Well orange you beautiful, Arizona!

September 6, 2011
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As the sun started setting we began the final leg of the day’s journey.  The dusty air had a glowing orange hue throughout the entire day, but it was nothing compared to the revelry of the headlining event.  As we drove east on US-160 to the sun’s westward journey, we passed 3 wild horses.  In the moment we crossed each other I remember thinking ‘I wish I could have a picture of this forever.’  I had my camera in my hands and didn’t even attempt it.  Even though I can’t share an actual picture here, I can tell you what it was.  2 horses walking, one horse standing still contemplating the scene; one small transparent cloud creeping into the left frame, one broken down Ikea chair obstructing half of the view through my rear window; everything is orange; the sun is moments away from crossing the horizon; the perspective lines created by the road meet one another as if we are all in another dimension. Zoom in, aperture set, shutter click-close and a memory picture is taken. It’s perfect right?

Without a room booked for the night we continued our hotel search passing through one small town after another.  Before the car decelerated to the speed limit of any given town, we had already passed the church, bar, Native American market and restaurant/post office/lingerie shop/barber that made up the respective highway stretch of each town.  Eventually we arrived at a city that was actually on the map.

Day 3

After 303 miles we arrived in Kayenta.  Throughout the day we saw enough animals to inspire a new farm animal children’s book, which made day 3 a success!  We covered some serious ground and landmarks along the Sunbelt region of these United States.  What better way to end it than with a proud American meal at Sonic?  Tatertots, Root Beer float and a Junior Double Cheese Burger. God Bless America!


We are all standing on the Land Before Time…

September 5, 2011
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And then we arrived in Tuba City: approximate population of 9,000 living humans, former population of thousands of footprint-making dinosaurs! Their impressions patterned the claystone desert road.  A hand-painted sign called out the designated parking area, but not the prints:

Tuba City - Dino Tracks

After scanning the ground and kicking the dirt a bit, a man appeared out of nowhere (maybe he was behind the parking sign, or hanging out inside the only other car that was parked in this extinct parking lot).  He moseyed over and casually pointed at the ground without saying a word. Like magic, we suddenly realized we were kicking dust upon the very Dino footprints that we had hyped up throughout the previous 20-mile stretch.

Aladar Sinclaire-they were everywhere! What a frantic mess of footprints.  We spent about 20-minutes taking photographs, calling up useless facts about tyrannosaurus (they actually lived in western part of North America, and many paleontologists believe the t-rex was a scavenger, not a predator!), surprising ourselves with how you actually spell pterodactyl, and guessing where the path to the Great Valley began.  On our way out we tipped our footprint guide and prepared for the last leg of day # 3 of this United States of Adventure.

Brachiopods, Mollusks and Donkeys, Oh My!

June 11, 2011
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We traveled along more than 60 of the 277 miles of the Grand Canyon, seeing one site after another along the Southern Rim of the Canyon.  At Mather Point (7120 ft) gypsy birds temptingly bopped along the cliff, hoping we would follow them for a hike. Instead we drove down Desert View Drive, walked through Grandview Trailhead, and visited Tusayan Ruin and Museum.  Despite the provoking chickadee, the alluring hiking trail loops and donkey rides, we departed The Grand Canyon National Park that afternoon.

There are not many things proven more patient for change than the Grand Canyon. The specific geologic processes and timing that formed the Grand Canyon are the subject of debate by geologists today. However, Marine fossils have been found in layers of rock in the Grand Canyon, indicating that it was once the bottom of a sea.  No dinosaur fossils were found in that mix; it was Sir. Mollusk and Madam Brachiopod who ruled while suspended in water above this now dry land.  The rock layers range from 1.2 Billion to 270 Million years old.  The Dinos were a little too late to be fossilized parts of  this natural world wonder, arriving nearby 230 Million years ago.  Then lazy ‘ol Colorado River dropped by about 130 Million years later, after the birth of the Rocky Mountains.

Disappointed that our expectations of dino fossil findings would come up short, we talked into existence exactly what we were hoping for-a Dinosaur Footprint Park! Yeah, only a few miles off our planned path, Tuba City was our next stop…

Wanted: Gouge of Earth

May 18, 2011
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Did I leave you dreaming about what it would be like to be flat? Cool, I hope you now have stories to rival Stanley’s!  Now, back to October 17th, 2010! On our way to the Grand Canyon we stopped at The Coconino National Forest.  We ascended the mountainous area one hairpin turn after another. By the end of it, my Prius was calling me mean names.

Overlooking the abysmal valleys below from the cliffs at the top of the ridge, my stomach was a little unsure of itself. I experienced that “I’m scared to death, hate this feeling but love this feeling because I can feel this feeling” kind of moment.  All you could see were treetops, and more treetops…it was incapacitatingly magnificent.  My stomach is telling me to move on..and also “get me some potato chips!”

Walking past craft stands and piles of pine needles that I wished I had rolled around in, we departed the Oak Creek ledge.  For a surreal few minutes approaching the Grand Canyon, the car sporadically collided with one grand rain drop after another.  One drop literally splashed across the entire windshield.  It was the strangest rainfall I can remember. It was a foreshadowing of what we would see next.

Passing through security (hi, what are you securing, it’s a hole?), map distributors, gates and parking barricades, we landed.  And then, beneath bursts of sunlight, among damp evergreens and extinguished campfire pits we saw this enormous gouge of earth missing from the space in front of us.

The Grand Canyon

Pictures don't do it justice.

