Ten days into the new year and the cogs are already turning, getting the creative juices flowing and aligned with our renewed focus on all things travel.
For the majority of the past year you’ve seen a significant decline in our online prescence. Do not adjust your screens… this was intentional. We took a step back from writing and traveling and turned our energy toward ourselves, our friends and family.
We envision new adventures and challenges for 2016.
Some of these include:
Wyoming – Spending more time poking around.
Montana – Exploring the terrain in great detail.
Utah – We missed our favourite state in 2015.
California – We’re looking at seeing more remote locations.
Hawaii – This is a bucket list locale for us. Fingers crossed!
Some parks we’d really like to investigate:
Yosemite – Because.
Yellowstone – Bison, baby! (Ole Faithful too.)
Bryce Canyon – Slot canyons and all the reds!
Devon got herself a shiny new camera and I cannot wait for her to flex its muscles on some crazy, beautiful subject matter. It’s far too much camera for me and I’m not ashamed to admit that. She says my photography has vastly improved but I’m sticking with my trusty lil EOSm. I’m giving myself the challenge of understanding all of my settings and how to use them properly. Small victories in my near future!
We already have a fun trip in the planning stages for the end of February, beginning of March (for my birthday).
I had left SLC heading south to warmer weather and to a few other places AND surprises. At about 9:30am I hit a gas station for a fill up and was texting a friend about how warm it was outside. She was telling me it was raining back home so of course, being the douche that I am, I FB some photos of the sunny weather I was having and tagged her in them.
Not even one hour later karma was out for me. Driving down the highway from SLC to Vegas I noticed my car shake in a weird fashion then all of a sudden, BOOM, my back passenger tire explodes!! All over the highway is tire “guts” from my car. The car swerves left then right, I’m on the e-brake trying to get it under control. I manage to get the car off the NOT AT ALL busy highway. I flick on my hazards and start looking in my wallet for my AAA card… not there… I’m looking in my glove box when I hear a honk behind me. It’s a flatbed tow truck! YAY! I’ve been saved!
This little old man with an oxygen tank strapped to his back gets out of the truck and wanders over to me. “Seems you need some help, ma’am.” Uh, duh! ☺ I explain I don’t know where I am and DO need the help. It turns out Kevin, old dude’s name, has a shop in the next town over so we get Smelly car up and on the flatbed and off we go. 10 minutes down the road, we hit the town and his gas station/shop.
My car is put up on a lift and his shop hand, a lovely dude named Bruce, gets working. Bruce was an older guy, probably my dad’s age; he had 2 rescue dogs that I played with until the damn POM (with no teeth) bit me. The best part of this story is I had ordered a new credit card before I left for my trip that I had originally planned with a friend and of course it didn’t come in time. I ended up calling my friend Rhonda and she helped me out. I have kickass friends, yo!!! I found out when I got home my new credit card arrived that Wednesday afternoon… go figure!
Bruce and I exchanged road stories while he was fixing my car up. Sometimes you hear of women getting taken advantage of in these situations but Kevin and Bruce were AMAZING! Not only did they fix my car, they fixed a couple other potential issues for free, filled up my gas and when I asked what town I was in, gave me 2 free t-shirts saying where… BEAVER, UTAH!
So if you’re ever in Beaver Utah, stop by the Conoco and say hi to Kevin and Bruce, tell them Devon, the tattooed Canadian, sent you.
And also… NEVER EVER tease your friends about the weather and your travels or you’ll end up with karma hitting you back, sorry Ashley.
Yes, I drove to Salt Lake city for a sandwich, don’t judge me. It wasn’t the only reason, I LOVE SLC. The town, the people, even the religion going on in the city. 🙂 I still didn’t really have a destination for my trip so I decided to spend a few days around the SLC area and go camping up at Antelope Island. It was so peaceful.
I got in around 2pm, got my sandwich(es) and made camp. I set off to explore the island some more and was met by these two very lovely students from BYU. We talked roadtrips. I told them the best places to see the bison on the island and soon we parted ways.
I took off to the other side of the island to catch the sunset. Having been to the island once before, I had a good idea where I was heading. I was told by the park ranger earlier that evening that only four other groups were camping on the island that night… that put the head count at about a dozen people on Antelope Island that night, CRAZY!
I must say watching the sunset from the roof of my car was a highlight of the trip. I pulled over to the side of the road, climbed up onto the roof of my Honda Fit and just laid there taking in everything around me. No phones, no cameras, no distractions.
