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Arches

38°43' 59" N 109°35' 33" W Arches National Park

Nov 24, 2014  –  by Maeva

It was a long long drive from Monument Valley to Moab and a big detour on our road. But we had heard only great things about Arches National Park so we figured it was worth the drive. On our way we stopped at a cute coffee shop in a town in the middle of nowhere to enjoy come cappuccino and chai latte before taking the road again.

In the evening, we arrived in Moab, the town where the National Park is located. We tried to find a campground but the first two we visited were closed for the season. Luckily the last one wasn’t, although it seemed like it. Slick Rock Campground had no office during the winter season, just an envelope based on the honour system: leave your money in it and that’s it. That wouldn’t work everywhere! Happy to have somewhere to cook, we made another one of our delicious chilis con carne. We then headed back to find the laundry mat as it was becoming necessary. We enjoyed the wifi there along with all the hippies and travellers of the city!

After a pretty chilly night, we were thrilled to discover hot and free showers in the campground – it doesn’t happen that often around here. And after a warm Starbucks, we knew we were going to have a pretty good day! We even discover a new kind of trail mix, with nothing but different sorts of peanuts, called Peanut Lover. Well, we ate the whole thing in one day (650g, yes it’s a lot)!

We drove to the Arches National Park and after the Park Ranger warned us against the upcoming snow (what?!) we drove up the road in the gigantic park. The area covers indeed 76,359 acres (30,901 ha) and contains over 2000 sandstone arches. Obviously, we had to pick what we would do! So we drove all the way to the end of the road to hike the Double O trail. As soon as we stepped out of the car, we knew things were going to be rough. The wind was blowing like crazy and it was freezing! We put our coats and hiking shoes on and headed hastily towards the trail, trying to warm up as we walked. The hike was really nice, especially because once we reached the Landscape Arch, it turned into primitive trail which meant: no beaten path, less people, more climbing on rocks, more fun! We walked among the rocks in an amazing scenery and finally reached the double O arch, which was definitely worth the effort. We couldn’t even resist climbing all the way to walk at the very top of the arch for the best aerial experience of the park!

Landscape Arch
Landscape Arch
Maeva drinking water on hike
Maeva drinking water on hike
Maeva watching the landscape in Arches National Park
Maeva watching the landscape in Arches National Park
Maeva walking on the Double O arch
Maeva walking on the Double O arch
Maeva at the top of the Double O arch
Maeva at the top of the Double O arch
Steph jump in front of the Double O arch
Steph jump in front of the Double O arch
Maeva's jump on the double O arch
Maeva’s jump on the double O arch

Afterwards, we drove to watch the famous Delicate Arch and watched it from the viewpoint, too cold at this point to attempt another 3 hour hike. We then went to see the Window Arches and followed the trail to see the North Window and South Window side by side. We also peaked at the Double Arch and Turret Arch.

We were definitely not disappointed to have made it all this way for the arches, because this incredible orange landscape of rocks was really the best way to finish our national parks tour.

Maeva's eye in front of eye like arch
Maeva’s eye in front of eye like arch
Maeva's jump in Window Arch
Maeva’s jump in Window Arch
Steph and Maeva's jump in Window Arch
Steph and Maeva’s jump in Window Arch
Windows arch
Windows arch

Grand Canyon

36°1' 39" N 112°11' 6" W Grand Canyon

Nov 21, 2014  –  by Maeva

We drove to Grand Canyon at night time in order to be ready to visit early in the morning. The road was completely empty except for deers… So in an unlit road at night, we were carefully scrutinizing the road to check for animals crossing the way. Even in the dark, the canyon revealed itself by the side of the road, thanks to a strong moonlight. As we reached the first viewpoint, we stepped out and almost flew away with the crazy wind! Still, Steph braved the elements to find the tripod and take a night shot of the canyon under the stars.

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We found a great campground in the forest and allowed ourselves to have a well deserved good night’s sleep with no alarm clock! In the morning, after struggling to make breakfast with such wind – picture glasses and bread spreads flying away – we passed by a deer on our way out. We might get used to this! We then chose the bus loop we’d go for. Yes, we were surprised to learn that we couldn’t simply drive or walk wherever we wanted. We had to park and then take the free shuttle towards different viewpoints. A bit of a disappointment to learn that after November 28th all roads would open and people wouldn’t need to take the bus. So close! We did the red loop, the Hermit’s Rest route. We stopped a the first viewpoint and walked towards the next few while contemplating the depth and size of the canyon, fighting the wind and getting some fun shots! The entire loop made it clearer and clearer just how gigantic and imposing the famous Grand Canyon is.

Steph and Maeva sitting in front of grand Canyon
Steph and Maeva sitting in front of grand Canyon
Maeva jumping in Grand Canyon
Maeva jumping in Grand Canyon
Steph jumping in Grand Canyon
Steph jumping in Grand Canyon
Steph and Maeva in Grand Canyon
Steph and Maeva in Grand Canyon

Redwood

41°12' 47" N 124°0' 17" W Redwood National Park

Oct 7, 2014  –  by Maeva

Welcome to California! We would have loved to post an awesome “Welcome to California” sign picture from the road, but someone had STOLEN it. Yes, stolen the actual sign off the road. Can you just picture it in someone’s backyard or something?

Anyhow,  although there was no sign, we entered California which was always the prime destination and reason for us to take this road trip in the first place. We arrived on the coast, once again, right by the ocean to enter the Redwood National Park. The California Redwood are the tallest trees on Earth. 133,000 acres of these gigantic trunks make for a rather impressive forest.

And well, tourists like us just couldn’t resist going for the drive-thru tree. Pilot Steph managed to drive the car right in the middle, making us and our car feel rather small!

Drive-thru tree in Redwood National Park
Drive-thru tree in Redwood National Park

The tree below is called “Big Tree” – oh how convenient. It measures 75m and is 1000 years. Guess we’re just a drop in the ocean.

Maeva in front of huge tree in Redwood Forest
Maeva in front of huge tree in Redwood Forest
Steph jumping in front of huge tree in Redwood Forest
Steph jumping in front of huge tree in Redwood Forest