Hi friends! Scott and I recently finished our summer workcamping job in Truckee (at Tahoe Timber Trails). Two weeks following that job we embarked on a pretty cool roadtrip. I am mainly writing this for myself, so I do not quickly forget our trip, and in case any one was interested in reading about it. Sorry if this is really long and detailed but I thought it might give some insight to the reality of planning a road trip in an RV, and show that life isn’t always as perfect as it may seem on the outside.
Leading up to our departure, I spent a LOT of time planning this trip. We had two weeks to travel and there were SO many things that I found we could see and do on our route. It was overwhelming. Especially when I would get so excited about a certain location or hike, and then after much research finding out, that the hike is actually 20-40 miles long, and you can not take a shortcut with a car. Or, you could take a car but it had to be a 4x4. Or, one place required a lottery permit. Or many places were on a route that we should not be taking our RV. It was a crazy game of not only forming a fun and effortless itinerary, but constantly bouncing all over the place with all kinds of confusing and conflicting information on the internet. Unfortunately, the stress of planning this got so intense, that I was on the verge of an anxiety attack. Something I have not experienced in well over a year. I’m not looking for pity, but just saying that to say, planning a roadtrip of this nature may not always be as easy as you would expect it to be.
So, our first stop after leaving Truckee was San Francisco. We had already been two times previously together that summer and couldn’t help but go back and see more. The second time I had been, I got some awesome ideas for a photoshoot but didn’t have the time to take those photos then. Going back a third time, was my opportunity for those photos. RV parks in SF are VERY expensive and not that awesome! The park we chose was on the other side of the bridge. The rv sites were VERY tight. It was a miracle that we fit. We hung out in downtown for a little bit that evening, and I went looking for a specific type of dress, which I never found. I had had a dream a few days prior about a photoshoot idea. In the dream, I was at the Coral Pink Sand Dunes and was taking a self portrait with my tripod of me spinning/dancing in the sand, with the sun shining through the sand in a beautiful way at golden hour. I was wearing a long, pink dress that matched the whole scene. I woke up so excited! I rarely have creative dreams and I honestly didn’t know what type of photos I would take at the sand dunes when we got to Utah, so this dream was very helpful. (But even without finding the dress from my dream, I got a photo that I love!) The next morning, I made Scott wake up very early, well before sunrise to drive over to Presidio, which is a former US military fort and now National park. It has so many neat things to see and do. This time, I wanted to take some photos at “Lover’s Lane” …a sort of nature art installation. The way it was set into the hilly woods, gave us perfect lighting for about an hour from sunrise.
After those photos, we drove over to “the Spire" another nature art installation within one of the wooded areas. The lighting was bad once we got there, but I think this will do:
After my long-awaited photoshoot was complete, we returned to the RV park since checkout was at 12:00 and quickly left for Big Sur. Now, the whole time I had planned this trip, it was on my list to drive down Hwy 1 all the way from San Francisco. I did not realize that would be a bad idea, considering how extremely narrow the lanes are on the Golden Gate Bridge. And not to mention how expensive the bridge tolls are there. So we drove around the bay area, on a different route and made our way into Monterey Bay down to Big Sur. Because we drove the other route, we did not get to stop in the Davenport area, which I was really excited for. Once we got on Hwy 1 on the coast in Monterey, the ride got pretty wild, especially towing a pretty long camper-trailer. Hwy 1 is absolutely beautiful. Its like straight out of a beautiful, cinematic movie.
