We’re moving into our “tiny house” for the summer. Heading southwest to see the Grand Canyon, then the “Mighty Five” in Utah. From there we’re heading over to Yosemite & Sequoia National Park in California and meeting up for a reunion with my childhood girl friends. I’m excited!
But, this trip is more than just a vacation, it’s a sabbatical... time to slow down and experience God in a whole new way. “The whole earth is filled with his glory.” (Isaiah 6:3) Through nature, God heals, teaches, strengthens, soothes; it brings us into the presence of God... I’m going to let it restore my soul.
Found this gem in a little town called Perry, Ga. They turned this beautiful antebellum home (built in 1790) into a restaurant that serves delicious southern comfort food.
I had the pot roast with a side of sweet potato casserole that was to die for! Jimbo got salmon croquettes (aka “croquetas”) and a squash casserole that was the best I ever had. For desert we got a blueberry crumble & pineapple cake that were also amazing! Definitely have to make this a must stop every time we’re on our way to Mississippi.
Side note: the lady sitting at the table next to us heard us tell our waiter that we were from Florida so she leaned over and said “I want to welcome you to Georgia and I hope ya’ll have a blessed time.” So sweet! We’re definitely not in Florida anymore!
We managed to score a walk-up site at the Stone Mountain campground! Thought we were going to have to “Wally-dock” (boondock in a Walmart parking lot) tonight. It was kind of on the pricey side because in addition to having to pay $20 for parking, they tagged a $7 “processing fee” onto the $44 for the camping spot AND it’s another fee to hike the mountain, which stinks cuz we really wanted to do that. Jimbo is not a happy camper! But, I’m thankful for our beautiful view of the lake & the mountain, and for dinner by a campfire (as well as the fact that we have electric & water, which means a shower and a/c tonight)! Also, I found this cool flower... not sure what it is, but they are all over the place here.
As it turns out, we weren’t able to hike Stone Mountain after all. We were awoken by a loud knock on our door... It was someone alerting us that we were under a tornado warning. So we hooked up the RV and hightailed it out of there! Six hours later we finally arrived in Mississippi where we’ll be for the next two weeks. Jimbo’s family lives here, so we’ll be spending time with them and check on a special project he’s working on with his cousin (keep reading for more info).
Last October, we were on our way up to Mississippi for Jimbo’s family reunion and our truck engine blew up! So we got “stuck” here for three months while the truck was being fixed. One day I was looking for a good cup of coffee (as usual) and found a little coffee shop in a small town called Senatobia. We were sitting there having breakfast and I thought to myself “this town has so much potential.” So I turned to Jimbo and said, “I feel like this would be a good place to buy a property to help revitalize this community.” At the time, it was just a passing thought... didn’t think anything would come of it. But, as God would have it, a few weeks later Jimbo’s cousin asked if he would come with him to look at some properties he was interested in buying. And, yup, you guessed it... the properties were in Senatobia! To make a long story short, Bailey & Bailey properties was born. The cousins partnered to buy two historical storefronts that are side by side on Main Street. They are currently in the process of bringing them back to life! The goal is to have a new roof put on the buildings while we’re here. (Pictures to come.)
Love driving these old country roads... it’s a nice departure from south Florida traffic. Just you, the road, and your favorite playlist on the radio!
It’s a cool 73 degrees here. I love sitting in the sun on cool days and warming my bones. I brought the tulips Jimbo got me yesterday outside to enjoy the sun also (and I just like looking at them). As I sit here drinking my coffee and reading, I can hear birds chirping, singing, cawing, and honking all around me. So many different kinds of “bird calls.” I wish I knew how to distinguish them one from the other. Maybe I’ll take up bird watching... always seemed like a silly thing to do, but now I’m starting to see the beauty in it.
I’ve been reading through the Bible, trying (again) to read it from cover to cover. I’ve never been able to accomplish it, but this time it feels different. I’m actually enjoying it. I think before I was just doing it for the sake of accomplishing a goal. But this time, I’m just taking my time through it and savoring the Words and stories. The Bible really is the most interesting and amazing book.
I’m currently in the book of Job. It’s challenging the way I think of God. We always think God blesses the good and punishes the wicked (and He does). But in this book we see God selecting Job to be tested because of his integrity. Doesn’t make sense to us, in our human/finite logic. But, in God’s eyes it was a privilege to be chosen. God chose him because He knew Job would “come forth as gold.” And God rewarded Job with double all he had because of it. The other thing I found interesting is that God said, “In all of this, Job did not sin by blaming God” (1:22). In other words, although Job “spoke many angry words against God” (34:37), God did not consider them a sin. I would have thought, just like his friends did, that it would be a sin. But, not in God’s eyes. He is okay with us venting our raw feelings to/towards Him. And that is such a comforting thing.
