Saturday, May 10, 2014

a day in ABQ

Had a nights sleep with no wind gusting my tent off or rain. That was nice. I woke up really early though. My body is hours behind. Or ahead? Or something. I don't know. I'm actually looking forward to setting up my tent. I like amenities, but there is something nice about being wrapped in blankets inside a sleeping bag. Nice isn't the right word for it, but I've been enjoying it. Tomorrow I am shooting for Mesa Verde. GPS says 4 hours. I want to check out the balloon museum first. So I'll set an alarm and try to get out of here at a good early hour.

Rosi and Perry are amazing. Such kind, wonderful people. I'm glad to have such a broad family that is largely inclusive and excellent.

Perry scrambled me some eggs with salami for breakfast, and I had a cuppa tea.

Then we went for a little drive around Albuquerque. Perry took me to some of the Breaking Bad filming locations (at my request and I provided the addresses as he hasn't seen Breaking Bad). I saw the dam where the pick up happened, and I saw Walter and Skylar's house and Hank and Marie's. That was cool. They are just tucked in neighborhoods, like any other house.

I showed Perry what a penny crusher is (he had no idea that penny crushing was a thing!) by using my penny crusher locator app and crushing a penny in the machine in this store in Old Town. We also checked out this great old church and had lunch at High Noon. We both had enchiladas.

He had an errand to run at 3, so we returned to the house. I mellowed out and wrote some postcards and had some more tea. Nice to sit and not have to be doing something.

Dinner was home made salmon burgers and home made tartar sauce and salad. Mmmm so good. So full. I ate so much today. If only the human body worked in such a way that you could eat a lot for one day and then not much at all for the next few days. We hung around and chatted. Their home is really nice and open, with great views. It'll be fun to see all these different kinds of architecture as I go east. The stucco adobe style is new to me.

I decided to see the 10:10 showing of Jim Jarmusch's Only Lovers Left Alive. It's this artsy vampire movie with Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston. The music and visuals were solid. It was a vampire movie lacking the main vampire stuff, like attacking people and gore and gratuitous feeding scenes. I dug it. Now I need to put the ticket stub somewhere safe, to save it with the rest of my stubs.

So. Balloon museum & the four corners & mesa verde. It's a big day tomorrow!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

waking in Utah, sleeping in Arizona, waking in Arizona, sleeping in New Mexico

I've spent two days largely driving. Getting from state to state to state. Can't spend three nights in every state, or else it'll be winter when I get to Maine! But I'm really loving the landscapes that I've been seeing. In a park I can get face to face, but driving contextualizes it all. Spending the hours slowing rising in elevation and having it open up before you.

I can't recommend 89a from Zion's east entrance to Flagstaff enough. An absolutely beautiful drive. I left Zion at around 1pm, and it was raining. Bummer for the people entering the park, but hey I was leaving! It was a gentle rain, and it wasn't difficult to drive in in the slightest. The east entrance is the one that goes through the tunnel. It was the scenic drive, and not through Springdale. No backtracking to get to Flagstaff. The surroundings started as farm, and went through several by now familiar rock formations and then became more wooded as elevation increased. It was a two lane road for most of the way, with very little company and just land on either side as far as the horizon allowed. And ohhh it took my breath away when the trees receded and the grade of the road went down and just the vast expanse was before me. Thankfully there was a scenic pull off point, and I pulled right off and just gawped. Arizona is Arizona, but damn if it isn't big and beautiful too. I didn't stop to do any drawings, but I took photos which I plan to turn into reference. Because I really want to spend time doing some of these landscapes justice, because I'm really in love with them right now. All this horizon, and so much more to go!

And the fluffiness of the clouds!!

It was raining almost all through my last few hours in Zion. I packed up a damp tent hoping that at the next stop, I'll be able to set it up and let it dry. There wasn't an immediate demand for camping spots like there was when I found mine. I guess weekdays are less busy, especially rainy ones. I packed up, ate a bit, then parked at the visitor's center and took the shuttle to get the last few things checked off in my Junior Ranger packet. I caught an Animals of Zion ranger lecture and learned that male turkeys go seeking a mate with their brother acting as a wingman. I filled out my packet, and said the oath, and was sworn in as a Junior Ranger. So on that happy note I packed up to head out towards Petrified Forest National Park under the idea that I would be camping there. I did not know that 1) it closes at 7:30 and 2) the only camping is the trek into wilderness style, which while I don't mind camping in tent sites I'm not about to trek a mile to set up a tent. Travel and learn!

