About 4 years ago I went on a solo three month road-trip from California up to Nova Scotia and back, and (though it sounds dramatic) it was a complete turning point in my life. Unfortunately Janet couldn't join me that time around, but while we were abroad we started talking about how great it would be to come back, buy a car and then set out to see friends, family, and a bunch of national parks. So we did. We bought a car after a few of weeks back in Sacramento with my parents and then headed out for two months on the road.
First stop was down to Yucaipa to visit friends and family where Janet was born and raised. Spent some lovely time with the family, especially with the nieces and nephews.
I had never been to the Grand Canyon before and Janet had only been to the North Rim so that was our next destination. We first saw the South and then the North and also did the Bright Angel hike down into the the canyon.
|on the Bright Angel hike|
|Desert View Watchtower|
|View from Navajo Bridge, outside the Park, on the way to the North Rim|
|JJ from the North Rim|
After the Grand Canyon we detoured up to St. George Utah to spend a nice couple of days with my grandparents:
And then back down into Arizona:
|Horseshoe Bend, AZ|
Petrified Forest National Park has one of the highest concentrations of petrified wood on the planet. These colorful logs are some 200 million years old.
|Petrified Forest NP|
|Petrified Forest NP - I think the camera was on a weird setting for this one|
|Painted Desert - Petrified Desert NP|
Even though we didn't take a ton of pictures there, New Mexico stood out to us both. The colors, the culture, the landscape, the food: it's all so unique and distinctive. We didn't spent nearly enough time here.
|Museum of International Folk Art, Santa Fe|
|We are still talking about some of the New Mexican food that we had|
|The obligatory stop in Roswell NM - which was kind of what you would expect Roswell to be like.|
|White Sands NM|
|White Sands NM|
|Carlsbad Cavern entrance|
|Carlsbad Cavern NP|
Guadalupe Mountain National Park was sadly closed due to fires, so that afternoon we made the drive southwest to get to Big Bend National Park just as the sun was setting.
|Prada Marfa, TX, art installation - on our way to Big Bend|
It's so hard to explain or convey the grandness of the landscape at Big Bend. Janet (the family photographer) did a hell of a job trying with these photos, but you should really just make the long trip down to the park sometime and explore the vast desolate beauty of the place firsthand.
|Big Bend NP|
|more Big Bend NP|
|Left side is Mexico, US to the right|
|Terlingua Ghost Town Cemetery - Ghost towns are almost always disappointing|
Come dawn or dusk in Texas all of the rabbits seem to get all crazed and run back and forth across the street. Sometimes dozens at a time. It was like a demented sped up video game. I was able to successfully dodge them for several days, until the early morning we left when I accidentally ran over and killed two of them. I had never before hit an animal and it was awful.
Next came Austin where we spent a nice few humid days eating, walking, relaxing and getting rained on. We also visited a pair of memorable art parks:
|Sparky Park - Berthold Haas's Guadiesque electrical substation|
|Outdoor graffiti gallery|
|Hope Outdoor Gallery|
The desert is probably my favorite terrain (it certainly is at the moment). It's so otherworldly and bizarre and never ceases to surprise and amaze. So these brief few weeks exploring some of the Southwest has been the part of the trip I've thought about most since we got back, and the part I'm most eager to return to. Northern New Mexico and Southern Utah in particular are two areas I cannot wait to get back to to explore it's canyons, hoodoos, spires, etc. But that's enough for now. Next up for us came the deep south as we continued our way east to visit a friends on the east coast.