This weekend the little town of Senatobia is putting on the Five Star City Festival. It was great to see the normally quiet streets bustling with people. Having lived in a big city my whole life, I find small towns so interesting. It’s cool to see how people interact with each other. I love how so many people know each other and they actually take the time to stop and talk. I’m sure I’m probably idealizing it and there’s a lot wrong in little towns. It’s just I’m not used to seeing that kind of “close-knitness” and I can’t help but appreciate it.
I’ve always heard of “southern hospitality,” but I had never really experienced it. I can’t get over how friendly everyone is in the south! For example, we were just walking around in the BBQ cook-off area, looking around, when all of a sudden, one of the guys invited us over to his tent and handed us plates loaded up with amazing BBQ! Jimbo even tried pig tail (I had a bite, it actually wasn’t bad). They say “the only thing they don’t eat is the squeal!” Then they sat down to talk with us and they kept wanting to feed us some more. A family came by to say hi, they had bought a candied apple from one of the vendors and shared it with us. We sat there for about an hour and dozens of people came by to say hi and joined in on the conversation. It was really nice that, although we were the “strangers,” they made us feel like family.
And, I just have to say, some people may say that racism is alive & well in the south, but I have seen nothing but the opposite to be true! Everyone is kind and friendly to each other and a lot of people seem to be really good friends with people of the “opposite color.” (At least here in northern Mississippi anyways.) It fills my heart with joy—not only because I love seeing people love one another, but because it reminds me of the most essential of all truths, God is love.
Today they had a classic car show. Got to see lots of really cool old cars. I snapped a picture of of our buildings (beige & green) with a few of them parked out front. The new roof finally went on today. Praise God!
We’re heading back tonight to listen to some live music and hang out with the friendly locals.
We’ve spent the last few days working on the properties. It’s been unseasonably cold & rainy here. From what I hear it’s normally in the 80’s, but it’s been in the low 60’s. If you know me, you know how much I dislike being cold. I must have caught a chill because I’ve been feeling a little under the weather. Thankfully the sun is shining today so it’s warmed up and I’m feeling a lot better too!
I snapped some pictures of our tiny home. It’s still a work in progress, but I love our little place. I feel like a turtle with a shell on my back... I can take my home with me wherever we go!
The plan as of right now is to head out on Monday. However, we might have to leave on Tuesday or Wednesday if the work they’re doing on the buildings holds us up. If we leave Monday we can spend a couple days in New Mexico and/or Mesa, Arizona on the way to Flagstaff.
Today was our last day in Mississippi. Tomorrow we’re “on the road again” (cue the Willie Nelson song). Our next stop is Oklahoma City, where we’ll boondock for the night and hopefully get together with our friend Amy for dinner. She used to work with me at Miami YFC and recently moved out there to work with Transformation Church.
We have an 8 hour drive ahead of us, so we had the truck checked out today just to make sure it was good to go. We learned our (very expensive) lesson last time we took a long trip (see my “Day 3” post for more info).
We also hit up some of our favorite spots around town. One of them is a coffee shop appropriately called “Coffee Central.” Last time we were here they just had a little coffee counter inside a shop that sold hand-made items (the kind where you want to buy everything). But now they’re in an old house that they converted into a great space where you just want to hang out. It was a beautiful day so I sat out on their back patio and had breakfast (spinach, tomato & feta quiche w/a lavender London fog latte).
Next, we were on to the laundromat to get our clothes all washed. When you live in a tiny house you can only have a couple weeks worth of clothes, so a laundry stop was definitely a must before heading out.
After laundry, we went over to take one last look at the properties before we go. Thankfully a lot has been accomplished in the last two weeks. When we first got here the old roof had been removed and the old brick back wall had been taken down. That wall was in such bad shape when we bought the buildings that the city was thinking about condemning them because of it (just looked like it was going to collapse at any minute). But, with the roof & the wall gone all the interior walls & floors were getting soaked every time it rained! Now we have a new roof and the back wall is halfway done. God-willing it will be finished by the end of this week. It was fun to begin envisioning the layout of the future apartments upstairs.
