Category Archives: Van Living

The Friends We Meet

The scenery has been awesome, the rocks, the desert, the animals and wildflowers have all been amazing! But really what fills in the story, what creates the colorful background to our trip are the people we meet along the way.

For instance, back in Moab after having finished a delicious brunch affair at the Peace Tree Cafe, we were walking around town when I spotted a yarn store I had to go into. Really I HAD to go in. The owner of the store was a wonderfully sweet women with her 8 month old baby girl. After chatting awhile, the first thing I noticed was the local fiber producers, and one in particular…a co-ETSY seller, who I had previously bought a few fiber braids from. It is those type of surprise connections that make traveling so interesting.

When I finally finished with my fiber and yarn fixation, I returned outside to find Fred talking to a couple with a VW Rialta. Not only did this couple at one time live in the Santa Cruz area, this couple knew MY BROTHER!!!  I mean, seriously, the U.S. is a big place. And Moab, Utah is a long way away from Santa Cruz, California.

O.K…still not enough. When we finally got back to the Keevan, parked next to it was another white VW loaded down with cargo carrier, surfboards, firewood, bicycles…(and that’s just on the outside.) Fred and I looked at each other thinking this van looked familiar, and sure enough, when we spotted the stickers, we both knew we had again run into Cory and Emily from “Where’s my Office Now?” 

The one and same couple we met in the middle of the desert south of Sedona, Arizona a month ago. Now here in front of a natural food store in Moab, Utah, we meet again.

Crazy, small, forever entwining world it is!

There’s been so many kind and interesting people we’ve met in campgrounds, in the parks, along turnouts, while dispersed camping, and in coffee shops and cafe’s.

There was the couple in Prescott that kindly told us that the YMCA in town would allow us each to take a one time free shower. On that particular day, that was the best gift we could imagine! Then every day for a week, we shared news on trails and hikes we each experienced. We compared camper van notes, retirement thoughts and art pursuits.

Then there was the sweet couple that gave us a huge bag of home-grown tangerines off their cherished tangerine tree back in San Diego, and then really encouraged us in our newfound love of birdwatching! They shared information about field guides, binoculars and good birding places to go.

The Colorado two traveling with their cats, shared so much info about Arizona, kayaks, good restaurants,  archeological ruins, cultural studies, etc. and then invited us to visit and camp out at their high elevation homestead back in Colorado.

The fun-loving VW driving, margarita swinging couple we shared a campfire with for a few nights, and lots of VW stories!!

And my favorite, the Vita-Mix toting green smoothie girl wonder and her fabulous wood-working partner with a VW to envy all the way to Italy for an awning with a easy open crank handle. We really envied that awning, they really envied our solar panels. They also welcomed us to camp on their property.

There was the young couple with a 9-month old baby AND a 2 month old Great Dane puppy…all camping around in their VW. That was a LOT of CUTE!!!

And so many more stories.

See, it’s really not all just about rocks in the desert. These are the real people that are making this adventure so much fun.

Thanks so much to all of you who have shared so much.

Cruising Westward

 Leaving Utah Behind

 

After overloading on so much National Parkitis, we were ready for a little relaxation. The Parks in Utah are really magnificent, but there really is a limit, and taking in so many beautiful vistas in one trip results in a touch of scenic wonder overdose.

The fact is that Memorial Day weekend, a major holiday celebrated in huge fashion around the Moab area, combined with a storm front moving into town, had us looking at the map again. We wanted to spend one more night in the desert outside of Moab, but were concerned about rain on the very sandy roads we were camping on. Checking the weather over and over again, the weather people assured us no more rain would be occurring until mid-day on Friday.

We believed them.

Suckers we were!!!

We awoke at 4:00 a.m. to the pitter patter of raindrops falling on little Ms. Keevan. We discussed staying, we discussed going. We both tossed and turned in bed. The saying goes, if it rains, and you are on back roads in the desert, be prepared to stay put put for day or so, until the rain soaks in and the roads are once again dry and drivable.  We had already decided to move on, and really didn’t want to stay put in the muck for a few days. Back and forth went the discussion, until finally at 4:15, we got up, dressed, threw everything on the bed, pulled the top down, and beat like heck, slipping and sliding out, all the way to the highway.

We drove, trying to get ahead of the rain, which was more of a downpour than a shower, the entire width of the state to western Utah, where we happily camped on dry BLM land with another great view.