Watching the sun setting off in the distance and as I lay there taking in the scene, three bison walked over to my car to sniff it. Remember, I am on the roof sans phone or camera, just watching the sunset. I’m laying flat on the roof of the car so as not to startle the bison, when all of a sudden the three of them move towards the trunk of my
car to give it a sniff (I’m sure they are smelling my dog). I flip over to my stomach ever so calmly so now I am laying the entire length of my car (on the roof). I could have reached out and touched the bison but no, instead I just laid there watching in awe as they sniffed around my car, grunted a few times then wandered off. My heart was RACING. A total Jurassic park moment for me… Cue the music 🙂
After the sun set over the hills, I hopped back into my car and took off for camp. When I ran into those same three bison again, I jumped out of the car and grabbed this photo of them, wished them a peaceful night and back to camp I went. I watched a movie in the car and fell asleep being sure to set my alarm for the sunrise that would be anything but lame. 🙂 Utah, you are one of my favourite states!! 🙂
The first day of our crazy road trip started off like any other. Everything packed up & off we went. The first day of our trips are always about distance. Putting distance between us & our lives back home. Washington state is beautiful. The lush green backdrop is a constant reminder of how lucky we are to live in such a vibrant environment. The Pacific Northwest is amazing, hands down. However, if we don’t make it out of Washington on the first day of a road trip, it simply feels like we’re cross border shopping. So we moved like bandits on the run from the law. Making it all the way down into Oregon that first night.
The first hiccup of our trip has to be the moment our “new” GPS decided it would be awesome to crap out on us. It was back to reading a map for me & navigating old school. Having searched the map for a worthy camping site close to the Idaho state line, we saw a state park sign for Anthony Lakes in between La Grande & Baker City OR. Enjoying the 20 mile drive up to the park, we came upon fields of cows who were more than willing to pose for photos & seemed to enjoy the attention. Once we were on the drive up the mountain into the park, we both remarked how similar this felt to Yosemite, but on a smaller scale. The mountain tops were blanketed in mist making the whole drive up there both beautiful & mystical. After arriving atop the mountain we were surprised to see it was a popular destination. We managed to snag a spot away from the groups of families. We then went for a quick walk around the area & found ourselves surrounded by crisp air & vibrant colours. The peak itself, Mount Ireland, was stunning. After a while, what I thought was a campsite we did not want to intrude upon turned out to be one of the lakes, we hiked down to the water to take in the living postcard before us. Every angle was an amazing photograph. There were a few people quietly enjoying the lake, fishing & taking their own photos. Devon picked up some discarded fishing line so it wouldn’t become a hazard to the wildlife. Then, we heard the distinct sound of a base being tuned up. Apparently, there was a wedding reception starting up. With that, it was back to the camp site.
Devon set up the site while I walked down to the camp site host for a bundle of firewood. We enjoyed a quiet dinner with the crackling of the fire pits seemingly in unison. A rather nice lady from the site across ours came over to introduce herself. She saw that we were Canadian and wanted to say hello. A fellow Canadian, we ended up having a lovely chat with her & quickly fell for her beautiful rescue German Shepard. The next morning, I walked over & gave them the remaining firewood we were unable to use up or take with us. Their dog was super sweet & quiet playful. Just seeing her made us miss our Jacke Boy that much more. We said our goodbyes, gave them some advice on travelling back home up to Victoria & started out for the day. A quick stop in historic Baker City OR for coffee & then it was on to Boise ID.
I’ve never been to an REI but I can tell you this, after stopping at the one in Boise, I really want to go back! The employees are so nice, and the product selection is varied & far more cost effective than the items back home. We also stopped in at Whole Foods for some much needed food supplies for our cooler. From there it was on to Salt Lake City, Utah. The drive through Idaho went faster than it has in prior trips. I wish I could tell you that the scenery on the drive through Idaho is unreal but the reality is far more bland. We spent more time watching the roadside for deer than the landscape itself.