On the way home I saw the one of the most magical things I’ve ever seen... A field full of twinkling fireflies! I just stood there in the middle of the field and they were twinkling all around me! It was so beautiful!! I tried to film it and take a picture of it, but I couldn’t capture it. It was a moment I will never forget.
Drove 8 hours to Oklahoma City. Found a big lot to park in. It belonged to the OK Cider Brewing Co. They were kind enough to let us stay there overnight. Unfortunately we weren’t able to try the cider because they were closing just as we arrived. They recommended a place for dinner that was down the street called “Jones Assembly.” Very cool space and food was good, but they had kind of a limited menu. Ordered a beer called Dead Armadillo to drink in honor of all the dead armadillos we saw on the way (RIP)!
Then we popped into an arcade called Flashback Retro Pub that was across the street. This place was super fun and definitely a highlight of our time in OK.. Might just stop there again on our way back!
The next morning we ate breakfast at a place called Stitch. We had “tacos & tarts” (fresh made pop tarts). Both were delicious! Overall we really enjoyed our short stay in Oklahoma City which really surprised me! Was not expecting to like it as much as we did. We’ll definitely have to stop by there again on our way back. There’s a place called “The Wheeler District” that has huge Ferris wheel that I want to check out too.
Today we drove 4 hours to Amarillo. Had dinner at Tacos García based upon the recommendation of my friend Stacy Patterson who lived in Amarillo for a bit. It did not disappoint (thanks Stacy)!
After getting our taco fix we drove out to Cadillac Ranch, which is a field in the middle of nowhere that has a bunch of old Cadillacs buried in it. People take spray cans out there to tag up the cars. It was cool, but the field was super muddy because it had been raining all day. Good thing Jimbo suggested I put on my water shoes to go out there because the mud was so deep that I almost lost my shoes! Literally, my foot sank down into the mud and when I pulled it out my shoe was stuck down in the mud... It was like quicksand! Thankfully I was able to dig it out. It was super messy, but super fun!
The next day we went to check out historic Route 66. After walking around a bit. (Lots of antique stores.) We bought an old Rubiks Cube then grabbed some coffee and hit the road again. Next stop Santa Fe!
We boondocked at Camping World (learned they offer Good Sam members free dumping and they had electric hookups). Filled up our fresh water tank at a Cracker Barrel.
We decided to take a detour and check out Santa Fe since the drive time was the same as to Albuquerque.
Had dinner at a place called Tomasitas based on my friend Tom’s recommendation (thanks Tom)! I had a blue corn chicken enchilada & chili relleno “Christmas style” (which means with red & green chile). Jimbo is a little burnt out on the Tex-mex/southwestern fare, so he opted for a standard quesadilla. Our meals came served with something called “Sopaipillas” which is a puffy fried dough. Our server said you could eat them either savory (with your food) or sweet (for dessert- there was a bottle of honey on the table to drizzle on them). I tried them both ways and couldn’t decide which was better! Had to exercise lots of self-control not to eat them all!
I just love the architecture in New Mexico! I always have... The southwest is totally my vibe! I’ve always dreamt of visiting and seeing this unique place in person. I’m so thankful to God for the opportunity to be here!
In the morning we had breakfast at a place called “Modern General Feed & Seed.” They had some unique items on the menu, such as Açaí cakes, green chili cilantro cakes, red pepper Sonora cakes, and super cakes (kale, flax, and scallions). We decided on the lemon cakes (lemon curd, blueberry compote, and whipped buttercream). They were delicious!
Next, we went to Iconik Coffee Roasters to grab a cup of coffee before hitting the road. They had a green chili bagel that I just had to try! It was a bagel with a kick... super interesting!
We boondocked in the Tesuque Casino parking lot. Found it using the All Stays app. Had to connect the generator in order to power the water pump and use the hairdryer.
Feel in love with Old Town Albuquerque! Spent the afternoon strolling along the colorful streets and admiring all of the Mexican and Indian handcrafts. I wanted to buy everything! I settled on a pair of silver earrings, a silver & turquoise hair barrette, and a couple of handwoven pillow cases.
