04.18.2018 Surprise! We were still in Moab. Andy was excited to ride his new BMC Speedfox (which he’s now renamed as “Airfox” because he thinks he gets so much air on his jumps) so we ventured west of town to Navajo Rocks. I dropped him off at Coney Island and went downhill and parked at the Ramblin trailhead. While he biked, I trail ran up Ramblin until I met him, and then ran back down. The trails offered spectacular views, few people and consisted of slick rock, sand and dirt. LOVE! We returned to Arches National Park that afternoon to hike up to a couple more arches including the Windows Loop. Thankfully it was not as windy as it had been previously. Though the arches were neat, I feel like the hikes were short, heavily trafficked and redundant. I was slightly disappointed in this park as my expectation bar was set pretty high from the pictures I’d seen online.
4.19.2018 Picked up my “new” (after renting this bike for a day from Poison Spider Bike Shop in Moab, I loved it so much I purchased it – they tuned it up for me and installed new tires, seat and pedals) Trek Fuel EX8 full suspension mountain bike. Leaving Moab, we realized we had only scratched the surface on everything the area has to offer. It is one that we will return to in the future to mountain bike additional trail systems and explore the Needles area of Canyonlands. We’ve also learned through our travels that Moab is more welcoming of tourists than some of the other towns have been. Their BLM378 camping areas are clean and secluded with pit toilets. The Lazy Lizard Hostel offers $3 showers and potable water. Their visitor’s center was centrally located with clean restrooms and helpful staff members. The yoga studio is a great space with good vibes. For a small town, they have several grocery stores with organic produce and lots of restaurants with a variety of food options. Everything we needed was convenient.
We arrived to Capitol Reef National Park that afternoon and drove around on the east side of the park entrance to find a nice campsite. The wind decided to follow us. Ugh! Our campsite location was in a valley which blocked some of the wind and allowed us to have a campfire. We gathered some twigs and branches nearby. I told Andy I was ready for our half hour campfire from the measly pile we accumulated. He was bound and determined to prove me wrong and stretched out the small flame for two hours.
4.20.2018 Capitol Reef National Park. Found Cassidy Arch trailhead parking lot along the main byway and decided to hike up to the arch, but not before making breakfast in the parking lot. We received quite a few head turns from fellow hikers. Hoping it was because of the intoxicating aroma of deliciousness. Ha! Was a nice morning hike along a creek to the arch. On the back side of the arch, we found some amazing overlook views of the Fruita apple orchards below. Our favorite arch hike to date.
Driving through the heart of the park in Fruita Valley we found the Gifford Farm and Homestead. Items for sale included homemade items, soap, candles, toys, books, fruit and baked goods. We indulged in a mini apple pie and vanilla ice cream at a picnic table outside. Capitol Reef is a much larger and prettier park than its given credit for. As we were leaving through the west side of the park, it started to SNOW on us!
4.21.2018 – 4.22.2018 Bryce Canyon National Park. Upon arrival, we hiked up to Inspiration Point and Bryce Point. The red hoodoos are such a neat landscape. We purchased backcountry permits to camp overnight in the canyon, and then decided against it due to a constructive disagreement (aka Andy and I had our first, and only thus far, #vanlife fight and argued long enough about nothing in the morning that we missed our shuttle to the trailhead and canceled the permits). But we managed to take a couple pretty and fun pics before said disagreement…..
Fleeing from the bad vibes we created in Bryce, we moved on to the Zion area. My girlfriends and I had visited Zion a couple of years ago and I just knew the familiar positive memories would lighten our moods. And it did. We drove to the northwest part of the park, Kolob Canyon, and stopped to visit with the ranger. We had backcountry permits reserved for 2 of the 3 nights we needed for the following weekend. The ranger was very helpful and looked up the next few days and found that there were optimal sites still available for the next few nights. He advised us to return the next morning when they opened to reserve sites for the next three nights. The drive up Kolob Canyon was so pretty! I took Andy on the Taylor Creek Trail (5.2 miles roundtrip) crossing the creek a said 63 times each way to the double arch alcoves and back. The ranger directed us to a BLM camping area outside of the canyon where we found a very remote campsite. We loved this site as there wasn’t anyone around. It was so quiet and peaceful.
4.23.2018 Arrived early at the ranger station to reserve our backcountry permits (and cancel the ones we had previously reserved). We got the sites we wanted and were super stoked! Because we needed to be in the Springdale area for our shuttle the next day, we hoofed it over to the main Zion area. The Narrows was one of my favorite hikes from my girls trip, so we followed in our footsteps and rented gear from Zion Outfitters consisting of water shoes, neoprene socks, dry pants (the water is COLD this time of year), and wood hiking sticks. Some hikers choose not to rent gear, and they are the ones who remain at the trailhead of this hike. Tromping through the water is great fun. And a great leg workout. When the girls and I went, we arrived early in the day to park and catch the shuttle. Unfortunately, Andy and I arrived later and had a heck of a time finding parking (ended up paying $20 in a lot in town), walking and waiting for the Springdale shuttle to take us to the visitor’s center (where there were TONS of tourists), riding the Zion shuttle up 40 minutes to the drop off, walking the mile down to the trailhead all before our hike begun. We enjoyed the hike, and I’m glad Andy got to do this hike as it’s so different from our typical hike, but the logistics are a pain if you don’t arrive super early to beat the crowds. We returned our gear then headed next door to the brew pub for some yummy eats and 4% Utah IPA’s. Beggars can’t be choosers, right?!
