I was so startled i just ignored it, hoping whoever it was would go away. They didn’t. The man who was banging started yelling “Hello, please open the door!” So i got up, shaking I’m so out of it and scared, and look out the peep hole. It was a man in the pest control uniform. The room didn’t have a chain lock on it to feel save to open it so I answered who is it. The man proceeded to tell me there was a gas leak and he needed to check if my room was contaminated. I am now standing in my underwear still shaking because this is shady and thinking do i risk opening the door to the strange man or risk being poisoned of gas. Decisions, decisions! I threw on some pants and opened the door. The pest guy brought over another guy with some machine to bring in the room. Still seems shady and I’m still kinda shaky, but trying to be ready to kick some ass if need be (have you seen my muscles). He checks the room twice and tells me the room is good. No ass kicking tonight. I fall straight back to sleep. Around 12:30, someone starts banging on my door again and this time its the police and he is yelling “open the door”. Good thing i still had my pants on. I looked out the peep hole and it truly was a cop and opened the door. Apparently the pest control man didn’t inform me that they were moving everyone from the motel to a different location due to the gas leak. I packed everything, shoved it in my car and drove to the new hotel where 30 people from the same motel are in line to get a room and they aren’t accepting anyone. I was the last to arrive. We all had to move to another hotel down the road and i was finally in bed by 2am and then couldn’t fall asleep of course. When I woke up in the morning, I realized my pants were on inside out. Oops! Needless to say, we all got refunded for that night at the motel!
I slept in that morning and decided to stop at Canyonland National Park since it was so close by. I saw maybe 5 people there and it was a beautiful day. I spent about 3 hours there driving around to all the lookout spots. The last 4 pictures are of the Green River which connects to the Colorado River just north of Lake Powell, which i will be visiting this week.
The drive to Bryce Canyon National Park is spectacular. You have to drive through Dixie National Forest and the Red Canyon to get there on Utah’s scenic byway 12. In the winter there isn’t a lot open, but I think the snow adds an amazing color contrast with the canyon. So many colors with the blue sky, red canyon, green trees, and white snow. I took the most photos in Bryce Canyon. The first day there I stopped at all the look out points which go up to 9,000 ft in elevation. I attempted a hike on the top, but the snow was up to my knees, so i aborted that idea. I watched the sunset and made some Ramen in the microwave with a nice glass of wine (I’m so fancy). The next day I hiked down into the Canyon. I was in complete awe for the entire 6 miles. I wore my rainboots after the first hike I tried the previous day. Multiple people along the trail commented on how smart I was because melting snow and clay equals mud! I camped out in the park that night to watch the sunrise. Ill let the pictures speak for themselves.
Zion National Park is amazing to just drive through. It is massively impressive. Zion Canyon itself is 15 miles long and a half mile deep. This park was crowded unlike the other ones, but then again it was the weekend. I reserved a campsite and went on a short hike by the river. I sat on a rock on the shoreline and just wanted to relax until i realized how “friendly” the squirrels in this park are. Too close for comfort! I headed to a restaurant and found out that you cannot order a drink without ordering food in the state of Utah. I later found out that beer on tap has to always be 4% by volume and their liquor mixing laws are bizarre as well. I made myself a nice fire that night and read my book. It was a really relaxing night. Since the park was so crowded, I woke up at sunrise to start my hikes. I got stopped by some wild turkeys crossing the road and a deer (not together). I was the first person on the 8 mile round trip hike that changed over 2,000 ft in elevation. I walked past fresh deer prints in the sand and birds flying in and out of trees. The view at the top was worth it. I did a few more hikes that day totaling over 12 miles. My feet hated me. I have so many blisters, but its the price I had to pay for an amazing day. I included the zoomed in picture of the winding road for my roadway engineers!
I am currently writing this blog post in Flagstaff, AZ, waiting for my mom to land and we will head to the Grand Canyon. It has been nice to relax after all that hiking. I have been able to clean my car, do laundry, pay bills, and all those real world things I can’t escape. It has also been snowing here. My car looked like this last night:
When I went to dinner, I rolled down the windows so I could see out of them. Not a smart idea. Snow fell into my car everywhere. Lesson learned!
Time to pick up my mom! Until the next post…….