The Roadtrip 2k17

I finally went on a much needed extended vacation for the first time this year. Suffice to say, I learned a lot about a lot of things. We went on a 1-car, 3-man, 4-state, 5-day roadtrip, one I had been planning for quite some time. I’m so happy we were able to make it come to fruition.

Anyway, without further ado, here’s all the amazing things we experienced:

Mojave Desert, CA

We started our journey heading north to the desert early in the morning. The heat wasn’t too bad at the start. Our first destination was the Lava Tube. The drive there was treacherous and bumpy, but the hike was simple enough. And the reward was so cool! We came at the recommended time for the sunlight to perfectly pierce the hole and shine into the tube. And we saw a bat. Definitely worth it.

The next part of our journey, after we lunched, led us to Kelso Dunes. They looked so glorious from a distance, but who knew how treacherous the hike would be in the midday sun? We were not prepared (though I did bring an umbrella which helped shield me from the sun’s rays). The hills were small, but numerous. It started out okay, but soon, every step in the sand was difficult. I was so winded. We kept going and going until we got to the big hill in the distance, but I barely made it up. We ended up going to a nearby, albeit shorter hill to get some good views and pictures. The breeze picked up, along with my second wind, and it ended up being nice to rest on top of the hill (and a great impromptu photoshoot ensued). However, I’m still digging out sand in my socks and shoes.

Bryce Canyon, UT

From Mojave, we headed straight to Bryce, stopping in Las Vegas for dinner. I loved that the city still bustled despite the recent tragedy. We were ahead of schedule because I allowed for more time in Mojave than we took. We ended up at the site after midnight, and it was very cold and we didn’t know how to get a site because everything was closed. We slept in the car, though this was something I had planned on anyway. It was cramped and freezing, but we survived.

When we woke up, we saw cars moving around and, after a bit of anxiety, we finally ended up claiming a site. The process was confusing, but it was mostly just do it yourself. We set up our site, but I didn’t want to go back to sleep because I’d just be groggy afterwards. So I stayed up and got to enjoy the brisk early morning air, the birds and chipmunks, and the beautiful sky.

We headed out for our tour of Peekaboo Loop via horseback (in our case muleback). I was excited at first, but as we got closer, I got more scared. I got paired with a lovely mule named Mouse, who I found out had a lazy demeanor and I was given a riding crop to smack her butt with. This made me initially uncomfortable as the cowboy told me I wasn’t hitting hard enough and had to keep up. Then I found it easier as the tour went on…which is kind of terrifying in hindsight. Mules are as big as horses, with smaller hooves, but big, cute ears.

The tour was breathtaking and nerve-wracking. Our mules kept walking close to the edges, but I trusted they knew what they were doing. We saw hoodoos and gorgeous rock formations on top of our steeds on the edges of cliffs along a canyon wall. It was an unforgettable, unique experience (and my butt was sore for the rest of the trip) and I’m glad I did it. This was the priciest part of our trip, overall.

We were exhausted when we got back, even though we barely did any work. We stayed the night in Bryce, but it was so cold and windy, below freezing in fact. I kept waking up every couple of hours and it felt like I didn’t get a true sleep, but luckily I wasn’t too cold because of my blankets. I kept thinking the tent would blow away at any point.

The next morning was still really cold and windy, so we headed out early. We decided not to do some planned hikes because we felt like our tour gave us exactly what we wanted to see. Instead, we took a brief stop at Inspiration Point, which was…inspirational (cold and windy, but breathtaking (literally and figuratively)).

Page, AZ

We drove along the southern border of Utah, where I pretty much slept in the back seat the whole time. When we made it to Arizona, we stopped by Lake Powell and Glen Canyon, though we didn’t go in (I didn’t realize we’d have to go and rent supplies before heading in). We decided just to head to our airbnb and rest for the day.

On our way, we stopped by the Glen Canyon Dam, which was interesting. I saw some tumbleweeds for the first time (but they weren’t tumbling). I learned that my household is not sustainably using water. We stayed for a bit before our check in time. The airbnb was much needed: shower, bed, kitchen. Always good in the middle of a camping trip.

We decided to go to Horseshoe Bend at sunset, though we missed it by a hair (we didn’t realize the hike there would take a while). Nonetheless, it was still a beautiful site to see (though scary to see all the people doing weird poses for pictures). It was crowded and it was sad to see all the trash left behind. I saw a boat cruising along the bend, so I’m hoping one day, I’ll be able to do that as well.

The next morning, we woke up at sunrise to go back to Horseshoe Bend because why not (after all, I slept like a baby in the bed)? It was still beautiful, if not more so. I liked how the sun slowly crawled toward the curve of the horseshoe and painted the rocks orange. It was still cold, but warmer than at night. Another lovely morning with a lovely view and fresh air.

We headed back to the airbnb for a bit, but I didn’t want to sleep again before our next tour at Antelope Canyon. I knew it was just another tourist trap, but I was excited (and glad that they hired Navajo to be the guides). It was crowded, but the rock formations were gorgeous with the myriad hues of warmth. Our guide explained that wind, earth, and water came together and carved the canyon. I love it– Mother Nature doing her thing.