When we arrived to Pfeiffer Big Sur Campground, we realized how out of place we were. This campground is geared towards tent-camping and camper vans. The attendant looked at us a bit funny when we pulled in, but did not decide to give us any warnings about our size. The RV-site roads were all one-way, so we had to make a long trek through the park, through narrow roads with very tight turns. The turn we had to make was so tight we somehow got our RV wedged up against a pretty sturdy wood pole/barrier that was on the side of the road. It was only a couple feet high but the way we got wedged up, put us in a position that if we kept pulling straight forward, we would have damaged the end of our RV greatly. Thankfully it was still light out! While we were there, wondering what in the world we were going to do, the camp hosts happen to drive by as they’re about to clock out for the day. Not only were they so sweet and helpful, but they were from Florida! It is rare to meet people from the east coast out here, let alone FL. The guy helped us lift our RV up above the pole by driving our wheels up unto 2x4s and he guided us to an easier turn-around where we wouldn’t get stuck. Whew. So we were extremely relieved. And unto our next challenge. Our RV from tongue to the back of our bike rack measures 36 feet. It turns out the site we signed up for is for 27 ft RV’s. We somehow managed to get the RV in the site in one shot. And it was pretty tight. Any longer and we would have been in the road! And we were just a few inches away from a tree. Well anyways, we had two nights there, and I absolutely loved the campground. There were many redwoods in the park, right where the sites were, and there were so many people actually doing camping things (lol) like bonfires, tent-camping, hiking, cooking food outside, etc. Most of the time, at RV parks, it can be like pulling into a boring parking lot. The other neat thing was, that there was no RV hookup, so we had to boon-dock for real this time. AND we had absolutely no internet for miles. So….that made for a very adventurous situation. We realized that our next campground was going to be similar as far as fitting our RV and we had to scramble to figure out if we were going to skip out on that park or not, all without being able to research it on the internet. Anyways. So…what we actually did for fun in Big Sur….we visited Point Lobos for a day. I knew Point Lobos was an amazing place, but it was much bigger than I had anticipated, and so we were there for many hours. We didn’t get to see any sea lions up close, but I could hear them in the distance. But at the end of our day there, I had a hissy fit (I know pathetic lol) that I didn’t get to see otters, sea lions or tide pools. Just as I was having this fit, we found the tide pools. lol. It was pretty cool. There were so many little crabs, sea urchins, little fish, and snails. I was hoping to find a sea star, actually maybe we did, I can’t remember.
We went home so tired that night, went to bed extremely early, as we had little electricity and no internet and woke up early the next day to go see Pfeiffer beach. Pfeiffer beach ended up (still) being closed for road work. We were literally a day or two away from them being finished. I was pretty sad we didn’t get to see it. Hopefully we will return to Big Sur one day. So, instead of Pfeiffer Beach, we visited McWay Falls, which is pretty and Partington Cove. Mcway Falls is an off-limit beach due to deadly waves/currents. But there is a viewing point that you can go to, and see the water fall spilling into the beach.
Partington Cove on the other hand was a little tricky finding. It isn’t marked too well and you just park on the side of Hwy 1 and hope that your hiking the correct path. The hike down took a little while, and once we got closer to sea level, it was so pretty, like a little rainforest. Once you go through the trees, you can turn right to go down to this beautiful cove full of nice rocks with waves crashing on the cliffs, or you can go left, through a tunnel to another cove that has bright blue water, and nice views. I really like going down there because there were hardly any other people, and it was just very picturesque and mysterious-feeling. This was probably the one time on the entire road trip, where I sat for a minute, stopped thinking and just enjoyed being where I was. And….the hike back up the mountain was so steep and unforgettable.
That day, we left the Big Sur area, and decided that in addition to skipping our next campground reservation an hour south, we also decided to not take Hwy 1 the rest of the way to Santa Monica. The “small” portion of Hwy 1 we did drive from Monterey to Big Sur took a long time and was very difficult to drive…not to mention any wear on the RV from the windy roads. So we went back north on Hwy 1 to get around Monterey and onto a normal interstate towards LA.. Here is a picture driving towards Bakersville:
This part of the trip was neat, because we got to see more of California’s agriculture. There were many farm towns we drove through. Many of which grew romaine lettuce…my favorite lettuce! So instead of wasting time boon-docking on the side of the road somewhere, we just went straight for LA. Most RV parks have check-in at noon. So if we were to boon-dock that night, we would have had a lot of time to kill before we could arrive to our reservation in Santa Monica. We were able to get a second night in the same spot a day early. So we stayed there for two nights. My original plan, a few weeks prior, was to stop in LA to go to the famous Rose Bowl Flea Market. I have been dying to go there for a few years. But while planning this trip, I realized the shortage of RV parks in the LA area, the shortage of boon-docking options, and the fact that I will most likely not be able to pull into the flea market parking lot towing a 36 ft trailer. So, I made the hard decision to remove the Rose Bowl from the itinerary. But we still needed to make the stop in LA to pick up my mom and sister from LAX, as they were going to join our second week of the trip! So not having any LA plans ready, we just decided to go to a Shake Shack fairly close by and some other things in the area. Shake shack was realllly good. It was like In-n-out on steroids. They have the bestest cheese fries. Just good.
