Over the years, I’ve collected Pinterest pins of places I’d like to travel. It’s easy to make a collection of something then forget about it. I recently revisited my “Travel Board” and realized a large portion of my collection were destinations within a 500 mile radius. No planes or trains required. All you need is an automobile, or in this case, a recreational vehicle. We love the convenience of our house-on-wheels, but this quest in the Southwest can be done with a car and tent, as well.
I tend to be a busybody and like to thoroughly explore new territory. I realize my pace might not appeal to everyone, however, I wanted to put together a guide for those who want to skip the research and planning aspect of a road trip.
I put together an itinerary for 10 days, starting in California, moving through Arizona and ending in Utah. For a shorter trip, you could also shave off the last stops in Utah or skip Arizona for a 7 day excursion. This itinerary can be tailored to your preferences, as you see fit.
Come along and see the sights with us.
Day 1: Deserted in Borrego Springs
We set sail from our home in Murrieta, and took Highway 79 to Borrego Springs, stopping into Julian to soak in a little bit of the small town charm. Julian is a nostalgic place for me. It reminds me of driving the windy roads, with my family, just for the hot apple cider on Main Street. I always leave The Warm Hearth with something unique. The road from Julian down into Borrego Springs is a great place to warm up your road trip senses. It doesn’t take long before you realize you’ve broken free of the busier life. Dropping into the desert gives you a refreshing sense of isolation and opportunity to disconnect and prepare for life in the wild for a while. We decided to boondock at Clark Dry Lake bed for a quiet night, alone with the stars. We made our way out to the dirt road and passed through Galleta Meadows Metal Sculptures for some admiring, snapping photos and finding figurines. For this 10 day adventure, we came equipped with jungle animals and squishable toys for the finding. The Serpent Garden is a magnificent installation and really deserves an intimate view. The engineering of all the desert creatures in Galleta Meadows is impressive and it feels as though the creatures may come alive as you turn your back.
We drove a few miles down the dirt road into Clark Dry Lake and were assaulted by the vastness of the open desert floor as it was coated by the last goodbye of the day’s sun rays. It felt like we were eavesdropping on a conversation these two have been having for centuries. Jason graced us with his handpan musical styling while Bryn tested her engineering capabilities with some good ol fashioned Lincoln Logs while I wandered, barefooted, using the desert as my photographic muse. We soaked in every drop of light until we sat in darkness, accompanied by the orchestra of hissing bugs and distant desert wildlife. It’s not often you can find a place that is exempt from manufactured noise. It can be recharging to take in the natural music of a quiet oasis for a moment.
Once we put Bryn to bed with a movie and standard light show that we never leave the house without (see Afraid of the Dark ). Jason and I sat face-to-face in the moonlit desert. A favorite pastime of ours is our adult, post-bedtime hangout opportunities. We savor every moment with our daughter, but once her engine needs to shut down and our motors are still running, we really indulge in the after hours. We get into the best conversations that really have no limits. We can get really deep, scare ourselves with thoughts of eternity, space and mortality, then quickly shift into sarcasm where the jokes seem endless.
This fireless campfire brought us a silly game called “New Laugh”. We have now integrated this game into our home lives. The rules are simple. I say “Jason, new laugh” (or vice versa) and he has to immediately make up a laugh. This game is not only ridiculous and fun, but it helps keep you from taking yourself so seriously. Every time I hear one of my family member’s new laugh, it gives my heart a little tickle. Laughter seems to come from the soul, so a made-up laugh is goofy enough to elicit a soul produced one. We are always surprised by the odd noises that fly out of each other’s and our own mouths. It was in this star-kissed meeting that Jason looked at me and said “I wish I could stay 37 forever”. That sentiment laid its memory in my brain as vivid as the vast desert and night sky that outlined his silhouette.
Day 2: To Arizona We Go
Dance Party at the Salton Sea
After a mellow night in Borrego, we continued on to Phoenix, a four hour trek from our first night’s accommodations. I think it’s crucial to our sanity to pull over and shake our roadie legs every once in a while. So, the Salton Sea felt like a great quick stop as we continued our adventure to Arizona. It sneaks up on you, approximately 40 minutes out of Borrego. Take a quick detour down to the saline water and witness the stillness that surrounds you.