Joshua Tree, CA

After our tour, we headed straight back to California, through Vegas, and down to Joshua Tree. I was really excited because I’ve been wanting to go here for ages (I’m so glad I was able to reserve a spot). We got there really late at night and pitched a tent in the dark. It was a warm 50 degree night, compared to Bryce.

The next day, we had a lazy late start. When we got into the heart of the national park, there were views for days. We went to Barker DamHidden Valley, and the Cholla Cactus Garden. I loved the Joshua Trees and the desert landscape and the piles and piles of rocks. I had fun climbing and parkouring around, and the weather was pleasant in the middle of the day, luckily. When we got back at night, we packed up. Before heading home (early), we got to see the clear night sky above us.

Overall, our hikes were of the easy variety, and I’m excited to go back to these locations to do the more strenuous hikes. This will certainly allow me to see new things I didn’t see this time around.

I actually set some travel goals for myself this trip:

  1. Be as sustainable as possible while camping
  2. Don’t be rigid with the itinerary and allow for spontaneity

I love camping because I can be close to nature and marvel at the beauty that surrounds us. It’s truly awe-inspiring, breathtaking, and much needed after being away for so long. I get so excited when I see wild animals. I love the feeling of reading early in the morning or sitting in the tent with the sky shining above me. Fresh air is wonderful. My sleeping/eating/pooping habits were all out of whack, but I think I ended up fixing my sleeping habit by sleeping in nature.

It’s ironic how close we can be to nature, yet eat so poorly and have so much trash and behave so inappropriately towards the environment. Luckily, I strove to produce as little trash as possible. There were some Unavoidables via packaging for certain food products that were bought for convenience. However, a lot of things were placed in Tupperware that was reused after washing. Any fast food purchased of course had waste. We actually didn’t use any paper towels, though I brought them, and I completely avoided napkins. I’m proud to say we didn’t use any disposable utensils or dinnerware, instead opting for reusable utensils and using Tupperware as our bowls. We did have to buy water in plastic jugs, but I didn’t really see any other way. I used toilet paper, obviously, because there weren’t any bidets (my butt missed my bidet so much). We actually produced very little waste, everything fitting in less than one trash bag. And as with all traveling, gas is necessary, but problematic. What a paradox.

– package as much food as you can in Tupperware
– bring reusable utensils, dinnerware, and cloth napkins
– wash your dishes
– bring a trash bag for compost, recyclables, and other trash
– borrow supplies from others instead of buying new supplies (as much as you can)
– plan all your meals in advance
– bring a reusable water bottle; plastic water jugs > plastic water bottles (less waste overall)

I know all of this is less convenient, but I truly believed it was important to REDUCE waste first, and if that made things a little harder– so be it. I think it’s worth it. I’m hoping my next camping trip will be even better and minimalist. I’m always scouring the web for advice and how to make it all a smoother experience (especially for others who don’t share in my zeal for environmentalism).

I packed and ate a mostly vegetable-based diet. I pre-planned vegan meals, though some didn’t work out so well. The one thing I fell in love with was some vegan burger patties that were black beans and corn, which I mashed up and turned into a ground meat like substance and put it in some pita bread and ate it like a taco. It was so good! I made lentil pasta, which was also decent (though I have a feeling it would be better if I cooked it properly). However, I still couldn’t get used to the taste of some tofurkey sausages I bought– still gross. I wish I had more experience cooking vegan meals because, again, other people aren’t as open to vegan food as I am…so when it doesn’t taste excellent, it’s a loss for the vegan community. I tried vegan cheese for the first time and, while it didn’t melt properly at first, I didn’t have farts!

– fruit that can be brought whole: apples, oranges, grapes
– fruit that can be pre-cut and put in the cooler: watermelon, pineapple, peaches, strawberries
– tortillas and pita bread (as well as other breads) can last
– homemade cookies are great when you need that extra sugar boost
– lentil pasta is amazing because it’s protein and carbs
– a lot of vegan foods actually hold up better than meat (I was less afraid of contamination)

I learned something about myself. I’m the type to have an hourly set itinerary and like everything to run without issue. I learned how difficult it is to keep on schedule because of things out of my control. But I also feel I’ve come such a long way because I felt myself moving with the flow. We adjusted to our physical and mental needs, adjusted to time, and adjusted to the weather and the environment. We didn’t do all the hikes I wanted to do or in the order I planned to do them in, the food was all over the place even though we had a set menu, but I didn’t really care. It was easy to change things around on the fly.

On a final note, I think it’s important to talk about traveling as a relational experience. You know how you have friends you get along pretty well with and you think it’s a good idea to travel with them, but then things aren’t exactly all that great (it’s like moving in with your girlfriend and finding out she’s impossible to live with but it’s too late). It’s not something that you can prevent, but it is a learning experience and useful knowledge for future travels.

– travel with your significant other; this is a true test of the strength of the relationship

I felt like a mother, taking care of children. My friends also spend a majority of the time on their phones, looking for wifi, complaining about the weather, and sleeping. It was a bit frustrating. Yes, I know, I have this compulsion to keep things clean and I like to eat my meals at specific times and I like to advise people on how to be better to the environment…so I’m pretty sure they were annoyed with me at times too. Nonetheless, we made it work because we’re all friends and shared in a wonderful experience.

~ by Btab on 27 October 2017.

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