There were no signs of the wild dogs we had seen yesterday. Chris and I brushed our teeth and washed our faces at Denny’s. They have a lovely bathroom by the way :D We stopped at a local supermarket. The town of Tuba was a run down Native American populated town in the middle of Arizona. There was one beggar outside the grocery store. When he asked me for money, I offered him food and gave him soup and a few granola bars. As soon as I did this, two more people came over to me asking for food as well. Seeing the pattern, I knew I couldn’t keep giving out food. It made me wonder how money could come into this stop, gas, and go town.
We made a quick granola and almond milk breakfast and started driving. Our destination was the Petrified Forest National Park. We drove through lots of flat land and managed to arrive in the early afternoon. Chris and I sat through a quick introduction video to the park in the information center and then went and explored. The process of a tree becoming petrified wood was interesting. A tree would fall into a river and get stuck under the sand bank, sealing it off from oxygen. Minerals from the sand would then replace the cells of the tree, while still maintaing its bark texture. After thousands of years of this process, the tree would eventual turn into a rock with a variety of colors based on the mineral it was surrounded by. To be honest, this was one of the more bland national parks I have seen. It was relatively flat compared to Zion and Bryce Canyon and there really wasn’t to much besides rocks and a few hieroglyphics. While the sun was setting at the look out points, Chris and I stopped to meditate and soak up the moment.
It turns out we were on the old Route 66 route, which had been a pinnacle road for the United States to travel coast to coast.
We drove out of the park and continued towards our first city in our survey, Santa Fe. It was getting dark quickly so I pulled off a side road from the highway. Chris and I bought chicken legs for that night and we pulled out of mini BBQ. We grilled the legs in a vinaigrette, cajun marinate and had a garlic broccoli and rice on the side. IT WAS DELICIOUS! One of the few really satisfying meals we had on the road. Of course we pulled out some marshmellows later on to take advantage of the “small” fire we created. It was a nice being under the stars with a full belly and a day of good travelling.
Chris and I woke up behind a motel in Kanab parked next to the dumpster. It was classier than it sounds. I pulled out the fresh farm eggs we had gotten from John and Rhonda and made scrambled eggs and turkey bacon in the parking lot. Taking advantage of our rare access to the internet, I had to check my Facebook one more time before hitting the road.
Along our way through the red desert of next to the Grand Canyon, a French couple driving ahead of us had to pull off the side of the road. They had hit a pot hole in the road and their front bumper ripped off, but was barely hanging on. I pulled off the road next to them and pulled out my favorite tool: neon green duct tape. Within a few minutes their bumper was reattached and looking better than ever with green tape stripes on the side of their car. In return, the French couple bought Chris and I a drink at the local restaurant. They were travellers like ourselves and had spent 3 weeks traveling around the west coast. Their next destination was the Petrified Forest National Park. We decided that we would make this a destination in our journey too.
Saying our thanks you’s and goodbyes, we drove to Lee’s Ferry Campground, next to the northern point of the Grand Canyon National Park. This was right next to the Colorado River so we had to jump into the water. We quickly learned that we should have had a wetsuit! The water was nearly freezing! It was a short experience in the water, but we got to lay out in the sun and watch white water rafters practice for the teaching licenses.
Enjoying the sun and water, the sun began to set and we decided to continue to the next town to find a place to sleep. We managed to drive until 10:30pm, which took us to the Native American populated town of Tuba. This time a Denny’s was home for the night. Chris and I set up our beds and decided to watch a movie before going to bed. One hour into the movie we heard barking outside our car and thought someone was there about to kick us out of our location… worse. I looked out from behind our curtains to see a pack of wild dogs! The alpha dog looked like some sort of a pitbull descendant and was thick with muscle. That means this guy was finding food somewhere! With some bad luck Chris and I both really had go to the bathroom. So when the dogs had finally gone a block away one of us kept lookout while the other went over to a bush. We were like a tactical bathroom team.
Happy to not be sleeping in a tent, we went to sleep in our beautiful RV as the wild dogs howled us to sleep :)
Bryce Canyon National Park opened at 8:00am so we made sure to be one of the first people there since we would drive towards the Grand Canyon that same day. The view was stunning. The rock formations formed pillars of earth, also known as Hoodoos, that made up this large canyon. The Paiute Native Americans believes that the hoodoos were the Legend People whom the trickster Coyote turned to stone.
