Well, hello again. I can’t believe it’s already been two weeks since our last entry. We’ve been busy biking, hiking, and sight seeing! Tomorrow will be three successful weeks of #vanlife in the books for us! Thank you for following our journey! 🙂
4.02.18 Leaving Santa Fe we planned on driving west to Joshua Tree National Park. Buuuttttt….research informs, ideas emerge, and plans change. In western New Mexico, we saw signs for Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary on the way to our campsite we found on http://www.freecampsites.net. They just so happened to be open the following day with a $10/person tour in the morning, so we made it happen. It was so cool! Our tour guide educated us on the differences between low, mid, and high content wolf dogs and introduced us to many combinations within the sanctuary. They have a total of 68 animals including wolves, foxes, Dingo, coyote, New Guinea Singing Dogs, and domestic dogs. We learned that many of them came from homes in which the owners thought they could break a wild animal. After domesticating, they would not be able to survive in the wild. Wild Spirit provides safe, large habitats for the animals to live. If you’re ever in the area, or looking for a great cause to donate to, I highly recommend checking them out. https://wildspiritwolfsanctuary.org/
4.03.18 Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona. Another traveler recommended driving through this national park. We stopped and hiked a few of the trails. At the south end of the park there is a free campground that we made our home for the evening. It even came with free entertainment! The campground host who lived in a trailer next to the lot barked at every camper who entered the lot. Though the campground is free, there are no restrooms, so she had to verify that each camper has a toilet. My favorite was a large family in a minivan who claimed they had a 5 gallon bucket full of kitty litter for their toilet.
4.04.18 Arrived in Moab, Utah. First stop: shower. Because it’s early in the season, most of the parks have not turned on their potable water yet, so we have not been able to use our solar showers. $3 showers at the Lazy Lizard Hostel in town were heavenly. Not wanting to waste our freshly showered selves, we felt inclined to dine at a local Vietnamese restaurant called 98 Center. A vegan peanut butter cookie completed our meal. Delish! The free campsites website led us to BLM378 campground north of Moab where we found lots of dispersed campsites to stay the night. Little did we know, this would be our “home” for two weeks!
4.05.18 We each brought our hardtail mountain bikes along with us which are great for some trails, but limits the number of trails we are able to ride. Dead Horse State Park offers the Intrepid trail system with almost 17 miles of singletrack bike trails. Entrance fee is $15 for 3 days. We got in about 14 miles of biking this day. Also offers lots of fun lookout points over the Colorado River.
4.06.18 Canyonlands National Park, Utah. First, we did a short hike up to the Mesa Arch. The arch and scenery were pretty, but waaaayyyyy too many kids and people around. Second hike up to the Aztec Butte was longer and a little more difficult. We enjoyed this hike a lot more!
4.07.18 Back to Dead Horse State Park. Being on a budget, we wanted to maximize and take advantage of our already paid for three day pass. Our undercarriages were sore from our first ride of the year two days prior, so I decided to trail run while Andy biked. Five miles in, it started to rain….cold and sideways! Yikes. I ran faster. After the rain, the canyon revealed a beautiful rainbow.
4.08.18 & 4.09.18 Purchased a back-country permit to hike and camp on the Wilhite Trail in Canyonlands National Park. Andy chose the hardest and steepest trail to prepare ourselves for the Grand Canyon. Lovely. It was approximately 5 miles downhill into the canyon. And then another 5 miles uphill the next day with 1,600′ of elevation gain. The hike out surprisingly wasn’t as difficult as either of us had mentally prepared ourselves for, even with the rock scrambling and 30+ pound packs on our backs. For back-country camping, we bring our JetBoil and freeze dried meal packs. They have proven to be the easiest to make in the back-country with the least amount of cleanup involved. Beer & pizza on the patio at Eddie McStiff’s and a hot shower awaited us. But not before Andy found (and ate) a crusty Malt Ball off of the van floor.
4.10.18 Laundry and grocery shopping day. Adulting isn’t always fun, but we were pleased to be able to get 5 loads of laundry done in an hour! BTW I love the Moonflower Community Co-op here in town. Great finds and awesome concept!
4.11.18 My 34th birthday! Woot woot! Andy promptly woke me up at 4:30am. Grrr. I am NOT a morning person. But a sunrise hike at Arches National Park awaited us, so I got moving. We hiked to Delicate Arch in the dark with our headlamps on full beam. We didn’t see another soul on the hike out. Just our luck, it was cloudy. Boo! It was still a pretty sight especially to enjoy by ourselves. Had breakfast and coffee at Eklectica Cafe in town and then walked around to the local shops before our couples massage that afternoon. After our relaxing massage, we drove northeast of Moab to Castle Creek Winery for a wine tasting. Because it was my birthday, I guilted Andy into tasting wine with me (which ended up being more for me as he didn’t like any of them – ha!). We had a couple drinks on the patio at the restaurant next door then retired back to our campsite at BLM378. A nice couple from Oregon who had been camping next to us for a couple of nights invited us over to their RV for birthday pie! Yum! We had fun exchanging stories and looking at the atlas pointing out spots to visit. A great birthday to remember!
4.12.18 Returned to Arches National Park to hike up to Landscape Arch. Holy wind batman! We made it to Landscape Arch, but only halfway to the Double O Arches before turning around. I am still finding sand in my hair. We played cribbage inside the van for the remainder of the afternoon to stay out of the wind (with a few adult beverages to boot)! So over the damn wind! But so glad we were inside the van and not a tent!!!!
4.13.18 Yoga class in the morning. Full suspension bike rental shopping in the afternoon.
4.14.18 & 4.15.19 Rode Moab Brands trails just north of town with our rented full suspension bikes. It’s crazy how much of a difference the full suspensions are in comparison to our old hardtails! I ended up purchasing my Trek I rented from Poison Spider & Andy purchased his BMC from Chile Pepper Bike Rentals.
We enjoyed the sunset at our campsite that evening. My bike won’t be ready for pick up until Thursday morning, so I guess we’ll stay in Moab a few more days 😉
Andy – Stoked we are “forced” to stay in Moab for 3 additional days so he can find more trails to ride his new bike.
Monica – Realizing that we may never leave Moab. Is it too early for a glass of wine?!