As of the previous post, the Crew was just about to visit Antelope Canyon and navigate down to California...
I write this as I'm sitting by my gate at LAX, waiting to catch my flight back to Boston. It's a bittersweet farewell; I'll be missing the last few weeks of the bus trip to attend my little sister's high school graduation (CONGRATS CHAR! WOOHOO!!!) and to take a family vacation to Northern Europe. I'll be trading an undersized top bunk for comfy beds at quaint Bnb's, but also the near perfect weather of a late spring in California for the grey skies of Scandinavia. I do wish I could be on the bus for another 3-4 weeks with the Crew, but am excited and incredibly fortunate (thanks ma!) to be going on such an awesome family vacation. Before I board, I'll recap the recent adventures of the GMB Crew one last time.
Leaving the Grand Canyon, which lived up to its name, it was indeed quite grand, the crew made their way to a much smaller, unique canyon; Antelope. Located just outside Page, AZ on the Navajo Reservation, years of weathering and flood events have created an incredibly photogenic chasm. Some crew members enjoyed the trip more than others, but we all agreed afterwards that we had seen enough sand and rocks for a while. It was time to find some water.
Unfortunately, our campsites throughout the National Parks had been lacking in bathing facilities, and given all the incredible hikes we had been doing (Petroglyphs at The Valley of Fire, Angels Landing in Zion, Kaibob trail into the Grand Canyon) we were well overdue. The bus, at this point, smelled of sweat and feet, a pungent combination. Conveniently, for our noses' sakes, located not far from Antelope is the man-made Lake Powell, behind the Glen Canyon Dam along the nearby Colorado River. This, we thought, was a great opportunity to hop in and "shower" for the first time in days. The lake was an awesome relief from the desert, we even found a little 30ish foot cliff along the water that Dillon bravely jumped off of first. Overall a great day, made better by the fact that it was Dillon's 23rd Birthday. Great way to jump into your Jordan year, Dillon!
After our swim, we went into Page to do laundry for the first time on the trip (!!!) and get some good food for dinner while we let the bus air out, with the help of a few air fresheners. It was the cleanest I had felt on the entire trip! On our way back from dinner, we met a nice couple who asked us all about the bus and were kind enough to donate to the DOCF. Our sleeping destination that night: Sunset Crater, the location of a 1,000 year old cinder cone and the dried up lava flows from its ancient eruption. Sadly we missed sunset at this location and instead decided to get up in the early AM (not quite sunrise, but still early) to go for the quick 1 mile walk around the park. Walking around the old lava flows reminded us of the volatility that accompanies some of the country's most beautiful and iconic landmarks.
Our morning stroll left us all pretty hungry, so we drove into downtown Flagstaff for some delicious Mexican style brunch at MartAnne's. We thought downtown Flagstaff was an awesome little place after walking through on our way to brunch, so we decided to stay a bit longer. We browsed bookshops, a few of us bought some very strong coffee and others even got our hair cut! An enjoyable morning for sure, we all felt refreshed and ready to go after our quick visit.
Our next stop was Joshua Tree, a bit of a hike after our crisscrossing journey through Arizona and Nevada. We drove through the day and night, stopping only for fuel and at dusk to make some burgers in a McDonalds parking lot. When we pulled up to the gate of Joshua Tree, a sign informed us that all the campgrounds were full. We hadn't taken into account that it was Memorial Day weekend. Thankfully, a kind stranger we had talked to in Flagstaff informed us about BLM (Bureau of Land Management) parcels, open plots of state owned land that allowed free camping! We drove down a few dirt roads outside the park, nervous, unsure of whether or not the bus could take the continual bumps and divots. Eventually, in the black of night, we pulled up to what seemed like a secluded spot in the middle of the desert. We awoke the next morning to find that we weren't the only ones taking advantage of the free parking, there were at least a dozen other cars and campers all around us! It was a bizarre scene, us having thought we were extremely isolated only a few hours prior. You could almost say the difference was night and day...
After breakfast, we took the short ride to Joshua Tree where we would spend a good chunk of the day exploring the Dr. Suess like landscape and trying our best to unsuccessfully scramble up a few of the larger rock formations in the park. We admired the wide open landscapes for awhile, keeping an eye out for rattlesnakes as we hiked a few trails. Towards the end of the afternoon, we hit the road for San Diego, in hopes of getting there by dinner time.
We all wish Jeff could stay for the remainder of the trip, but we're sure he won't be missing us too much over the next couple weeks, being in Europe and all. We will miss his navigational skills and funny quotes, maybe not his aggressive hiking style...
But we wish him and his family the best on their vacation. Safe travels man!
And then there were four...