”Not all those who wander are lost.”
Days: 14th March – 21th March 2016
Kilometers until 21th March: 4000
On rhe Sunday morning, I woke up with the feeling of wanting to leave. It wasn´t a bad feeling at all. On the contrary – new images of the unexplored places, that I was about to visit, were raising in my head and giving me the feeling of excitement. Since I rarely research on my next destinations, normally the first pictures I see in my head are the pure creation of my imagination… and probably of some old Western movie I’ve seen ten years ago. Anyway, Las Vegas couldn´t offer me more and I was ready to go back in the nature. My wish was to have a big roadtrip around the National Parks in Utah and Arizona and if possible, find some opportunities for rock climbing. There was one issue – the trip would have been way too expensive on my own. The solution came just a couple of hours after I realized that problem in the first place. Just at noon on that same Sunday, a guy from Chile and a Belgium couple responded to my event on Couchsurfing where I described the trip I was intending to do. I took this as a sign. Early on Monday morning I was on my way to the airport to pick up some absolute strangers which would be my companions for the next two weeks!
You just have to love travellers. It took us only an hour to adapt to each other’s frequencies and we were set to start our adventure. This process wasn´t particularly hard since we were the same type of budget, not-caring-about-the-comfort (is there an adjective for that?) travellers. And the process was additionally catalysed by the fact that our first common act was to shop groceries hungry. After the first hour of driving and intriguing conversations, I felt as if I had been travelling with them for months and I smiled at the thought of the great trip ahead of us. But let me introduce them!
Hilton, an engineer from Chile (working as my Spanish teacher in the meantime), a movies expert, and traveller for the last two years with the goal to explore all of the two American continents and teach others about the art of travel. More about his adventures on his blog.
Kenzi and Aurelie (or Lili for those who cannot twist their tongue) were a super chilled, kind and adventurous couple who had been hitchhiking and hiking through the US for the last two months getting as much as possible off the beaten path. They too have a blog. Please click on the link only if you honestly promise me not to stop following mine after that (for the simple reason that theirs is amazing).
Zion National park
Our first stop was Zion, just a couple of hours northeast of Vegas. The rocky monuments on both sides of the valley gave us a starting hint of the lands we were entering. The valley was covered by a carpet of green (at least seen from the distance), so the place didn´t give me the feeling of being deep in a rocky desert. We decided to go for the most strenuous trek – Angel´s Landing. The climb was good and even close to challenging at some spots and the views were truly amazing. One small misfortune was the fact that on that day apparently all the students of the southwest decided to visit this specific trek for their spring break. So there were plenty of people to disturb my desired escape of the crowds. Nevertheless, as soon as I sat on the edge of the rock at the highest point, I surprisingly (or not) found myself quite alone enjoying the gorgeous view of the river which was whirling its way deeper into the canyon.
The few days spent in Zion, gave us the time to develop our new daily routine of pitching tents together, preparing dinner on the camping stove, washing the dishes, waking up with a person next to you, folding the tents, preparing breakfast, playing Frisbee!!!, packing up and driving to another site. The routine improved with each repetition. And kind of spontaneously, the different responsibilities were designated towards different people. Example being: Aurelie was awful at Frisbee! We decided not to pay any money for accommodations during the whole trip so we camped on empty spots close to the road.
Bryce National Park
After two days of hiking we left Zion heading east until the road brought us to Bryce. If you imagine Zion and Bryce as two brothers, Zion was that big, handsome guy in a good shape and quite popular among the girls whereas Bryce was completely different (despite being so close). Bryce would be rather the small introvert brother, quite strange for some but extremely interesting for those who decided to get to know him. The shapes of Bryce were like nothing I’d seen before. I spent an hour in front of the park using the strange forms and structures to shape imaginary castles, giants and armies in my head. The first day was spent enjoying the view and relaxing on top of the canyon but on the second we dove into the canyon on an eight mile hike that gave us the chance to see all these imaginary castles and towers from a different perspective. As usual, the conversations topics twisted until they reached their peak while discussing how to solve the world poverty. Looking back, it was a strange but somehow charming scene to see four of us walking among the fairy tale structures of the canyon and discussing passionatelly if education is the proper way to improve the life quality on a global scale.
The sunset over Bryce was beautiful but on a price that we had to pay just several hours later. The nights were freezing! Hilton and I slept in the car with all of our clothes on us just to wake up and see that Rocinante was completely frozen. For the second night, we decided to escape the cold by going down from the elevation and continuing our way deeper into the desert.
Driving to the middle of Utah
The four of us (Rocinante including) took the small internal highway leading further from Bryce over the beautiful Escalante region; the Capitol Reef national park and through the desert of Utah. Escalante was absolutely gorgeous. I wish I could have stopped my car every few miles to admire it (I think I actually did). And I wish some of the guys were up for climbing because the rocks were perfect for it.
We spent the night somewhere along the road. Our camp was surrounded by the Utah desert which was a good enough reason to start a campfire. Cooking at the campfire beats any stove. I mean, you cannot bury a potato under the stove and have it baked when the fire is off. I guess this is a Bulgarian way to do it because the others looked at me in a very suspicious way as I dug the potatoes out of the fire ashes. They insisted on me trying them first and waited for 10 minutes to check for any fatal consequences. Untrusting westerners… Just kidding, they joined me a second after seeing my pleasure of biting into the freshly baked potato. My last memory of that night is the amazing feeling of learning Spanish in front of the campfire as everyone had gone to bed, hearing from time to time a noise or seeing a shadow in the bushes where the campfire light didn´t reach. It was my imagination of course but it gave me the feeling of cosiness and security only a campfire in a desert can give you.
The other day started with a surprise. Few miles further we found a great art café with live music in the otherwise almost completely deserted looking town of Boulder. Next stop, even if quite short, was the Capitol Reef national park. We actually just drove through it… we kind of had to. Pitty because I liked a lot what I saw . The next five-six hours were a drive through a pure desert. Rocinante brought us faster than expected to our destination. That´s why we decided to visit a place which was not in our initial plans – Arches national park.
Arches National park
Since we had to put our priorities on the places of our initial plan, we spent only one afternoon in the Arches driving around and doing several small hikes. Again, probably due my lack of expectations that place impressed me a lot! Not only the beautiful arches but basically all the shapes of the rocks can only be defined as extraordinary. Walking close to the massive rocks and seeing them from below, I wish I had the chance to climb here. That was probably my only regret of this week. But as the Rolling Stones said it – you can´t always get what you want! It was hard to say goodbye to the arches, but our time was limited and our plan was full of places I was very excited about.
In the first week of our travel together, Rocinante, Hilton, Kenzi, Aurelie, and I developed a bond that made us feel (at least from my side) very natural together. Our time in the car became a mix of chilling, discussions, singing, and of course laughing. Our conversations varied from the important topic of how much bread the people in Chile eat to the insignificant topics of the American and world politics and economics. It was a true road trip with true travellers. And there was so much more to come…
If you dislike this post, it´s because of me, if you like it – it´s because of my beautiful and talented editor and niece Natali.
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