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Hiking Fairyland Loop

Well, after being “Crazy for Cocoa Puffs” or should I say “Cocoa Cool,” I got started on laundry and Ben got started with a 10 mile hike of Fairyland Loop. (Confused? Watch the video below and “Cocoa Cool” will make sense.)

He got to experience more of these so-called hoodoos and I got to clean and work. Haha…as bad as it sounds, I actually wanted to clean and work. We had so much laundry piling up that it was stressing me out.

Speaking of laundry, did you know that you actually need sun for them to dry on a line? (This sunny picture is from the next day.) It wasn’t a sunny day, but I thought the water would just evaporate. Nope. Then, it actually started drizzling and I waited…and then it started raining so I took all the clothes off the line…then it stopped and the sun came out.

Strangely though, it was a little therapeutic handwashing our clothes, even a little nostalgic hanging them up to dry like my mother use to do when I was a kid.

In the end, my hands were a little raw and I don’t know how clean I actually got everything. They smelled like detergent though so that’s good enough for me. But oh how much more I appreciate the convenience of a washer and dryer.

As for work, well, it’s more like fun work. I’m rebranding Sara Parker Photography and I can’t wait to show you the finished look of her business.

Ben, on the other hand, spent the day hiking, exploring and taking pictures.

He really enjoyed hiking alone. I think a day away from each other was good for us. Not that we’ve been fighting on this trip or anything. Heavens no! :)

Sidenote: It’s my besties’ birthday today. Happy Birthday Suz! Wish we could spend the day with you and J! So blessed to know you.

Our First Glimpse of Bryce

We arrived at Bryce after feeling so lucky that Buddy made it.

We got there close to dinner time so only got to catch a glimpse of the famous hoodoo formations before heading to a campsite to make dinner.

Mitra, do you think I could get a job as an anchor for CNN? Bahaha.

Bryce Canyon National Park

The next day, after the 4th of July, we headed to Bryce Canyon, but not before we (and by we, I mean Ben) spent 3 hours fixing our van. Luckily, it was something that turned out to need a $9 part (for that particular problem). Oh dear Buddy, keep hanging in there.

Thankfully he did and we made it to Utah.

Utah is filled with amazing national parks…other states should be jealous.

Can’t wait to show you how unique Bryce is. Here’s a sneak peak.

A Breaking Report: Buddy

We interrupt our regular programming for a special report. This just in…

On the way to San Diego yesterday, Buddy’s transmission almost died (jolting between gears, not going into overdrive and losing 1st gear). What are the odds of the engine and transmission blowing within a month?

You might ask, “Did you guys have it checked out before you left?” The answer would be yes. I guess life just gives you some surprises sometimes.

Luckily we made it to San Diego and we’re crazy happy to be staying with some friends (who are the most hospitable people ever…they even offered to let Ben drive their motorcycle for transportation. He passed.)

Being stuck in San Diego is a MILLION times better than being stuck in Mt. Pleasant, Texas so we’re living it up – prepared to sell the van, rent a car or see if it can’t be salvaged – in any case, we’re determined to have lots of fun and count our blessings.

So far, we’ve been able to see/explore/experience:

The Petrified Forest/Painted Deserts
Sedona National Forest/Oak Creek Canyon/Coconino National Forest
Lake Powell/Glen Canyon
Antelope Canyon
Grand Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park*
Zion National Park*
Las Vegas* National Park…haha…just kidding
Joshua Tree National Park*

We’ve seen hoodoos in Utah, climbed to the tallest peak in Arizona, explored slot canyons, witnessed an oasis in the Mojave desert, played slots in Vegas, jet skied on a lake inside canyon walls, found a hike we want to take our kids on one day, watched sunsets off a cliff at the Grand Canyon, and seen Joshua trees.

We’ve also eaten every meal together, laughed, cried (over Buddy), thought about the next steps of our lives and, even through our fights, grown more in love.

I’d say the memories we’ve made on our trip are priceless and if it has to end early, it’s okay with me.

Here are our thoughts as of now:
We’d like to see if Buddy can make it home (if we get him back, we’ll be able to fix him up slowly over time and sell him or keep him).
If not, we’ll sell him here and rent a car.
At LEAST we’re at the beach with friends and have the opportunity to ride waves, go to art shows, ride bikes, explore caves, see seals and have a relaxing time.

We’ll let you know what happens.

*Posts coming soon.

4th of July

Since Sunday on the lake was so amazing, our 4th of July was a little more laid back, although it started rather crazy.

We woke up at 2 or 3 a.m. at Lone Rock beach (where we were camping) to people yelling things I won’t mention. Then some guys actually tied him up. Where the heck were we? We just stayed in the van peeking out of the windows like “Um, is this really happening?” It was so bad, we decided we’d stay in Walmart’s parking lot again. (Now, that’s bad.)

After we made breakfast and got out of there, we headed to Antelope Canyon. We were back in our element.

We wedged our way down this slot canyon and saw nature’s glorious work of art (see more photos in the video below).

Lower Antelope Canyon is on an indian reservation and it’s where we toured for 2 hours at $27 each (upper Antelope Canyon is more expensive, and we heard, not as cool.) You use to be able to stay all day, but they have more strict regulations now and entry is only accessible through a guided tour. Although, if you have a DSLR and a tripod, you can request a photography permit (free of charge) and tour the canyon on your own. Instead of being in a crowded group, you get to be very secluded.

Then, we went back to The Chains to swim and cool off.

That night after dinner, we claimed a spot on the local golf course and, in the little ‘ol town of Page, saw the most amazing fireworks show we had ever seen.

We enjoyed ourselves but we really missed celebrating the 4th of July with our friends and family. Wish you all could have been here.

Tunes by William Fitzsimmons.

Funnest. Day. Ever.

Before we left, Ben’s family gave us money to use on something that wasn’t in our budget. When they suggested renting jet ski’s on Lake Powell, I was like “Jet skiing? Really? I’ve done that plenty of times.” Little did I know what Lake Powell was.

We had such an amazingly fun day. Our funnest day yet. We didn’t expect to get a jet ski for the entire day when we first looked into it. The information that the Visitor’s Center gave us was for a day rental that cost $375, plus gas. Not justifiable considering we’d have to put a couple hundred dollars of our own money into it. And, considering we blew all our fun money on a new engine for the van, we decided that wouldn’t work. So, we googled and found another local place that charged $175 for a full day, plus gas.

There aren’t many words to describe what it was like to be on Lake Powell (besides, “Colossal” and “Majestic” of course).

We ended the day camping on the beach at Lone Rock.

Looks peaceful, right? Wrong. At 2 a.m., we realized this place is craaaaazy. Like 1st Week at Myrtle Beach.

Our Favorite Place Yet

If the Grand Canyon was filled with water, you’d get Lake Powell/Glen Canyon. Lake Powell is one of the largest man-made lakes and it’s where we spent our 4th of July weekend.

When we first arrived, we hiked a short, 1 1/2 mile trail to see Horseshoe Bend, a gorgeous view that Ben’s aunt and uncle suggested we see. It was amazing, but hot (as in BLAZING) and all we could think about was how badly we wanted to be down there in that water.

It’s always nice to talk with informative locals about some hot spots that we might not have found out about otherwise, so after Horseshoe Bend, we went to the Visitor’s Center. They told us about The Chains, a gorgeous place to go swimming and that’s the next thing we did.

It was amazing. I literally thought about how I felt like I was on The Bachelorette because of all the gorgeous places I’d been seeing lately (minus the luxuries and all the single guys, of course).

It was close to 7 p.m. when we left. We decided to split a $5 footlong sub at Subway and find a coffee shop with Wifi. In the tiny town of Page, they only have one coffee shop (that closed at 6 p.m.) and a Starbucks inside a grocery store. We decided the next best thing (slash worst thing) was to hang out in a McDonald’s, use their wifi, edit some videos and update the blog.

We stayed there so late that I got a little delirious. We decided to just drive next door to the Walmart and camp out in their parking lot (for the first time) with 10 other RV’s.

P.S., Ben’s cowboy hat has seen better days. It looks hilarious in this video.

We’ve only had 3 miserably hot nights in the van. That night was one of them. We only got 4 hours of sleep (because of the heat and also because we’re obsessed with watching Prison Break on Netflix and watched like 3 episodes), but somehow we managed to wake up full of energy after realizing it would be our funnest day yet. More on that tomorrow.

Grand Canyon Timelapse

Ben just finished the timelapse he made from an overlook at the Grand Canyon. The clouds were amazing. If you look closely, you can see the Colorado River down there.

Grand Canyon Goodbyes

It was our last night at the Grand Canyon.

Ben and I were making hot chocolate when we noticed some guys looking for a campsite. We knew the campground was full so we invited them to crash at ours. It was late and they had been driving from LA and we can totally sympathize because we’ve been there – trying to find a site in the dark after a long day of driving. Not fun.

So we introduced ourselves to Toni and Fabio and helped them pitch their tent with our headlamps. The next day we made coffee and ate breakfast together.

They’re from Belgium, but Toni lives in LA and is the publisher for Bunker Hill Magazine. Fabio lives in Belgium but is planning to move to LA and makes a mean banana and chocolate breakfast sandwich.

After breakfast, we packed up and got free food from Jason, our campsite neighbor who decided to help keep us going with some extra food. Ham, sausage, potatoes, an onion and garlic. So great.

Then we said goodbye to Dave – the quintessential camper that we hope to pattern our older years after. He loves the outdoors, uses his summer’s to camp and travel, and kayaks (oh, and he sleeps in his van too).

Then we took a last look at the Canyon from the top of the Watchtower, an amazingly designed tower by architect Mary Colter in the 1930′s. She designed several structures along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon using materials from the surroundings.

So long Grand Canyon. We’ll miss you.

Hiking into the Canyon

After our more relaxing anniversary hike, we decided our last full day at the Canyon would be to actually get into the Canyon and hike part of South Kaibab Trail.

Now, there are a few things on our trip that we look back on and wish we would’ve done something differently – one being our time down in the Canyon.

First, we didn’t realize that you have to apply months in advance to get a permit to camp at the bottom. We really, REALLY wanted to hike all the way down South Kaibab and up Bright Angel.

These trails would total about 17 miles and would really need to be split between 2 days for my sake (Ben could’ve probably hiked this in one day).

Looking back though, we think if we started really early and hiked to the bottom of the Canyon by 11 a.m., took a 4-5 hour nap between 11 and 4 (during the hottest temps in the Canyon – 110°F and up), took a dip in the Colorado River, then started back up and finished that night with the help of headlamps, we could’ve beaten the heat, gotten around not having a camping permit and made it easier on ourselves with our nap.

There’s always next time, though. We did enjoy a short hike down to see some great views and these strangely beautiful Utah Agave plants that can grow up to a foot a day.

We even got to see a chirping squirrel.

It was a fun day. That night while we were making hot chocolate back at camp, we met some new friends that crashed at our campsite. More on that later.