Humphreys Summit

After Sedona, we headed to the Grand Canyon, but we took a 2 day pitstop in Flagstaff to hike Humphreys Summit, the highest peak in Arizona and the one the park ranger told us about (you know, the one that works 6 months and travels 6 months a year).

We rolled in at dinner time and crashed at a free site a few miles from the trailhead. The next morning we got our packs ready with water and snacks and started the hike by 7:55 a.m.

This was SERIOUSLY the hardest hike I’d ever done. The rocks, the winds, the steep incline – I’ve never challenged my body more. We both felt we were taking a pretty hard beating the last mile or 2 before the peak (where there weren’t any trees to block the 80 mph winds).

We finished at 4:00 p.m. and headed back to the campsite. At this point I was nauseous and could hardly keep my eyes open because the headache…my cardio is just not like the husband’s. So, he made dinner while I slept until I was feeling good enough to wash up “like the Pilgrims did.”

Needless to say, the next day we decided to get our first “real” campsite (as in, we paid for it for its showers, electricity and running water). We took a day of rest – recuperating and enjoying the little luxuries in life. It was a great day of reading and talking about our future.

Tunes by Jenny & Tyler.

A park ranger came by our site last week and told us about some other great hikes in Arizona. He and his wife only work 6 months out of the year and travel the other 6. So cool.

So after talking with him, we were inspired to go on a more intense hike but had a rough time starting our day. We were almost out of water (only had 2 liters of drinking water on hand and that disgusting chemically poisoned solar shower water that we tried (only after the fact did we read the warning label “Do not drink.” Grrreat.)

Since water is $2 for 20 ounce bottle around these parts and we needed around $13 worth (about 2 liters each for our next hike), we needed to find free water. Thirteen dollars is gas money or a night at a campsite, ya know. We finally found a visitors center that let us use their hose. We filled up and got 9 1/2 gallons of drinking water (7 of which were for our sink tank) and 5 gallons of non-potable water (for our solar shower).

By the time we got to Brim Mesa it was about 1:30 — the worst possible time for this trail because of the heat.

It was a desert-style hike among cacti and other interesting plants and beautiful mountains that reminded me of the drip castles I used to make with my dad at the beach.

I got lucky and found a little chair just my size.

We didn’t quite make the whole hike because of the heat. After that we wanted to get a nicer campsite with facilities so we could shower and fill up on water again, but they were all full. We decided the next best thing was to bath in a creek…what are you gonna do?

But being clean does wonders to a girls self-esteem and after weeks without wearing makeup, I got a little fixed up and we went into town and ate a $10 dinner from a delicious local taco cafe. We spent the rest of the night in a coffeehouse before crashing beneath the stars at another free site!

We’re finding it hard to know what day of the week it is or what time of day it is. Days and times don’t matter much when you’re not really on a schedule. We just eat when we’re hungry and leave to the next town when we’ve had enough of the previous. We keep joking about how we might miss our anniversary if we’re not careful (it’s on Thursday).

We decided that our first hike in Sedona should be West Fork. It’s deemed the “most romantic hike” and is an easy, flat, shady hike with a lot of creek crossings.

We thought we’d fill up on water at the trailhead but that didn’t happen. We’ll get better with the whole packing-enough-water thing.

After the hike we found another free (although super primitive) campsite and enjoyed a relaxing night together.

We went to bed feeling a bit hot, but woke up in the middle of the night freezing cold. It’s crazy that it got down to about 55 degrees that night. It’s June! We’re glad we brought our 20 degrees sleeping bags that’ll keep us warm enough for nights to come.

Thursday night, after the Petrified Forest, we crashed at an amazing free campsite that we found out about from freecampsites.net. It was at Clear Creek just outside of Winslow, AZ.

We woke up with the sun, made breakfast and swam/bathed in the creek. “Desperate times call for desperate measures.”

On a quick sidenote, we’re sorry that we’re so awful with holding the camera on our faces. I know you’re tired of seeing our necks. Give us another few days to figure it out. Lo siento.