We parked our RV at the edge of the road and had a dance party on the roof, overlooking the whitewashed views of the Sea.
We were joined by a giant flock of Seagulls, awaiting their bread breakfast served by a local woman who was kind enough to share her offerings to the birds with us. Bryn fed the ravenous dive bombing diners with joy and without fear. We love seeing her try new things and overcome reluctance when faced with the unknown. She helped fill the bird’s bellies, gave our new friend a big hug and “thank you”, then we continued on our journey.
Phoenix brought us some challenges, great times and lifelong memories. We had booked a budget hotel, being that campgrounds were limited and pricey. Upon arrival, we knew this hotel was bad news bears and had zero intention of having our daughter sleep there, or have all our possessions parked in the lot. It was almost comical to see how I managed to find the shadiest place in the greater Phoenix area. I had a moment of panic, being that I feel responsible for booking our accommodations, and I obviously missed the mark on finding an abode worthy of stoking feelings of safety. In true Jason fashion, he quickly turned us around with his calm redirection. He reminded me we have a place to sleep. Just needed a place to park.
After we shook off the hotel mishap, we linked up with our dear friend, Rebecca, for a walk through the streets of Roosevelt Row First Fridays. It’s an outdoor stroll through a lively collaboration of local artists, musicians, food vendors and more. This has been one of my favorite art walk/street fairs to date. The streets are littered with talent and beautiful, energetic people of all ages. It offered a nice polarity to our seclusion in Borrego. It feels satisfying to deprive yourself of human interaction, then thrust yourself back into it. My excitement to know people is always reawakened after taking even a short hiatus.
We stopped to watch break dance battles, turned Bryn into a puppy with face paint, bought some stunning handmade bracelets, and explored graffiti covered abandoned buildings for some photo ops. As we were about to make our way back to the Shuttle, we passed the beginnings of an epic drum circle brewing. It is near impossible not to wiggle when the drumming starts to reverberate in your body. Before I knew it, Jason had Bryn on his shoulders dancing toe-to-toe with another father-daughter shoulder riding combo. What a beautiful sight to behold! Two strong, masculine dads taking a moment to brighten the world through their daughter’s eyes. The joy was contagious and I think it wet most of the eyes in the vicinity.
We satisfied all of our senses, saddled up in the wagon to find a place to park, then tucked in early, saving our energy for the following night of “fest”ivities.
Day 3: M3F – A Family Festival
Jason and I have been to our fair share of concerts, raves and music festivals and it has become a tradition we wanted to pass down to Bryn. Music is a universal language. Even babies organically move their body to music. Sound can be healing and our bodies recognize this before our minds. Bryn has always had movement to music in her soul and we knew she would love the experience of being immersed into a booming crowd of dancing festival goers. The openness and acceptance found in festival culture is unparalleled and we were so enthused to introduce Bryn to an experience that has brought us such fulfillment.
The M3F Festival offered the ideal opportunity to feel like we could safely integrate her into the festival culture. The grounds are packed with tented rows of incredible Artisans, creators, food and interactive fun. The lineup was diverse enough to accommodate many different musical tastes. It is a fantastic show to take munchkins to, as there is plenty for them to see, touch and hear with the ability to find quiet areas to recharge. It’s a nonprofit organization that gives to various local charities and we think they did a phenomenal job putting together a weekend of magic for the fest-goers.
We left that night with hearts full of love and gratitude for all we experienced with our little family and friends, new and old. We tucked into the RV for the night, and as I lay my head down on my pillow, I glanced over at our adventurous angel, and smiled as the proudest mama alive. She lit up the faces of thousands that day, and she didn’t even know it. I said my “thank yous” for being blessed to be her mother and I was whisked into the most peaceful slumber as love seemed to swirl all around us, in our perfect tiny dwelling.
