This is actually a very recent memory! But there there were lots of mountains in this holiday and we pretty much remained at altitude as we spent the majority of it on the Colarado Plateau. So here we go….!
This holiday was never meant to be a healing holiday. We had been planning this road trip for almost a year, we even delayed it from May to October because of the infertility treatment. But we decided to bite the bullet and book it for whatever stage we were at. We were cautious and kept things less adventurous and a little more comfortable just in case I was anywhere up to 5 months pregnant. We didn’t imagine that we would be leaving for this holiday with a cloud of sadness over our heads. But yet despite the sadness, this holiday came at a great time. It has been a chance to reset and refocus. I know not everyone can afford to take the time off work or even have the money to travel afar, but I highly recommend getting away somewhere, switching the phones off and avoiding the rest of the world to help heal the mind.
This road trip was always planned to be epic. And it sure was! Here is a brief run down of our adventure:
Day 1: Excitement sets in (NV). Finished work early (Friday)! Fly to Las Vegas, arrived late and stayed at nearby airport hotel. Teased by the sights and sounds of Vegas!!! There are even slot machines in the airport baggage terminal. Do people really get that addicted?
Day 2: Trippy & Valley of Fire State Park (AZ). Picked up our rental campervan – AKA Trippy! Can you guess why we called her Trippy??!
We were upgraded from the small campervan we originally booked – woohoo! When I say upgrade – I mean we got an extra two feet of storage space! Which we were grateful for. Trippy had a table and chairs in the back that converted into a queen size bed and took up the whole width of the van. Cosy. In the boot (trunk), Trippy had a sink, mini refrigerator and gas burner. All that was left to do was sign our lives away on a dotted line and Trippy was ours for 13 days. We were off to our first stop – the Valley of Fire. It truly was like the valley had been set on fire, the rock was a beautiful orange/red in the midst of a green flat plateau.
Day 3: Zion National Park (UT). Change of time zone. Travelling five states in 2 weeks that are in different time zones soon became confusing!
We hiked up Angel’s Landing – a challenging climb if you were to have vertigo.
Some people turned around as their fear got the better of them. Chris and I on the other hand love this kind of hike/scramble. It is easy to tell why this park was called Zion.
Day 4: Bryce Canyon (UT). The weather turned and the rain came in. Our first disappointment came when we got the phone call from the horse riding tour company that they had to cancel the pony trek. We were gutted because this is something on our bucket list! It is also not a good idea to be in the lower rim of the canyon due to the high risk of flash floods, so we didn’t hike too far down into the canyon either.
According to the native Americans the ‘hoodoos’ formed when a tribe who did bad things were turned into stone by Coyote. We don’t know the exact story because the story can only be told during winter time (according to tradition – the park upholds this out of respect for the tradition) – we will just have to go back some day in the winter to find out! Despite the disappointments it was one of the most unique and spectacular places I have ever been to.
Day 5: Grand Canyon North Rim (AZ). The rain followed us, and the clouds too. Our first sneak peak of the Grand Canyon was somewhat disappointing.
We were teased by little breaks in the clouds, but we could not get an impression of its greatness. We waited for three hours at one of the view points for the clouds to break. All of a sudden there was sunshine and we ran to the view point! It wasn’t completely clear, but we could see a bit further down in to the canyon.
So we gave up and checked into the campsite. This was when I got the phone call from my clinic telling me I should be having weekly blood tests. I felt a bit emotional after this call because it was the first time in days that I had really thought about what the future 9 months wasn’t going to be.
As there was a bar at the Canyon lodge we decided to hike the 1.5 miles from the campsite to the bar just as the sun was setting. As we reached the lodge, we were blessed with the most incredible sunset as the clouds dissipated! It was truly magical – great things come to those who wait came into mind!
After our first alcoholic beverage of the holiday – and my first drink in months we hiked in the dark back to Trippy. Chris took some wonderful starlight photos from across the canyon. Just as we made it back it started to tip it down with rain. What an incredible day – full of highs and lows in emotions.
Day 6. Horse Shoe Bend & the Antelope Slot Canyons (AZ). Wow. The drive from the Grand Canyon to Page, Arizona, was spectacular! Along the way we stopped at the Colorado River Horse Shoe Bend. It was busy with tourists, but we were able to sit down for about 30 minutes whilst we waited for the shadows to move out for Chris’s photoshoot he wanted to get. We sat and people watched. So many people literally took a picture and headed back to their car. It made me sad that this amazing feat of nature was not really taken in for all it’s incredible glory. But hey. We can’t all be nature lovers right?!
Following the incredible drive we arrived at Page where we had booked a Native American tour guide into the Antelope Canyons. The canyon itself was impressive. We were hearded through quickly like sheep. Our tour guide was informative, but the crowds made me sick. Apparently there are many other slot canyons like this in the Native American reservations but this was only one of two open to the public…and it is incredibly popular, apparently over the last year or so business has been booming because of the internet. It’s great that so many people want to appreciate it, but I worry about the conservation of it.
Day 7. Four Corners and Monument Valley (AZ, UT, CO & NM). We spent most of the day on the road, but managed to stop at the four corners monument…
…put all four limbs in each state all at the same time! We also visited Monument Valley which is where a lot of wild west movies have been filmed. It was truly an outstanding park.
Sadly there was not enough time to do a hike to one of the ‘monument rocks’ and we couldn’t drive.
Day 8. Mesa Verde National Park (CO). A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. We managed to shake off the crowds, Mesa Verde was a lot quieter, there were no coach tours bugging me (I am completely selfish when it comes to enjoying nature – I want to enjoy it in peace and quiet without Japanese and Korean tourists shouting and selfy-ing everywhere I looked). A lot of Mesa Verde had closed for the season, but we did get a tour round one of the more ‘adventurously located’ settlements of the cliff dwellers. What struck me as really odd was that what we were looking at were rock dwellings that seemed to be from thousands of years ago. But in reality, they were only 800 years old…it was amazing to compare the dwellings in Europe at that time and how different life was for the Puebloans (what I mean is how undeveloped they seemed compared to Europe).
We hung around the park to have dinner in our campervan and watched the sunset over the mountains. Chris took some more amazing starlight pics.
Day 9. Santa Fe (NM). We weren’t really sure what there was to do in Santa Fe, we had a walking tour planned and knew we wanted to try some New Mexico cuisine. We were surprised at the incredible art galleries here. We also saw America’s ‘oldest church and building’ (considering we had just come from mesa Verde I am not sure they could claim the oldest building title). I chose a mexican restaurant and was excited to be eating Mexican food that was actually spicy! Where we live in Virginia the Mexican food has little spice to it and is covered in cheese – more Tex-Mex than Mexican. So it was a real treat, and poor Chris ate it despite his ‘sweating’ from the spice.
How lucky are we? Just 9 days in and it was already epic! Days 10-16 to come next week!
Mountain Lesson #8: Enjoy the journey. Sure the infertility journey can be a long one, but sometimes you need to take a little diversionary break to feel the power of mother nature and help lift your mood to higher states of happiness. Take a breath, take a rest, soak up the sun – let the beauty of the mountains reset you.