The next day we picked up my mom and sister from the airport! We hadn’t seen them since April. Not only was I excited to see them, but I was so happy that they were going to go on an awesome roadtrip. They had never really seen the west or had been on a roadtrip of this nature. Once we picked them up, we left right away for the Valley of Fire. The Valley of Fire is a Nevada state park, just about 1.5 hrs northeast of Las Vegas. This park was way bigger and better than I thought it would be! There were so many different things to see and hike. My favorite thing was the actual campground within the park that we spent one night in. There are two campgrounds available and we stayed at Arch Rock Campground which was incredible. The campground is within what are called the “beehives.” The beehives are red rock formations that look similar to…beehives, haha. They were very unique in comparison to all of the other rock formations and red rocks we saw throughout our trip. It was also so nice that it was very quiet and peaceful, maybe partly due to the fact that it was a dry camp - no hookups. The other campground around the corner - Atlatl, had a few hookup spots but the campground wasn’t as pretty, quiet and small as Arch Rock. (In case any of you decide to camp there). The campground was first-come, first-serve and you paid through an honor system (that was monitored once a day). So I was a bit nervous driving all the way out there, but we arrived about 8:00 am and there were quite a few spots open. Here is the view outside my camper door:
We didn’t visit the entire park that day, but we saw the best of it, from what I understand. We went to Fire Wave, which is a little bit like The Wave in Arizona, in that it has a wave of colorful lines flowing throughout the red rocks. Considering that it was November, I was surprised at how busy it got and had to photoshop some people out of my photos. By the way, when we were in Kanab, we did apply in person for permits to the Wave, but didn’t win (its a lottery permit system).
Desert big horn sheep in the rocks:
After the Fire Wave, we hiked to the White Domes, which was another unique rock formation, with a little slot canyon on the way out.
After all of that, my sister passed out in the RV (she is a sea level dweller lol) and Scott and I drove to see a couple other areas before the sun went down. On that note, the sun made this trip a bit frustrating, because it was setting so early, we had to make sure we were mindful of time. And often we would just go to bed very early, because there is only so much you can do when you have hardly any electricity and no cell phone service. I think I mentioned that already in this post. Anyways, we had a quick bonfire that night at the Arch Rock camp and then planned to leave early for Kanab the next day.
SO, the next day, we woke up as usual, and got the RV in order, we were about to hitch up, and our slide would NOT go in. It was pretty freaky and pretty scary. We were not too close to any big towns, had no internet, and we were operating the slide on battery…well maybe the truck if we tried using the truck’s power, i don’t remember now. But the slide sounded like it had very little power, moved very slow and would stop midway. We kept trying, then it would slide in crooked….which was terrifying! We’ve heard that you have to be very mindful of how you bring your slide in and out because if the tracks get messed up at all, it can be a nightmare to repair. But thankfully, Scott was able to fix it - the side that was lagging, he pulled it manually as the slide was coming in, to help straighten it, and it worked. WHEW. I was so scared! After all of that, we headed to Kanab, UT, which was a beautiful drive. We had driven the same highway on our way to Truckee in April, and the drive was unforgettable…the views. My mom even facebook-lived it, lol. We arrive to Kanab that afternoon to a really cute, small RV park, with very nice and helpful RV hosts. McDonalds was right across the street, laundry too, and Lindsey had real wifi, so all was good in the world. The next day, we drove to North Rim (North rim of the Grand Canyon) which was about 1.5 hrs into the middle of nowhere, who would have guessed. Normally the entry cost per car is $30-35, and they were in the process of winterizing the park, and although it was still open for day use, they weren’t charging for entries! We got in free which was great because I wasn’t too excited to see the canyon, but my mom and sister were.