We packed up our dancing shoes and cleaned the flowery, glitter explosion that was the aftermath of festival preparations, the day prior. We restocked our groceries and headed north to the “red and green city” of Sedona.
Day 4: A Home-ah in Sedona
On the drive to Sedona, we pulled over for a quick detour to the experimental town of Arcosanti. The urban planning architectural designs by Paolo Soleri are awe inspiring. We made our way through this magical mini-city, appreciating the innovation, art and community. We felt a pull towards the notion of a self-sustaining community, shared with like minded people. It got our wheels turning and triggered an honest curiosity as to how we could make a similar concept work, in our own lives.
Every vantage point at Arcosanti is unique and stimulating in a peaceful yet powerful way. The communal area is dripping in magnificent bronze bells available for sale. The sound that emanates the building as you make your way through the bell-laden corridors is calming and tranquil. It set us back on the road feeling reset and centered.
Page Springs Creekside Oasis
As we jumped back on the dirt road to leave Arcosanti, we noticed that we were all feeling a little tired and ready for some R&R for the remainder of the day. I tend to look for all the possible points of interests and have a tendency to keep a pretty action packed plan, but also have to remind myself to leave room for rest and be content in enjoying the moments of stillness as much as activity. We set a plan of no action as we arrived at Page Springs RV Park.
We couldn’t have found a better campground to envelope us in a decompressive state. It’s approximately 30 minutes outside of Sedona, with a lovely drive into town. The few campgrounds inside Sedona were booked and more expensive than we were looking to spend so we decided on this hidden gem and were overjoyed at the outcome. Our site was perfectly appointed on the creek, tucked up against a hillside landscape, lined with a gorgeous assembly of trees, making us feel immediately at peace and at home.
We wasted no time before kicking off our shoes and taking turns wading in the shockingly comfortable frigid water. Jason and Bryn crossed the gentle rapids to an island where they constructed a Friendship House for luring squishables. They must have been inspired by the architectural magic that is Arcosanti, because this multi-level, mossy rock tavern looked extraordinarily welcoming for all the tiny creek side creatures.
We had enough icing our tootsies in our momentary backyard river, and continued to explore the natural neighborhood. Jason seduced us with his hypnotic handpan melodies, I scoped the sights and my family through the lens of my camera, Bryn was fully immersed in her imaginary wonderland, Rebecca meditated and all was right in the world. Before we tucked Bryn in for the night, Jason made her a giant hopscotch of shapes and pathways made of lava. She stayed entertained by the daddy obstacle course as we adorned the RV interior with a fantastic cosmic light show, equipped with pulsing lights cords, illuminated balloons, glow sticks and her movie of choice. Going to bed on a road trip isn’t exactly a bummer for Bryn. She gets to blow off energy with the sun then turn down for a glowing sleepover with the moon.
We had no phone service or connection to the outside world and it felt wonderful to be distracted only by each other and our surroundings. When the kiddo went down, the adults set up a light show in the trees and dove into deep conversations under the Super Moon that decided to host the party.
Day 5: Into Sedona
Into the red and green city we went. When we arose from counting sheep, we got serious about making some hiking ground at this nature enthusiasts’ paradise. We headed into the park and decided on the 4 mile Bell Rock Pathway Loop. It is said to be one of the many vortexes in the area.
“A Vortex is a place in nature where the earth is exceptionally alive with energy. The term Vortex in Sedona refers to a place where the earth energy swirls and draws to it’s center everything that surrounds it like a tornado. At these magical sites, trees often exhibit this swirling or twisting of their trunks due the powerful vortex energy at the core of a Sedona Vortex.” (A Guide To Sedona web page)
These places are also said to bring great healing, joy, spiritual upheavals, and positive energy. Sounds like a productive day on the trail, if you ask me. This single loop had new scenery around every corner. The contrast of the patina-like greens against the burnt sienna toned rock danced around in the Cones in our eyes like they were putting on a show, just for the four of us.
