It felt weird to be back in Arizona. Not our home for six years but the comfort remained as we checked out all our old favorite spots. We hiked to our favorite swimming hole, which was still as beautiful as ever, water a perfect way to cool off in the middle of a seven-mile, 90-degree hike. Nearing the end, we witnessed a teenage couple— the guy foolishly hiking into a deep part of the canyon to get water, cursing back up at his girlfriend for not following him down. They showed up at the swimming hole about an hour later. Apparently on the edge of death, the miserable looking boy pulls out a small battery-powered fan, his girlfriend using his precious water to wash sand off her butt. I never did see them get into the water.
On the way back we drove through Sedona and up Oak Creek Canyon. The views in this region are unbeatable! We had forgotten what an amazing place this is.
The next day we hiked a section of Bill Williams Mountain, starting at the ranger station east of town. The hike has some pretty nature and I enjoyed finding four types of wild mushrooms nestled beneath the pinion pines. The grasshoppers buzzed around the woods, their sounds always startling and interrupting the tranquility. We didn’t finish the hike, which round-trip totals seven miles, because we have done it a few times before and we had been hiking a good deal.
Our third day we got up at dawn and drove to the Grand Canyon. We hiked along the rim until there were less crowds with selfie sticks and climbed over the edge to a nice place to hang our feet over. In the distance we spotted two California Condors which we had never been lucky enough to see before. They circled through the sky, catching air streams, and eventually cruised right in front of us. The sound of their feathers rippling through the wind was mesmerizing, wings stiff like a hang-glider. Easily the coolest birds I’ve seen in the wild.
Day four we finally got some climbing in. We went bouldering at a place called Priest Draw off of Lake Mary Road in Flagstaff. The Draw is famous among the climbing community and we were excited to check it out again, having last been there in 2011. We sent some of the easier problems, leaving the classic cave problems for the pros. It was a great spot to spend the morning with our pup Toby who loved tramping around in the woods. We planned to go across the street to The Pit, a sport climbing area, but it started to rain as we entered the parking lot so we went to Flagstaff to a gear shop. We needed just a few more things for our coming Mount Whitney trek.
Our Prius has been carrying us everywhere and we are calling it the “Rock Crawler” now. Every day seems to bring about some new dirt road for us to conquer. We are decked out with gear and a new solar panel/battery bank. Wish us luck as we head to hike Mount Whitney!
Toledo, Ohio to San Diego, California
Grand Total: $669.76
We didn’t exactly live like paupers during this road trip. We Couchsurfed everywhere of course, but we also splurged on quite a few meals out and quite a few brewery stops in Colorado. It was a mini vacation! Still, I think the fact that we spent so little proves something…
We left Denver early after a fun few days around town. The Rocky Mountains loomed before us and we patted our old car whispering “Come on, you can do it!” Up, up, up, we went, ears popping. The aspens were just starting to turn giving the mountains beautiful touches of gold. We headed toward Durango, where we would stop for a rest. The car made it up and over the mountains where everything leveled into a high plateau. We drove through some pretty hick-ish Colorado towns, including Fairplay, famous for inspiring South Park. Thankfully, there were no delinquent children running around or political movements occurring.
Eventually we came to a “truck on triangle” sign signalling a hard downhill for the next 10 miles or so. This was the end of the Rockies, a spot that would test our car to the limits. We switched into a lower gear but about halfway down our breaks started smelling of burning rubber so we stopped at a scenic view point to check out the damage. There was smoke pouring out from around the front wheels. I threw all of our water on them, plus half a cup of coffee, and some coolant, everything instantly turning to steam. We waited around, worrying, for about a half an hour. There were only a few more downhill miles to go so, after testing the breaks, we set out to make it to our break spot.
After a quick stop in Durango, we were back on the road and headed through the familiar Navajo Reservation in northeastern Arizona. “The res” is always an interesting place, with packs of dogs, no one speaking English, locals sitting along the road watching the cars pass. The sun went down fast but we were still able to catch some of the cool rock formations and the painted desert. We were pretty tired by this point and the miles left didn’t seem to be getting any fewer. The last few hours of any long car trip are always the hardest.
We got into Williams, Arizona around 9pm and went straight to bed. We planned to rest for a day then head to the beach!