Bisbee + Tombstone

As we left New Mexico, it was still pretty cold in Sedona. The weather was calling for temps in the low twenties and that sounded too much like Ohio, so we decided to head south towards the border. For some dumb reason, we decided that we didn’t need our passports this trip…if we had, we might have spent the week in Baja, Mexico. Instead, we stayed for a few lovely nights in an oddly quaint little RV park outside of Bisbee. We decided not to take our friend’s recommendation and stay on BLM down there, we were a little nervous being that close to the border, leaving the cats unattended without hookups…so the Double Adobe RV park was the perfect place to call home for a few days. It was actually one of our favorite places we stayed in. The owners were so sweet, they had a pretty epic DVD collection and an Arizona room where I did yoga one morning. It was nice to just feel at home finally after so many days of driving. We were nestled in against a fence and a tall field of grass and each evening there were javalinas and deer in the park! Wiley especially loved watching the birds out the back window of Ginny.

The four nights gave us plenty of time to thoroughly explore this little desert gem of a town and also to drive the hour to Tombstone because…we love Tombstone. Bisbee is such a charming little mountain town with so much character to be photographed and enjoyed while wandering it’s twisty little streets.

We first stopped in Old Town Bisbee, which is basically just one street of untouched charm. See photos below for proof! We opted to skip the mine tour and all that, it’s just not really our thing. But we wandered around Bisbee proper for a few hours, dipping into shops and eateries for gelato and cold drinks! It was quite fun.

Tombstone was a whole different experience. We went on a weekday, a rather cold one for Arizona. It actually snowed during the O.K. Coral shootout. We normally steer far away from tourist traps but this one is a little gem that we just couldn’t pass up. Justin loves the old west and Tombstone has been one of our all time favorite films forever. After our trip, Justin ordered two books (the first I’ve ever seen him read in 14 years) about Wyatt Erp and Doc Holiday, the real ones, not the movie ones! We loved it and recommend it to anyone who’s into that sort of thing!

White Sands National Monument + City of Rocks State Park

Our stop at White Sands was along the route from Austin to Sedona, but it also marked the third sand dunes we’ve been to in a year, Great Sand Dunes National Park, Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes and now White Sands. Cool, right? Before that neither of us had seen a sand dune bigger than at the at the Atlantic ocean.

White Sands was magical. We got there as soon as the gates opened, just after sunrise. The colors of the morning bounced off every single white angle we could see for miles and miles. We spent a few hours wandering around. We were pretty much the only people there. After the short nature trail loop we headed back to our campsite for some coffee.

Next up we headed to City of Rocks State Park, my favorite so far. This place was incredibly serene and beautiful. I’m a huge fan of long mountain ranges set behind meadows or fields where the view is 360 degrees. The sunsets in this park were INCREDIBLE. The first night we decided to take the short walk up to the Table Mountain, not realizing it was a bit more of a climb than the short walk we were expecting we ended up having to jog back to avoid being on the mountain at dark, without headlamps. While we were running we heard coyotes in the distance…making the experience just a little more exciting! The views on Table Mountain we so cool, giant boulders overlooking these big open fields of tall, golden grass and at sunset everything is pink!

Our campsite was nestled into some giant boulders and even though it was a weekend, we were basically the only people in this part of the park! We spent two wonderfully quiet, scenic days enjoying this park’s wide open views. We will definitely return, possibly on our way home!

 

The Magic of Sedona

We left Sedona just three weeks ago and it already feels like it’s been too long since those red rock sunsets melted our hearts. We really found our magic in Sedona. It may have been the epic spot we found out on BLM land, or the beautiful weather, or the views, or the people we met, or the hikes, or, or, or. We really felt like we found a place we could stay for a while…and so we did.