This land was made for you and me

November 12, 2010
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In Flagstaff, Arizona I picked up my dad; my co-pilot for the next week. We settled into our nameless “Motel” next to the nameless “Restaurant” and had forgettable evening in our anonymous surroundings.

In the morning, my dad woke up at dawn and met up with a herd of cattle; we were in the country alright! The morning had a chilly dampness to the air so that made you aware of every breathe.  I wish I could have stored some of that air in a spare lung, but there were no spare lungs to be found.

On the Mooove

We drove toward Sedona and pulled off the road periodically at a number of scenic overlooks, all of which were humbling. I was reminded of what Mesas were (remember those from geography lessons?), and as we saw open land stretching through to the horizon.  Along the way we wondered who owns all of this land? Without an answer, we appropriated acres of it to each other in song: “This land is your land, This land is my land, From California to the New York Island.”

Along Route 89S

We sang real estate claims until we arrived in Sedona ready to chipmunk-out and collect as much energy from the famous vortexes as possible. The hike up Boynton Canyon was invigorating. We ate a cactus, followed a red ant in the red clay, chatted with a modern day American explorer, measured the degrees of ‘twist’ to Juniper trees, and finally arrived upon a knoll where we “gathered power.”  The trail and the view was moving, it was a peaceful place. There were several people meditating in the area, and some other people on cell phones-oh no wait that was only one person; my dad.

The Red Rocks of Sedona

Twisted Juniper Branch

Meditation from the peak of Cathedral Rock in Boynton Canyon

After our hike, we walked down the road and passed a lot of Flat Animals (who must be friends with Flat Stanley and Flat Jackie/Geneva).  We saw Flat Snake, Flat Skunk, and Flat Chipmunk.  With all of the mystical excess energy floating around you would think these Flat Animals would be able to spring back to life!  We waited for it.  We meditated for it. And it didn’t happen.  So now, since people usually get disinterested in stories after they stay flat, this post is over.

The dragonfly way to Flagstaff

October 21, 2010

As I began to leave the Joshua Tree National Park, a huge dragonfly cut me off. He flew down the road, and I followed. It was such an amazing exit! I’m all about surreal-life experiences, but this dragonfly seriously lead me toward the park exit for almost a mile! He hovered over the road, dreaming of being a Mustang or Beemer. As magical as that was, I had to say Byeee-ya, 10mph was fun for a minute but I had to get on my real-life way.

Hitting the road I realized I was very excited about this trip. With a new hairstyle (windows down), and an already unbalanced left arm driver’s tan, I was driving across country with a front row seat!!

On the way to pick up my co-pilot father in Flagstaff, AZ I saw a few interesting things…

Mile # 155- First mirage
Mile # 177- Bambi’s Mom 😦
Mile # 230- 2 elderly men on electric scooters with American Flags waving behind them
Mile #308- Sign claiming “Fresh Jerky for Sale” in the high Mojave desert
Mile # 355- A random fence with shoes tied to them (maybe a homage to the shoe tree in Nevada)

Then trip itself was magnificent. The desert ranged from 70-90 degrees, but with the windows down it was perfect! Soon enough the Joshua trees subsided, then mountains of pebbles seemed to grow out of the flat desert plains. Pebble mounds were replaced by rolling hills spotted with randomly spaced out bushes, suddenly it felt like I was driving across a bag of Idaho potatoes. Longing for potato chips, I enjoyed the view and in the distance a foggy haze settled below the blue mountain background. Hello America!

Pebble Mounds

Half scrubby face, half potato

The background

To be a Joshua Tree

October 20, 2010
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First Stop: Joshua Tree.  I arrived in Yucca Valley the night before my sobering Joshua Tree visit.  The stars that lined the road were electrified, and once I hit the 10 there were usually no cars ahead or behind me.  I was extremely aware that I was extremely alone…but I needed a little solitude.

In the morning I was welcomed into the park by friendly rangers an hour after sunrise; the only unnatural substance in my body was caffeine (and morning Heather Glee!).  The trees were creatural-I wanted so badly to personify them. So I did.  Some were like “Hey sun, what’s up!”


“Hey Sun, what’s up?”

Others had scoliosis…

The least interesting thing about them was that they were all named Joshua.

Heatherwritesafact: Joshua Trees can grow up to 30 ft and live for about 1,000 years!

The more I stared at the Joshuas the more I wanted to be like them.  So I posed as one for a few minutes.  Several cars passed but I don’t think any recognized the one Joshua that didn’t belong; my camouflage worked!   I blended in just like the lizards I saw scrambling about.

After Joshua bonding was over, I wondered over to a rock formation that was the original reason why I pulled off the road.

I climbed up this rock and have a time and space moment.  I perched myself 15 feet up and listened. I listened for the ants marching, the lizards hopping, the trees growing, the cacti thirsting, but I heard nothing.  The silence was deafening…there was nothing making ANY noise…all I could hear were my ears hurting!  It was intense.  So I recorded the silence and caught the faintest chirp of a bird, a call that went peacefully unanswered for the next 20 minutes.

After a meditative morning, I had to get on my way. I said goodbye to the Joshuas and headed for Flagstaff Arizona.

Hello again!

October 20, 2010
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After meaning to write in my blog for a year plus, I hope to finally have good enough reason and time to actually write again!  I haven’t yet been able to cope with the reality of leaving a lovely LA life, instead I’ve decided to focus all my energy on an exciting cross-country road trip from LA to NY….these are my stories!

About author

Hi! My name is Heather and I write a blog :) I hope you enjoy!