Utah

After going to the great Petrified Forest and Painted Desert, we drove to Utah.

Bryce and Zion National Parks were beautiful but somewhat uneventful. Zion had a beautiful stream running through it was great vegetation, and Bryce’s strange rock formation were mind boggling but both Fred and I were over the desert scene. We wanted some green lush forests and waterfalls. Surprisingly at Bryce Canyon it started to snow –seriously, it started snow.

We camped out for a couple nights on BLM land outside of Zion and decided to go to a WWOOF farm Fred knew about. It was a Hare Krishna Indian Temple that had a garden and lots of animals. The Temple was beautiful! There were other WWOOFers there too most of which were our age: a guy from Austria, a girl from Italy, best friends from a town near Liverpool, a girl from Massachusetts, a girl from Utah, and a guy from South America. We all became instant friends and spent our days cooking and cleaning the Temple kitchen, working in the garden, and taking care of their 30 something Llamas and peacocks. Unfortunately the peacocks were in deep in their mating season. And the boys were screaming their mating calls all damn day and night –probably one of the most annoying sounds on Earth.  The people of the Temple were strange; they believed that showing emotion was a sin. So they never smiled or laughed. Mostly they were weird and rude and seemed annoyed by our presence. The first week we were there we hated being around the people who lived full time at the Temple because of their negativity. But during the second week it seemed as if their hearts softened and we all became friends.

The WWOOFers, Fred, and I went to natural hot springs in Utah. There were two waterfalls spilling into hot pools of salty fart water (as the two blocks from Liverpool called the sulfur water) surrounded by deep forest and flowers in bloom. We all had such a good time together! The Liverpool guys were amazingly funny; like two standup comedians playing off each other –plus, I think everything is funnier with a thick British accent!

We all played volleyball together, using the Llama fencing as a net for hours. We watched movies together, ate all our meals together, and had bon fires. It was the first time the kids of Europe had a smore! They weren’t impressed by our American culinary genius, though.  

All the WWOOFers sadly left one by one with hopes that we would someday come and visit them all over the world: magic. When it came time for Fred and I to go (we stayed for two weeks) the woman who ran the Temple who had been the biggest bitch to us since day one, cried at our departure and urged us to say. Proving, that first impressions can certainly be wrong and that you never really know someone, until you really know someone. 

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A Grand Adventure in the Grand Canyon

After passing through the beautiful but depressed Navajo Indian Reservation, and enjoying all the wonderful ruins in Cheyenne Canyon, we headed towards the Grand Canyon. We were floored by the depth and color variation of the canyon but it was almost too much to take in. As if, your eye cannot physically comprehend the magnitude of the biggest hole in the Earth. There were thousands of other tourists visiting, most of which were foreigners. Both Fred and I heard more foreign languages being spoken than English –fine by us. The Grand Canyon was similar to Cheyenne Canyon in the way that it’s a driving exploration. You drive to all different look out points snap a couple hundred pictures, then zoom off to the next point of interest. The first couple days we were there we took the shuttle around to watch the sun set over the canyon and make it to all the lookout points. Amazing to sit on the edge of the Grand Canyon with hundreds of people saying things we couldn’t understand, watching the setting sun illuminate different parts of the canyon while the sky turned red, orange, and pink. It felt very good for all us people to share those moments and all be gathered around something monumental; larger than anyone of us, rich with history, but still containing mystery. During one of the sun sets, Fred and I sat on a bench with two old people that didn’t know each other. We all watched people come and go frantically snapping pictures while us four sat on our own little island absorbing the beauty instead of trying to preserve it for the future.

We camped in the National Forest during our stay and were delighted to see that we weren’t the only ones inhabiting the area. On a few mornings we woke to mangled mule deer legs outside our tent. And on occasions saw many giant yellow eyes when one of us got up to take a midnight pee.

We got a little sick of the crowd and doing the tourist thing at the Grand Canyon so we obtained a back country permit and decided to hike to the bottom of the canyon and back. We choose a trail that had a 38% fatality rating and geared up. Our hike was 8 miles straight down the canyon and then our trail back up was 10 miles. This expedition was the most epic, intense, and wonderful thing Fred and I have ever done. At 104 degrees inside the canyon and with over a 4,000 foot elevation change this hike was quite dangerous.

We didn’t so much hike downhill; it was more like trying to lessen the momentum gained by skidding down using every muscle in our calf creating a shuffling motion. It was hot, really hot, but it was so worth it. We got to hike down into the Grand Canyon and see all the color changes in the rock and the entire wild life dwelling beneath the surface –it was just so beautiful.