This was our first BLM, and if you’re not familiar with what that is, let me explain; BLM land is land owned by the Bureau of Land Management, it’s public land. There is a ton of BLM and Forest Service land out here in the West, unlike the East where there is basically none. In designated areas on public land one can camp for free for 14 days. The dispersed camping, also referred to as Boondocking, is remote, usually only accessible via long, washboard dirt roads some of which require a high-clearance vehicle or a 4×4. A lot of them are suitable for RVs, big rigs and little pods like ours but you have to do your research first so you don’t eat stuck. There are no hookups (no electric/water), most don’t have bathrooms but some have pit toilets, there is no office or camp host to check in with. You simple drive up, pick out your desired view and park. The solitude and beauty we have experienced while boondocking cannot be matched in any RV Park or Campground, bottom line. It’s as wild as “camping” gets with a trailer. And since we are technically just living in or camper, not camping for a weekend, we prefer spots that can feel a little more private and peaceful rather than like a vacation. But more on this later.

We use various apps to find the best spots, our favorite app is Campendium. That’s where we found this secluded, beautiful spot near Sedona.

We overnighted first in the next town, Cottonwood to fill our water tank, dump our waste and shower in a big shower. Cottonwood is a cute town, one worth visiting even if it weren’t in-between Sedona and Jerome! We had dinner, a coffee shop workday and explored a bookstore and some little shops!

Then we headed the 20 or so miles out to our spot in the red dirt! We got there and immediately felt comfortable, safe and inspired. We spent 12 days straight enjoying the sights, hiking, exploring the unmarked trails on the public land and even went to a petroglyph site which was super informative and cool.

The best part about the location is Sedona was its proximity to hiking. In Sedona proper we did quite a few hikes; Bear Mountain, Doe Mountain, Devils Bridge and the many trails and roads on the BLM. Being that this spot was 6 miles outside of Sedona, out an extremely well-maintained red dirt road we were also close to restaurants, grocery stores, yoga and laundry! Super win! I signed up for a few sessions at Sedona Hot Yoga and had too many stops at Whole Foods after.

Our on-board utilities and solar allowed us to stay off-grid for the 12 days and we were so proud to have made it that long our first time! 35 gallons of water + drinking water for 12 days! We definitely started conserving and paying attention to our water usage after those two weeks.

Our review of Sedona is pretty simple…if you like hiking in red rocks, you’ll love it. If you love solitude and peace away from tourists, you’ll love the BLM. If you love shops and touristy things, you’ll love it. There is so much more nature to explore and we can’t wait to go back for longer next time! I still have one yoga session left, so we’ll definitely be going back! 😆

I am small.

I like to remind myself of this often. Each time I crest a mountain summit, each time I look out at an open road. Each time I think deeply about my amazing life. I am small.

I am as a speck of dust in the sun, and not even so much, in this solemn, mysterious, unknowable universe.” –Andrew Carnegie

What is humility? These days, I don’t think anyone knows. I like to tell myself I am small before I share things on social media. Of all the places in the world, I want to be smallest there. I like my Instagram as a journal. As a photographer, I like the photos and the quick way of keeping order of my many memories to look back on, for myself. But somehow our account has attracted almost 3k followers, which recently made me change the account to private. Then sometimes I find myself sharing stories and I’m all like “hey you guys”…like I’m talking to someone. Ick.

This trip was nothing short of insta-worthy but can I just say how much I hate that phrase…hate that concept altogether. That mentality suggests that our experiences are nothing but for a square and some hashtags. Sorry, but my experiences are worth more. They’re more important than that and they mean more to me than a few likes and comments ever could.

Nature sustains my spirit, my soul. A long hike, a climb, a vista…it puts me in my place. Small. Categorized by shape and form, by nature. There’s no one out there who cares what I’ve accomplished, what I haven’t, what I wore or what I didn’t. We have a letter board in the camper that for a month read “The desert doesn’t care who you are. And neither does anyone or anything living in it.” A quote I found online that I rather liked for our time in the Arizona desert because of how true it is.

The desert doesn’t care how many Instagram followers I have or how many likes I get. And neither do the people who call the desert their home. It’s a different kind of being that far outside of suburbia. It’s like the confines of the modern world are almost foreign if you’ll let them be.

We trail along this fine line; as photographers, as instagrammers, as travelers. It’s the trend but that’s not why we’re doing it. We want to revolt but we also want to participate to a degree that’s comfortable for us.

This trip wasn’t for Instagram.

The photos I made aren’t for Instagram.

The places we’ve visited aren’t just beautiful landscapes out there for us to tread on. They were once a homeland. Where people, actual people once lived, gathered food, grew crops and loved the land we now “explore” as “adventurers”. We should honor that history by preserving it. By taking nothing but memories and leaving nothing behind. By leaving it better than we found it in doing so.

