12. Bryce Canyon, Zion, The Grand Canyon (North Rim), Oregon, and California

We ended the first part of our road trip with a bang! As the weather started to get colder, we elected to rent a house in Kanab, Utah which allowed us to explore nearby Bryce Canyon, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, and Zion national park. The blue skies and ideal weather that had been with us most of this trip continued, but there was a noticeable drop in the temperature and remnants of the season’s first snow were still on the ground. The parks were amazing and we had a great time!


Beautiful Bryce Canyon!


Checking out the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. And we thought the view from the South Rim was good.


The best thing about the North Rim in November? The fact that we had it all to ourselves!!!


We took a short break in our busy exploring schedule to volunteer at the “Best Friends” animal sanctuary in Kanab. Awesome organization and a great day playing with and taking care of some dogs.


EPIC hike up Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park. Indi was a little excited to almost be at the top. The last quarter of a mile was the scariest stretch of trail I’ve ever hiked, but worth every bit of the discomfort.


However, the highlight of the last part of our trip was catching up with Jason’s best buddy Wade Field and his family in St. George, Utah. Lots of laughs and good times were had. And as Jason and Wade easily predicted, Wendy and Erica quickly realized that they were kindred spirits.


Love this crew!


Another lifelong friend, Jeremy Phillips even flew down from Oregon for a weekend of golfing, gambling, and to accompany Wade and Jason on the long drive back up to Oregon. The boys almost made the trip back without incident. A stopover in Boise helped us to all realize that hanging out it in college bars made us feel very old, sharing a white knuckle drive down Cabbage Hill (just outside of La Grande in Eastern Oregon) through a white out blizzard, and blowing out a tire on the trailer just 15 miles from home were all part of the adventure. I was very grateful to have the boys along with me.

All told our trip spanned two and half months, 8800 miles, 14 national parks, and 10 states… and we wouldn’t have changed a thing.

Road trip part 1

If anyone fancies taking this trip themselves just let us know and we can e-mail a detailed itinerary.


It was good to be back home in Oregon for the holidays. The two months home reminded us how great our family and friends are, as well as how depressing ice storms and a month of solid rain can be. The other big decision we made was to retire our tent trailer “Trailblazer” and upgrade to a hard sided trailer for the second half of our journey, which will forever be known (at least until we sell it this summer) as “Cicak” , Indonesian for gecko (can you see why?).


Our new tiny home



Can’t let a little rain keep us off the trails (Angel’s Rest, one of our favorite hikes near our home in Oregon)


Or ice for that matter

After the New Year, it was time to hit the road again, our ultimate destination being Todos Santos at the southern end of Baja, Mexico. Of course, first we had to make it through the great state of California. Due to a delay in getting our new trailer’s registration this part of our journey had to be a little rushed. Regardless, we were able to enjoy a short stay in the Redwoods.


Breaking in our new trailer Cicak at Jedediah State Park in the California Redwoods.


And, best of all, we were able to see a lot of friends and family along the way. A big thank you to Indi’s great-grandmother, Bunny Cooper, Jason’s cousin, Sara Windust, and friends Adam Carter, Mark Picketts, and Krista Oliver for opening up your homes and spending some time with us. It was great to see you all.

Excited to be entering the next phase of our trip… Baja, here we come.

9. Joshua Tree National Park

Before moving on to our 11th national park, we felt it had been too long since we had imposed on our family’s hospitality. Halloween day, we arrived at Jason’s cousin Anna’s home in Queen Creek, Arizona, just outside of Phoenix. Indi was thrilled to hear that she would actually be able to spend Halloween night in a real American neighborhood, with real American Halloween candy and portions, and with Anna, her husband Aaron, and their boys Landon and Mason. After a few trips to the thrift store, Indi put together a fabulous costume and she reveled in her first Halloween in the States.

Before wearing out our welcome, we moved onto our next family members, Jason’s Aunt Marilyn and Uncle Ron in Phoenix. Anna and Aaron were generous enough to keep Indi an extra night so we had a whole evening of just grown up time. Not sure if Indi or we were more excited about this prospect. Both evenings spent at Ron and Mare’s were filled with lots of laughs, stories of Jason’s Aunt and Uncle’s amazing adventures–both as travelers and life-long parole officers–Ron’s amazing cooking (homemade Pad Thai and salmon he caught in Alaska this summer), and enough drinks to make Mare worried about passing her yearly physical the day after we left. What an amazing family we have! During the days we checked out the Arizona Science Center and Mare took us on one of her favorite hikes with views of Camelback Mountain as well as the sprawling Phoenix suburbs. We were sad to go but Joshua Tree was calling.

Our longest day on the road (320 miles) brought us to our home for the next three nights, Ryan Campground in Joshua Tree National Park. Jason discovered this little gem in an article in Sunset magazine. What a fantastic recommendation! Nestled next to one of the many huge rock formations found throughout the park, the locale provided Indi with endless climbing opportunities… enough to keep Mom and Dad nervous for most of the three days we were here. According to her, Joshua Tree is the very best national park we’ve visited thus far. If it wasn’t so cold at night, we would have been perfectly happy to stay the week.


Grandma and Grandpa, please look away

Indi Surveying the campground from above

Indi surveying the campground from above

We made it on three different hikes, not counting the smaller viewpoints and turnouts. The first was at Skull Rock, where we ventured off trail to do a little scrambling and discovered a man-made rock garden, created by a group of creative (and at least 1 juvenile) spirits.

Our second hike was to the Wall Street Mill where gold ore was most recently processed (separated from the rock it was in) in 1966. It was a beautiful contrast of natural scenery and man-made skeletal artifacts, testament to man’s desire and failure to domesticate the wild landscape of the desert.

Our final hike was a trek up Ryan Mountain and one-thousand feet of elevation gain to a windy summit with spectacular 360 degree views.

Hard work getting to the top, I guess

Hard work getting to the top I guess

The visit to Joshua Tree National Park wouldn’t be complete without a tour of the visitor center, watching the information video, and asking the rangers our burning, unanswered questions. Of course, we all wanted to know how Joshua Trees got their name. According to the animated ranger, when the Mormon settlers came into this area and spotted their very first trees, they thought it was the prophet Joshua welcoming them.

All in all, an amazing stop. Next up, Death Valley!