Bryn had her first rappelling experience as she sought out squishables in a hidden cave. She followed the glittery rocks that showed us the correct path, and built a heart rock formation around me as I sat in a pool of appreciation for my sweet travel companions.
The loop feels intimate and raw. It takes you through a small yucca valley up to Spaceship Rock, where you’ll find breathtaking views of the trails of Sedona all the way out to the stretches as far as the eye can see.
We all took a moment to ourselves to take in the views, reflect on our personal journeys and indulge in gratitude for what brought us there. There is a natural rock throne at the top, where Queen Bryn sat for a math lesson with dad, counting pistachios. I could have stayed on that rock forever. But alas, we were all hungry hikers that needed to air out our shoes and fill our bellies with sustenance.
We were craving some soul food after spending most of the day cramming apples and protein bars. We found the perfect, locally owned and operated, vegan grab-n-go eatery called Conscious Meals. We were lucky enough to sneak in before they closed and the owner was as delightful as the food. The namesake is so fitting for this establishment. It’s quite visible this place was birthed out of a place of conviction and passion. We sat with Hortencia for a while before heading back to camp. She reminded me of my mother and interacted with Bryn in such a wonderful way. She was so kind and affectionate while possessing what seemed like infinite wisdom and goodness. I adore the moments where Bryn has a positive exchange with a strong woman. It’s through these interactions that her God given gifts merge with lessons learned and I was happy she had this brief opportunity to meet a fantastic 10 minute mentor.
We ate our delicious, nutritious food at our campsite picnic table and reflected on the day’s highlights then tested the campground shower quality. This campground is small, quiet and quaint but has everything you need and feels very cozy. My shower was another highlight. The communal bathroom was heated, well lit, clean, spacious and cute. I felt the warmth flood throughout my being and sent myself to bed feeling renewed.
Day 6: Turning the page to Page
We parted ways with Rebecca and our creekside home and hit the road. The drive out of Sedona to Page, AZ was one of the most captivating of our entire trip. We left Sedona as it started to rain, passed through snowy open roads, and watched the geographic puzzle shift as we continued north. I think we stayed quiet the whole drive, simply to take it all in. The road is sometimes the most exciting part of the trip and we don’t like to miss a thing. Hwy 89 as it makes its descent into the Glen Canyon Recreational Area is overwhelmingly stunning. Although you can see the Grand Canyon in the distance, it still makes you feel small.
We parked at the Horseshoe Bend Visitor Center and followed the stream of people heading down to check out this noteworthy attraction. It’s a short, easy hike to the bend at approximately ¼ mile and can be done with children and dogs. As we approached the drop off, I almost didn’t want to peek until I was standing on the edge of the cliff. You really can’t prepare yourself for its majesty. Once we laid eyes on the canyon, we all went silent. We have never seen anything like it. We stepped close to the edge and peered over to see just how far we would fall. I felt a substantial shutter in my gut, at the thought. We took enough pictures to keep as memory to this place but spent most of our time walking through all the nooks and crannies that surrounded us, as we were flooded by endless snapshots in our minds.
Bryn scaled rock walls that were five times her size. I could hear exasperated responses as Jason got upside down in handstands near the edge. I love witnessing his display of fearlessness and superhuman talents when it’s least expected. Watching my sexy husband do sexy husband things, while we are in nature, is like the ultimate aphrodisiac.
You don’t need much time at Horseshoe Bend, but it would be a sweet spot for a picnic, some deep meditation or even a great place to sit and read a book. There are many tourists crawling over the terrain, looking for the most Instagram worthy pictures, but there are plenty of ridges to find some privacy and a place to clear your mind or enjoy the company of your road mates.
Our minds were blown at the magnificence of this natural wonder. The enormity of the canyon below was a reminder of how tiny we are and we left with a newfound appreciation for the spectacular planet we are lucky enough to inhabit.
Who put the “pow” in Lake Powell?