It took us all morning and into the afternoon to reach the very bottom of the Canyon marked by the Colorado River. Normally the river is a dingy brown but we were lucky enough to come during the few weeks a year when the river runs bright green. We walked over the old suspension bridge that was built sometime back in the ‘20s to the back country camp sites. We finally got to a camping spot and threw down our 30 pound packs. I was so tired I had to rest for a while on the picnic bench. Fred kept nagging me to eat but I was so tired it was hard to eat the beat and quinoa stir fry he had prepared the day before. Suddenly I felt like was going to throw up –like really badly throw up. Poof! Next thing I knew I was lying down on the picnic bench with a wet T shirt on my head with water from the small stream adjacent to us running down all over me! Fred was right in my face yelling at me to lie down –of course when I realized all this was happening I tried to sit up. Which really made him angry and he yelled at me again to lie down.

Apparently I had said a few times that I was going to puke and then I began staring at Fred and went white as a ghost. Fred told me I was looking at nothing and repeating, “oh shit oh shit oh shit” for a while then suddenly stood up knocking over our glass jar full of the beat and quinoa stir fry. Then I just fell over stiff as a board, luckily Fred caught me by my arm before my head hit the rocky ground and he yelled to our neighboring camper to get a T Shirt and plunge it into the water for me.

I’m not sure how long I was blacked out for but it was long enough to scare Fred to death. Once I came back, I felt great –lots of energy; not sick anymore just a head ache. But Fred wouldn’t let me sit up or move or anything –he just kept pouring freezing cold water on me. His intense fear that I was sick at the bottom of the Grand Canyon with no medical help for 10 miles in the most harsh desert climate known to man, made him extremely angry. He grounded me to my picnic bench and to my lying down position and set off to find a ranger.

After a quick quiz of what I had eaten and drank that day the ranger decided the reason I passed out when I did was because I had no salt in my body. So I was drinking enough water and eating enough food but didn’t have any salt in my body to absorb the water –it was just running right through me- which explains why I had to pee every 20 minutes on the hike down. Thus depriving my brain of water and my entire body shutting down. The ranger also explained that a mule ride out of the canyon was $800 dollars and a helicopter lift out was $7,500.  Awesome, I’ll walk.

When Fred got back I persuaded him that I was feeling much better and he reluctantly let me sit up. Then I had the lovely task of holding a couple tablespoons of sea salt under my tongue then swallowing the left over, so that it wouldn’t happen again. The sea salt did help and I was mostly glad I didn’t have to pee every five minutes anymore. Everyone’s happy.

We walked to the Colorado River just outside our camp site and saw more mule deer, birds, and lizards roaming around. Fred and I laid on the bank of the river and stared up at the ancient creation around us. We repeated over and over again that we just couldn’t believe we were kickin’ it on the bottom of the Grand Canyon. It was so surreal and special. Fred swam in the river even though it was icy cold to a small island and roamed around.

There was an absolutely gorgeous little creek running through the campsite with fresh water fed by a spring that you could drink out of and hang out downstream in. The creek was the perfect lounging temperature and I enjoyed the water much more seeing how I was not having it poured all over me against my will. We made lots of friends with the other people who had done the trail earlier that day and ate lots of food.

The next morning we got up early, around 5 a.m and started the much more daunting task of hiking up the Grand Canyon. There is a section of the up trail called the Devils Corkscrew, it is a series of switchback directly in the path of the afternoon sun that apparently claims the lives of young men and women who think they are invincible. We made it through the corkscrew before 9 a.m but passed two middle aged gentlemen that were not in good shape. They had their little plastic water bottles and looked really sick and tired there wasn’t anything we could do expect tell them the time and suggest that when they get to the rest house just a few miles ahead to get a ranger’s help. This hike was no joke.

On the trail up they had a rest house every couple miles with picnic benches under man made shade and water spickets. It was such great fun to hang out at these rest houses because all the other hikers gathered there; people from all around the world, with different back grounds and hobbies and skill levels. We all became instant friends and told travelling stories and chatted about the adventure we were all on. Fred and I had a proper introduction with our camping neighbors who had gotten me the socked shirt. They were an elderly couple from London who had travelled all around the world and were in amazing shape. The wife came to me sternly with narrow eyes and a tight lip and interrogated me about my health and how I was feeling. At every rest house she mothered me tough-love style and made me eat, drink, and rest. We got to know them very well and became great friends, the four of us. They made us promise to come to London and stay with them some day and gave us their contact information.

