Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Valley of the Gods

We woke before the sun crested the horizon, packed, said our farewells to Katie and sadly departed the cabin.  Our 4th of July would be celebrated on the road.

The girls nestled into the back for a morning nap on our way towards Valley of the Gods.  You cannot travel through southern Utah and avoid Valley of the Gods.  We have come here 7 out of the last 8 years.  It is my favorite place on the planet.

We made our way through with a good bit of morning light still left over and stopped to stretch our legs at our usual camp spot.  

This is the best way to spend the 4th of July.  In the place where I feel the most free, with 3 of my 4 beloveds.  

Legs stretched, everyone watered, we loaded back into the Jeep and made the sad journey south.  Back into the land of saguaros and scorching heat.  

We'll forever be grateful to Katie for her hospitality and generosity.  While we'll be skipping a year in our camping tradition, this was an amazing way to spend our summer vacation.  

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Last Day in Paradise

Today would be our last day at the cabin.  The girls were tuckered out from all the exploration, so we opted for a long morning at the cabin before heading out.

That view.... all week, Mike had been talking about getting to the top of that mountain. We could see a road up to the radio towers and he was determined to drive it.  So of course, we did.  

The view from 11,000 feet:

The birds sounded like missiles flying by our heads.  The wind was cool and strong.  Elly, as usual, followed me on my wanderings, while Hope is more like Mike: content to stay on solid ground.

Down the mountain we went.  After several days in the Jeep, exploring new places, Hope decided this Jeep thing was pretty cool.  The panting diminished sooner and sooner everyday and she took in all the new smells from the open windows.

Dog Tip of the Day:  put your windows down, and suck in the beauty.

We popped into an aspen grove for a snack and explore stop.  This is one of many good camping locations we found on this trip.

We made our way back to the cabin early.  Everyone was tuckered out from the busy several days we've had.  After a nap and grilled dinner, a few shots of the cabin at afternoon light were needed to round out the trip.

Melancholy was setting in as neither of us were ready to head south tomorrow.  But life beckons and as badly as we'd love to disappear into the wild, retirement is many many moons away.

Monday, July 2, 2018

When in Moab, Take Shafer's Switchbacks

Eight years ago, we came to Moab on our Honeymoon.  On the back of a KTM 990, ready for adventure.  We took Potash Road to Shafer's Switchbacks (click for a flashback).  This year, we did the same with our girls and Katie in the Jeep.

If you're ever in Utah, you must travel into Canyonlands.  It is a requirement and should be on everyone's bucket list.  And to think, Katie grew up here.  What a place to grow up in.  

The desert is a special place.  It is not for everyone, but it is for me.  The first time I came to Arizona, I knew I wouldn't leave.  The first time I went to Utah, I knew immediately it was a place where my soul belonged.  I feel more alive, more at peace in the desert.  There is beauty in the desolation.  

We left the rivers edge and made our way from BLM lands to Canyonlands.

I remember how badass we thought we were on the KTM.  This was the first time we took it offload, two-up.  We later did much rougher, technical stuff, but on this trek eight years ago, we thought we were gods.

At the top and back on pavement, Mike aired the tires up after a picnic stop in the shade.  Katie is great company and loves our girls.  She loved all over them in the back of the Jeep. 

We pushed through into the park to check out some overlooks.  We did not do that on our honeymoon, as we were more focused on hitting a bit of the White Rim Trail.  No dogs allowed in the back country, means an opportunity to see the land from the top down.  

And that is how the White Rim Trail got its name.  It was really amazing to see it from above.  Mike pointed out some of the route we took on our Honeymoon.  

It was a great day.  We motored back to the cabin.  Popped into the market to buy fresh food to cook up for dinner and after another amazing day, lazed around until bed time.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Doing the Tourist Thang in Needles

Securing the Cabin Perimeter is Exhausting

Katie went to Moab to spend the day with her parents.  Mike and I lazed around for a few hours before taking off towards the Needles District of Canyonlands.

Up and the mountain we went and pit stopped for the girls.  It is butterfly season in the mountains and I love photographing them every year.

We motored on past Newspaper Rock and into Canyonlands.  With dogs, you are extremely limited to paved areas.  There motto: Paws on Pavement.  It sucks.  I understand that National Parks are trying to protect the land and wildlife, but we almost exclusively travel with the dogs, so yeah.  We did the tourist thing and just hit a few overlooks.  It was hot, so we didn't take the girls out.

I'm sure the hiking is spectacular in the park.  But after about an hour, we headed back out and up out of the heat.  Before heading back to the cabin, we popped into the forest for a bit more exploration.

Hope loved the forest.  So many smells.  So much to see.  And the deer. A dogs dream.  Elly thrives in the woods.  A bit of exploration, then a good nap in the pine needles.  

After a detour to a tiny waterfall, we headed back to the cabin where Katie and her mom had dinner already made.  Man we were spoiled.  We enjoyed the cool mountain breeze, talked for a while then turned in.