It’s really amazing how spending some time outside can make you feel so good. Spending time outside in an amazing new location is even more invigorating, refreshing and revitalizing.
We decided to take a late afternoon hike the other day and couldn’t quite find the right place. One place we tried was surrounded by massive power lines, another place led straight to a cell phone tower, and yet another was polluted by the constant racket of an oil well. We kept looking.
We finally found a place that looked pretty decent and decided to give it a go. Chad let me lead the way, and I have to say, I did a good job. We had fun walking over badland-like hills, taking pictures of all the yellow flowers everywhere, and discovering all the vegetation that had come to life in the desert.
It was just that time of day where the lighting makes everything look magical: golden hour. And then we came to a stunning overlook that opened out onto wild open land. It was so exciting that I had to do a little dance. Having grown up in the thick temperate forests of the SE United States, I am still thrilled by the exoticness of the wide open desert. The expansiveness seems to lift your entire being up into the air, and make you feel that you can fly.
You can tell by the number of photos we took that we were enchanted. The extreme close-ups are mostly mine and the beautifully composed landscapes are mostly Chad – especially the clouds. Chad is a specialist in cloud portraiture!
Discovering this place was exhilarating too because it was just off the road, was an easy hike and was very rewarding for very little effort. What a sweet interlude from spring into summer.
…from the Hicks-Hamblin Homestead!
Now that winter seems to be over I can finally write about it. I’m not one of those people who loves winter (and that’s putting it nicely). Chad on the other hand, IS one of those people. And he loves to go out cross-country skiing, and yes, I admit, I have come to love it too because it means I can be outside in midwinter and be warm. At its best it feels like a heightened form of walking to me, which I also dig. Here are a few pics from our first big cross-country outing this winter, skiing in the desert. We saw cottontails, weird vegetation, the stark beauty of canyon cliffs meeting the snowy ground… And Chad played around with the panorama mode on his camera.
Around a year ago I went to the airport to meet in person, for the first time, a man who I’d met online and had been writing to for a little over two months. Our letters to each other made me feel like I’d found the friend I’d always longed for and the romantic partner I’d craved. That first meeting was not without its awkward moments. But it was mostly full of fun, laughing, long talks, and feeling the exciting bloom of new love. We realized what we had not been able to tell quite as well through our letters, phone calls, and Skype conversations: we shared a sense of humor. And even better, we felt a surprising physical comfort and compatibility with each other that drew us even closer together. Chad and I visited each other once a month over the next several months, decided to get married, and I decided that the most logical step would be for me to move out to Utah with him. So here I am now, enjoying a wonderful relationship while I discover an amazing area of the country.
The road to get there was 21 miles of washboard purgatory (why not hell? well, we didn’t know if we would ever arrive…), but the arrival was cool moonlight silhouettes of astounding buttes. Coyotes howled all night and the burning sun woke us in the morning. This was my first real experience of the desert.
Our first stop on our cross-country trip was Victoria Bryant State Park. This was not where we had planned to stay, but once we got on the road, we quickly realized we weren’t going to make the 10pm gate closing at Fort Mountain State Park in Georgia. (Note to fellow travelers, 10pm seems to be the universal gate closing time for state parks!)
We were relieved to arrive at the park minutes before closing and find a campsite that was somewhat private. Traveling through the south during the heart of summer we realized that we would be using the electric hookup to cool off the RV with the AC. The generator on the RV is impossibly loud and makes the RV feel like we’re experiencing an earthquake. Luckily we didn’t have to choose whether to sweat or undergo tremors as we were able to hook up to electricity when we needed it most in the sweltering south.
After making the big decision to get married and move me across the country, we had to decide what route we would take getting there. Earlier that June we had driven a quick, direct line from Utah to NC passing through Kansas. This time we wanted more parks to stay in on our trip. Our initial route required a little adjusting once we got on the road. This is what we ended up traveling:
Day 1: Charlotte NC to Victoria Bryant State Park, Georgia
Day 2: Victoria Bryant State Park, Georgia to Tishomingo State Park, Mississippi
Day 3: Tishomingo State Park, Mississippi to Village Creek State Park, Arkansas
Day 4:Village Creek State Park, Arkansas
Day 5: Village Creek State Park, Arkansas to Devil’s Den State Park, Arkansas
Day 6: Devil’s Den State Park, Arkansas to Wichita Wildlife Refuge, Oklahoma
Day 7: Wichita Wildlife Refuge, Oklahoma to Oasis State Park, New Mexico –
Day 8: Oasis State Park, New Mexico to Chaco National Heritage Site, New Mexico
Day 9: Chaco National Heritage Site, New Mexico to Mancos State Park, Colorado
Day 10: Mancos State Park, Colorado to Home (Roosevelt Utah)