There were many middle aged people on the trail that told us this was the coolest thing they had ever done in their life. Some said it was a bucket list item they’ve wanted to do for years. Others said they needed to prove to themselves that they could do such a strenuous task. I felt a little sheepish, seeing how we decided to do this only a couple of days ago.

There was a campground half way up the canyon for people who could physically make it all the way up in one day called Indian Gardens. It is the only place on the trail with an ounce of shade and it was total oasis of beauty, water, and vegetation. A shaded area with lush green plants incasing a beautiful spring fed creek –we enjoyed the beauty and ate our lunch (mine including another couple tablespoons of sea salt) for a couple hours chatting with other hikers.

The last couple miles were the killer: practically vertical up the rocky path in the heat of the afternoon sun. It was hard to believe we were actually climbing out of a giant hole! But we made it to the top feeling great and alive and also the sensation that walking was impossible. It seemed like every step on level ground set firey needles up my legs and core. We waited at the top for our elderly friends and hugged all around. Then the four of us waited for all the other hiker friends we made, we congratulated them and gave high fives and lots of hugs. One woman (whose husband I noticed was a complete dick) was crying her eyes out because she thought she wasn’t going to make it out. Others were crying and emotional with the pride they felt –we did it!

Looking over the edge of the Grand Canyon seemed to have all new meaning and features now. We were down there camped out under the stars. We got to see what it really looks like; our eyes could perceive and recognize it. From the top everything just looked like shapes and colors but from down below the shapes towered over head and the patterns were intricate and attention grabbing. It was just more real. So much more than just a few snapped photos of pretty landscape – now the photos had a feeling behind them. Feelings of pride and being strong, intense fear for my health and safety, and the feeling of bliss that comes with losing yourself in a hard task surrounded by unspoiled beauty and great new friends. That is the kind of thing that photos cannot captured.

What a grand adventure in, out, and around the Grand Canyon!

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Beautiful Sedona!

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Everyone we had met in Arizona told us we’d love Sedona. So, we went to Sedona –and guess what, they were right! Sedona is famous for its giant red rocks; it sure is an amazing sight! The red rock with layers of white and yellow tower over the smaller mountain town! There are hundreds of hiking trails through these red rocks, along with a natural water slide, cliff jumping into a stream, some forest, and lots of Native American ruins. A seriously awesome place.

We camped for free five miles up a nasty (but not nearly as bad as Mexico) dirt road into the National Forest. Our camping site was only a mile and a half, through the bush, from Native American ruin sites, and has a spectacular view overlooking a valley and a huge red rock mountain. We were living on truly beautiful, sacred land.

We spent our days doing incrediable hikes that were beautiful and challenging and did lots of painting on the car. We climbed up the huge rock structures and one day we were even higher than the helicopters (ironically enough that day was 4/20!)

Among our favorite things we did in Sedona was see the Native American ruin sites. There are still standing house structures made out of mud and rocks. And lots of art etched and painted on the walls! Many different Native Americans lived within cave compounds naturally formed in the rock. Some of the art dated back 9,000 years! There was even a painted on creation story, apparently their belief at the time was that the universe was like an onion, with many different layers or dimensions. And how they came into their world was that they climbed through a literal crack that is in the Grand Canyon and a man was waiting for them and taught them how to hunt and forage, then women began to give birth to humans and animals –all this painted on the walls thousands of years ago! Super fascinating! There were even still slabs of mud cakes to the ceiling of rocks where families would throw mud balls and insults at each other before weddings. I think that’s a tradition we should adopt into today’s society! Another type of art that really caught our attention was these criss crossed lines carved into the rock in a really sloppy fashion. We learned that those marks are 10,000 years old, made by people while they went into a sort of trance like, meditative, state when they were on a hallucinate drug (a certain found out there in the desert valley).

Sedona is really metaphysical –it’s said that Sedona is one of the only places that didn’t freeze up during the ice age and because of all the iron in the rock and sand (the reason it is red) has a large potency of electro-magnetic frequencies. As a result there are places in Sedona that are sacred where people report an abundance of energy, these places of called vortexes. Many locals and tourists come to Sedona just to pray, meditate, give thanks, or whatever they feel called to do at these vortexes. We saw lots of people doing rituals at these spots, which are normally on top of a large rock tower or somewhere on a hiking trail. Although Fred and I are not fully tapped into that we really enjoyed watching people do their thing. And all the places are extremely beautiful, just in our opinion they are all equally specially. However, we did notice that when we were in a vortex site we did have a lot more energy of movement and another of absolute tranquility. This phenomenon is hard to accredit as coincedence. Its like an illusion, almost impossible to perceive but when you see it, its there! We speculate that a lot of reason for this metaphysical fascination is directed towards healing. Feeling comftorbly centered at this time in our lives and not particularly unhealthy, we are not on the same level as some of the people out there. Simply speaking we are in our element and very aware of our connection to the earth. It is natural for a body to feel more connected and centered when you come to a beautiful place like Sedona, or really most places in nature. It is possible to see how one might easily loose this connection, when inside the confinement of the city , and need to seek out a natural setting, and remove the tennis shoes, to heal. The Farther from your center, the more it takes to reach a balance. Everybody is on there own level, some are just a little more eccentric then others.