Downstream from the Bend, you’ll reach Lake Powell, a place I’ve heard of but never visited. We made it into the marina at dusk and it felt like we plunged into an oil painting as it dried. The movement of pastels as the sun swept over the sheer rock faces that lined the lake are dreamlike in their soft beauty. We were dazzled by the backdrop and jumped into an impromptu family photo shoot. The sun lit up the innocence in Bryn’s eyes in a near tangible way. I danced around my beloved husband and daughter as I tried to capture the power and bond between these perfect creatures. As we made it to the water, the glorious views doubled as they reflected off the stillness of the lake. It was almost disorienting not knowing up from down but we took it all in before the sun tucked back behind the mountains.
We set up our next nest at Lake Powell Marina & RV Park. This campground is pretty phenomenal. It is outrageously well appointed and provides everything you need. Each site feels private and faces the lake, giving even more privacy to the nextdoor campers, as you will keep your eyes fixed downhill. There is a convenience store, pay showers, laundry, boat rentals, and plenty of entertainment to keep you busy during your stay.
We kept the night simple after a tomato soup and vegan grilled cheese dinner. After putting the fire pit to good use, and exploring the area by foot, we said “goodnight”.
Day 7: Rain, rain, go away…wait, no! Stay!
We woke on the 7th morning of our trip to the sweet trickle of the rain hitting the windows. Lazy rainy day mornings still apply when you’re on the road. We quickly battened down the hatches, aromatized the RV with the fresh brewed coffee, put on a movie and read books in bed. It felt so great to bundle up in a little cocoon together and enjoy life that felt familiar.
We originally had booked a tour to Antelope Canyon through Ken’s Tours. This guided slot canyon tour seemed to have the best bang for your buck, but sadly, the rain had other plans for us that day and our tour was canceled. We were disappointed to miss the journey through the smooth Navajo Sandstone, but we hope to go back when flash flooding won’t threaten our lives.
Once we determined this was going to be a day of rest, creativity and snuggles, it felt like it was supposed to be in the original plan. We indulged indoors for much of the day but eventually got cabin fever and decided to suit up for some serious puddle jumping and a sunset walk to look for one of her collectibles through a scavenger hunt that took us up the hillside, through the campground, and down through the rough brush to the lake. Bryn wore the most adorable satisfied grin after collecting her collectibles while we praised her for her leadership. We may have missed Antelope Canyon on this trip, but we still took a guided tour to experience some spectacular things. We love seeing her confidence bloom as she called the shots. We trusted her insight and investigative skills and she led us straight to the goal. It is through even small moments like these that we feel a sense of pride and relief that our little munchkin is so versatile and capable when put to task.
These little adventures are great for Bryn’s imagination and detective training, but I also love sitting back and drinking in the scenery. It seemed like we were walking through a storybook of tiny new lands as we made our trek down to the rock house where her final clue was hidden. It’s possible to travel into uncharted territory without stepping foot in the car. You just have to keep your eyes open to diversity.
We praised the lake, one last time, for its grandeur and made our way back to camp for some toasty showers and let the day come to a close.
Day 8: Hoo-doo? You-doo?
We hit the road, bright and early, north to Kanab, Utah. The drive to Kanab is lovely, easy, and only an hour outside of Page. As you enter the Grand Escalante National Monument, you’ll find the Toadstool Trailhead directly off the road. This 1.5 mile hike was one of my favorite stops of the trip. The deeper you venture into the trail, the more other-worldly it begins to feel. The recent rains gave way to an impressive muddy haven.
Approximately half mile in, we reached the Toadstools. These mushroom-like formations reminded me of giant versions of childhood drip castles we made at the beach. The collection of vibrant earth tones and marbleized sediment under our feet made us feel like we were walking on another planet, unsure of when we would come up on molten lava or possibly the Millenium Falcon. I have a “thing” for natural texture and my brain was overwhelmed with stimulus as I attempted to commit the imagery to memory. It felt as though we could get swallowed up into the layers of solidified mud, leaving three Maverick toadstools behind.