It was pretty cold, the canyon was very hazy and hard to get pictures of, Scott made some friends with Italians and ate their snacks, lol and then we left for the Coral Pink Sand Dunes back in Kanab for sunset. For the past few years, I’ve been dying to see a sand dune park and so I was excited to get pictures. So, the dream I had mentioned earlier got me more excited to go, because I actually had a creative idea for a photo, for once in my life haha. I think of the four of us, I was the only one impressed with the dunes, but it was worth it. I lovedd the photo Scott took of me. We pretty much took pictures and left, since it was so hard walking in the sand. Walking back to the car was the worst!! I would love to visit another sand dune park in the future, but would have to rent a dune buggy for the sake of my legs and ankles.
The following day, we decided to go to Bryce Canyon. My manager at my last job told me of a good trail that we would enjoy that wasn’t too difficult - the Wall Street trail to Queen’s garden trail, and it was amazing! The Wall Street part of the trail was incredible and better than I expected. I wasn’t too crazy about the type of hoodoos there, but Wall Street was out of this world…for me. The hike was pretty easy until the end but hiking back up to the rim was difficult, especially being at such a high elevation.
On our drive home, we stopped at one of the many rock shops in the area, and that was awesome. I’ve never been to a store solely dedicated to rocks. There were all kinds and apparently it was the end of season sale, so I bought a nice emerald rock of some kind and an uncracked geode that I am saving for my future children.
The next morning we left Kanab for Page, Arizona. Scott and I had already been to Page on our last trip, but I wanted to go back, mainly to see the Wahweap hoodoos. The first day in Page, we set up our RV, went to see the Glen Canyon Dam and then to Horseshoe Bend. I saw Horseshoe bend last time, but we had gone at sunrise, which is the worst lighting for photos. So this time around, I took much better looking photos and I knew my mom and sister would really enjoy the bend. As much as I love these photos, they do not show how deep and massive the bend truly is. If you look in the river, a bit left of the bend’s center, you’ll see some boats.
The next day, we went kayaking in Lake Powell and into Antelope Canyon (the water-submerged part). It was a perfect time to go, as there were hardly any boats in the lake. I really enjoyed it until the end, when I decided to keep paddling really hard to make sure we returned the kayaks in time. So I would say, November is a peaceful time to go, but it was cold and with the kayaks having (intentional) holes in them (I don’t remember this being a thing?), we got pretty wet and were freezing going back to our car. This one was taken on my phone since I had forgotten my DSLR’s memory card!
The next and last day of our trip, we hiked to the Wahweap Hoodoos. Even though, it was the main reason for coming back to Page, I was still reluctant to do the hike. It was an unmarked trail in the middle of nowhere - except for the trail head…that was marked. And the hike was a minimum of 9 miles roundtrip. I had heard other people online say they gave up part of the way through and never made it to the hoodoos. So me, being an unexperienced hiker and trail navigator, I was very hesitant bringing everyone on this questionable hike. We did it anyway. I was expecting the hike to the hoodoos to be really boring from what I had seen and heard. But it was actually really cool! First off, we were in some sort of rock-like valley with no other cars, people, roads, businesses in sight. It was very peaceful and adventurous-feeling. Secondly, the hike was pretty much on a dry creek bed the whole way and the bed was full of all kinds of pretty river rocks. We kept getting distracted by them. And not only that, the weather was perfect. About 3 miles in, we could see the hoodoos in the distance. Hiking that far didn’t seem too bad until the end, my feet started to get sore and we all woke up a bit sore with some blisters on our toes. But I would definitely love to go back and do it again. Especially since I think there’s a part we missed that was around the second corner.
The next day, we left for Phoenix. Driving there was a bit rough - there were some stretches…where we were ascending a LOT which did not give good gas mileage but coming in closer to Phoenix was neat because the hills on the side of the highway were covered in saguaro cacti. And they weren’t mixed in with trees, it was just hundreds of skinny cacti sticking up out of the hills. I’ve never seen them like that. So, we arrived to the Phoenix area, played cards until late and then brought my mom and sister to the airport. On that note, NEVER EVER fly Spirit airlines!!
So that was our trip! Sorry if all the details were boring! I wanted to make sure I documented it all for my own memory and hopefully my friends and family might enjoy reading it.
Now currently, Scott and I are working an interesting job, managing a Christmas tree lot in Gilbert. That’s another story.
But looking back on our travels and adventure, nothing compares to being home. Scott and I have made the decision to go home to Florida in January, and most likely for good.