The hiking was simply spectacular in Sedona and all the people we met were really nice and interesting and of course, freaking loved our car. On the night of the full moon Fred and I met up with our friend from Quartzsite, Christopher who was ironically visiting Sedona with a friend. Funny how people come in and out of your life. We all went to a full moon drum circle that was on the top of a huge rock tower. Fred had bought himself a handmade African drum back in Phoenix from a guy from Africa and played himself silly! We danced and played music with about one hundred other people on top of the rock as the full moon lit everything up to perfect light. Fred’s hands were bruised when the music was over but it was a truly magical night.

We spent a full day at the small river that ran in between towering orangey rock formations. We met two really nice girls and their two dogs and spent the day jumping from rock to rock exploring the river. It was a perfect day; so beautiful and sunny! We parked our car a mile down the road leading to a more secluded, locals spot. We hiked down the river to Slide Rock State Park, . We were bombarded with families on vacation! Slide Rock is a natural waterslide: the fast moving water current cut a smooth passageway through the soft rock. The ride pushes you up and down and side to side before spitting you out into a large pool. Nature never ceases to amazes me. It was a pretty touristy scene, but it’s always beautiful to watch people enjoying the great outdoors!

We stayed in Sedona for 13 days, after some small calculations we learned we spent a whopping $120 the whole time! Not bad for prime real-estate with an amazing view, doing something new and exciting every day, and eating delicious food.

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Ballplayers and Hicks

We worked for seven weeks for the catering company at the Glendale ball park. Fred worked in the kitchen truck doing dishes, prep work, and some cooking. I worked on the buffet line mostly with the Chicago Major League White Sox. Basically I would just put the food out for them and keep the eating area clean and make small talk with the players and staff. The ball players were all friendly and nice but it was easy to tell right away that we were worlds away.

They just couldn’t imagine living in a tent or eating lots of vegetables. Their life was controlled by money and everything was very superficial; with the expensive cars and clothes. I liked working with the Minor Sox a lot more because they were more my age and younger at heart. I made friends with most the Minor guys and got asked out on dates daily.

A long seven week period, cut short: we worked our butts off to save up money for our travels, splurged on good food and cooking experiments, and rested up for the road ahead.

The crazy thing about working for that long period was how little things changed! I mean in a matter of weeks we’ve been in completely different places, with new people, and doing crazy new things all the time. Now we are in terrible Phoenix with its pollution, horrific traffic, and weird housing situation. But yet nothing too monumental happened…Its just strange how when you work a job it totally dictates your life, granted we were working 10 to 12 hour days 6 days a week. There were some triumphs and failures at work but for the most part things went pretty smooth. Obviously it was BORING!  We were glad when it was over but proud of ourselves for making some dollars and making some new work friends. One of the Highlights was a mountain top Music festival that we went to with some new friends we made at work. It was a wonderful taste of creativity, laughter, dancing to amazing tunes, and great vibes. Definitely our scene and more “real world” to us, outside of the wilderness.

We had a week between the baseball gig ending and the new catering gig starting so Fred and I went up to a National Forest, Canyon Lake and Lake Pleasant. Both were super beautiful: the damn-made lake, winded through towering rock formation in high elevation, there was great hiking, and pretty sunsets. We had such great days! Woke up, do some yoga up on a high rock and then go off trail for hours and hours. The desert was in full bloom with flowers or every color, shape, and size. We hiked for hours until we got to impressive look out points and decided we could go no further.

After the baseball gig ended we worked with the same catering company at a huge country music festival still in Arizona. It was only five days of work (in which Fred was pulling 14 hour days) cooking and serving food to the V.I.P guests. Never in my life have I been right in the midst of so many hicks! Everything was drinking, drinking, drinking, girls, and trucks! No lie! A couple of nights Fred and I went out with our work crew to watch the bands. The bands were not very good –only singing about partying and machinerary and all the whole audience of 40,000 paid hardly any attention to the performer. They were all too drunk. I mean, really, really drunk. Acting ridiculous –it was funny but Fred and I felt like fish out of water, especially Fred with “hippie” written all over him; tie-dyed, barefoot with dreads and short Rugby shorts.