Next up, Sedona!

We finally started our trip (at least that’s what we’re saying). Mainly because calling it Day 18 (or whatever it is now) feels weird since we were stuck for 11 days with our biggest “adventure” being skating to a pet store.

Our drive to the Petrified Forest started from a rest area at the border of New Mexico, where we only made one stop for gas and a $3 lunch at Taco Bell, hardly an authentic New Mexican dish but we were tired of pb&j’s and $3 didn’t sound half bad. Ben tossed a nickel into the fundraising game at the counter and won some free cinnamon twists (well, five cent cinnamon twists).

New Mexico was pretty — tall plateaus, volcanic rocks and red mountains. Sadly, since we only have 2 months total, we have less time than you think to travel to everywhere on our list so we didn’t get to experience New Mexico, just pass through it.

So, here it is — The Petrified Forest, what we’re calling Day 1.

The layers of rainbow-colored earth gathered into slopes were beautiful in person. Photos can’t compare all its beauty because half of it is the silence of nature, smelling the smells and feeling its peace refresh you.

After seeing this picture of me taking in the view, I told Ben that nalgene could very well have been a baby. Maybe on our next big adventure. I don’t know what he thought of that.

We hope you get to watch this video. I cracked myself up after watching it with my commentaries, especially about that creepy bird.

Well, wouldn’t you know. We found a little art on the side of the interstate.

If we had been smart enough to plan ahead, we would’ve brought along some spray paint of our own and left a mark. Unfortunately, we didn’t even realize we’d be passing it, but fortunately we did.

Now, we know Bon Iver makes anything seem cool, so we wouldn’t necessarily beg you to work this into your travel plans, but if you happen to be driving down I-40 on your way out west, check out Cadillac Ranch and bring some paint!

Ah, we love some Johnny Cash and we were so glad our long day of driving ended with a pretty sunset.

As for the “chicken alfredo”…well, it was definitely a camper-version (you know, the kind of food that’s delicious when you’re on the road, but disgusting if you were at home). It went down okay though. It was probably due to the nice, cold beer that we each enjoyed (and didn’t have to split like we did on Ben’s birthday).

One more day of driving until we get to the Petrified Forest!

After almost 11 days, we finally left the Sundown Motel in Mount Pleasant, Texas and we’re back on the road with a new and improved Buddy.

Petrified Forest, here we come!!!

(P.S. Don’t judge our choice of music today. “The Best of Bootie” keeps us awake and alert. Ha!)

Last weekend we were so bummed/devastated/broken-hearted that we almost sold the van and headed back home. Here’s what our depressing first day in Mount Pleasant, TX looked like.

We had a hard time trying to make the best of our situation. Luckily, things turned out for the better (and Ben improved on cooking) and after days of exploring we realized that we had found one of the best places in this town — the motel.

Google Sundown Motel and you’ll only see good reviews. This place has the homeyness of a hostel and includes free wi-fi, cable TV, a guest laundry room and a BBQ pit. The Indian couple who owns it has been so sweet to us. They even made us a couple authentic Indian dinners, gave Ben a shirt and me jewelry from India.

What in the world, huh? And to help us out, they gave us a discount on our last night’s stay here.

We pray you never break down here, but if you do, you MUST stay at Sundown Motel.

Here’s a little tour…

Rates are $45/night or $210/week (that’s only $30/night).

We thought we were going to be at the Grand Canyon for Ben’s birthday. It would have, of course, involved amazing hikes surrounded by breathtaking scenery. We would have explored all day, met fellow travelers and invited them to our campsite for dinner that night where we would have exchanged stories, had some beers and listened to music.

Ahh, if only. Instead, we were here, but we had more fun than we expected.

Mount Pleasant, Texas is a dry town (of course it is), so as a toast, we split the last beer left in our cooler. You better believe we enjoyed every sip of that thing. We plan to celebrate Ben’s day more appropriately when we’re back on our journey, which will hopefully be early Sunday morning!