Bold statement, right?

You might say this to the super annoying guy at your local coffee shop who keeps asking you for a date. Can’t he see you’re just there for the java? Buzz off, bud! Don’t you know I’m a zombie without my cuppa joe?!? Perhaps you’d yell this out the window at the impatient driver who cut you off three times in one block. Seriously?!? Are you kidding me right now? I’ll see you at the next red, pal! Piss off!!

I can tell you that I’m a little more compassionate than that. I’d probably politely turn down the guy at the coffee shop and maybe even buy his drink and I’d most certainly let that driver be. They might be having the worst day of their life. I mean ‘get lost’ in a different way.

Every time I step outside my apartment or get in the car with no set destination or time frame to be somewhere, it is my intention to go out and get lost.

This is not as easy as it might sound. I have an innate ability to either know which direction I’m going or find my way without much struggle.

The same cannot be said for Devon. She is the first person to concede that she has a horrible sense of direction and she cannot read a map. There have been a handful of disagreements over which street to turn on or whether we were going in the right direction. These are the rare times that I am not only right, but Devon admits it.

What Devon lacks in a natural compass she makes up for in her ability to get completely lost. When this happens, she always exclaims “it’s an adventure!” and nine times out of ten, it is!

Shiprock, a monadnock jutting out from the desert floor.  (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)
Shiprock, a monadnock jutting out from the desert floor. (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)
There was that time our “Canadian” showed and we picked up a stranded elder Navajo lady who was waiting for her son to pick her up at church. What was explained to us as “a little bit down the road” turned out to be a four hour drive into another state (AZ) in the opposite direction of our destination, deep into Navajo country. If we hadn’t dropped Jessie off near her home, we would have never heard her stories about Shiprock (NM) and its importance to the local Navajo people. Not only does the rock formation stand guard over the town but it also takes a decent selfie.

Anthony Lake, beautifully serene.
Anthony Lake, beautifully serene.
The same can be said for our unscheduled detour to Anthony Lakes Park (OR). Not only did we pull over and hang out with cows on the way up to the park but once there, we were blown away by the beauty and serenity of the lake we camped at. We’ve driven past this detour several times over the years, never knowing what we were missing. We shared many moments of perfect stillness coupled with wonderfully deafening silence sitting lakeside. If I’m being totally honest, it felt like I had walked into a postcard. The scene before us looked far too picturesque to be real.

How they "roll" down in Cannon Beach.
How they “roll” down in Cannon Beach.
Then there was the time we drove down the Oregon coast, letting our car pick our destinations. This led us up the side of a mountain which felt like we were off-roading. This old logging road literally went nowhere but the ride up and down was pretty fun. We also ended up at Long Beach which had some very smooth white sand. We ended up in Florence on one of the whitest beaches I’ve ever seen during a dune buggy race. As we walked through the sand to the shoreline, dune buggies and ATVs zipped by all around us. Had we been better prepared, we would have rented one and bombed around with the rest of the overgrown kids.

I’m not a jealous person at all but Devon’s ability to randomly find adventure and awesome at every “wrong” turn has me a little green with envy.

Sometimes the best laid plan is to rip up the blueprint and go in the opposite direction. Sometimes the stress of a timetable zaps the fun and random out of your trip altogether. When was the last time you ended up somewhere unintentionally? On your next road trip, vacation or holiday, do yourself a kindness and plan absolutely nothing. Throw caution to the wind, think outside the box and let the open road lead you to anywhere you’ve never been before. You’ll be a better person for it and you’ll thank me later.

I wish I could get lost. I can’t even do that in my hometown. I always find my way to somewhere I’ve been before and, eventually, back home.

What’s the worst that could happen? Give it a try. The next time you step outside your front door, go ahead… *GET LOST.

– Jade

* in a good way. 🙂



Jessie from Beclabito.