One day our coworkers put Fred up to dressing like a girl and walking around the show all night long and he did it! He put on my tiny little Daisy Duke shorts (to my horror they fit him perfectly) and he wore a flannel in slut fashion, exposing his midriff, I put his dreads in pig tails, and a girl from work let him borrow a cow girl hat! Completely hysterical!

Fred sure fooled the cowboys! As we pushed through the crowd men were asking each other if that was a dude they just saw. And while we were dancing together a drunk guy behind relished in his good fortune of seeing to lesbians dance together, “oh yea!” he kept screaming. Another drunk cow boy started dancing with us, taking turns twirling around, when Fred tried to twirl him around the guy fell right on his face and looked up at Fred with drunken horror! We almost died of laughter that night! Plus, he made $40 from the people at work for actually doing it!

Coming from hippie world, to rich baseball player world, to hick world sure cause whip lash! But you make the most out of it, and it was fun, definitely makes Fred and I both very proud of whom we are, the path we have chosen to follow, and our morals!

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Did You Have Your Flu Shot Today, Young People?

Nick and Serena hooked us up with a catering business they worked for that was doing a seven week gig providing food to Chicago White Sox and L.A Dodgers in Phoenix, Arizona. We rented a room from a guy off craigslist.

First off, house life was a refreshing change from camp life. It had an actual bed that was ridiculously comfortable, a refrigerator (which means ice cream, hooray!), and when you cooked food you didn’t reek of smoke days after. But house life always came with inevitable weirdness. For starters the 56 year old man who owned the house didn’t work and simply watched daytime talk shows all day, and at night watched middle school dramas. And another 60 something guy who was renting the room right next to us would bring homeless girls back to the house late at night and I’d wake up to violent love screams –charming. Every minute I was in that house I felt like the two guys were always checking me out, I’d look back at them and they’d have their heads turned in my direction nodding and smiling at each other. Plus the other renter smoked cigarettes in the house. As a result of all of this Fred and I joined a climbing gym, went to the park, and played at a trampoline gym after work hours.

The smoker renter moved out. It was just Fred, the owner, and I living as a family. One day Fred and I were just sitting in our little room doing not much of anything when a 79 year old man suddenly appeared in the doorway. He just stared at us, his hands out reached towards us like he was telling a story. Fred got up and said hello and shook the guys hand to wake him out of his suspended stupor. We heard the owner of the house call “Oh that is Hans, bye I am going to the gym!”

Okay so this random senile old man was Hans. We learned he wasn’t just kind of weird and old, but also incredibly drunk. We took care of him the whole night, not really knowing who this guy was or what he was doing in our house. Fred made us all tea and we sat with our new, stranger, friend as he told us bilidgerant drunken slurs in his thick German accent about how he was a professional soccer player, he cheated on all the women in his life,we will go to Germany by way of U-boat, and of course that he really enjoys drinking –or having a flu shot, as he called it. He was hilarious and eccentric –“please don’t mind my sense of humor” he’d said over and over. He and I sat on the couch together and he told me repeatedly  while grabbing my shoulder with his gimp mangled hand that he would not molest me, of course that made me feel so much better. Whenever Fred gave him playful attitude he would yell jokingly, that he was going to “beat the shit out of you, young man!”

Don’t get me wrong, he was a great, funny, and wildly entertaining man but he was crazy, senile, and a really bad alcoholic. He moved into the spare room within a few days and didn’t move from the couch all day where he watched old westerns. Somehow he thought Fred and I were like his butlers or something. Always telling us what he wanted to eat and when he had laundry that needed to be done. We never waited on him like he wanted and he’d pout when he saw we didn’t make a plate of dinner for him. Good thing we’d eat steamed kale and peas for dinner or he might had stolen our plate! “You go eat your rabbit food!” he’d say.

Hans never knew our names even though he stayed there for a couple weeks. He would only ever call Fred “young man” and I was always “his wife” even though we told him we weren’t married.

He was certainly a character never to forget! And despite his craziness and drinking we loved him and we always quote his infamous rattling’s –you know how drunk people are; saying the same thing again and again.

