Life is such an amazing thing. Completely insignificant when taken into perspective, yet it belongs to everyone and has such substantial meaning to each of us. Inconsequential though it may seem when looked at in the context of the universe, life has it's moments where our consciousness is elevated to a level that eclipses the scope of the universe. On our own, the feeling is incredible, but when two people share that transcendental feeling something truly magical happens. Fleeting though that feeling may be, it did live for an instant. Like the wind gently kissing your face and then gone from existence. A photograph is an attempt to preserve that magic: to capture the wind. Once you have grasped it, the moment has passed and the magic is gone. What you have is a memory, a photo that cannot capture the magic but can help you remember and take you back to that instant where you outshone the universe. Alberta, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia... then well, back home. With our destinations chosen, the itinerary made, and the checklist checked, we embark on a 16 day road trip. Epic. A variety of unforgettable memories, grandiose scenes and simply complex pleasures. 9,311 Kilometres of Life Lived...
I think this was the first big trip that either of us had planned with such a precisely timed itinerary. We saved up our days off, for a total of 16. Planning a trip like this was so much fun. We would research on line together, look at Google Maps and Google Earth, list off all of the places we wanted to see, activities we wanted to do, and then planned a route that would allow us to do as much as we could in the time we had available to us. We experienced deserts, oceans, mountains, plains, cities, no less than eight National or State Parks, we hiked, we relaxed, we camped out under the stars, and we shared each others company for what was one of the most memorable experiences of our young lives.
With our passports, itinerary, budget, travel music, sunglasses, smiles, and a thirst for adventure we set out on a journey that saw us sleeping in tents, motels, hotels, cars, bed and breakfasts, houses, apartments, and even a resort. We had a refreshing blast of rain just about every day, and enough sunshine to keep us smiling along the way.
We really settled in to “road trip” mode on our first day. Long talks, stops for gas, snacks, supplies, and pictures, setting up sunshades from pieces of clothing, reclining, relaxing, and long moments of silence just being caught up in it all: taking it all in and taking moments to reflect on how lucky we are to be able to experience such a truly magnificent gift, and to be able to share that experience with someone else.
After an early morning departure, we were off to Gardiner for supplies and ice cream. We picked up our “America the Beautiful” park pass, and proceeded to explore the unique landscape that is Yellowstone National Park, the first National Park in America.
We entered the park, hiked around Mammoth HotSprings, The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, saw Yellowstone Lake, observed Old Faithful, and experienced our first power outage of the trip before departing. On our drive from Yellowstone we were lucky enough to witness one of the most breathtaking sunsets we had ever seen.
Yellowstone Park is such an intriguing place with a diversity of scenery. The park sits atop the largest volcanic system in North America, where you can see geysers, hot springs, canyons, calderas, mountains, lakes, meadows, an abundance of wildlife, and where we noticed temperatures can fluctuate dramatically.
We slept in the car at a rest stop near Pocatello, then drove to Salt Lake City to enjoy the drive-in experience at “Sonic.” We drove and walked around Salt Lake City for a while before taking the beautiful drive from Salt Lake City to Moab and Arches National Park.
If any day could stand out on a trip like this one, this would be it. Hiking in Arches National Park, beautiful scenic drive to Monument Valley, and then to the Grand Canyon to camp out under the stars... utterly breathtaking. The light and the weather could not have been kinder, what a day!
The previous night’s storm gave us clear blue skies the following morning which continued to develop into a beautiful day. We were glad we scouted the park the evening before so we could time our adventures the next day. Plus, how often do you get to see waterfalls in the middle of the desert in one of the most visually stunning places in the world?
I remember seeing images of Monument Valley when I was younger and being completely blown away by them. They seemed so ethereal and unearthly. Seeing the valley first hand was a moment I had long waited for and witnessing the beauty and grandeur of these astonishing monoliths caused me to pause and step back from the immediacy of the world I was in and enjoy an instance that exists without the touch of time.
The Grand Canyon is beyond description, you try to take it all in but just cannot comprehend it. Witnessing a setting sun bathe it in a golden light stops your mind and removes you from existence. Then the light leaves you and you are left alone to find your way in the ensuing darkness.
After a warm night camping and gazing up at the stars, we explored the canyon again, then took off to Hoover Dam, via Route 66, and then on the Las Vegas for a night out on the town.
After an amazing Cirque du Soleil show and a fun night on the strip, we slept in and then went down to the pool and lazy river at Mandalay Bay to soak up the sun. Later that evening we enjoyed a romantic dinner at the Russian themed “Red Square.”
Continued at Western United States Road Trip: Part 2 of 2