Immerse yourself in beauty as the seasons change

15 miles north of Flagstaff, on the Scenic Highway 180, you will find a dirt road called Hart Prairie Road.  This is one of the most rewarding roads to view the white aspens as they change their colors in October.  Easily one of my favorite scenic drives, I had the opportunity to visit recently and wanted to share with you all.

This takes place in Flagstaff, Arizona which is located 7000 ft above sea level.  The city boasts an impressive 12,600 ft. Mt. Humphreys that can be seen in the distance.  As you approach this mountain on the highway 180 north, you will begin to catch glimpses.  Trail off onto Hart Prairie Road after about 12 miles outside of town (hook a right) and follow as far as your heart desires.  You will soon be immersed in beauty.

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Caught up in the moment. Cushing, Maine

 Just a couple quick photos from the last adventure.  Ocean kayaking in Maine truly leaves you breathless and awestruck.  Just another reason to travel.

    
   

Joshua Tree

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Get outside! Camping and Hiking

Deciding to camp in Joshua tree in late December was a tough one.  The park is beautiful, but the temperatures drop below freezing regularly, and you might only see highs of in the 40’s.  Having an adventurous side has its perks, so off we went.  There are lot’s of camping sites in the park itself.  White Tanks was one of my favorite and the most beautiful.  The campsites inside the park have no access to water, but do (most) have bathrooms.

This campsite has access to Arch rock, a pretty short but popular hike.  A lot of rock climbing to do around here.

Another great campsite is Jumbo Rock.  A well organized, great place for scrambling, a perfect place to camp.

Skull rock is right next to this campsite, and you could either walk to it, or drive as it’s located right off the road.  A unique pattern of wind and water erosion has lead this rock to look like a human skull.

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There are also campsites outside of the park, for those who didn’t book far enough ahead of time, or if you like knowing there is comfort of food and grocery stores 5 miles away.  We stayed at Black Rock Campground, near Yucca Valley, which 20 miles north of I10 on the 62.  This really was a beautiful campground, well maintained, a couple potholes, but most have been paved over since the reviews I have read.

With easy access to town, and firewood (and trust me, when camping in December in Joshua Tree, you will need A LOT), this was the perfect campsite.

If you are looking to camp in Joshua Tree in the winter, pack warm clothes, the wind will make it feel colder than it reads, make sure you bring enough water into the park, and bring a camera, there are quite a bit of stars to see out there!  🙂

It also doesn’t hurt to have a guide.
-Joshua Tree: the complete guide

Next upcoming adventure – Joshua Tree for New Years

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My girl friend and I have decided to venture away from the crowded bars and streets of the cities, and into the wilderness of Joshua Tree, which (by the way) has some of the BEST stargazing in the world.  Just take a gander.MilkyWayParkEntrance_LLaw_688x400The-Milky-Way-Stargazing-in-California-Joshua-Tree-national-Park

We are excited to explore the hikes and the rocks and look at the stars.  We will, of course, be sharing our experience through this blog.  The nights WILL be cold so it is important to bring the right gear.

I bought (for my road trips and sharing with my gf and her 6 year old) a Marmot Unisex Tungsten 4p Tent.  I’ve used it to camp the entire Pacific Coast Highway and various other adventures in Sedona etc.  This tent has TONS of room, I can literally stand up in it.  The rain fly that comes down, has a ton of capacity for items to place under the vestibule to prevent from getting wet, and it can keep you warm.  I think it could comfortably sleep 4 full adults, maybe even 5!

I have a very warm sleeping bag from Western Mountaineering sleeping bags.  They have the best quality for warmth, they are expensive, but worth it.  If you are planning on camping somewhere freezing, it will be worth your while.

We are also planning on bringing tons of food with us.  A cooler full of items to cook and what not!  I know they have tons of stoves out there for backpacking, but what I never had was a car camping stove.  It’s a totally new idea to me!  So I went out and did some research and found an awesome one that has been working well.  Coleman Triton Series 2 burner works great, and its pretty cheap comparatively.  We cooked quesadillas and pancakes and eggs mostly, but you can use it for anything.  Better believe I’m bringing this with me!  Including my kitchen I’ve purchased mostly from the dollar store.  This is where you can completely skimp.  Plates, cups, forks, shredders, cutting boards etc, can all be bought at the dollar store.