After high fiving having crossed into Utah, a state of calm washed over us. It truly feels like a vacation when we hit Utah. The drive through this section is breathtaking as you see the land change colours before your eyes. After consulting the map again for the exit to Antelope Island, Devon saw a sign for it & we started in on our next adventure. Making our way through the small town of Syracuse we found ourselves at the entrance for the Great Salt Lake State Park on Antelope Island. Paying for our entry & campsite, Devon almost drove off in a mad rush to just relax after having driven for 10 hours straight. The park ranger handed us our booklet & our campsite pass then we drove into the park. Devon remarked that the drive in seemed eerily reminiscent of Tsawassen and the drive to the ferries. The first thing we read about Antelope Island is, of course, the antelope that inhabit it, as well as the bison. There are roughly 500-700 head of bison that call the island home. The road ahead forked and we picked the left hand road because Devon read that the bison like to hang out near the water. Not 5 minutes into the drive down this road were we met with 5 bison chilling by the roadside, grazing. The biggest smile took over Devon’s face & it looked like she would cry. These creatures are so massive & gentle. They meander with not a care in the world. We stopped the car, put on the hazards & took as many photos as the bison would let us. There were three to the left of the road on the lakeside & two more to the right of the road. A giant bison lumbered slowly across the street not 5 feet from our car. Both of us slack jawed & awestruck while furiously clicking away on our cameras, the bison had no worries about our presence and took his time crossing the road. I looked over & I felt as though Devon would burst into tears, her eyes reddening, her voice shaky with excitement. We waved at these beautiful creatures, said our thank you’s & made our way down the road a bit more before turning around and heading back down toward the turn off for the campsite. We were assigned campsite #18 and as we drove up into the Bridger Bay campground Devon saw a bison in the distance and quipped, “I’ll bet you he’s at our spot.” Truer words never spoken. As we circled around the site, looking for #18, we slowly pulled up & there he was, sitting there, like an official welcomer to Antelope Island. There he was, this gorgeous animal enjoying a dust bath not 15 feet from our site. We stopped the car, grabbed our cameras and took a handful of pictures of him as he lay there, enjoying the weather. We took a few shots of the sun setting as it tangoed with the low hanging clouds creating this crazy halo above us. Looking back at the bison, he would stay there all night, as if to say, “I get it, we’re cool.” These mammals made peace with mankind long ago & now they live in harmony with the land while we get to share in their beauty. I think that he hung around all night because he knew that we needed him to be there. We appreciated his presence and will continue to be grateful that we got to share his energy all night long.
We set up camp, made a fire & ate beans as our meal while quietly enjoying the bison laying within 20 feet of us. Laying down for the evening, I could not wipe the grin off of my face & I wondered why I was so happy. The moment we set foot on the ground there a calm energy washed over me & stayed the whole time we were on Antelope Island. I kept sitting up, looking for the bison as darkness fell all around. Though hot all night it was a peaceful sleep. We arose the next morning, our new bison friend had moved on. Devon was awoken by a magpie sitting on the post next to our car. He cheerily chirped & sang her awake. Once up for the day, we made a BioLite breakfast of coffee & peanut butter & banana sandwiches. There were several pheasants visiting the surrounding sites. Curious little birds, they walked about looking for food. After packing up, we decided on exploring the island a bit before leaving. We ventured down the roadway & back down the road that first took us to the bison. Sure enough, they were there again. We waited as they marched on past us. This time they galloped past, then settled down & calmly walked across the road. We grabbed a few more photos then carried on our way down the island to the Fielding Garr Ranch. A working ranch for over 100 years before stopping operation in 1981, in modern times, the ranch house is still the oldest building on its original foundation in Utah. We took the self guided tour around the ranch. I enjoyed the simplicity of the 100 year old blacksmithing equipment, while Devon wasn’t much impressed with it having being raised on a farm. Her grandfather had a dairy farm & understood the inner workings of it all while I had to stop & read about everything. She humoured me & let me read each display while she tried to say hello to the horses in the corral. Once we were finished with the tour, it was back into the car & back on the road into Salt Lake City for the most amazing vegan buffalo sandwich I have ever tasted.
I’m starting to feel that twitch, that familiar tingle way down deep inside. You know the one, everybody feels it… It’s that tiny little voice somewhere inside that says, “Psst! Hey… yeah I’m talking to you. Ummm, it’s time. Let’s go!” Actually, I’ve been aching to get back out there for a while now.
I only really had one road trip last year. Around May Jade & I took off for the desert that had us meeting up with our friends Paul and Lisa. It was amazing. I could actually just sit there on the Colorado river in a lawn chair and relax. THAT is a vacation!
In September, we also trekked down to Los Angeles. While fun, I don’t feel this was a road trip in the least. We drove, we stopped and drove some more… All the way to LA. When we got there it was action packed with Jade and her cousins Stephen & Doug. It was go go go until it was over. I can safely say that this was a bucket list trip for Jade.
Throughout the trip I kept emailing Lisa how much I would rather be in the desert just relaxing and exploring. This constant flow of emails set about the very rapid plan for our own road trip. The minute, and I mean minute, I got home I was emailing her about where we wanted to go and what we wanted to do. It was going to be a girls road trip, just Jade, Lisa & myself. We had it planned and set before I even went back to work the following day. I was stoked. All we had to do was count down the 8 months. When you factor in your daily life and all that you do to make it through until your next vacation, there are times when you just want to curl up into a ball and give up. You better believe we counted down those days. Well… It’s been 8 months and the road trip is a go!! May 2nd Lisa & I are hitting the road. Jade decided to stay home and let me go on this adventure with Lisa. It’s good to travel apart from your significant other. We will be gone about 11 days and we’ll hit Utah, Arizona and Nevada. We have planned out some pretty cool adventures and I know we will stumble upon some others as we go.
I told Jade to tuck away some bail money because the two of us together… who knows what will happen? I know it’s going to be an amazing time. Other than Jade, I couldn’t imagine experiencing the desert with anyone else. Lisa just gets it.