I have to share a God-story regarding those pillowcases! When we first got the travel trailer I decided to decorate it southwestern style (because, like I said, I love all things southwest). And one of the things I really wanted were authentic throw pillows, but I searched & searched online and couldn’t really find them anywhere. So when I knew we were going to be visiting New Mexico the one thing I wanted to buy were some pillows. However, shop after shop I visited didn’t have what I was looking for. It was getting late and all of the shops were closing, so I had pretty much given up on the idea of finding the pillows. Then, just as I was about to leave, I spotted one more store. When I walked in I couldn’t believe my eyes... I had found the motherload! They had hand-woven pillows, rugs, etc. in all colors, shapes, and sizes. I was able to talk with the master weaver himself and learned all about the meaning behind the different geometric patterns and colors they use. It was so interesting!
Funny side note, Albuquerque is known for Breaking Bad, so we had to stop into the Breaking Bad store and got to take pics with “Mike” and the “Pollos Hermanos guy” (if you know, you know). I’m definitely not condoning the show. I actually had to stop watching it because it was bothering my conscious. But, it definitely had some good characters and actors!
Finally, we got to have dinner with our friend Tom at a great place called Dave’s Valley Grill. Jimbo was so happy that they had something other than tacos on the menu. (Honestly, I was too... Mexican food isn’t my favorite.) I just love getting to meet up with friends along the way!
We boondocked and filled our fresh water tank at Cracker Barrel. In the morning we had a problem with our hot water heater. Couldn’t get the pilot to light. Jimbo tried several things and watched a bunch of YouTube videos trying to get it fixed, but nothing was working. We were starting to think that we were going to have to stop the trip to get it fixed before we could go on. But, then we prayed and all of a sudden the pilot came on (honest truth)! Turns out it was a problem with the “sail switch.”
Today we took another “detour” and drove 3 hours south to White Sands National Park. We hadn’t originally planned to visit, but it was in the general direction of Mesa, Arizona which is our next stop, so we went for it!
The terrain is definitely changing the further south and west we drive. It’s looking more & more like the desert. We even saw our first tumbleweeds!
After driving for miles & miles and seeing nothing but arid, sun-baked dirt dotted with small dry, scraggly shrubs all of a sudden you come upon this “oasis” of dazzling white sand dunes... It’s so crazy! (Technically, White Sands National Park is an oasis because it preserves a shallow water supply. They don’t really know where all the white sand came from though. The theory they came up with is that a “sea retreated millions of years ago leaving behind deep layers of gypsum.” Could it just be that God created it that way?! His creativity never ceases to amaze me!)
We tried sledding down the dunes in a plastic saucer, but it wouldn’t budge. So Jimbo pulled out one of our snowboards and that worked better once we found a dune that was steep enough. These dunes were much prettier than the sand dunes in Silver Lake, Michigan. But, the Silver Lake dunes were more fun because you can actually sandboard and sled down those!
After playing in the sand for a while, we dusted off the fine white powder (as much as we could), jumped back in the truck and decided to head further south to El Paso, TX because Jimbo found a retro arcade he wanted to check out. (I guess our new motto is “have arcade, will travel!”) Unfortunately this one wasn’t as great as the one in OK, but it’s all part of the adventure!
We boondocked at Camping World. They had water, but no electric. God knew exactly what we needed because we definitely needed a lot of water to get all the sand out of our hair (and every other nook & cranny, lol!).
Today we drove 6 hours from El Paso to Mesa. Made a pit stop at the Saint Claire (Les Combes) Winery to pick up some of their Mimbres Red wine. Our friend Tom recommended it at dinner the other night and I loved it so much I had to get some to take home with me!
I was surprised they were able to grow grapes in New Mexico because of the hot, dry climate. But, Tom shared with us that it was one of New Mexico’s first crops! This is because when the Spanish settled there they needed wine in order to administer the Sacraments. I also learned from Tom that the green chile is New Mexico’s state vegetable. (That was a joke! But, they do love their green chiles.)
Been listening to a lot of classic country on our drives through the desert. Willie Nelson, Kenny Rogers, and Merle Haggard just seemed like an appropriate soundtrack for the scenery. Did you know that Lionel Richey has a country album? Look it up! It’s actually really good.
Lastly, we went through a town called “Miami, AZ” on the way here! Tried to snap a pic of the sign as we drove past. It was established in 1907 and looked like it had a population of 100 (lol)!
We stayed in a Cracker Barrel parking lot. We were going to stay at Camping World, but they didn’t have hookups of any kind and we heard something that sounded like gunshots nearby... could have just been fireworks, but still scary!
Today we kayaked 5 miles on the Salt River in Tonto National Forest (which is a forest of Saguaro Cacti). I can’t even begin to describe how impressive these Saguaro Cacti are. First of all, they’re everywhere! They grow like weeds here, but each one actually costs thousands of dollars and they’re hundreds of years old! Jimbo says each one looks like it has its own personality, which is true. They’re so cool! I could go on & on about the cactus. (Can you tell I’m totally enamored with them?)