He left our life much like he entered. We came home from work one day to a Hans free house, no western movies on the t.v. The owner of the house explained that Hans’s girlfriend decided to take him back into her house if he quit drinking. Of course old habits die hard and we got a call from her that night that he was laying in the back yard, refusing to come into the house until she bought him alcohol.

Pretty amazing the people that drift in and out of your life.

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Javier!

One night, after selling scooters, a great meal, and round of laughs with Christopher and Grace I had an epic dream. A dream so real and vibrant it needs recognition just like any other momentous occasion.

Okay, it’s kind of long, but here goes:

Fred and I are at some beach at night time looking at the stars –just like real life. And I’m just amazed at how much the stars are twinkling, “I mean wow they are really twinkling like glitter this is crazy I have never seen stars like this! Look how the shimmer!” I say. Fred’s nodding his head like, yes they are incredible, honey. Then suddenly all the twinkling stars turn into a heard of flying Pelicans! All of the Pelicans fly into a straight line and lean back, slowing flapping so that their stomachs are facing and lit up by the giant full moon. I’m so taken aback just all freaked out and confused but really happy by what is happening. I tell Fred over and over, “look! Look!” after a moment the Pelicans see me watching  them and they all fly down to the sand and morph into seven people –right in front of my very eyes! I’m totally dumbfounded and the people say hello and what’s up and start telling us their names. I can only remember one girl’s name, Maria and the man in the center, who seemed to be the leader, Javier. I ask them how in the world they could possibly be the stars, Pelicans, and people –they all kind of chuckled and Javier tells me, “oh we can be anything it doesn’t really matter it’s just a physical form.” I’m totally astonished, floored, and I feel that I really like these people a lot –especially Javier. Javier goes on to tell Fred and I in a super causal, want to order a pizza, kind of way that whenever we want we can hang out with them, be with them, be anything we want to with them. “Whenever we want?!” Yup, any time.

As dreams play out, suddenly I’m in this house under remodeling. In the garage I am by myself and looking around wondering where I am, I find a staircase and see Javier painting a wall and listening to the radio. I don’t remember what, but I walk up and we start talking about something when I notice a man with a gun at the bottom of the stairs giving me a bad look. I’m pretty sure it was one of the military guys from Guatemala, I get all paranoid and scared like I’m not supposed to be there and he’s mad. But Javier tells the guy not to worry and that I’m with him and it’s all cool –phew, I think. I asked who the guard was and Javier told me that he just guards this house and I’m all good to be there and that the only purpose for the guard being there is just keep bad people out.

Poof! Now I’m in the pool of this waterfall (I think it was Big Rock Falls in Belize) with Fred, Valerie, and P.L, our French hitch hiking friends we met in Texas and took to Mexico. It is night time and we are all swimming around and I tell them all that I had this incredible dream with a guy named Javier (a dream within a dream, I love it!) and they all nod and tell me that yes they had same dream. I’m jubilant, so happy that we all had the same dream. Then all four of us rise up out of the water, suspended in air looking at all the stars. Out of nowhere comes a super strong warm wind that gushes us with glitter. And there’s just glitter everywhere shining in the moon light flying all around us and we are all so incredibly happy.

Then I wake up.

My whole body was tingling head to foot and I awoke with such a jolt, with an unbelievable amount of energy –I mean I felt like I could run a marathon. I pushed Fred awake and asked him repeatedly if he had the same dream I had, I was so sure he had. “Um I don’t think so,” he said, apparently he had some dumb and random dream about being back in high school. I told him right then and there about my wonderful dream, talking a mile a minute and saying over and over again, “it was so amazing!” He slipped back to sleep within seconds of the ending, but I had this immense surge of energy. I wanted to go to jumping jacks in the night outside and race around the desert –plus, I really had to pee. But I had this very deep notion that I could not leave the tent. Like my body wouldn’t let myself unzip the zipper and leave. No, I had to stay in the tent no matter what; I could absolutely not leave the tent. It was so weird, but I knew I just had to sit and feel all this energy, alertness, and overall feeling of bliss that seemed to be doing the Macarena in each of my cells.

Clearly the best dream ever. I’ve speculated that maybe I went to some other plain of existence or spirit world, or just somewhere otherworldly and magical. Also I considered it was just a great dream since it involved places and things I have seen. Additionally it could just be a big imagination running wild while my consciousness snoozed.

I really don’t care because it was marvelous! One thing for sure –something no one can talk me out of- is that I am 100% now fully aware that I have a constant, protective, super cool and casual, powerful guardian angel. Whom my sub conscious has decided to call Javier.

