If I can admit to one of my greatest traits it's inconsistency. I don't think it's great as in awesome or admirable. I think it's great as in it's vast and reaches into most everything I decide to embark on.
I am an inconsistent blogger. If I can remember to publish two blogs in a month I consider it amazing. I often reward myself with a Ben and Jerry's Fro-yo pint when such a feat is accomplished. I would give myself such a reward tonight if only I hadn't finally conceded to the fact I have a food addiction.
I'm getting off topic.
Today I started prepping for my taxes. I find myself rummaging through images to stay sane. When it struck me that I never posted ANY of our greatest adventures. These adventures were centered around wanderlust in it's purest form. The kind of wandering that is driven by the love of new things. It's the love of circling the corner and meeting sights, sounds, and creatures that you never would have living a static life.
Tony and I wanted to see all of the National Parks from the start of our relationship. We used to stare at Google Maps dropping pins on the places that seemed most dreamy, then moving the pins to places that were realistic. One of the biggest influences in making our home in Colorado was how centric it is to our biggest dreamlands. Yellowstone, Arches, Canyonlands, Rocky Mountain, Black Canyon of the Gunnison and Great Sand Dunes were all a day's drive away. Of course a lot of these drives would be overnight trips fueled on Monster energy drinks and sour candies in lieu of meals; so they were not always comfortable or easy, but they were unforgettable.
I'm going to try and bring you along on our beautiful ride to where we are. These trips were what inspired us to start photography, what motivated us to keep traveling even when the couch was more inviting and where we plan to head next. Maybe you can get some travel cues from our blundering around and some knowledge from our many albeit happy mistakes.
So here we go...
Journey 1: The desert loop.
Tony and I come from one of the greenest place in the galaxy, Central New York. So predictably we were OBSESSED with the desert after we moved west. The amount of times we jumped into my then, red Jeep Cherokee and roamed to Moab, Utah are incalculable. Our trips were almost always limited 3 days, so when we got our first week plus long trip we decided to go FULL DESERT.
Our itinerary was to hike at least one day at each of the following parks:
Now my friends, I beg of you, please do not repeat this trip. Not for your sakes, but for these beautiful parks'. They deserve more time. To try to visit all of these in a week was a standard crazy Kate and Tony trip at the time. We wouldn't do it again with the same time constraints.
Day one consisted of us making it to Colorado National Monument by sunset. It's an amazing place and at the time we honestly had no idea that something like that existed at the time. So we stayed aweing at it until every drop of sunlight was absorbed into those colorful rocks.
Note: I knew very little about photography and editing at this point (2012). We borrowed one of our very favorite people's Canon 50D to take along on our trip. The photos aren't our best, but they are our memories.
Arrive at Arches.
It's dark. We are National Park novices. We had no idea how arches was laid out. We ended up very illegally sleeping in the Jeep within the parking lot for Devil's Garden. Ooooooppppppppsssss.
I'll never forget that first beautiful desert sunrise through the fogged Jeep glass. If you haven't woke up in the desert. Do it. Just once. Legally though.
We immediately drove everywhere in arches fueled on adrenaline and scenery.
We ended up driving around so much we only had time for the Park Avenue walk before we headed over to Canyonlands National Park. After snapping one terrible selfie and a few views off of Grand View Point Overlook, which is quite literally the end of the road at Islands in the Sky. We pulled a standard tourist and decided to venture immediately to
Capitol Reef was a new stop for us so we could not wait to get there, which means we drove at night, again. Desperate for a spot to stop and sleep we found this little hotel 20 min outside of Capitol Reef. Now if you don't know us well, you might not know that we freakin' love cats. Like love cats, for reals. So when we pulled up and the parking lot was littered with relaxing cats, we had to scoop up our melting hearts off that pavement. That night we let 3 cats into our room gave them food, played with them and let them back outside. That's generally a terrible choice, but suck it world. In the morning we packed up, checked out, and kissed our new found cat friends good-bye and started our drive into Capitol Reef.
Capitol Reef is one of the most underrated National Parks in the country. It's empty when you go, we saw ZERO other humans on our trip. It's also full of breathtaking red rock formations and hiking trails. We choose the Grand Wash trail as our hiking destination in Capitol Reef. Our main motivation was to be able to walk across Cassidy Arch. We saw everyone's awesome photos skipping across Cassidy Arch and caught the jealousy bug. That trail is amazing and easy. Do it.
One really cool thing to note are the marks the people left on Capitol Reef over the years. Objects have been found in this park dating to around 12,000 years ago! The most early and readily visible marks were left by the Freemont people on Canyon walls between 600 and 1200 CE. These petroglyphs are fun to try and find throughout the park. The Latter-day Saints settled along the Fremont river within the park in the 1800's. The Saint's left tiny houses and an orchard that are still visible in the park today.
Off to Zion!
The drive to Zion park is amazing, especially when you start climbing the plateau to where the park itself is. You look around and have no idea that this park is hidden somewhere around you then BAM! There it is. Once you see it, you can't imagine how such towering, glowing formations could be hidden anywhere but they are and it's incredible.
In such a beautiful place how do you decide where to hike? There were so many options that we decided to try the two most popular: Angel's landing and The subway. We didn't finish either. One from fear of heights and the other from ridiculously cold water (Late December). Poor planning you say? Well, yes. Yes it was. However, it was tremendously cool nonetheless.
A brief visit to Bryce.
The burnout was starting to become very real by the time we reached Bryce Canyon. So I sought out the one thing I really wanted to see, Bristlecone Pines. Which meant I dragged Tony over to the Bristlecone loop and proceeded through the freezing weather to gawk at trees. My type of day.
Enter the Grand Canyon
We had set aside the most amount of time to explore the Grand Canyon because it's the Grand Canyon. When we arrived we learned from a friendly Ranger that the average visit to the Grand Canyon is ten minutes. Yes, ten minutes. That means people drive up, look around and leave. DO NOT DO THAT. It' silly. The Grand Canyon deserves, no demands, your attention. Get in there and explore as best as your capable of.
We decided to do the South Kaibab trail to Phantom Ranch and back to the Canyon Rim. Many people will tell you not to do this trail up and back in day. In fact there are signs that tell you not to. We did. We probably wouldn't again because we still felt rushed. It was one of the most enlightening trails we've ever done. At the rim the season was winter and at the ranch it was fall. There were tiny deer and trails the switchback as far as you could see. The Grand Canyon is a dreamland. See for yourself.
The drive back to Colorado was long and sleepy. The only thing that kept us going was that when we got bak to work we would begin saving and dreaming for our next journey. That mindset has never and probably will never leave us