I was super excited about this kayak trip because I heard that sometimes people see wild horses along the river. But, about halfway into the trip I was beginning to think we weren’t going to see any horses. I was a little disappointed because the whole reason we came to Mesa was to see the horses. Then, all of a sudden, there they were! I couldn’t believe my eyes. Not one, or two, but five horses were standing in the river drinking water. It was absolutely beautiful!
I think I’m starting to see a theme here. First, just when I thought I wasn’t going to find the pillow cases, I find a store full of them! Then, today, just as I was thinking we weren’t going to see horses, there they were! It’s like God is telling me, “See, just when you think I’m not going to show up, not only do I show up, but I show off!” Wow! Help me to remember that, Lord, whenever I’m feeling discouraged or disappointed...You might be just about to surprise me!
After kayaking for two and a half hours, we had worked up a serious appetite! A quick Yelp search revealed that Mesa is the land of tacos, burgers, and bars. So we opted for a burger place called Stufrageous. Jimbo got a burger stuffed with a pineapple, pepperoni and mozzarella cheese. I got mushrooms, grilled onions, and Swiss cheese, topped with crispy onion straws and bbq sauce. It was delicious!
We stayed at Camping World. Turns out they have their own little campground where several RV’s can park overnight with electric hookups! Although they didn’t have water hookups, they let us fill up our freshwater tank using their water spicket. And they have a dump station we can use to empty our tanks tomorrow morning!
Drove 3 hours north to Flagstaff today. Can’t believe how different the landscape is here. We went from the hot dessert & cacti to pine trees & cold mountain air! The elevation gain between Mesa and Flagstaff is almost 6,000 ft. So it’s practically a different world up here!
Before we headed out of Mesa we stopped at Dutch Bros coffee to see what all the hype is about. They had lots of yummy sounding drinks on their menu, but I got a Keto Cold Brew. I’m more of a purist when it comes to coffee... not to the extent that I don’t put cream or sweetener in it, but I like to keep it simple. (They say people are like their coffee and I guess it’s true!) I have to say it was a pretty good cup of coffee for a chain store! Let’s see if they eventually make their way down to south Florida.
Tomorrow our friend Dawn flies in to meet up with us here in Flagstaff. She’ll spend the next 10 days with us as we celebrate her birthday with an epic trip to the Grand Canyon and the “Mighty 5”National Parks in Utah (Zion, Bryce, Arches, Capitol Reef, and Canyonlands).
Since we’ll be doing lots of hiking, biking, and climbing I wanted to prep some “power meals” for us. So our first stop in Flagstaff was a Walmart where we did a massive grocery haul. I spent the rest of the evening chopping and cooking veggies, eggs, etc. I’m making things like sweet potato hash, baked oatmeal squares, and quinoa salad. Hopefully that will keep us fueled along the way. Not to mention that there aren’t really any restaurants or grocery stores in that area and Jimbo is not too keen on the idea of going hungry (food is always his #1 priority)!
On the agenda tomorrow: laundry!
We stayed in the parking lot of an Outback Steakhouse because the Cracker Barrel across the street was full. (There were probably 15 RV’s parked over there!) I guess a lot of people stay a night in Flagstaff on their way to the Grand Canyon. Jimbo had to change out the trailer battery because the old one was pretty much dead and so our fridge won’t stay cold. The nice guy at Interstate Batteries recommended we switch to two 12v golf cart batteries.
Our friend Dawn arrived in Flagstaff tonight. Turned our dining room into a bedroom for her to sleep in. Had dinner at Lumberyard Brewing Co. located on historic Route 66. Both the food & beer were great.
Now it’s time for bed! Tomorrow we drive about an hour north to the south rim of the Grand Canyon! Can’t hardly believe it... I’ve been dreaming of seeing the Grand Canyon for so many years and tomorrow I’m actually going to see it. Thank you Jesus for this blessing!
We stayed in the Outback parking lot again tonight. The manager here is so nice. He even let us fill up our fresh water tank. The spigot required a special key so he let us borrow it. Learned that some Speedway gas stations have dump stations.
Drove and hour and a half from Flagstaff to Mather Campground on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. A few minutes after setting up the camper we spotted a female elk drinking from the water spigot. The park ranger told us she was pregnant. But, she was not afraid of people at all. A few minutes later she walked right up into our campsite and hung out there for a little while!