We found a few giant caves which Bryn used as amphitheaters for her unmistakable wild howls. We stopped for a cave snack and she got lost in a giggle fit of mudslinging against the sheer walls of our private, white cavern. After our mini picnic, we scouted the perimeter of the trail and it became more craggy and steep. One false move and you’ll find yourself sliding down into a human mud pit. I always get a little nervous watching Bryn crawl over new topography but she has proven her agility worthy of faith and this was no different. She held daddy’s hand and jumped her way all the way back to the bus, where we cleaned up and left the dust in our tracks.
A Stab at Kanab
It felt like a quick hop, skip and a jump to get into the tiny town of Kanab, Utah. Kanab is an appropriate epicenter for many unique sights within an hour drive. We knew two days of rainy weather were in the forecast and were prepared to put the kibosh on any hiking plans we had. We first checked in at Crazy Horse RV Campark. The rates are super reasonable for this quaint, family friendly stay. There’s a pool, playground, plenty of shade trees and rustic but luxurious newly renovated bathrooms.
The entirety of the town is walkable and we scoped out the nearest coffee shop where we sat with our mochas while Bryn dazzled the hearts of the older gentlemen in the shop. They were reminded of their grandchildren through her sweet light. One of the patrons had a Newfoundland that we attacked with pets. Bryn and I had just watched “Super Dogs”, a film highlighting the canine heros around the world, which included this gorgeous breed. These massive pups can be trained as open water rescue swimmers and it felt like a divine appointment that she got to meet one in real life to check out his enormous webbed feet. We gave the gentle giant a slobbery kiss and went back to camp.
We had a kite stowed in the motorhome, waiting for ideal flight conditions. Kanab finally provided the wind we needed. This was Bryn’s first shot at stringed aviation and she got the kite flying on the first try! She and dada ran around with the cool wind at their necks and Frozen kite soaring above their heads as we appreciated the dry weather for moment.
After some playtime at the camp, Rebecca drove up from Arizona and we jumped in her car to the Coral Pink Sand Dunes for a dusty dusk crawl over the dunes. The dunes are situated approximately 8 miles from Hwy 89 and it’s a pretty fun ride. We call roads with bumps “whoop-dee-doos” and it’s tradition that we lose our minds and vocalize in whatever way feels good as we roll over them. It turns a standard ride into a rollercoaster. When we reached the State Park, I was disappointed to find the visitor center was closed, as I had high hopes of renting a sandboard for some dune shredding. I had read the visitor center rents them out for $35, a justifiable expense for a wild new experience. Although it wasn’t in the cards for us, we recommend anyone who stops into the dunes, check out a board and see how long they can stay upright as they rip around the sand.
We took our shoes off and frolicked through the rolling dunes, got out all sorts of wiggles, tried dirt break dancing, ran down the steep slopes, tested our long jumps, and sauntered back to the car thoroughly dressed in dirt.
We stopped into the restroom to clear out our nostrils and other sand covered body parts and we ran into a ranger who was making his rounds. It was in this moment, we learned that the world we had been disconnected from for the last week was turning upside down. He informed us of a shift that was happening as the Covid-19 epidemic started to gain ground. We saw this ominous warning as a reminder that our time on the road, wild and free, was nearing the end, and we would soon return to the world as we (once) knew it. We packed that knowledge up and stored it in the archives of our brains and continued on our family adventure.
We returned to the Crazy Horse and couldn’t have been more elated to try out the fantastic shower facilities provided. The weather started to pick up which made the walk from the RV through the frigid outdoors, into the heated bathroom that much more indulgent. We all took our time freshening up, got our cozies on and locked ourselves in as the storm blew into town. We were all lulled to sleep by the humm of nature’s song and drifted off feeling grateful for our family, health and provisions.
Day 9: Free day to play
With the weather conditions providing excursion limitations, we had to do a group huddle to figure out how to spend our day in Kanab. We considered making the 1.5 hour drive to Zion, almost rented off-roading vehicles to tear through the Utah mud, and wondered if we should just stay put at camp. There is a catch 22 when pre-planning a roadie adventure. I love being equipped with information and activity options, but have to leave room for the unknown. We had a list of sights to see in this part of Utah, however the climate we experienced didn’t lend itself to doing most of those things, safely. Instead, we explored some of what this quirky town had to offer. Here are a few things worth checking out if your travels take you to Kanab: The rock formations of White Pocket and The Wave look incredible. You could also check out the slot canyons of Buckskin Gulch and Paria Canyon Wire Pass Trail for more beautiful scenery and photographic opportunities. Check this link for more references on how to use Kanab as a base camp for activities.
