Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Travel wish list for 2014

I'm curious to see where 2014 will take me.

Utah has been on my travel wish list for quite some time. I can't believe I haven't visited Arizona's northern neighbor yet. That needs to change. Rainbow Bridge and Antelope Canyon are musts after having visited Page last month. If we didn't have our dogs with us we'd have done or both of those tours. Rainbow Bridge can be accessed via a 3-hour boat ride or by backpacking 17 miles (with a permit). I'm leaning toward the 17-mile hike. (Crazy, I know.) I've also previously written about my desire to hike Angels Landing at Zion National Park.

Besides that, we're planning to honeymoon on the Big Island, Hawaii. I'm fascinated by volcanoes and lava flows, and I hope to be able to catch a glimpse of lava flowing into the ocean while we're there. I'd also like to snorkel of course and taste local cuisine, among many other things.

What else should I add to my list?

Saturday, January 25, 2014

A birthday canoeing and camping trip to Saguaro Lake

** This post contains affiliate links to camping supplies.

When Graham told me he wanted to celebrate his birthday by camping at Saguaro Lake, I was nervous. We had an incident with some raccoons and skunks on our last camping trip there, though I admit it was because we were lazy about putting our food away in a timely manner.

Our first step to prepare was to buy a used canoe, his birthday gift. We found one in San Tan Valley and made the long trek to get it.

Next, we (and by "we" I mean mostly Graham) packed up our clothes and gear. We loaded the canoe atop the Jeep and set off for an adventure. This time we remembered to park our car in the correct spot (with a parking pass).

It was a lovely day, at a perfect 75 degrees.

Elephant Rock

We paddled at a leisurely pace and everything went smoothly until a large boat's wake approached. I had set one of my gloves on my lap, and when I leaned forward to keep the canoe balanced it must have fallen out, because I never saw it again. I was initially sad that I lost it in the lake, but I reminded myself that it's just a possession, and I shouldn't be so attached to such things.

We savored our time on the lake, stopping to munch on goodies like blueberry muffins and apples, and taking little breaks. After about a couple of hours we made it to the campsites. The dock was occupied by a few boats, but no one else was camping. We love it when that happens. We made sure to pick a spot with an unobstructed view of Four Peaks.

One of the first things Graham likes to do after we unpack is set up his hammock. He did that while I heated up some vegetable chili. Then we moved on to setting up the tent.

Later on we got back in the water, this time without lots of gear in our canoe, to paddle farther down the lake. We watched the sunset in awe at the gold, red, violet and blue hues painted across the sky. We were surrounded by water, marshy grass and desert flora. Behind us were towering rock cliffs. The temperature started to drop as the sun descended, so we paddled back to the campsite for dinner and to build our fire.

We savored our dinner over the light over the fire and talked, sipped our drinks and stared at the stars. These are the blissful moments I cherish on our camping trips.

The next morning we had breakfast and hung out before packing up and setting out onto the lake. Again we took our time, making sure to enjoy the journey over the destination. I'm glad we celebrated Graham's birthday exactly how he wanted.

Shop camping supplies**

Monday, January 13, 2014

Last trip of 2013, Part 2: Payson

After two nights in Page checking out Horseshoe Bend, it was time to head south for the second half of the trip. We rented a dog-friendly cabin outside Payson for the last weekend of 2013.

Our cabin had a Butch Cassidy theme. 

The cabin had one bedroom and a loft bedroom upstairs. 

The back patio had a grill and picnic table. Behind the cabins was a forest.
We went on a hike after we checked in and got settled. It wasn't long before we were alone in the woods away from the sound of cars.

We sat here for a while to take in the view.
Later, we drove to a spot along the Mogollon Rim to watch the sunset.

The next day, we turned onto a forest road from Christopher Creek Loop. We drove all the way down to the See Canyon trailhead, where we spotted some smoke. It appeared to be coming from more than one small fire, so we walked closer to take a look. It turned out to be a controlled fire on private property. It was being overseen by firefighters, so there was nothing to worry about.

We started our hike toward See Canyon springs.

Later, we returned to the Mogollon Rim to watch another glorious sunset.

A perfect spot to watch the sunset.

We didn't want to leave our cabin to head back to the real world. The trip was a nice way to send off 2013.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Last trip of 2013, Part 1: Page

Graham and I celebrated Christmas and our engagement with a trip to Horseshoe Bend, a place we both have wanted to visit for a long time. We took the dogs along for our last trip of 2013.

Taylor and Capone loved that we stopped in Flagstaff so they could play in the snow.

We then continued north through the Navajo Reservation, passing the Cameron Trading Post and the bridge.

Our dog-friendly hotel in Page had a view of the landscape.

Then we headed to Horseshoe Bend for the sunset. Our hotel was conveniently located just 5 miles away from the parking area. Then it's a short walk on a sandy trail.

The next day we returned to Horseshoe Bend to see it in a different light.

The parking lot was about half full each time. 

You can walk right up to the edge of a cliff. There are no railings, so be careful! There are many areas where you can't tell whether the rocks beneath your feet are stable. It was difficult to take photos of the entire river, especially the lower part of the horseshoe shape, without a tripod. I saw many photographers use a tripod that's slightly tilted to take photos.

As you can see, it's a popular tourist destination.

Later we checked out the Glen Canyon Dam Overlook.

We also checked out the view from the visitors center.

The final stop of the day was Wahweap Overlook for the sunset. These were my first glimpses of Lake Powell.

Driving to Wahweap Overlook

The Navajo Generating Station was the only thing that seemed out of place in the gorgeous landscape.

I'm already planning a return to Page to go to Antelope Canyon and Rainbow Bridge.