After we were finished setting up we jumped on our bikes and headed over to Mather Point to watch the sunset. It would have only been about a mile bike ride, only we went in circles for a bit before finding it so it took us a lot longer! It’s mostly uphill on the way there, but the ride back is all downhill. It was fun, but we did it in the dark so it was a little bit scary. That reminds me, we saw the strangest thing in the sky last night... it was a trail of stars, that looked like a train, moving across the sky and then it disappeared! I wonder what in the world it could have been?? (Update: The train of lights was actually a series of relatively low-flying satellites launched by Elon Musk's SpaceX as part of its Starlink internet service.)
The Grand Canyon was mind-blowing! I felt like my brain could not process what my eyes were seeing. It was hard to take it all in. I had to remind myself I wasn’t looking at a picture. This morning I was reading the Psalms and it was talking about how the same God that created the earth & everything in it is also our maker and He watches over us, “we are the flock under His care.” It’s so amazing to me that this mighty and powerful God is also so loving and tender towards us.
“ For the Lord is a great God, a great King above all gods. He holds in his hands the depths of the earth and the mightiest mountains. The sea belongs to him, for he made it. His hands formed the dry land, too. Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the Lord our maker, for he is our God. We are the people he watches over, the flock under his care. If only you would listen to his voice today!” (Psalm 95:3-7)
God used a text message from someone back home (which I normally don’t get because I have no reception) to wake me up at 4:45am. I decided He was inviting me to get up and watch the sunrise at the Grand Canyon. So I quickly grabbed my Bible, camera, and some blankets and drove out to Mather Point. I got there just moments before the sun began to peek over the mountains. To say it was majestic is an understatement!
Soon after the sunrise all the people that had come out to see it left and I was alone with God. I opened my Bible and I was in Psalm 96 which starts with: “Sing a new song to the Lord! Let the whole earth sing to the Lord! Sing to the Lord; praise his name. Each day proclaim the good news that he saves.“ I ended my reading with Psalm 100:
“Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth! Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy. Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.“
I can’t even begin to tell you how powerful it was to be reading those Words while sitting out there. I’m so thankful I didn’t miss the opportunity to experience that (I was tempted to just go back to sleep, plus I knew it was going to be cold). It’s so incredible to have a relationship with the creator of the universe! Thank you, Jesus, for your sacrifice which makes that possible.
Afterwards I went back to the trailer and took a nap. Then, we went into town to get something to eat and we watched an iMax movie about the Grand Canyon (even that didn’t do it justice)! By that time it was about 3pm, so we decided that was a good time to head out on a hike because the sun was starting to go down so it wasn’t as hot.
We drove out to the South Kaibab trailhead and honestly we had no idea what to expect. We heard the hike to Ohh-Ahh Point was only 0.9 miles, but it would take about two hours because of how steep it was, and they weren’t kidding! It was scary steep! I hugged the inside wall the whole way, but the views were incredible! It was so worth it. On the way back Jimbo decided to hike off trail down into the canyon. He was gone a long time and I was trying not to freak out (which was hard), But, thankfully he eventually emerged from the “depths” of the canyon and I was SO relieved!
After the hike we were exhausted and hungry, so we grabbed a quick dinner and then I showered and went to bed. It was about 11pm and Jimbo was in the shower when I heard someone honking their car horn outside. When Dawn looked out the window she saw what looked like our truck on fire! Jimbo quickly jumped out of the shower , grabbing the fire extinguisher on his way out the door (thankfully he was able to get dressed first). When he got out there several of our neighbors were already trying to put out the fire with water jugs. Turned out it was our generator. We have no idea what caused it to catch fire. But, we’re so thankful it wasn’t any worse... our truck could have blown up or we could have set the whole forest on fire. The crazy thing is no one knows who honked the car horn that alerted everyone to the fire! (But, I know it was God.)
What was supposed to be a 3 hour drive turned into an all day affair. Instead of going west on Hwy 89, we took a “detour” and turned right towards Page, AZ. Jimbo wanted to see if we could find a hardware store. Since the generator caught fire, he’s on a mission to make sure we will have power when boondocking. It was kind of an unfruitful trip because the store was closed, but we did get to have dinner and watch a band play live music! They were pretty good... played everything from Johnny Cash to Elle King. I even line danced!
We camped at Kaibab Camper Village. Had full hookups, including sewer. Feels like a luxury after boondocking for a week!