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That’s how Arizona happened

The farm in Texas was still as weird as when we left it –the guy is awesome and we love him deeply but it was clear that we needed a plan to leave. Plus, it was cold and wouldn’t stop drizzling; a big deal when your living in a tent with no actual shelter to spend the rainy day in. We spent our time in the hilbilly hot tub that we modified. it was an old woodfired water heater with a pipe directly feeding into a 100 galon horse trough. Oh Yeah, best bath tub possible, palm trees and fresh tropical fruit, making the most out of the colder American Winter days.  So we decided to go to New Mexico, where we’d thought it’d be warm. Boy, were we wrong! We got to the middle of New Mexico by nightfall and set up camp at a rest area. Coming from Mexico where it was hot and sunny, we had no blankets or coats, or anything very warm. We layered up! My teeth were still chattering with three pairs of pants on, two t-shirts, two longsleeves, and a hoodie on! To make matters worse we  had gorged out on giant sized ice cream earlier in the day and it made me really sick. I spent the night outside the tent in the desert wind puking my brains out and shivering, it was 15 degrees.

We stumbled upon a site in New Mexico called City of Rocks which was really cool. It’s a valley of very oddly shaped rocks that seem very out of place and we almost sprang the cash to go to natural hot springs but decided against it. We were dead set on going to warmer grounds; I couldn’t take another 15 degree night.

And that is how Arizona happened

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Our first day in sunny, mountainous Arizona was spent at the Saguaro National Park. The park is actually in our 1,001 Place to See book that started this whole grand adventure. Of course, Fred looked at the trail map and picked most epic hike, an 8 hour, what turned out to be 12 mile, hike. Let me tell you, nearly a week of consistent car-life, a roller coaster diet, and the satisfying but heavy exhaustion traveling to foreign lands brings, sure did a number on our muscles! The hike was remarkable, we’ve never seen the giant Saguaro cactus’s before and we learned that ones that are as tall as us were about 50 years old, they start sprouting the iconic arms when they are 75 years old, and begin to die off after 200 years. That old! And their everywhere, guarding the rocky sun tan mountains. Wow –we were so impressed! We made it to the peak in five hours, but had to run most the way down the mountain because it was getting dark . Always an adventure. We made it to another area with ancient petroglyphs carved by Native Americans  and watched an amazing desert sunset.

Flash back to the summer prior, back in Michigan: we met a couple and their dog, Serena, Nick, and Yotey, in the woods at the sand dunes, while we were out on a hike one day. We got to talking and found out they had been traveling for three years; doing basically exactly what we wanted to do. So I got their names and made contact with them on facebook.

So after our epic hike amongst the ancient Saguaros I saw on facebook that Serena posted that she and Nick were also in Tucson, Arizona! I got her number and they gave us directions to BLM land –public land that every citizen owns (whether or not you are aware of it) and can freely live on for two weeks at a time. Awesome! Nothing is better than free, sketch-less camping. Nick and Serena, and their fellow snow bird, Willard invited us right into their little community. We did breakfasts, dinners, and hikes together with lots of travel story swapping. Days were slow but very enjoyable with good company and beautiful landscape. The desert is full of surprises; some beautiful,many pokey, and always mind blowing.

We explored another side of the Saguaro National Park, where the even larger Saguaro cacti dwell! Our next destination was Quartzsite, Arizona where there was a giant gem and mineral show every year.It was actually Nick and Serena who told us of the one in Tucson and the Honey Bus from Mexico whom informed us about Quartzsite, a more family, community, and camping far from the city atmosphere–and Fred was super into it. So we packed up our camp and went into the dry, desolate part of the desert.

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Belize Pictures!

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3 Days of Car Life

So we started driving –realized we didn’t have enough Belize money to buy gas, or American money to buy gas to get back to Mexico. We had plenty of Pecos but no gas station wanted Mexican money. So Fred asked a tourist family for some money and they gave us 5 Belize dollars, and we found every penny we had buried in the car. The guys at the Belize military check points told us we were crazy and wished us good luck.

We barley spoke a word during that couple hour car ride (very unlike us) –so paranoid that we were literally going to have to push the car over the border and to a gas station. I prayed the whole time and vowed to Fred and to God that next time I decide to travel to a foreign country I will actually do some research before I find myself in the middle of it, asking people for money and directions. Live and learn.

We passed the border into Mexico, the gas needle under E with the light on. Our guardian angels seriously put in some hefty overtime hours! It felt so good to be back in Mexico; where things are affordable and anything goes. We bought a whole bunch of fruit for our trip home –originally we decided we’d take our time going back to the states, seeing more of Mexico. But once we got moving this intensity to get back to the United States over took us. We drove all day and well into the night, only stopping for gas and fruit and the occasional carne tostada.

