Airplanes & Arizona- Road Trip Part Two

Airplanes & Arizona- Road Trip Part Two

So where did I leave off… oh that’s right, I was just about to fill you all in on a surprise we had waiting for us in Arizona! We were headed towards the Scottsdale, Arizona area to meet up with some of Bryan’s family. Bryan’s cousin Mark had just recently received his pilot’s license and offered to take us up in a private plane ride over some of the local canyons! We were both so excited for this opportunity, and incredibly grateful. How many people can say that they had the chance to experience a gift like this? We arrived at the airport and met up with Mark who proceeded to show us the tiny plane we would by flying in. I had never been in a plane so small! Nervousness began to mix with excitement as we began the take off. Turbulence is much more noticeable in a small plane like this, but Mark did an excellent job of flying us as smoothly and safely as possible. Bryan even had the chance to steer the plane for a few moments as well. Seeing the Arizona landscape from the air was beyond breathtaking; I almost felt as if I were dreaming. This was truly a highlight of our trip, and something we will never forget.

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View from the plane!

After the plane ride, we headed back towards Bryan’s Aunt’s house, and had dinner with them. They were such a sweet family, and his Aunt also baked the most delicious chocolate chip cookies. Later that evening they all shared some tips for our upcoming travels into northern Arizona. We headed north towards Sedona the following morning.

Sedona is absolutely incredible, almost as if you have teleported to some magical other worldly planet. The red rocks expand out from the earth and contrast beautifully with the blue hue of the sky. We had decided to spend several days in Sedona so that we could truly get a feel for the area. We ended up renting the most amazing Air BnB where we stayed for three nights. The couple who owned it were both yoga instructors as well, and getting to know them made our stay even better. IMG_1895

While in town we had the opportunity to work with another yogi/ photographer I knew who helped create some beautiful images for us. He shared some great insider knowledge of the area, and it was a blessing to make another connection. Those photos are probably my most treasured material souvenir from the trip, and are something we will look back on years from now with even more fondness.

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Charles Ruscher Photography

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We spent a couple more days in the area doing some hiking, and celebrating Bryan’s birthday. We decided to hike up Bell rock, which is also known for its energy vortexes. The hike was beautiful, and quite challenging at some points because the rock face was quite slick/steep. We made it up as far as we could go, and sat there for a few moments admiring the stunning landscape around us. After our hike we were in need of some refreshment. I had been craving an acai berry bowl, and convinced Bryan to get one too. It ended up being incredibly delicious. (In fact, even now as I am writing this my mouth is starting to water just thinking about it!) Later that evening we got sushi per tradition for his birthday. Overall, I think that it made for a very memorable birthday for him, and it was so special that I got to be a part if it too.

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The next day we spent some time exploring the downtown Sedona area, browsing through some of the cute hippie shops and getting a better feel for the area in general. We took a good part of the day just to relax, and enjoy being in one place for a moment. We had dinner with our hosts, and camped out in a tent that night under the Sedona stars.

The next morning we made our way to the original goal of our journey: The Grand Canyon! This is a point in our journey where we should have taken time before to make a reservation, but we lucked out and were able to snag a tent site for two nights. We went out and saw the sunset over the canyon that evening. It was gorgeous, and it was almost as if your eyes couldn’t fathom how massive the canyon was. It was also more touristy than I had expected it to be, but it is a world wonder after all! We camped out that night, and it was absolutely freezing. It’s just all part of the experience, but we were surely happy when the sun came out and began to warm things up. We headed out fairly early, and decided to do a hike down into the canyon. We took the Kaibab Trail down into the Canyon around 4 miles or so. It was much easier going down, than coming back up! The amazing views were absolutely worth it though, and helped give us an entirely different perspective on the canyon itself.

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We came back to our campsite that evening only to find that it was so windy our tent had almost blown over, and that some of the poles holding it up had cracked! It was not the most pleasant way to spend the evening, but Bryan and I managed to work together as a team and get it back into a somewhat upright position. It was another very chilly night, and both of us were looking forward to sleeping somewhere warmer soon. We headed towards Page, Arizona the following morning.

On our way to Page, we spent the majority of the drive moving along the rim of the Grand Canyon. It was amazing that after almost two hours of continuous driving the canyon was still in sight! We eventually made our way up to Page, where we had booked another Air BnB for the night. That evening we decided to explore Horseshoe bend, which is where the Colorado river loops around and makes a horseshoe shape (hence the name.) It was also quite a sight to behold, although it too was really crowded. There were also so many gnats flying around which was not something I expected either. We stayed and  watched the sun begin its descent as the sky transformed into pretty shades of purple and pink, and then headed out to get Thai food for dinner.

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The following morning I had scheduled a tour for us of Antelope Canyon. This as well as Horseshoe bend and the Grand Canyon had been on my bucket list for quite some time. Antelope canyon is one of the most photographed places in the world, and I can certainly see why. The incredible movement of water has shaped these fiery colored rocks into amazing waves and shapes. The canyon is on Navajo land, and the tour is held by the native people. The guides are very knowledgeable, and although they keep you moving along because there are other tour groups behind you, it is still a very enjoyable experience. The guides were very good about pointing out different shapes in the stone formations; one even looked like Bruce the shark from Finding Nemo.