We weren’t sure what to expect when visiting the North Rim. We had heard this side of the Canyon was more rural and wild than the South Rim. It’s at a slightly higher elevation (9,000 ft. vs 7,000 ft.) so it was definitely much colder. We decided to take the scenic drive to the end (Cape Royal) and did the relatively short hike to Angel’s Window which gives you a spectacular panoramic view of the Canyon! Then we walked about half a mile further to Cape Royal which sits on the southernmost point of the Grand Canyon North Rim.
I was surprised at how many places along both the south and north rim it would be easy to fall off of! We looked it up and on average 12 people per year die at the Grand Canyon. Honestly I’m surprised the number is that low considering the number of people that visit each year (5.9 million). I see so many people walking dangerously close to the edge. It can definitely be deceiving because it’s not fenced off so you think it must be safe, but one slip or misstep and you’re gone! So you have to be very careful everywhere you walk.
Next, we jumped back in the truck and drove the long, winding road back to the visitor center and hiked the short .5 mile trail to Bright Angel Point. We were hoping to catch the sunset there, but it started to rain so we ran back to the truck. Our lungs were burning because of the steep up hill climb, but we managed to avoid the rain.
Along the way to Bright Angel Point we met a family that had done the Rim to Rim hike (North Rim to South Rim) via the Kiabab trail. It took them 16 hours! But it can be done in 7-9 hrs. I would like to attempt it one day. There is also a multi day raft tour along the Colorado River where you tent camp along the riverbed. I would really love to do that too! I bet it would be amazing to see the Canyon from the bottom up (vs top down which is how people usually see it). Gives us a reason to come back!
Hanging on to the rails for dear life! But, look at those views!
Drove back to Page today. This time we did the drive on Hwy. 89 during the day and, wow, it was such beautifully scenic drive! We passed the Vermillion Cliffs on the way and it felt like we were driving through a painting or a movie!
We went by Antelope Point Marina to see if we could score some kayaks to do the 2 hour round trip to Antelope Canyon. (Although the Navajo Nation isn’t currently doing tours to Antelope because of Covid, you can kayak there and go in the back way.) But, they weren’t sending anyone else out because the wind had picked up and a thunderstorm was expected to come through later in the afternoon. Unfortunately, they were sold out for the following day too, so we’ll just have to come back another time!
Next, we went out to Lone Rock to see if we could find a spot on the beach to camp for the night. The beach was practically empty, just a few stragglers left over from Memorial Day weekend (when we stopped by there on Saturday the beach was packed out). So we pulled up right in front of the rock and dropped the trailer, then headed to Horseshoe Bend to watch the sunset!
After the spectacular sunset at Horseshoe we went back to the trailer and had dinner sitting out of the beach while watching Netflix projected onto the side of our trailer. It was the perfect ending to an amazing day! Thank you, Jesus.
As we drove around Arizona we noticed something strange was happening with the time. It seemed like we had entered the twilight zone because one minute it was 1:00 and the next minute it was 2:00. No, I don’t mean we were loosing track of time... the time was literally changing before our eyes! This is because during Daylight Savings Time certain parts of Arizona are in Mountain Time and others are in Pacific. As I was trying to figure out what was going on I read an article online that said, “Arizona’s unusual rules and geography mean someone could drive through three areas and go through two time changes while never leaving the state.” Crazy!
Today we drove one and a half hours to Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. We’ll be staying in the campground there for two nights. Tomorrow we’ll get up before the sun to hike the Narrows Trail in Zion National Park. But, first we had to go play in the sand!
As soon as we dropped our trailer, we grabbed our boards (technically snow boards, but we use them more for sand than snow) and headed out to the dunes. We surveyed the land, found the highest “peak” and set of on a hike to the top of the dune. It was a challenge and a great workout!
Once we got to the top, Jimbo waxed the bottom of the board, got a running start, jumped on the board and then face planted in the sand! (Not the way we pictured it going in our minds, lol!) There were some nice guys from New York that had rented some boards from the visitor center and they offered to let us borrow one of their boards (after they finished laughing). This time Jimbo flew down the side of the dune... It was so much fun! I was able to slide down a few times using our boards, but we learned that wider boards are better for sand dunes.
