Road Trip: Arizona Bound
After spending two months in Utah, it felt odd to spend more than an hour or two driving in the van. But, the nature of van life means a life of frequent travel, so on we went. Winter was headed to Utah and we were ready to escape the extreme cold.
Lake Mead, NV
We stopped just long enough for a long hike, to discover the lake had dropped another 32 feet since our last visit, and spend the night.
North Tucson, AZ
Another quick over-night stop just north of Tucson. It was quiet and had fantastic views of the mountains in the distance.
Home sweet winter home. It seems we have a home for all seasons these days. Considering we’ve now been at this van life thing for nearly 3 years (some off, but mostly on), we’re starting to get the hang of the areas we love as well as all the destinations we try to avoid. For example: Cities, crowds, tourist traps = AVOID. Small towns, back roads, and unknown destinations = LOVE.
So, ultimately we have our Arizona sweet spot and as luck would have it, it’s close to a plethora of trails (including the Arizona trail), sandy washes, and overgrown dirt tracks. No bells and whistles…just the way we like it!
Here are some photos from our winter 2021 adventures:
I’m proud to say that this month, I just enjoyed my time in nature and didn’t take a whole lot of photos while adventuring. Every day we hiked between 3-8 miles and biked 5-10. Sometimes it is nice to set down the camera and just go. I did snap this one of Grizz resting by the bike with Apache Peak in the distance.
Bikepacking Overnighter (Solo)
While I didn’t go crazy with photos on this trip either, I did snap a few to remember my mini solo adventure loop. Initially, I planned to take a portion of the Sky Island Bikepacking Route but ended up making up my own route in order to bike a portion of the Arizona Trail (AZT). Overall, it was rather challenging with over 2000 ft of climbing that first day. It may not seem like much but at some points the track was narrow and quite steep.
After about 9 miles of gravel, rocky, and sandy terrain I hit a busy highway. Luckily, going this direction it was only 4 miles along a very narrow shoulder (hence no photos).
At about mile 17 it was time for lunch. I found a quiet spot off of a forest road, had myself a look-around, and decided this was a nice place in the trees for a bite. Before setting off, I popped a squat behind a tree. After shaking off (I’m not one of those jerks who leaves TP everywhere), I zipped up feeling a solid sense of relief. With a full belly and an empty bladder, I started prepping my bike for take off when I heard a deep sounding, “hhhhmmm-hmmm” which came out like a bit of a clearing of the throat.
Taken aback, I scanned the area once again and hidden among a thicket about 30-40 yards away was a dingy black tarp that I could barely even see. Nice. I basically just took a piss in front of some random (seemingly homeless) guy. Where was the noise before all of this took place! Let’s just say, I spent the rest of my hours paying a LOT more attention to my surroundings. It’s a bit discerning that someone can be hidden in plain sight!
After a long uphill climb, I got my first up close look at Mt. Wrightson. It was far more beautiful in person.
Before long I found myself on a very rocky double track and heading away from the base of the mountain I just worked all day to get to. Sometimes, that’s just the way it goes!
Not long after passing the gate, I encountered another huge climb. At mile 27.45 I was wiped and decided to camp off of a nearby forest service road with a hidden branch. Apparently, the cows really liked this spot too judging by the remnants left behind. After clearing my spot and de-rocking the place I made some dinner and passed out!
The next morning I woke around 5:30 am just in time to watch the sun come up. One of the best sunrises all month!
Speaking of sunrises…here are a few noteable ones from our time here this year.
Sunrises and Sunsets
2021 has been an incredible year no doubt. We’re continuing to grow and learn from both our environment and each other. At this point, Eric and I both agree…It would be hard to imagine living life any other way. Van life suits us. It is simple, satisfying, and sustainable. If you would have told either of us, let’s say just 5 short years ago, that we’d be exploring the West as happy little hermits, I’m not sure we would’ve believed you. But, You never know where life will take you and here we are!
We hope you’re out there living your best life and making all of your dreams come true. If you’re not, then start! Small changes are the best ways to create big change. Cheers to a healthy and happy 2022 no matter where you are.
Thanks for reading. Until next time friends…