Kanab has a seemingly slow pace with residents that seem deeply rooted and familiar. It was a change of pace to see how well the locals knew each other. We may have been outsiders, but that sense of community bled over onto us. We felt welcome at each establishment we patronized.
Our first stop was up the 89 to Moqui Cave, a family owned museum who’s history spans over generations. We were greeted by the owners and given a thorough background into the family and cave’s story. The museum seems small but there is plenty to see and experience. The bar in front was a famous gathering place for celebrities from old western films. Although it is now neatly preserved, it was cool to imagine the type of vibrations felt during that time. Past the entrance to the cave, there is a large collection of artifacts, fossils, geologic discoveries and the perfect dome for singing, howling or any other vocal oddities you can conjure up. They highlight the UV reactive fossils in a large u-shaped walkaround display. It was fascinating to see the way these pieces can transform under the ultraviolet rays. We spent a fair amount of time inspecting the collections, perusing the gift shop and getting a detailed peek into the taboo dynamic of the Order in which the nearby town of Orderville was established.
We headed back into town for some food at Peekaboo Kitchen, where the menu made our mouths water. As vegans, it can be difficult to find restaurants who offer options for the plant based diner, but this place had more options than we knew what to do with. We ordered three pizzas, curry soups, salad, garlic knots, coffee, and more. We stuffed our faces with delight and sat back to converse with the wonderful manager and cook. It was a perfect lunchtime gathering within the walls of the dining room that are so tastefully adorned with spectacular photographic art installments. It’s on my list of a “must eats” in Kanab.
After our food settled, we bought day passes to the local gym and partook in some sweat therapy at BF Wellness and Fitness Center. They let us run our own music through the speakers and we had the entire upstairs to ourselves to hit some Thai pads, put Bryn through some agility training and get some good stretching in. We didn’t wander too far into the great outdoors during this section of our trip, but the family time and memories made there could be even more valuable.
Day 10: A Snow Tipped Bryce Canyon
We awoke with the realization that this was the last full day of this amazing vacation before we made the long haul home. It was a bittersweet feeling to get ready for the day. I wanted to cling onto this moment in time and never return to civilization, so I channeled that into embracing the opportunity to harness a little more magic. Rebecca headed back home to Arizona and the Mavericks journeyed on. The drive up to Bryce was extraordinary. The storm tucked the entire area under a fluffy, thick, snowy blanket and it was incredible to pass the stark white views for a couple hours. When we arrived at Bryce, it was very quiet and desolate. The storm didn’t inspire many tourists, many trails were closed and it was just cold enough to second guess our participation.
We parked at the Visitor Center and were directed to Queen’s Garden Trail for an easy descent into the canyon floor. I want to acknowledge the head space we were in leading up to this hike. We both heard stirrings of how things were changing at home as a reaction to what ended up being an unprecedented global pandemic. We had no way of knowing how to prepare for what was to come, but we did know that we needed to be sure to savor every moment of this incredible place while we could.
I had fantasized about seeing Bryce covered in snow for a very long time and as we arrived at the trailhead, my heart was already soaring. There truly aren’t words for this picturesque park. The snow was coming down in flirty flurries, and disappearing into the adobe mud and diamond white snow below.
The trek down was officially the most beautiful hike I’ve ever been on. Jason held Bryn most of the time, as the trail was just narrow and slippery enough to keep a tighter watch on her. I stayed a few paces behind and allowed my vantage point to sear into my brain. Watching my family bend and weave so peacefully down the slopes, surrounded by giant earthly shards felt like I was floating somewhere between time and space. My heart simultaneously was feeling for people all around the world who are on the precipice of chaos and disaster. I felt like I was taking a walk for them, as well.
