3 06 2010

We finally reached our first leg of national parks! In the last week, we have seen and camped in SIX National parks and driven through six more states. We are currently in San Francisco at a computer in our hostel, a steal at 10 cents/minute (it only took 30 minutes to upload some photos!)

We last left you as we departed from Petrified and the Painted Desert. From there we headed into Flagstaff, AZ where we drank some “heady” brew and stayed up way too late. No pictures to post yet. Actually, we are only posting pictures from one of the 3 cameras that we have with us. We do not have the proper cords to load any images from our 2 point and shoot cameras. You will have to wait until we return home to see any of those images.

The next park on the list was the Grand Canyon. You hear over and over that this is one of those places that you have to see to believe, so I will say it again. YOU HAVE TO SEE IT! We backpacked into the canyon and stopped about 1200 vertical feet from the river to camp for the night. We hiked out the next morning. To say this was tough would be a grave understatement, we both thought that it might be a good use of tax payer money to call in a rescue helicopter to take us the rest of the way out. However, the night in the canyon was amazing and worth the effort. Upon reaching the rim we were greeted with much praise and admiration, and several “what the hell is wrong with you” stares. Dripping and dirty we tried to move quickly to the car as to not offend the senses of those around us while basking in the feelings of accomplishment and badassness (aren’t we articulate!).

After spending hours on the edge of the South Rim taking over 100 sunset pictures of the canyon we headed into Utah to visit Zion National Park. We were both very sore and decided to just do some day hiking within this park. Still amazing stuff. Zion got it’s name by being observed as a place of tranquility and peace, and it was. Huge sanstone giants rose surrounding a lush valley thriving with diverse wildlife that we were fortunate to see. As we explored more, we came across several hanging gardens nourished by the water that had melted from the peaks and seeped out through the porous cliffs (some of which was 4000 years old).

Initially we were planning on heading to Joshua Tree after Zion. However, we had both had enough of the desert and opted to had to the beach instead. We spent two nights with Alix’s friends in San Diego. If any pictures were taken during this time I can assure you they would not be pretty. After spending entirely too much of our budget on shots and microbrews we left the city in search of some more wilderness, onward to Yosemite. The majority of the pictures from this park are not yet available, we only took the point and shoot cameras when we backpacked. We did see a bear and a rattlesnake though! A late snowfall prevented us from completing some of our hikes, but still a blast! More to come very soon. Next stop, REDWOODS!


Over a week and No updates?

20 05 2010

Well, as you have probably figured out, we decided to leave the laptop behind (see previous post). Alix and I are in Flagstaff, Arizona and have already spent an amazing week on the road. I am updating from the library at NAU while Alix explores the campus. This will be a rough update because I only have 25 minutes left on my guest pass.

We spent our first night in a camp ground outside of New Orleans. It was very scenic, however, we spent the night sleeping in puddles of our own sweat.

We spent the next day exploring the city and stayed at The India house Hostel. It was very nice other than the fact that the bed sloped approximately 12 degrees towards one side. The city was bright, old, and fun with amazing food. Great place to visit but I could never live there.

We then made the 7.5 hour drive to Austin and spent two nights in McKinney State Park. I highly recommend it, very close to the city, cheap, and scenic. We walked on the trails within the park first thing in the morning, taking pictures of flowers and butterflies… now all we need are some babies in costumes to go with them.


One of the cooler things we saw while in Austin was the Umlauf Sculpture Park. Very creative and varied pieces set in a lush area right near the home of Mrs. Umlauf who apparently is in her mid-ninties. It was a very eclectic city with live music in every bar we passed. Another thing to check out while you’re there would be the Congress St. bridge because they have 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats living in/under/around it and they should come out in a big flock around sunset… although we didn’t see any (nor at Carlsbad for that matter).

From Austin we headed into New Mexico. The original plan was to spend two nights backpacking outside of Carlsbad. However, the rangers there said that it was a poor choice and recommended a different approach. Apparently, rattlesnake babies are worse than the big ones, can’t see or hear them (no rattle yet) and they cannot control their venom. It was hatching season in Carlsbad and they were supposedly extra thick this year, we changed our plans. Guadalupe National Park is only 30 minutes south so we stayed their for two nights and it was beautiful! We attempted to hike the highest peak in TX (Guadalupe Peak) but Jesse got blisters and we only got 1.5 miles into the 7.8mi hike. We patched him up and played cards for the next few hours while the sun traveled behind the large dry peaks.

We spent a half day exploring Carlsbad Caverns and I highly recommend that if you have a chance you go and check them out. If we had a do over, we might have scheduled a guided trail into one of the other caves, but we were on a limited budget with little time so we visited the Big Room (Carlsbads main attraction) and entered through the natural entrance which was totally worth the straight vertical descent!

After Carlsbad we headed into Petrified Forest National Park and checked out the wood.

We decided we wanted a more intimate look at the painted desert so we threw on our packs and started hiking. There are no trails in the painted desert so we had to rely on my map and compass skills. We survived but I am definitely rusty. We slept under a dome of stars in complete silence… other than Alix’s snoring. Although we feared being attacked by rattlesnakes on the ways in and out, the only injuries were to Alix’s knee and Jesse’s heels… I think we’ll be ok.