I love a good road trip. I enjoy discovering new places and going on adventures to places I’ve never been. I’m not one for the details. To be honest, that part kinda bores me. But for Devon, the fun is in the details. She loves the planning. She enjoys the task. I just want to get in the car and go.
Right now, Devon is planning an epic road trip for September of next year. She says we’ll be traveling through fourteen states, and I’ll need my license as I’ll be helping with the driving duties. What she hasn’t told me yet is the destination. There’s always one place on a road trip that either her or myself have always wanted to go. Yes, we go to several places and see many sights, but ultimately, there’s one thing off our bucket list that we check out. She’s stringing me along on this one with a few pathetic hints. Telling me a few of the states we’ll be going through only tells me that we’ll be going through the south west. Nothing else.
As I wait for the details to unfold, I can reflect on some of the things we’ve done & some of the places we’ve gone.
I remember my first trip vividly. I had never been on a plane, and I had never been on vacation. Thanks to Devon I was about to check both off my list in November of 2008 when we went to Los Angeles. The flight itself is only two and a half hours, no biggie. I got to sit in a window seat on the flight down. To see the earth from that view was spectacular. Humans look like ants, and the mountains look like goosebumps.
When we got to LA my cousin Doug met us and volunteered to be our tour guide. He was awesome, and we couldn’t have asked for a better guide. Devon let me do all of the touristy things that I could find. We did it all. Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, Hollywood Walk of Fame, Griffith Observatory, the Hollywood sign, the Whiskey a Go-Go, Sunset Strip, Mel’s Drive-In, Pink’s. I mean we did it all. We even managed to fit in a turn around trip to Vegas. We had a blast. One of the greatest trips I’ve ever been on.
The first time I went to Moab, UT sticks out in my mind as well. Until you’ve gone to the desert yourself and seen the beautiful rock formations in person, you can’t say a bad thing about it. To experience the barren landscape and see the dry expanse, only then can to truly marvel at the beauty of the land that you once took for granted, the place you call home. Moab is blanketed with Entrada sandstone. The crazy orange hues seemingly blur into one shade, yet if you look close enough, they pop individually and begin to share their story. The desert is not for everyone, it’s unforgiving, but Devon and I enjoy some of the greatest hikes there, at least twice a year. Our two favourite parks in Moab are Arches National Park & Canyonlands National Park. If you find yourself in the area, do yourself a favour and check it out.
Another one of our trips that I truly enjoyed was driving down to San Francisco. One of the funnest trips in a great city. A city filled with fun & history. We stayed at a Travelodge out near the airport. We ended up saving a bundle by staying there. Not a bad little place either, they even serve a continental breakfast. We drove our car down to the piers and parked it for the day. We filled the whole day with a walking tour of the city. That’s right, you heard me, we walked the entire city. If you have the time to do this yourself, do it. However, don’t make the mistake that we did and go without sunscreen. It was overcast and Stephen, Devon & myself did not even think about lathering up with sunblock. Did we ever get red & crispy. We walked the entire city and packed in as many sights as we could. Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39, Alcatraz, Coit Tower, Lombard street (the crookedest street in the world), Deloris Park, Mission Deloris (which is stunning), Market street, downtown San Fran (including a parade for Greek days), yes, we managed to do it all. We squeezed every drop out of the city that we could. Our feet hurt, our faces were burnt but it was worth it. I don’t think I would ever want to experience San Francisco a different way. That day was perfect.
We’ve been on a handful more adventures since those trips, but for the life of me, I cannot figure out what Devon has in store for us. She keeps poking me, thinking I’ll magically know what she means. But alas, I do not. I have no idea and it’s killing me. But I wouldn’t want it any other way.
I’ll keep guessing and Devon will keep toying with me.
It’s unfortunate that many people equate deserts with a hostile environment that conspires against human life. The desert is a magical place. It’s where flowers bloom, animals roam, water flows, life exists. Yes, true too, it is also where things go to die.
When I go into the desert I am so broken down by society and all that surrounds me, I almost feel as if I am fleeing, praying for that peace that will wash over me when I arrive.
The solitary silence, the wind rushing past my ears, the calm that wraps around my body. Its the silence that envelopes you and holds you right at your weakest moment. THIS is the desert… to me.
Peace, calm, happiness, fulfilment. I feel it all in the desert, it isn’t about the heat, the sun, the barrenness. It’s about connecting with yourself and those that you have chosen to bring with you.
There is a respect given to the desert as well as taken from the desert. Not many will understand this. Or when given the opportunity to, will simply let it slip by.
To those who are willing to sit beside me and feel the stillness of the desert, are you willing to open yourself up and take in all that the desert has to offer?
“I’m not scared to cross the border. I may die in the desert. But if I stay here, I’ll die of hunger.” – Raul Santos