The more we share about the history of our insta-worthy adventures, the better we are for it. Keep the wild wild. Keep preserves preserved and refuges a refuge. To do that, we need to filter how we share things on Instagram, sadly.

All that to say, in order to respect the earth the way we should, we need to be smaller. If we think less of ourselves and care less about what others think of us and our experiences…then we can have authentic, respectful interactions with nature.

What I mean is, don’t just hit up a place to ‘gram it. And don’t just share squares for the way it makes you seem. Be smaller. By smaller I mean simpler. Be more simple. Instead of sharing an epic vista and hash tagging all the trendy tags, share an inspirational and beautiful experience, share some history, share some backstory, educate. And keep some things wild by keeping somethings altogether to yourself. Just my two-cents.

Ohio>New Mexico

We’ve been on the road one month today. That’s just crazy.

It took me four weeks to get my thoughts together. As an avid reflective journal’er, it’s weird for me to sit down and write about the trip that we are still on. I really didn’t want to wait because I know I will forget things, so this post is sure to read like one giant run-on sentence, never-ending-paragraph-ness of a mess.

We’re here. We made it. One month ago we didn’t know if our dream was meant to be. We had delays and then car trouble the day we were leaving and it just seemed like everything was working against us (our norm). But on February 16 we tore out of the muddy driveway in the fog and rain and didn’t look back. This was the first time we’d driven Ginny loaded with gear and with all the new equipment on the Jeep (upgraded brakes, anti-sway, brake-controller, etc) We also hadn’t de-winterized because it was still in the 20’s in Ohio.

Our route led us through Kentucky, where we stayed in a Cracker Barrel parking lot, then into Tennessee for a bit and on into Arkansas where we stopped for second overnight. Here we experienced our first planning bummer. Somehow I didn’t know that Hot Springs National Park was on our route. We literally stayed less than 10 miles from the park but didn’t have time to explore. At least our park had nice showers, that was a plus. Early that morning we headed for Austin. The traffic and the weather were crazy when we left Hot Springs, AR…Justin was a boss driving through construction and heavy fog. He was really starting to get the hang of driving and the cats were settling into their own routines and kind of seemed to be loving it.

Texas. This is a chapter of the drive that I’d like to avoid but, it happened. Texas is long, kinda boring, the roads were terrible…and then there’s Austin. We had planned to visit Austin because so many people said it was awesome. Maybe it was that we were ready for wilderness and not a bustling city but it definitely wasn’t awesome. We booked a full-hook up RV park just outside the city of Austin so that we could de-winterize and settle in before heading further west for all the boondocking we’d be planning. The park was nice enough, we de-winterized with ease. Austin, though is a city I will be reluctant to return to, especially with a trailer. The roads were HORRIBLE. At one point we got stuck on the service road because it was one way, the RV park was less than a half mile away from where we sat but we had to drive almost 20 minutes through some serious slums to get around and back onto the service road going the right way. There was so must construction it looked like a bomb went off. People we rude, driving was insane. I’ve never seen so many strip malls in my life. But we did experience a few nice Target stops. Ha! We did go into the city for dinner one night but it just wasn’t fun, so we tore ass out of Austin, heading for New Mexico.

The second part of the drive in Texas was much better than the first, as we got closer to the desert things started to spread out and we felt like we could finally breath. At Oliver Lee State Park in Alamagordo, NM we made ourselves at home for the first time in five days. We put the cats out in their mesh tent to watch the sunrise over the Guadalupe Mountains and I cried. The first time ever in my life, I cried pure happiness tears.

At Oliver Lee, Justin did his first ever solo hike. I had some work to do and we were still a little leery about leaving the cats unattended in the camper, so I stayed with them. He hiked the Dog Canyon trail for about 4 miles, mostly jogging. He said he turned around when he realized he was the only person out there and he started to feel like he’d crossed over into someone else’s (mountain lion) territory, so he came back! We had a great time at Oliver Lee, we’ll definitely be back!

The next day we woke up at sunrise to see the White Sands National Monument which was insanely beautiful…stay tuned!