We left the desert the following morning and made the short drive to Flagstaff and that brings you up to date. The plan is to find a camp site here for the night and check out the city. So far we have driven about 2500 miles, spent only two nights in a bed, and smell really bad. The girl sitting next to me keeps looking over with a slightly disgusted look, oh well… The grand Canyon is tomorrow (4 days!) and then on to Zion. We probably will not be able to update again for another week or two. We are having a blast and can’t wait for MORE!

Technology, how much is too much?

7 05 2010

OK, Alix and I leave in 5 days for a once in a lifetime road trip and we are both looking to gain some serious insight from it (Hence, roadtripwisdom). Part of the idea behind this trip is to get away from it all and really try to step outside of the traditional travel model. We will be camping and backpacking in some very remote places and in 38 days we only plan on staying in a bed maybe 6 nights total. I predict that a shower will happen every week or so, and toilets will become a luxury item for when we are in town. So, we are really trying to limit our exposure to the “real” world. However, we (Jesse more than Alix) want to document the trip and update our experiences regularly. There in lies the rub, how can we really get away from it all if we are still wired? Just to give you a better idea of the technology that will accompany us on our expedition:

  • Laptop
  • Two iPods
  • iPhone
  • Blackberry
  • GPS Navigator
  • AC/DC Power Inverter (To charge items in car)
  • Camcorder
  • Two Point and Shoot cameras
  • Canon DSLR (for the serious shots)

In my opinion, bringing all of this stuff is OK. However, using it all on a regular basis is not. Over the course of our travels we will spend approximately 100 hours driving. This is the time that should be used to update the blog and document our journey. Only cameras will be allowed to leave the vehicle (maybe cellphones while in cities). This will keep us honest and on track. Although, now a new problem exist, what about the security of our belongings? Trailheads are notorious for break-ins and my laptop cost more than my first car. Will I be sitting on some beautiful vista, watching the sunset, and pondering about the security of my precious Dell. We could just update from libraries, but that would be so inconvenient.

Another alternative is to leave all of the technology behind and forget about the blog and documentation. This could result in the greatest insight from our journeys, but what about all of you…



Alix’s thoughts on the matter: I say leave it all behind (except for the camera and the tunes)! I love the feeling of disconnect with the civilized world,  reverting to a more simple time when man depended on nature and embraced the spiritual connection that exists between all beings.  Although I’m not the girliest girl, I will admit a nice hot shower and a comfy bed will do us some good. If I could pick one item in particular to leave home it would be the laptop. Having the computer at my disposal, whether or not I want to use it, is like giving a crackhead a rock and saying take it or leave it.  I don’t mind having the phone for safety reasons, but I suppose I’ll jump on the bandwagon this time and allow the blog to serve as my main form of communication to friends and family for the next few weeks. I guess I might have just been born in the wrong generation. What happened to using good ol’ fashion maps, cranking the radio, and relying on pay phones to call mom and dad to check in once in a while? Simplify, simplify, simplify – best words ever spoken.

Only 15 days to go!

26 04 2010

Yep, in 15 days we get in the old front wheel drive wagon and head west! The last couple of weeks have been crazy trying to prepare for this trip. Jesse is finishing his last couple of days of graduate school and Alix is desperately scraping together every dollar she can earn. The majority of actual trip preparation is complete, as far as reservations and such. However, we are a long way from being ready to hop in the car and drive. We have to be out of the apartment by Friday and will both be moving in with the parental units for 12 days. I guess it could be worse, my face could spontaneously catch fire… No, I am kidding, we are both looking forward to some quality family time before the great american road trip. After all, these are the people who we have to rely on if things turn to sh@t and we need bailed out from a Nevada jail for partaking in illegal  hamster fighting. Just saying, you never know what will happen on the road. Other things that must be completed before we leave include:

  • Syncing over 40 gigs of music onto 2 iPods and an iPhone, without too much overlap
  • Obtaining the last few pieces of gear, by whatever means necessary (i.e. begging and stealing)
  • Making sure the parrot has food and provisions for 2 months (it is amazing how much a 10-ounce bird eats)
  • Make important decisions regarding what is more vital to our success, a larger cooler for beer or more camera gear?
  • Test the new inverter with the computer to assure we will be able to watch episodes of 30-rock while going 90-mph through Texas.
  • Decide what furniture is worth storing and what needs to be donated and sold. BTW, does anyone want to buy a 13-year-old, 50inch, beast of a television? I didn’t think so…
  • Break in new hiking boots (Expect a review on “Vasque” boots in the future)
  • Continue to reassure friends and family that we are sane and will be careful
  • Pack, store, move, DRIVE!!! and enjoy

Welcome to our Road Trip!

4 04 2010

Alix and I will be departing in early May for a once in a lifetime road trip. For more information on our plans and itinerary, check out the Plan section of the blog. We hope you enjoy following along with us. Stay tuned for more…

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A few pictures of us from the last year or two.