On our way back to our trailer we ran into our neighbor heading out to the dunes in his buggy. He offered to give us a ride in the dunes. He looked like Ned Flanders from The Simpson’s and had his teen daughter sitting in the front passenger seat holding a little dog, so he seemed like he would be a safe driver. But, he drove like a man man! He went full speed through the sand and up and over the dunes, catching major air! I screamed with delight! It was fun & terrifying at the same time. Glad we survived and thankful to God for sending us that blessing! (I had been wanting to do a dune buggy ride, but they we’re like $150 p/hour to rent.) God is good. Now off to bed, we have an early start tomorrow morning. (I’m so excited, hopefully I’ll be able to sleep!)
Managed to get a few hours sleep and got up at 4:30am to head out to Zion National Park. I’ve been dreaming of going to Zion to hike the Narrows for years and I can hardly believe I finally got to do it!
We had heard that the park was so busy that they were turning people away as early as 11am, so although we’re usually not “morning people” we made sure to get there early because we didn’t want to risk it. Even at 6:30am we had to wait in line for 45 minutes to get on the shuttle! I’m really glad we did the hike in the morning though because it ended up taking us 6 hours. By the time we got back it was super hot and there were tons of people heading out to start the hike. On the “early shift” there were a lot less people, so it was nice that it wasn’t as crowded.
The water was freezing at first; so bad that my feet hurt! But, eventually they either went numb or I got used to the temperature because it didn’t bother me anymore (the water actually began to feel great)! It was a little tricky navigating over all the rocks, especially through the currents. But, overall it was an amazing hike... I heard one kid say, “this is the funnest day ever!” and I couldn’t agree more.
After the hike we took the shuttle back to Zion Lodge where we bought cold drinks and ate our picnic lunch. Then I laid in the cool grass under the shade of a big tree looking up at those big mountains all around me. It was a little bit of heaven on earth!
Next we drove into the town of Springdale and popped in and out of the shops up and down the street until dinner time. I had heard that Oscar’s Cafe was the best place to eat and a few locals confirmed it was true, so we headed over there and it did not disappoint! I had a pork chili verde burrito based on the waitresses recommendation and it was delicious, but it was so big I could only eat a quarter of it. Jimbo, Dawn, and I shared one of their 32 oz Mexican cervezas. Then it was time to go home, shower and hit the sack... I’m sure we’ll be sleeping good tonight!
Thank you God for an amazing day and for fulfilling my heart’s desire to visit Zion and hike the Narrows!
Checked out of the Coral Pink Sand Dunes state park and drove another hour and a half north on Hwy 89, then a few miles east on scenic byway 12 where we got to see our first “hoodoos!” (That’s what they call the rock formations at Bryce National Park.)
On the way out of the sand dunes we pulled over on the side of the road for a “minute” and ended up getting stuck in the sand! It was a stressful few minutes, but Jimbo managed to get us unstuck. Thank God!
Just before arriving at Ruby’s Inn Campground in Bryce, UT we passed through this cute little town called Panguitch. It was already on my radar because I heard they were doing a balloon festival in June, so I had put it on my list of places I wanted to visit. I just didn’t realize how close it was to Bryce!
We spotted the Wanderlust Cowgirl Coffee shack and had to stop! They had something on their menu called Lotus energy drinks and the “Hoodoo Hype” sounded so good (mango watermelon fruit fusion)! So I opted for one of those instead of my regular coffee. I love getting to try something new! It was really good... Jimbo said it tasted like a jolly rancher, but it wasn’t too sweet. Definitely gave me a little pick me up, but it was very mild.
As we drove down Main Street I saw several stores and restaurants that looked interesting, so we found a place to park the truck & trailer and walked up & down the street. They had one of the best antique shops I’ve ever been in! It was in an old firehouse. They also had an old movie theater called “Gem” that played free cartoons all day as well as a dinosaur exhibit upstairs with some fossils and petrified wood samples. Across the street was a restaurant called Cowboy’s Smokehouse that smelled so good!
So after sitting in the theater and watching old cartoons for a while we decided to head over to the campground to drop off the trailer and come back to have dinner at the smokehouse, then watch a movie at Gem Theater. (They were only showing one movie, Cruella, and only had two showtimes.)
Dinner was amazing! Some of the best smoked ribs & BBQ sauce I’ve ever had. They had live music, one of the local boys singing country music to a karaoke soundtrack. He was only 15 years old! It was a lot of fun because the whole restaurant would sing along on the choruses of some of the classic songs like John Denver’s “Take me home” and “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond.
Looking forward to coming back to this little town for the balloon festival in a few weeks!
(Continued in Part 2.)