After our tour of Antelope we continued northbound towards Utah, but I think I’ll save more of our other adventures for the next post.

Thanks again for reading! Look forward to hearing about Utah, Nevada, and California in the next post coming soon. 🙂

Love,

Em

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Born to Roam- A Road Trip Adventure (Part one)

Born to Roam- A Road Trip Adventure (Part one)

“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.”

The last day in March of this year (2017) my wonderful boyfriend and I embarked on the trip of a lifetime. I had never been on a trip quite like this before, and I was so happy I would be able to share seeing so many amazing places with someone whom I love so much. It had been months in the making, and we were incredibly excited about the stunning views and experiences that we were sure awaited us. We planned to leave from my home in Virginia and head west, eventually hoping to make it all the way to the west coast. We had a very general plan about places we wanted to see along the way, but no real set in stone plans of dates or reservations. We thought it would work best to just allow the road to take us along, and we would enjoy every moment along the way. This proved to be a good idea for the most part, although I suggest if you do something like this to make sure you make reservations ahead of time for some of the areas that may be more popular along your route.

IMG_6204Our route took us through Tennessee where we spent some time in Knoxville, Nashville, and Memphis. In Nashville we discovered a great vegan restaurant called the Sunflower cafe. ( Insert huge smile here… I love sunflowers!) We used the app “HappyCow” to find it. This app was a big help for us because we are both vegan/ vegetarian and finding suitable food can bit a bit of a challenge on the road. We then continued on through Arkansas where we did some hiking in the Ozark mountains which was really lovely, and passed through Oklahoma where we stopped and saw some beautiful Native American handiwork.

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After this we went on toward northern Texas where we decided to stop and see a state park called Palo Duro Canyon. It’s apparently the second largest canyon in the United States besides the Grand Canyon. It was very beautiful, and at that time I couldn’t imagine how the Grand Canyon could possibly be even bigger! Although this place was visually appealing, unfortunately it was also the site of a very unfortunate occurrence on our trip. Someone broke into our car here, and stole some very valuable things such as my laptop and wallet. Although this was a very upsetting event at the the time, I feel I am able to look back on it now and see it as a valuable lesson. I urge anyone on a road trip to please be careful of instances such as this. Apparently car break ins are the number one crime in America. Also, during this event I very distinctly remember in the midst of my disbelief and anguish, that a beautiful sunset was occurring over the canyon. It was as if the universe was saying to me, “There is still so much love and light that exists in this world, please do not forget this.” I also extend my thanks to the kind park police officer who was so very helpful to us in this time of need, my boyfriend Bryan who was so very supportive, and last but certainly not least my mom who helped me with all of the more logistical issues. Well, enough with the not so happy stuff, let’s move on to more exciting adventures!

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Palo Duro Canyon

As you could imagine we were fairly eager to leave Texas behind us, and move on towards New Mexico. It was actually snowing in New Mexico as we drove through, and we had to be extremely careful on the road. We made our way to Santa Fe where we stopped for the evening. I definitely recommend checking out this city! It is very clean, and has a very beautiful mix of cultures. There are lots of cool shops to check out downtown, and the food choices are great as well ( even for vegans). From Santa Fe, we headed towards Taos, New Mexico where my friend Monica from my graduate school program lives. It was wonderful to catch up with her and her husband, and such a treat to stay in a home instead of a hotel room. We stayed with her for a couple of days, and explored the Taos area while we were there. We saw the Rio Grande bridge and spent most of the day at a hot springs/ spa called Ojo Caliente. It is absolutely amazing and I cannot recommend visiting there enough. They have several different hot springs as well as a mud bath. It was just what we needed after driving longs days on end, and it helped us relax and unwind.

The following day we went back to Ojo and took one of my friends yoga classes. It was great to get back into the practice, which had been a bit lacking with all of our time spent in the car. And of course it was great to share in the space of a lovely teacher as well. After class we bid Monica adieu, and headed further west towards Arizona.

On our way to Arizona we stopped at a park called the painted desert. It reminded me of pictures I had seen of the “badlands” in South Dakota. This was perhaps one of the most beautiful surprises on our trip. Bryan and I both really enjoyed the beautiful color variation you could see in the earth. It was mind blowing to imagine all the thousands of years of history that this earth contains. Bryan and both remarked about ancient creatures living here at one time such as dinosaurs. The park also had very cool pieces of petrified wood scattered throughout as well.

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We stayed in a town outside of the park that night in one of the coolest motels I have ever seen! Its called the Wigwam motel and you actually get to stay inside your own private teepee. 10/10 recommend this place as well if you’re in the mood for something a little different. Our plans were to drive towards the Scottsdale/ Phoenix Arizona area the next day. Bryan had some family who lived in this area and we planned to stay with them. His cousin also had a very exciting surprise for us in store. However, I will save that for the next blog post!

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Keep your eyes out for the next post; I’ll fill you in about some exciting places such as the Grand Canyon, Sedona, Page, and then onto Utah, Nevada, and California!

Until then, thanks so much for reading!

Love,

Em