And Arizona was beautiful to drive across on the 89a route. Fluffy clouds and no traffic. And gas was consistently around 3.50 a gallon! I curved around Flagstaff without stopping. I grabbed some snacks in Gap when I topped off my tank, so I was good to go. I've also been eating lotsa celery!

It was getting dark, and I got to Petrified Forest at 7:48 and they closed fully at 7:30, so I backtracked to Homolovi State Park. Wish I had known they closed, because I could have had a site set up and gotten to bed a lot earlier than I had. But hey, a hot shower is a hot shower! And no time limits, unlike Zion with its "$5 for 5 minutes". Annnnddd after my shower, I locked my keys in the trunk. But I had my tent set up. The only thing I was without was food, but I wasn't hungry. So I vowed to call AAA in the morning, watched some TV on my laptop and went to sleep.

And the locksmith arrived about 30 minutes after the call, and my car was unlocked and there were the keys in my trunk! Victory!

I took advantage of the shower and ate some food. I checked out the visitor's center and did a little walk, and then I set out for Petrified Forest. This time for real. And since there was no camping, I figured I would sleep on the side of the road and continue on to Albuquerque in the morning.

But I ended up driving through most of the park. I did walk around a bit and look at some of the cool fossils, but I was feeling lethargic and not really up for heavy duty parking. So at 4pm, I called cousin Perry and began my journey east. Only 4ish hours! But then I lost an hour going across the border.

I filled up my tank. I even put in some fuel injector cleaner as a little treat. My car is doing so well. 1600 miles and counting!

It's odd to drive with the sun setting behind me. Normally it's in my eyes or to one side. The Pacific Ocean is so far away now. Aside from Flordia, I've only been as far East as Colorado. And Florida doesn't count for anything. It's its own thing.

ABQ at night is a blanket of lights. No real towers, or bright centers of light. Just lots of little points of light spread out across the land. And it was easy to merge into proper lanes. No real traffic. I got to Perry and Rosie's at 9pm, brought some of my stuff in and took a shower. Then they gave me tea and cheesecake and we chatted about things to see here and maybe in Santa Fe as well.

Should be a fun few days. Won't have to buy gas for a while.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

last day in Zion

“What can I start you with?” “I’ll have the meat lovers and hot tea.”

5/6/2014 8:16 am MeMe’s Café, Springdale

Thus begins another long blog entry, written whenever and posted whenever. The café does not have wifi, but ehhh I don’t really care. Now I know I can just hover outside the bar at the end of the day and get their internet. Today I am going to take on Angel’s Landing. One of the more strenuous hikes. I’m starting with a big breakfast, and I’m going to load up my watercolors and markers. No ink. Not for now.

Angel’s Landing and work on my Junior Ranger Badge.

6:59 pm Zion Canyon Brewpub

I wanted to use a power cord. And do the Internet thing because I’ll be driving again come tomorrow. Don’t want to leave Zion, but I could really spend a whole week here. But I must be on my way.

So in town showers at $5 for 5 minutes! That is such bull!

After a sizeable crepe breakfast, I drove up the scenic route again. Just wanted to let my tummy settle before I set out on a hike. There were several classic cars on the drive. Including cars with fins! My favorite. I didn’t get any photos of them, on account of driving my car when I saw the cars and that being a dangerous thing to do.

So I returned to my campsite, loaded up art supplies which I ended up not using, worked on my Junior Ranger packet. Once I completed as much of it as I could at my site, I walked to the visitor’s center and continued working on it. Then I headed up to The Grotto shuttle stop and began the trek to Angel’s Landing. It would be a 5 mile round trip, though really it’s 2.5 up then the same 2.5 down. And when I say up, oh it was UP. It was a gradual paved meander, which got more and more vertical, then it started switchbacking. I would look up and see people high up on the cliff walls and think “that’ll be me in 20 minutes”. And I’d keep going. There was a part where it was flat as the trail cut between two cliffs. And then the more intense switchbacks started to happen. One after another. Up, up, up. I was stopping regularly and catching my breath and drinking water. There was a dad with his two kids (aged 3-5ish) in a stroller! He was taking them DOWN from the TOP! He had his dad helping (with a rope tied around his waist). I told them they were hardcore.

The top isn’t actually the end. There is another .5 miles to Angel’s Landing. But that half mile is up a cliff with chains to hold on to. Nuh uh. I’m not Nathan. I wasn’t doing that. So I caught my breath. Took some photos. Rested. And then headed back down. Downhill is so nice. I took plenty of pictures and encouraged people to keep going. It was worth it. It was a hard trek up, but damn it was worth it.