Jade & I were on our first road trip together back in 2009, we packed up the car and took off for 2 weeks. One morning we woke up in Shiprock, New Mexico on our way to White Sands National Monument, following the map, it led us to a highway that didn’t exist, so we pulled over in a church parking lot and got out the old map to re-check our route. While we were looking at the map an older lady walked over from the other side of the parking lot and asked if we were lost, we said not really just trying to figure out where we were going. She said we wanted to get to Alamogordo and she pointed us in the right direction. She then told us her name, Jessie, and she needed a ride back home from church. Both Jade and I have NEVER picked up a hitch hiker but we looked at each other and said what the hell. This woman was easily 90 yrs old. We moved the cooler and a few things around in the back seat and she hopped in. We happened to be going the same way as she was. We got to talking about where she was from and her family, we passed the tiny village she was born and raised in, it was all boarded up and deserted. She told us about her son who lived in Tuba City and we should stop in and see him, they would love the company. She recounted many stories about Shiprock, the actual rock itself. Some truly fascinating tales about the surrounding area, and her grandmother’s ranch near the base of the rock.

What we thought was going to be a quick 10 minute drive home turned into a 2 hour drive down this long, winding dirt road. We ended up in Beclabito, almost on the Arizona border, and totally out of the area we wanted to be in. Where, seemingly, out of no where popped up a gas station. Jessie tells us we can drop her off, she can walk from there. She thanks us kindly for the ride, blesses us and our trip with a little Navajo saying and leaves the car. By then I am trying to get my camera out because Jade and I had been videoing EVERYTHING on our trip. I get the camera working, point the camera outside of the car where Jessie is slowly walking to the door, and we clearly see her. But when we played the video back in the car she was no where to be found on the camera.

Was Jessie really there in the car?? We ended up being on the correct road, in the right direction because of Jessie, we learned greatly from this Navajo lady but WTF happened??

Jade says I am crazy, she was really there and has no explanation for the no show on my camera. I, on the other hand, tend to think that Jessie didn’t happen. Was it a Navajo spirit realizing we were lost in the land and needing direction out? OR am I to believe that we picked up some random hitch hiker?…

– Devon

Monumental Moments.

Going into this past road trip I wasn’t expecting anything out of the ordinary. Then again I hadn’t planned on extraordinary. We’ve got a great system in place so far as picking destinations, mapping out routes & budgeting for any extras that might pop up. But when you come across a natural wonder that has breathtaking beauty, nothing prepares you for the shock and awe. This was my reaction to Monument Valley.

After rendezvousing with our friends, Paul & Lisa, and continuing on to Moab for four days of fun and relaxation, it was time to move on. The drive down from Arches National Park to Monument Valley is nothing spectacular to speak of. It’s a rather benign drive with a typical Utah backdrop as a constant companion. This is something that, I feel, no one can ever under appreciate or gloss over. Utah’s beautiful scenery stays with you as a reminder, even as you venture home. It gives you something to look forward to and keeps you coming back for more.

Driving closer to the Arizona border and deeper into Navajo country the landscape begins to morph in front of you. The dark reds begin to pale leaving a washed out orange with a distinct yellow hue seen only in the Colorado Plateau. This particular stretch of highway dips and swerves with great respect to the unforgiving terrain. Along the way the turnoffs and shoulders are dotted with shanties and kiosks hawking handmade Navajo jewelry. One final apex in the rolling roadway and just when your vehicle begins to dip down, across the horizon massive buttes majestically jut out from beneath the arid earth. They stand stoically, head and shoulders above their surrounding monoliths and spires. And as quickly as the desert plain takes a drastic turn, so does the colour. Back are the deep reds and vivid multi-dimensional oranges that can only be seen here as well as in the Moab desert. The view is impressive and nearly all traffic stops to take pictures. We pulled over and took several shots from this lookout before continuing on our way.

We arrive shortly at the gate to Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. Both Devon & Paul drive low profile cars. Normally this isn’t a concern but the scenic drive around the buttes & mittens in Monument Valley is on rather loose sand. We stopped in at the visitor’s centre which has a gift shop and a restaurant attached to it. The centre is chock full of knick knacks, trinkets and miscellaneous sundries. The indoor overlook has a full 360 view of the entire valley. As we were reading information about the buttes and their sacred spirits, it was brought to my attention that in either corner there were dinosaur tracks, preserved and on display for all to see. When you step outside onto the overlook you are immediately taken aback by the gigantic rock formations jutting out from valley floor. They stand proud and for centuries have been a beacon for the indigenous people, the Navajo. The wind whips around whistling and carrying ancient stories to the elders who in turn pass them on. These are the stuff of legend, whose tall tales turned up in dime novels in the late 1800s. These grounds are sacred and must be treated as such. The feeling that encompasses you here is one of complete calmness and a heightened sense of wisdom.