When we were coming into Mexico we went to this tiny restaurant with the French-Canadian hitch hikers, Valerie and P.L, one night. Fred was dead set on going back to that restaurant for a final Mexican feast. Seriously all the restaurants in Mexico are basically the same: tacos, tostados, café, etc. And their all small family owned joints who all use the same ingredients bought from the same stores but oh no, we had to find that one nameless restaurant from that one day over three weeks ago. This is my partner, got to love him! After a trying half hour out of our way to the small town we were before, and then another 20 minutes to find that nameless joint we learned it was closed. On the road again. We drove nonstop for three straight days! Sleeping in somewhat sketchy places; just pulled off the mangled roads and slept by the car.

Getting into Mexico, no problem, coming back to America…WHAM! Huge lines and tedious existing and entering ridiculousness. Did I mention we were out of Mexican money and were below E again? Yup just barley made it by the seat of our britches yet again. And waiting in a huge slow moving line back into our country. So we cross the border finally and of course they have to search our car. So we go through the process of taking everything out of car which really isn’t that big a deal. Then we ask” So were do we return our mexican car registration for our deposit?” See, when you enter Mexico you have to pay a $300 car fee that they give back to you when you leave so you don’t sell cars in Mexico but of course when getting your passport stamped to leave Mexico no one says, “hey would you like your money back?” American military told us we crossed at the wrong border and had to go back to Mexico and then exist again to get the money. NO, we were so close!!!! Another line in, another line to get the money, another line back into America. I was so certain we were really going to have to push the car over the border but we made it back into America. When you cross through borders there is a system. Kinda like a toll booth, you pull up to a gate, and at random a light either flashes green, opening the gate, or red, directing you to pull over to be searched. We had managed to get a green light every single time… until this time, when we wouldn’t have even been there if we hadn’t mad the mistake. Problem was, they had to check our car again –with new military people. Stressed and homesick, Fred tried to explain that we just did this whole process twenty minutes ago but of course we had to take every single thing out of the car yet again. And they made us through the potatoes we grew in Michigan away! That really pissed Fred off since the first time we went through they didn’t say anything, and we had reached that point, after hours of customs and communicating in broken espanol. We had been driving the insane Mexican roads for three days, living off fruit, and just wanted to talk to our parents. At the border they make you sit super far away from your car while they search through all your stuff, it’s funny now, but at that time we were so angry at the situation and were quietly yelling at each other to “chill out” while trying to be calm in front of the people with badges, guns and handcuffs.

But we got through it, as we always do; when one of us is weak the other rises, we take turns having melt downs and then we bring each other back to a good level. The cool thing about it happened when we were finally cleared on the Mexican side.  Dressed from head to toe in camouflage, with assault rifle slung over shoulder, a military guard whistled Fred over. In broken communication of english and spanish, they chatted about the adventure. This man was stationed at one of the numerous military stops a thousand miles away and recognized us and our car. He was very excited that we had a good trip and glad that we appreciated the country and culture. Of all the people and all places… very serendipitous. We generally got along at all of the military stops. After asking “despacio porfavor(slowly please), no hablo mucho espaniol.” They usually chuckled and thought we were a couple of locos, admiring the art on the car and waving us through friendly. The laughed, shook hands, and we were on our way. “ADIOS AMIGOS!”

We called the crazy farmer in Texas where we had stayed before and he was super psyched to welcome us back and get our feet back on the ground. We went to the store and bought an insane amount of food, even items we never buy: nacho chips, salami, ice cream, cookies, hot dogs(grass fed of course), and much more. Just being able to read labels and have those familiar brands was amazing. Even though we were in a mostly Mexican inhabited area, English was widely spoken! I will never take simple communication for granted again. And we got to call our parents and have long conversations! It was heavenly! Our great Mexican-Belize (and one bad day in Guatemala) adventure completed! Awesome, we did it and it was amazing. Everyone was so freaked out about us going to Mexico and what not, but honestly the people were nothing but kind and fun. We never got messed with or got any bad vibes. Thousands of Americans travel to Mexico every day, but on the news you only hear about the one guy or gal who got in a pickle. It’s really unfortunate that our society hears only the bad and that’s what they believe without trying to experience it for themselves. Seriously, you can always be in the wrong place at the wrong time but that fact didn’t stop up from adventuring – and it was freaking amazing! IMG_2885 IMG_2891

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