I worked on my junior ranger book some more and took the shuttle the long way back (the rest of the loop, instead of the fast track). I returned to my tent. I put my feet up and rested a bit. Then I headed into Springdale to grab some eats and use their wifi. And now after about 2 hours, I think I’m ready to head back to my site and tuck in for the night.

Monday, May 5, 2014

May 3rd-5th

I’m camped at Zion National Park, Utah right now. It is May 4th, 2014. It’s been nice not blogging every night, though I have been keeping up with the tumblr and instagram accounts, so I’m still reporting my goings ons. It’s just easier to do from the phone. The blog. This blog. It takes a lot of writing, which isn’t easy when…hold on. I’m going to try something. I could install a blogger ap onto my phone, so that I could save posts on my computer, but then I realized for me to do that, I’d already have to be hooked up to WiFi in which case I’d just post from the computer.

Where was I? Oh yes. My lack of writing here. I’ve been keeping my written travel journal, so I’m not without record. I’m just writing in the journal I started in 2011 when Ma, Pa, and I went to Utah. So when (if) I finish it up, I’ll start a new journal. That way I am keeping with format. I have a bajillion other style of journals and sketchbooks packed. I’ve done a few drawings in one, but I am very much underusing the supplies I have on hand. Tomorrow is devoted to hiking and drawing, provided I get a camping spot. If I don’t get a camping spot…. Well I’ll figure that out later. I wanted to just pitch up a tent, spread out my stuff, and keep it like that for a few days. But that didn’t happen. So tomorrow I’ll try to find a first come first served spot in the South Campground. Fingers crossed!

I guess now is when I pick up where I left off: in a coffee shop in Los Angeles. Courtney let me crash at her place (well her parents) and that was nice. Got in a shower, and we ate tacos and watched TV. I was up early and out the door (I said a goodbye, I didn’t ditch her). The ghost town closed at 5, and I wanted to get there relatively early. There was about three hours between me and there, so off I went! I stopped in Barstow for fast food breakfast, and away I continued. It was a very not pleasant 90-100 degrees. I’ve been applying sun block and I’m not burnt (yet).

Calico Ghost Town…I could have arrived later. I think I was expecting more hikes or lengthier things to do. But also I guess I planned to allow myself time to draw, but it was ridiculously hot. Just 100 degrees and hot and the only A/C was in the shops and I didn’t want to buy anything. I did do a landscape drawing. Just one though. I need to be drawing more! I feel like I’m not. But I’m also just starting…I’ve got a long ways to go.

Anyway. I did the gold panning/mystery shack/mine tour trifecta. All were neat, but nothing too exciting. I think I just wanted more from the ghost town. I filled up my tank in Barstow, and headed to Las Vegas. That straight line across the desert to Las Vegas. That hot, continuous, hours of driving line. I kept hydrated. I didn’t push the A/C too much as to avoid overheating (I saw a sign saying to turn it off to avoid overheating, and I went by many parked cars with their hoods up). I listened to podcasts, drank water, poured the ice water out of my cooler, and pushed onwards. I stopped in Las Vegas for a pee break and ended up getting Subway because I hadn’t eaten much that day. I GPSed Valley of Fire State Park and off I went. I cruised through the rest of Las Vegas as the sun was setting and dang it was beautiful. Then the landscape became engulfed in dark. I pushed forward, and despite it not being late, I didn’t have much company on the road. I turned off towards the State Park. I began to dread a sign informing me the camp ground was full. I drove on and on. No sign appeared, but drivers came from the other direction. Oh no, was it full and they were turning around?

I arrived at the entrance and no sign informed me of it being full, so I grabbed a pay stub and headed in. I pulled into the first campground loop and grew anxious when spot after spot revealed no car but a tent staking claim. Then THEN campsite 19! Nothing was there to indicate someone wanted to be there, so I drove right in and plopped down my cooler. MINE! I went to pay, set my stub in the window, and set about getting my tent erected.
I had to clutch the flashlight in my mouth, but it went up all right. Tent spikes make everything much easier. All by myself! In the dark! And my first time with this tent (Dad helped last time and there were no tent spikes). I put my bedding in. I brushed my teeth. I got my jammies on and then I got comfy! And I read for a while.

Sleep was not easy, as it was VERY windy. Tents & wind = noisy. And it was windy all night long. I took the top cover off, and that helped, because the wind kept pulling it up and all around. Still, not the best night sleep.