After taking some stunning pictures of the three most famous buttes & mittens, we decided to try and drive around the valley loop to get a closer look. Since we couldn’t tell from the top of the loop how soft the road was we just went for it. After one hill and an embankment, we could tell this would be a fun and trying drive. The sand isn’t compact and in some spots it seems like quicksand. One would think that a national monument would have paved roads to allow for greater access but that is not the case when it concerns Navajo country. Paul’s car is a little lower than ours and has a trailer hitch, so this small loop was proving difficult. Up and over big rocks and down into sandy ditches we go. I imagine the jostling about was similar to riding around in an old jalopy without shocks. Watching Paul’s car dip and bounce about was both impressive and amusing. We both ended up bottoming out and stopping to check our cars. In a turn out, taking pictures and checking the undersides of our cars, we somehow became roadside fodder for truckloads of kids on a guided tour. One group of kids waved excitedly at us saying “bonjour”. I guess they think all Canadians are bilingual.

Examinations of the undercarriages proved that the path was too difficult to do in our respective vehicles. Turning our cars around and attempting to make a run back up the hills and onto paved road, we had to time our runs with the oncoming truck tours. You never knew when your car might jump sideways as it tried to dig in and find solid ground. As it turns out, coming down into the valley loop was much easier than trying to climb back out of it. At some points, we lost all power and traction. With Paul leading the way, we watched him struggle and slide back, coming within inches of our car. Every time they went a few inches forward, we did too. And every time they lurched back or let up on the gas, Devon skillfully retreated to a safe distance without losing too much ground. After rolling back down a bit, Devon said, “F*** it!”, dropped it into first and gunned it up the final hill. The three truck loads of tourists cheered us on as we summited and finally arrived safe and sound at the top.

We flirted with the idea of pulling over and hiking around the base of one of the buttes but after that frustrating loop attempt, clearer heads prevailed and we decided to check out the Navajo markets instead. We strolled about in the market place and took in all of the beautiful arts and crafts. They use such amazing colours and utilize turquoise in such a way that it’s both tasteful and subtle. The bracelets and necklaces are magical looking with every colour of the rainbow represented. Everything is handmade and polished to perfection. I was particularly smitten with the knives, bows and arrows. But it was the fry bread that had me on the first bite. Fry bread is essentially a Navajo flat donut. This is a traditional sweet snack in Navajo country and it can be prepared in a plethora of ways. I chose to sprinkle icing sugar on mine. Walking about the arid outdoor mall, the hardest part for me was seeing all of the feral dogs wandering around, looking for food, water & cool shade to hide in, in an effort to beat the oppressive heat. The pregnant dogs almost tore my heart out and I found myself wanting to tear up. Both Devon & Lisa assured me that the local people took good care of these wild dogs, which eased my mind a bit. Looking about the vendor’s wares, Devon & Lisa picked out a nice, simple silver ring for me and a beautiful purple bracelet. In the very last shop we stopped in the proprietor was a very sweet woman who cared deeply about her goods and spoke fondly of their meaning. After shopping and as I waited for my fry bread, I watched as she took a bag of food outside and left it along side of the building for one skinny dog to eat. She had water out for the dogs as well. This filled me with renewed faith in mankind and I was able to let go of the fret I had with the dogs. Devon told me that this was their way of life and this was normal for these parts. With our new jewelry in hand and a giant fry bread to consume, we packed up and headed out for our next adventure, Sedona AZ. But we will cover that fun in another post.

Monument Valley was both barren and beautiful, stark and stunning. The air was filled with an energy that cannot be put into words. The terrain takes your breath away and the rocks themselves, if you listen close enough, speak to you like you’re the only person there.

What they said to me, I cannot say. You just have to go there for yourself.

– Jade