Monday, March 23, 2015

Gorgeous Gorges Trip, Day 1

Spring Break 2015, Day 1!
Friday, March 13, 2015
Driving from Tucson, AZ to Kanab, UT

We are back from our Spring Break vacation and I'm so excited to share about all our adventures! I'm pretty sure we started planning this vacation right after last year's spring break. After doing a lot of research, asking friends for advice, deciding what interested us the most, planning a very detailed itinerary, and the hardest part - waiting for the day to finally come! - we were ready to go!

This year's theme was "Gorgeous Gorges," and the destination was all 5 National Parks in Southern Utah! With limited time left in the great Southwest region, this was just something we knew we needed to do. Our goal was to visit all 5 and do a big hike, a scenic drive; anything to make us feel like we experienced it to the fullest in a day or two. 

Obviously, they are all large parks and there was no way we could enjoy every part of them in one week. If we ever do get a chance to go back, we have some ideas of different things to do. Most importantly, we are satisfied with what we were able to do and all that we got to experience over the past week. 

With that, let's begin: the story of our spring break!

Break came a day early, thanks to Curtis not having classes on Friday. We loaded up the car and took Charlotte to her home for the week. (We used Kennel Nirvana in Northwest Tucson, and now can highly recommend them - I was so thankful to find a place where Charlotte wouldn't be cooped up all day in a kennel. At Kennel Nirvana, she got to spend the majority of the day playing outside and socializing with other animals and people, which is perfect for my little social butterfly!) And then we were off!

We made it through traffic in Phoenix and rewarded ourselves with In-N-Out. When thinking about what I'll miss most about living in the Southwest, In-N-Out is in the top 5 of the list. Sigh...

We drove North on the 17, but then took a detour through Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon on highway 89. All for the sake of highlighting new roads on our atlas...yes, we have a problem. 

We went to Sedona last November and loved hiking with the gorgeous red rocks and fall colors. However, as it turns out, it's quite busy in the spring with people who drive very slow. In the above picture, you can see that the limit is 45, but we were definitely going 25 at this point. It's not like there are scenic view areas every mile where you can pull off and enjoy the beauty without interfering with traffic...

We were using our GoPro through a lot of this drive, so you can look forward to enjoying the beauty of highway 89!

After driving up Oak Creek Canyon, we stopped at a scenic view to enjoy the beauty. This was only the first of many "Gorgeous Gorges" to be seen on vacation!

Oh yeah, we were also here for a letterbox...but unfortunately, the box was placed around a tree, and a rock climber happened to be attached to that exact tree! We decided to not wait around for him to finish his climb, and continued on to Flagstaff.

Taken with the GoPro

We LOVED getting to see the snow capped San Francisco Mountains! While we really enjoyed all the hikes we did over this trip, another common sight was having snow capped mountains somewhere  on the horizon, and sometimes those mountains would be the highlight. We'd start dreaming about hiking those mountains...but then I'd think about how cold that would actually be, and I was perfectly content with where we were. ;)

After driving through Flagstaff, we got back on highway 89, and then alternate 89, through the Marble Canyon in Glen Canyon NRA & the Navajo Reservation. Another very scenic drive...and another long road to highlight on our atlas! Maybe when we move away from AZ I'll post a picture of our very highlighted Arizona map. ;)

Those purplish cliffs in the distance are on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon! While this part of the Grand Canyon may not be the most impressive, it's still a cool feeling to be so close to it and know how huge this canyon is.

We stopped at the scenic view on the South Rim to take pictures and walk across the Navajo Bridge. In the above picture, the bridge on the left is the highway, and the one on the right is for pedestrians. 

Our first sighting of the Colorado River for this vacation!

Our shadows on the South Rim as we crossed the bridge

That black dot is a California Condor! This was the best picture I could get of him.

Let the vacation selfies commence!

We walked from the South Rim to the North Rim, then back again...on the Navajo Bridge that is!

After driving across the bridge, we enjoyed seeing the Vermillion Cliffs as the sun was setting. It's fun to think about all the different views we'd seen as we drove across the state - Arizona is such a beautifully diverse state, and the scenic drives never disappoint!

Yet another scenic view!

Soon after that scenic view, we entered this forest...and there was snow!

We wanted to try to get some letterboxes for day 1, so we stopped somewhere around Jacob's Lake, AZ for a short hike. As it turns out, we may not have been prepared for this attempt...

I gave up long before Curtis did. We really don't have much experience in boxing in the snow, so we had to give this one up for today. Maybe next time...

We reached the crest of this hill looking down at the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument at just the right time. With the sun setting, the colors were gorgeous and we were able to make out all the "steps" to the staircase.

One last scenic view stop for today!

And one last selfie. ;)

After that, we finished up the last leg of our drive through Fredonia, AZ, across the Utah border and into Kanab, UT. It was a great first day of vacation, and the best part was that this would be the longest drive we would have for the entire trip!

Day 1 Wrap Up: Drove 460 miles. Highlight: Crossing the Navajo Bridge.

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