I was up early and loved all the rocks that I could now see in daylight. Red formations, very familiar due to previous Utah trips. The bulbous formations. I took my time. I showered (free shower!). I nibbled some cheerios and drew and worked on my journal. I drove around the park a bit, and swung by the visitors center to see if they had any stamps (they did!) and then off I went to Zion. It was an easy drive. 2 hours? Cutting across Arizona on the 15 was nice. It took me through mountains and everything wound this way and that. I got some groceries in Utah, and then I continued on to Zion. Well actually I went to Kolob Canyons…because my GPS took me there. I didn’t look close enough at the map. So I back tracked. The Watchman Campground is reservation only, but there was a group site that the people didn’t confirm on or something, so I am now located on it with three other people: Kyle & Ron, and this other guy I haven’t properly met. And tomorrow I’ll have to get up early and pack up and hope I can score a spot in the first come first served camp ground. But if I can, I’ll just put in my tent and pack out some stuff, and then I won’t have to worry about it for the rest of the day. So here’s hoping! I don’t want to cut my time in Zion short.


I’m in a coffee shop in Springdale, trying to connect to their wifi. I bought an iced mocha. I think this is my “coffee drink” now.

So Rob (not Ron) and Kyle made this hearty stew for dinner, and they shared with me! They were very good company for the night. We chatted about James Clavell novels, movies, and travel. They are sort of my travel opposites. Lots of Midwest, not a lot abroad. We had a plan to share a camping spot in South Campground, if we could find one. Just to make it easier. Had to get up early to nab a spot, but as I’ve now lost an hour due to time zone change (or gained? Oh wait it’s gained, I’m behind an hour). Anyway. Yeah. We sat around the campfire and there was a group of Western University Geology students in another group site, but they went quiet when it got late. I slept very well, and when my alarm went off I did not want to get up and pack. But I did. Kyle and Rob left before me, and I packed haphazardly.
I headed to the south Zion campground, which did not have a “full” sign, and looped around looking for Kyle and Rob, but I could not locate them (also the loops are totally stupid, and you have to start at the start after one loop). BUT I did find the walk in tent sites, and they were open, so I grabbed one, set up my tent, and paid for two nights! Two nights in Zion! So now I get two full days to explore and hike, and a third day to do whatever.

And I was able to unpack my car a little into my tent, so now I don’t have to deal with all my stuff. I can just enjoy the park. And I don’t have to get gas or anything. And I have food. Just gotta throw myself at hiking and art making.

6:33 pm

Okay I’ve obviously NOT found wifi. Argh. It’s all password protected and the coffee shops are closed and I don’t want to buy more treats.

Anyway. I drove up the scenic route, which went through the tunnel. This park lacks loops. Lots of go up and then go back down. The loop was nice. And the weather isn’t scorching hot! And the breezes come through at just the right time. Everywhere I look, I see lovely rock formations. It’s a really great place to be. I parked at my camp site designated parking spot and packed my backpack up with art making supplies and food: granola bars, baby carrots, celery, an apple. Good healthy eating! Of course I also ate some candy, but hey. I’ll burn off those calories post haste!

Today I set out to hike the emerald pools trails. There are lower pools (easy) middle (medium) and upper pools (difficult). I did them all. Though difficult just meant lots and lots of rock stairs for about a mile. Nothing I can’t handle. I did draw. And I got ink all over my hands in doing so. I think I’ll forgo ink for a while and stick to watercolor and pen. Hard not to look dodgy with ink staining your fingers.

At the upper pools, a squirrel stole my apple core! The cheeky bugger. I didn’t mean to feed the wildlife, but it took it upon itself to get fed.

I hiked the route back, oh I forgot to mention I went to the museum and saw the informational video. I took the shuttle, which is a smart thing to have in a park: just shuttle everyone up and down and there will be no congestion! I took the shuttle to the Emerald Pools/Lodge stop and got some ice cream and ate that while reading a bit of Where’d You Go Bernadette, and I got another crusher penny. Then I set out to the Emerald Pools hike. Anyway, returning from the hike, I took the route which dropped me off at the Grotto stop. Three signs on the trail said “The Grotto à .8 mile” Okay, a destination can’t be point eight of a mile away multiple times. Either way, I was proper pooped by the time I got on the shuttle back to the visitor’s center. I walked back to my campsite while eating the rest of my food. I tried to find wifi but thus far I have failed. You’ll just have to wait.

And follow my posts on Instagram (@totallytrillian) and Tumblr (travelswithtrillian). There’ve been plenty of those. It’s easier to post to those than it is to my blog.

7:02 pm

At the market in Springdale, they had the wifi symbol, so after I bought an LED lantern and some gummi cola, I asked for the password. AND NOW I’M CONNECTED! So I’m going to do some internet things, then go back to my tent and crash.