“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

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