One last purchase was a 5 gallon water container to have some water to last us days.  Its a pain to get water every morning and night when camping so its good to tow around.  Coleman water jug (5 gallon)Pretty cheap!  We will see how it works coming up!

Can’t wait to ring in the new year in a beautiful setting, with fires and stargazing!  I am excited to share it with you all.  Set the date, we set off December 29.

Oh, and I can’t forget my glow in the dark frisbee 😉

 

Joshua Tree, here we come!

 

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Road Trip Part 3 – Olympia Washington – Pacific Coast Highway to San Diego

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Road Trip – Part 2 – Grand Forks, ND to Olympia Beach Park – Washington

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6500 mile Road Trip – Part 1 – Maine to Grandforks, North Dakota.

I found myself in heaven after a while.  3-4 weeks had passed since I had finished my hike, and I was bouncing between Cushing Maine (and that big beautiful comfortable vacation house that I wish was mine) and New Hampshire with the girl I was hanging out with, and Swazey was ALWAYS at a beach.  IMG_4018

But it came down to the point where summer was winding down, and I knew I was running low on funds.  I still had to drive back to Phoenix (gas money, places to stay, food) and I also had only rented out my house until September 1st.  For me, there were 2 ways to go home.  Straight to Phoenix, which would be a no fun 3 day road trip.  OR a spur of the moment whatever I felt like road trip, where I could camp everywhere and go see places like the Redwoods!  OH and I have never been north of Santa Barbara California!  Whaaaaaat.  I knew I wanted to go to the Northwest.  Guy on a Buffalo (a fellow thru-hiker) offered me a place to stay in Olympia Washington, so I vaguely knew where I was going.

I put the dog in the car, said bye to my super amazing parents, my friends, and the East Coast.  I stopped down in Hartford Connecticut for lunch to see my friend Monika who I NEVER get to see because she just moved back from Italy, and set my sights on Ohio.  I didn’t know where I was going, I just knew how long I wanted to drive.  I picked a town not far away and googled campgrounds near it.  I found an AWESOME one, no idea of the name.  I instantly met a guy fishing with loud music drinking beers and made him my best friend for the day.  He let me fish with him, we caught 3 bass, he taught me how to filet the fish and then we cooked them over a camp fire.  I found out he was living at the campground for the last 6 months, because he likes being outside.  He works as a metal welder but just liked camping.  I love his style.

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The next morning, I awoke to the most BEAUTIFUL sunrise over the fishing pond.

IMG_4039  Friggin surreal right?!  Damn I love camping.  So I did a little digging with my phone.  I found a GREAT website for car camping.  Did you know you can car camp the entire US for FREE?  I didn’t.  I paid $15 for that campsite the night before.  But that was literally the last one for a while.  www.freecampsites.net allows you to input a destination, and find FREE campsites within 50 miles of your destination.  They also post paid campsites if you want to be a snob.  Some paid sites are really dope of course.  This was the greatest information ever!  I wish someone had told me about this long ago.  I found some of the most remote and beautiful campsites because of this website.

Anyways, I b-lined it to Cedar Rapids Iowa next, because why not?  Also I have a lot of friends there.  I ended up staying there for about 3-4 days for free on someones couch and it was just a giant binge drinking week.  Swazey loved it too,

IMG_4040 IMG_4041 My favorite B’s in Iowa.

For my next trick, I decided to take a guy (another thru hiker I met on the trail, named Uffda) up on his offer for me to come crash at his place in Grand Forks, North Dakota.  Shit, I had never been to North Dakota, so why not?!?  PLUS, it takes me right through Minnesota, and there is another place I’ve never been to…  I found the dopest dog park outside of Minneapolis using yelp or something like that, it was 25 acres with huge lakes and all that.  Swazey went nuts and got very very dirty.

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Now that I had mud in my car, I moved on.  The sky was beautiful on and off, rainstorms in the distance, or sometimes on top of me.  BUT I WAS IN A CAR!  HA!  Take that mother nature!  (Hiking the Appalachian Trail had mother nature making me its bitch).  IMG_4050 IMG_4056

Well, I made it to Grandforks, and Uffda showed me the hockey stadium that city is apparently famous for.  It’s called the Taj Mahal of hockey, and cost $104 million dollars to build.  Former NHL hockey player Wayne Gretzky has called the structure “one of the most beautiful buildings we have in North America”.  So what the fuck, I went and saw it.

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Cash Money!  This road trip is a blast, and is a lot to share… SOOOOOO I will write more about it soon!

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