The next morning we made our way into eastern Nevada, where we found the most desirable of forest service campgrounds, with lots of “NO ATV’s” on sign posts. Ah bless these parks gods from heaven. Just my type of people. We spent a couple of days at Ward Mountain Campground unwinding, relaxing, reading, and taking a lovely hike through the junipers and pinyon pine forests.

 

Through the Wastelands

 

Nevada. Now Central Nevada is it’s own character for sure. So much nothingness! And in between the nothingness, is missile testing sites, heaped up junkyards, and half filled pee bottles strewn along the highway. Mountain ranges separated by vast flatlands.

Sounds pretty destitute for sure, but in a way it was relaxing, so much nothingness, after so much everythingness of parks, rocks, beauty, tourists, visitor centers, and overpriced souvenirs.

But here’s the real story. When we went with the flow of the nothingness of Nevada, it all came to life!

First we came across a large band of Bighorn Sheep!! Not two or three mind you, but at least a hundred of them. So close to the road, we could tell the rams from the ewes. (By the horns, is how you tell.) They were so amazingly awesome!

Next, after alternately looking for wildlife and reading my magazine, I spot a lone Pronghorn Antelope!

And if that’s not enough, tooling down the highway, over yonder, we start spotting small herds of wild horses! Yes, those horses. The famous herds of wild horses of Nevada.

 

Wild Horses of Nevada
Wild Horses of Nevada

 

O.k. no more wonders of all wonders please!! We need to start looking for a place to sleep for the night, the shadows are getting long, and the sky is dimming. The last mountain range we pass over is the last bit of forest land for a long while, so we’re looking hard for a dirt road to turn off on. I spot one off to the side. Fred does a u-turn, and we turn in to check it out.

Driving slowly over the bumps and lava rocks we come around a bend, and shhh…”Fred, there’s a horse, right there!”  And another, and another, and a young baby in the herd. A beautiful palomino. A Big Black. Wow.

 

End of the Trail
End of the Trail

 

This is where we’re camping.

 

View From the Van Door
View From the Van Door

 

Another wow. This is the view out our door tonight. Dreams of slumber overcome us.

Life is Good. There is beauty everywhere. We just have to allow it in.

 

 

Catching Up…Part 2

Part 2 – Getting Through Utah

 

(May 21 – May 24, 2014)

Near Goblin State Park. 

We didn’t actually go to Goblin State Park.

"Guardian of the Cave"
“Guardian of the Cave”

The Park is named for rock statues that look like Goblins all over the park, especially popular with the younger generation. When we arrived, there were no campsites available, so, as we do, we found a magnificent (do I dare so better) spot to camp just outside of the park. Therefore, we didn’t spend the fee to go inside the next day either. We enjoyed our own Goblins, and as people do in the desert, create their own entertainment by naming the rocks.

 

 

Arches National Park

Just when you think, there’s nothing new to see, geologically speaking…

 

 

And then…  Canyonlands

See why I’ve fallen so far behind here. Utah is such an underrated state to visit.  We could spend a year here exploring!

 

 

 

Around Our Dispersed Campsite 

 

 The flowers and solitude of the vast high plateau deserts are such a welcome homecoming after days of visiting scenic canyons and vistas. It brings us back to the simple details and up close comforts of    whats within our reach without the drives and roads and parks and people.

 ❧

For further information on the above parks, check out these wonderful websites below.  Of course, we usually don’t do this, we just show up, and check them out after the visit.  Probably not the best plan of attack, but it works for us…

Goblin State Park

Arches National Park

Canyonlands National Park

 

Catching Up…Part 1

We’re back in California for a brief pause before heading into the northwest for the second leg of our journey. Unfortunately this blog is still way back in Utah…a little out of breath.

That being so, I’m playing catch up by posting a few photo galleries of the past few weeks…in a two part series.

First up – Many Thanks to those below for sharing the land with us as we’ve traveled through their homelands.

 

 

(May 15 – May 20, 2014)
And on to Bryce Canyon – One of the most amazing spots in America! 

 

 

Side Tripping – in Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument

 

Being Awed in the Capitol Reef National Park

 

 

Part 2 up soon…

Websites of Parks:

Bryce Canyon National Park

Capitol Reef National Park

Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument