In the Trees

Hi friends! There's a new moon on the horizon, and this week is delivering the excitement of renewed energy and possibilities. How could it not, when it started out like this? (For me, at least!)

Joshua Tree camping

The weekend took me back to Joshua Tree National Park where I camped with a new friend and got to see one of my favorite bands in funky little Pioneertown

Yo La Tengo at Pappy & Harriet's

Yo La Tengo at Pappy & Harriet's

I have a picture of Georgia, the drummer, on my 2018 vision board and, while I will say that my intention was to play the drums like her, I will accept the universe's offering of getting to see her play the drums in person.

I can tell you that Pappy & Harriet's is a magical venue that is well-worth checking out, and if you happen to be doing so, why not stay at the Black Rock Canyon Campground in Joshua Tree?  It just might be the thing for you.

Hi View Nature Trail Joshua Tree

Detours

It probably comes as a surprise that I went from Guatemala to California to New England to Texas. California and New England are not exactly "on the way" from Guatemala to Texas, but they're also not "not on the way". Anywhere can be on the way to anywhere else, it just depends on the way you're going.

Joshua Tree National Park

There's never a bad time of year to visit Southern California (besides when it's on fire or falling in on itself), and it's an unbelievable treat to find yourself camping on a mild night in early January (especially when it's free for Martin Luther King Day). I got to put my indoor bouldering (lack of) skills to the test outdoors when I turned my dreams of Joshua trees into reality. 

Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park

You don't even need to leave the country to find wild wonders, but, if the temperature rises above double digits, you should probably go outside.

Easing East

After Nashville, the east coast was calling us back, so we packed up Gillie and hit the road to North Carolina. I was ready to put my National Park annual pass to work once more before its April expiration date, but we found out that the Great Smoky Mountain is free because this. Our visions of long hikes and stretching the legs were cut short by rainy snow, and we only left the car for a few moments to do dog things and snap some photos.

I imagine things were looking very pretty underneath all those clouds. Maybe I didn't pick the ideal time of year for my visit since the Blue Ridge Parkway was closed, too, but that only gives me another reason to go back.

Thank you to the friendly people who took our family portrait. Thank you to the National Park Service for having $80 annual passes. Thank you to Lainie and Warren for wearing my handmade hats.

Next stop, Asheville!

Wandering West

If you thought I would be tired of visiting national parks after this summer's road trip adventure, think again. I'm fully prepared to max out my annual pass and will accept any invitation to visit more before its April expiration date.

Marfa and Big Bend were both magical. 

If you didn't know, Marfa is a little west Texan town full of art galleries, tasty restaurants, and quirk. It was a little unsettling to eat a most excellent meal and then go sleep on the cold ground in our tent, but we made due. 

Then we headed south to see all of this:

I got to soak in my first natural hot springs and then jump into the mighty Rio Grande. I've never felt anything like it. Many thanks were given this year!

Utah, Part II

Utah's national parks are a world of dreams and magic.

Bryce Canyon Fairyland Loop
Bryce Canyon Fairyland Loop
Bryce Canyon Fairyland Loop

We hiked the Fairyland Loop trail in Bryce Canyon to get a view of the canyons from all angles, and I can't recommend it highly enough. We spent the whole day in a constant state of amazement, and when I walked out of the tent at night to head to the bathroom (squat down at the edge of our campsite), I saw the biggest shooting star of my life. Thank you Utah for your incredible skies and scenery!

Bryce Canyon sunrise

WOW-oming!

Phase 3 of the trip brought us to a new state for me and a new phenomenon for both of us: forest fires!

As we crossed into Wyoming, we began to notice a lot of smoke in the air and started to hear gas station gossip about nearby towns being evacuated due to wildfires in the area. We had a "wouldn't it be cool if...?" moment* and, about 10 minutes later, the universe provided. 

Wyoming wildfire
Wyoming Wildfire

 

*"Wouldn't it be cool if we could see a wildfire up close while we're conveniently protected by our car and far enough away that it won't impact our lives or our travel plans so we can go to Idaho and eat square-shaped ice cream in peace?" It was pretty sobering to see rows of homes about to be eaten by the flames and the firefighters who were in the air spraying water from helicopters or on the ground trying to push the fire back from the road. We felt guilty taking pictures while so many people's lives were being uprooted, but once-in-a-lifetime experiences sometimes call for photos and so we summoned the war photographers in us and proceeded.

Wyoming wildfires

While we were busy looking back at that (^), we didn't notice that these were slowly sneaking up on our right:

The Tetons!

The Tetons!

The Tetons gave us shelter and an unbelievable view for the night while we entertained ourselves with long hikes in inappropriate footwear. B showed off his fire-building mastery and I cooked dinner on my brand new Coleman 2-burner camp stove, which I would regrettably end up breaking on the second night of camping, but which would be fine since I'm afraid of gas explosions anyway.

Next, we went to Yellowstone and decided to do everything in one day, a decision that was exhausting but one that we still stand by. The stones were really yellow, Old Faithful erupted while we were in the parking lot, and I learned that branches often look like moose antlers and your driving partner can get upset if you call out too many animal photo opps that are actually not.

The Earth was full of hot springs and gurgling pools and was feeling very alive! WOW-oming certainly lived up to B's nickname for it since I don't think we said any words other than amazing, incredible, beautiful, awesome, and long breathless wowww's for most of this phase of the trip. We would have loved some more time to explore, but Utah (and showers) beckoned.

Chipmunk at Grand Teton National Park

A Wandering Whirlwind

We made it through Colorful Colorado, Wild Wyoming, I-Don't-Know Idaho, Utopic Utah, Astounding Arizona, Not-so-bad New Mexico, and now we're back in TOO BIG Texas! I had my first square ice cream and we learned that dust storms are a real thing to watch out for.

Square ice cream in Idaho

I imagined The Road having a lot more internet than it actually did, so I've got a backlog of adventures to tell you about. To start off, here are some signs from some states:

Hope your Monday was even half as good as an unemployed yogi's spent buried in loads of laundry, grocery goods, and car crumbs!

Namaste.

Grand Teton National Park Wyoming