The government shutdown messed with our plans.
We’d purchased an $80 annual pass to all the US National Parks, only to be kicked out of Yosemite the first time we used it.
After getting mad, we ended up having a great time travelling through Utah and California, experiencing all the state parks instead as these were open.
But hooray, the government is now back up and running.
Which is great except… we’ve now moved on from Utah and Arizona, where we’d planned to visit Arches and the Grand Canyon.
Once in a lifetime opportunity
But how many times do you get the opportunity to visit these national parks? We have no idea when we’ll be back in the US and the Grand Canyon especially has been on our travel bucketlist since forever.
So screw it, we’re gonna go anyway.
This is going to mean a more than 10 hour detour out of our way and we will essentially be driving back on ourselves.
Yet more hours to spend in the car but the hiking that we will be able to do at these world famous national parks should hopefully make it worth it.
Our travel plans
Today our house sit ends in Colorado. We’ve had the most amazing time over the past two weeks hiking in the mountains, exploring Denver and Boulder, and looking after the two cutest labradoodles who I am going to miss SO much.
But all good things must come to an end. And this is where we plan to go next…
We’ve heard so much about the hot springs surrounding Denver that we decided we must make a stop off at one and experience it for ourselves. Glenwood Hot Springs has the world’s largest hot springs pool and it’s located in between Denver and Moab which makes it the perfect stop off point for us.
We’re going back to Moab, Utah! We went there before Colorado because it’s conveniently located next to Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. But they weren’t open and this time they will be!
We hiked to the Bow Tie Arch and Corona Arch when we spent time in Moab and were blown away by these unique formations. It was enormous – the same height as a sky scraper – and unlike anything we’d ever seen before.
It made us want to see more and so we’re heading back to Moab for two nights to explore these two national parks.
Moab itself was a lovely town and when we were there it was full of artists painting en plein air pieces. We hope to uncover more of the town’s artistic side when we’re back there in a few days time.
The Grand Canyon
About five and a half hours south of Moab is Flagstaff, the university entry town into The Grand Canyon.
Everyone knows The Grand Canyon. It’s probably the most recognised national park in the USA. And we will finally have two days to explore it. I can’t wait to take photos of this spectacular hole in the ground. I’m sure they won’t look like the canyon does in real life but I’ll try my best to replicate it! I think a few early rises to capture the sun coming up is in order.
Then it’s on to Santa Fe, New Mexico for three nights. We’ll be staying with our two friends Josh and Greg who we went hiking with up in Oregon a couple of months ago.
We’ve heard good things about Santa Fe and with some locals to show us around it’s bound to live up to expectations.
Staying on a ranch – or two!
We are lucky enough to have organised two ranch stays with local Americans in both New Mexico and Texas. How did this come about?
When we were house sitting up in Port Angeles, Washington, the lovely home owner Judith told us that her sisters live on two ranches and would we like to visit.
We will have the opportunity to see the side to America that we haven’t really been able to experience first hand just yet.
The sisters both live on ranches with their husbands and compete in rodeos. After my other rodeo experience it will be interesting to see what staying on a ranch is like – but we’re really looking forward to it!
Austin and New Orleans
After that, we only have a couple more weeks to explore the US and we’re going to try and cram in as much as we can.
We go to both Austin and New Orleans for a few days before heading to Florida.
In Austin and New Orleans we want to try and experience as much of the music as we can and eat all the delicious food we’ve heard so much about (especially in New Orleans!).
We will probably stuff our faces so much that we will put the TV show Man vs. Food to shame!
In Florida we want to spend a few days in Disneyland… this has been Dave’s dream for awhile. He actually wanted to go here for our honeymoon (!). He really is a big kid at heart.
After this we’ll finish in Miami and try and flog our van. Although we’ve had loads of problems with the van it actually has been running really well as of late. We hope to get at least $1,000 for it… and seeing as we’ve spent $5,000 on the van thanks to all of its repairs this isn’t much!
But selling a car that has air conditioning that doesn’t work in Florida might prove to be a bit of challenge. Thankfully we haven’t factored in to our travel budget the re-sell of our van otherwise we probably would’ve been screwed.
Speaking of our travel budget, in the last rundown of what we’ve been spending, I mentioned that we got a house sit in The Caribbean.
We will be staying on the island of Dominica for two months and we plan to do our PADI diving certificates while we are there and explore the island – both diving and also hiking everywhere!
There are a few volcanoes on the island and our accommodation actually backs on to a UNISCO heritage listed park so we are looking forward to exploring the area.
My mum and dad are visiting us for Christmas and New Year and for the first time in five years we’ll be having a warm Christmas again. It’ll also be the first time in five years we’ve spent Christmas with my parents so it’s very exciting for us.
After The Caribbean we have vague plans to visit a few other islands like Guadaloupe and Cuba. But after this we don’t know where we’re going.
We might go to Ecuador and rent an apartment. Or explore the Inca history in Peru. Or maybe stay on the beach in Chile. We really don’t know!
All we know is that we need to be back in London in July 2014 for a wedding.