The snow was so perfectly crisp and fresh, we encouraged Bryn to take her first bite. She loved it! She would imagine different flavors and we could see how she could really taste them! A four year old’s imagination is such a fun place to be. We try to meet her there as much as our tainted adult minds can.
We spent a couple hours together in this wild wintery paradise until our bellies started to rumble and we knew it was time to bid “adieu”. Before hopping back in our trusted stead, Jason spotted a natural log bench situated perfectly in the audience of trees, where he played handpan in the soft blizzard. I had to hold back the cries that were stifled in my throat. All we had, in this moment, was the fresh air, enchanting forest and each other and I could have died here, a happy woman.
Mystic Hot Springs
Our final nightly residence was made at Mystic Hot Springs, an hour north into Monroe, Utah. This place was the ideal location to wind down and reflect on all the miles that passed under our feet and tires over the last week and a half.
Mystic Hot Springs is open to the public as well as offers sleep accommodations and hookups for overnighters. It’s a zany little place and felt like an eclectic departure from all of our previous stops. We didn’t waste much time before hooking up the camper, disrobing and heading up to the outdoor tubs.
The upper level of the springs is outfitted with multiple single person tubs, which you could happily cram more people into. The lower level has two large pools with plenty of space to relax. We took turns splashing around and chilling out in the porcelain tubs and took in the panoramic views of the Utah plains. I felt an interesting dichotomy of intimacy and exposure, by the way this place is positioned on the hillside.
We all fit in a tub together and enjoyed our sweet trio for a bit until Jason hopped out and played a handpan show for all the bathers. The open air stage carried his melodies throughout the springs as though it was fixed into the ambience. After a while, we saw a man hiking up the hill towards us carrying a Cajon and Didgeridoo. Jason’s eyes brightened with anticipation. An epic jam session was headed his way and I got front row seats, in a bathtub! Well worth the price of admission. They put on an awesome show and everyone in the vicinity loved it. Regardless of what brought us all here, we got to experience the music together as the universal language. It was like the end of our trip was giving a nod to the beginning of the trip through music.
We got a little chilly in the second story tubs, and decided to join the party in the communal tubs for some swimming, mermaid kicks, and waterfall back rubs.
Once we felt sufficiently soggy, we went back to our digs and wrapped up the trip with some warm food and a campfire. We put Bryn to bed, and Jason and I sat quietly while we held on to the final evening of our getaway.
We loved every moment of our road trip, but knew there was life waiting for us at home and we paid homage to the roads that led us to where we were.
Day 11: Home. It’s an order.
We cracked open our eyes and loaded up, knowing we had an 8 hour trek back to Murrieta. We both had a weird feeling bubbling in our bellies. We had very little exposure to news of what was happening with the Coronavirus and we felt a strong urge drive the opposite direction and just vacate completely. However, we knew this wasn’t practical and we knew we had to go home.
We couldn’t have anticipated the events to come and I sit here, writing this in isolation, as we try to find normalcy for Bryn, sift through the media-fed news to grasp what’s right and what’s wrong, maintain a healthy mental head space, show gratitude for all we have while exercising compassion for those who’s worlds are crumbling, and make plans into a plan-less future. Every household is operating under different circumstances and challenges and kindness seems to be the best medicine for all the sickness and madness. While we are on “time out”, the earth is coming alive. We witnessed so much magnificence in just a fraction of its beauty and allure, just before all our worlds became a lot smaller. We will be re-entering a different world as it reopens and I hope we collectively come out doing better for ourselves and the planet on the other side. Mother Earth is a force to be reckoned with and I can’t wait to meet her again.
Want more road trip tips?
Contact Us or comment below for more in depth tips and road trip tricks. Being that we had ample weather restrictions, we had to cut out certain hikes, sights and stops from our trip. If you find yourself in this neck of the woods, feel free to stop by for some advice. I have all sorts of advice for fun to be had throughout California, Arizona and Utah and would be delighted to share.