4.24.2018 – 4.27.2018 Trans-Zion Hike. This hike was a 3 night/4 day backcountry hike that was amazing and will elaborate in detail in a separate upcoming blog post.
4.28.2018 – 4.29.2018 Just outside of Hurricane (pronounced Her-ken we were informed by the locals) is a mountain biking trail system called Gooseberry Mesa that is world famous, and rightfully so! I was a little timid riding the new terrain. Very rocky and lots of slick rock. Trails were more difficult than their posted ratings for us flatlanders. Andy rode the North Rim Trail (black rating) while I rode the Practice Trail for a second time. Our campsite had the most amazing view of the Zion canyon area. This was one of our favorite “backyard” views.
4.30.2018 Over the Edge bike shop in Hurricane offers shuttle rides for $10/person. They took us to the top of the JEM Trails. We enjoyed riding More Cowbell, JEM Trail, then took Gould’s Rim and the access trail downhill back to the bike shop. The cacti were blooming beautiful purple flowers. After riding, we stopped at a KOA to take a $5 unlimited (this is important as some charge by the minute or every 5 minutes) shower. Heavenly. Andy dropped me off at a coffee shop in St. George while he went to visit with the Golf Course Superintendent, who is a friend of a friend, at Entrada at Snow Canyon Country Club. The green fairways in contrast to the black lava rocks were beautiful. He also saw his first saguaro cactus at the clubhouse.
5.01.2018 Vegas, baby! Andy had never been to Vegas, and since we were “in the area” we decided to make a pit stop. We walked the entire strip, stopping at the Venetian for lunch, MGM for beers, and NYNY to ride the roller-coaster. My favorite part of the day was a homeless man on the street who informed Andy he needed to buy a razor (I mean, can you blame him – see first pic)! Lol. Freecampsites.net informed us that behind the Bally’s employee parking lot they offered $12/day parking, and we took advantage. It seemed safe enough, and yes, mother, it was in a lit area. Andy made sure our bear spray and defense knives were in an arm’s reach. We also put our new bikes inside the van which made for a fun night of cramped sleeping corridors. #vanlife.
5.02.2018 – 5.03.2018 Debated on purchasing tickets to a typical Vegas show or a concert……John Fogerty concert won that debate. Found some awesome last minute seats on Vegas.com and purchased. The concert was AMAZING. His son played guitar and sang next to him all night. How cool!!! We also rolled the dice on Hotwire.com for a hotel room in the area. After our stay, we decided that once (or twice) a month we must indulge on a nice hotel room. Two showers in two days?! Spoiled. Room service?! Yes, please. Jetted tub!? Sorry Mother Nature. Valet parking!? They freaking loved our van. Both drivers even asked about purchasing MoZee!!!! Andy informed them that she is NOT for sale. I gave them a card and told them that almost everything is for sale……for a price!
Who knew right outside of Las Vegas there were fun mountain biking trails?! We found a dispersed campsite near the bike trails for the evening.
5.04.2018 Southwest of Vegas along Hwy 160 is the Blue Diamond Loop bike trail consisting of green and blue trails = easy and flat. We saw two wild burros (which was funny after seeing a burro crossing sign on our way there), lizards, chipmunk, rabbits, Joshua Trees, cacti, purple and orange flowers starting to pop up. Pretty landscape! It was hot, sunny and dry. Andy had terrible heartburn and thought he was having heat stroke. Thankfully we made it back to the van and recovered before driving in the extremely hot van to Sedona, AZ.
5.05.2018 Via Facebook, I had reconnected with a high school friend, Sarah. She was in Sedona for Reiki training and was free to meet up that Saturday. We met at Berry Divine that morning for coffee and an acai berry bowl. OMYGOSH they were amazing. It was so fun to see her and catch up on the past 15 years (EEK – does not feel like it’s been that long since we graduated high school). She took us to hike up to Bell Rock which is the location of one of the four main vortexes in Sedona. We also went to the Amitabha Stupa and Peace Park. Was a fun day!
05.06.2018 – 05.08.2018 Andy and I spent the next couple of days exploring Sedona by riding our mountain bikes, camping, Red Rocks Crossing swimming hole, hiking out to the Honanki Ruins, and showering at the community pool. Ha! It was scorching hot so we decided to head north to Flagstaff for a few days. So hot that Andy made me cut off 4″ of his hair!
Andy – Peace out Sedona! Catch ya when it’s not so freaking hot!
Monica – Hello 20 degree cooler Flagstaff! Thankful my red wine won’t be so warm in the van.