Chris and I walked along the ridge and reach the largest Inspiration Point that overlooked the valley. We walked along the a small outstretched cliff and sat with our feet hanging off. There was something liberating about having such beauty and vastness be around you. A few Chinese tourists at the lookout point walking area took pictures of us on this ledge entertained by our risk.
We continued to Bryce point for another great view and took a moment to mediate there. When you take the time to calm yourself in such a surrounding and open your eyes again, it is like looking through a different perspective. I highly recommend it when you get a chance to enjoy the beauty of nature. Here is a short guide intro on how to mediate. I would test it 5 minutes your first time.
Chris and I decided to hitchhike back to where our RV, “Bucket”, was parked since most of the park’s paths were closed and met a friendly German couple who took us along. We drove towards Grand Canyon until Chris noticed this dome shaped house on our right. We decided to take the exit and see who lived there. A man named John and his wife Rhonda lived there. John was a permaculture farmer on his 20 acres of land. Permaculture is a method of agriculture based on the natural patterns and relationships found in nature. For example, John would have his cows eat the grass on a small quadrant of grass and then move them each day to preserve the grass. 3 days later he would release chickens on that same quadrant, which would feed on the fly larva found in the cows poop. The chickens would be fed and the cows would avoid the problematic flies as a result.
John spent 4 hours telling us about his 100% recycled, solar-powered farm and showing us everything from his dome house to his chicken coupe. He was extremely well read with shelves of books about permaculture, but also philosophy. He taught me one very important principle: “Society is far from perfect, but I believe that you should not try to change society. If you truly want to create change, create an example of the society you wish to see.” Once John completes his permaculture system, he plans to open a school to teach his perfected method to self-sustainable agriculture. His wife Rhonda gave us some of the best damn eggs and vegetables I have ever tasted. Thank you!!!
After a packed day, Chris and I continued on our journey and stopped in a town called Kanab. We talked a lady at the gas station who helped us find some free wifi at a motel. So we parked behind the motel and tapped in to send out some of our first posts on Facebook since our journey had started. We fell asleep satisfied from a nature and education filled day.
Chris and I said our goodbyes to Ray and Gooseberry Mesa to set out on the road to Zion National Park. We took another narrow, rough, dirt path the local town nearby. We stopped at a grocery store right before the park where a person could buy a small box a granola bars for $7. How unexpected being the only grocery store in town ;)
With a little dent in our wallets, we entered Zion National Park. The mountains rose on either side of us as we entered. Stopping at the only campsite in the park, the camp host showed us to a beautiful little spot by a creek. We immediately popped out and wandered along the stream jumping from rock to rock. Some friendly next-door neighbors invited us over for dinner where we got to learn about their Mormon faith and personal backgrounds and we surveyed them for our happiness survey.
The next day we got to know another neighbor of ours named Bill. Bill was a 68 year-old, former nurse from Wisconsin who is traveling arohttp://www.happiness101.net/wp-admin/edit-tags.php?taxonomy=categoryund in his turquoise, custom, 15ft Toyota RV. We invited him to join us on our hike to Angel’s Landing and he gladly joined us. Angel’s Landing was one of the most beautiful and dangerous hikes that I have ever done. The first 4/5th of the mountain was climbing paved path. The last 1/5th was a grueling upward climb with a small metal chain attached to the wall to hang onto. People were coming up and down this narrow way where there was almost always one side of you exposed to a steep drop. 5 people have died climbing Angel’s Landing, which was a crazy thought when climbing up and seeing 12 year-old kids climbing it. It was all worth it once we all reached the top. The view was the most stunning natures I have seen in my life. Chris, Bill, and I just sat down to absorb it all in.
Throughout that climb we got to know more and more about Bill and his thoughts on life. His life was mislead by drugs, but over the years he managed to rebuild his relationship with his family and himself. Bill’s mantra for happiness is to be radically honest to others and yourself. ALWAYS tell the truth. Not only did he keep up with us on the hike at 68, but he added to our experience sharing his philosophy and advice. Thank you Bill for sharing so much with us.
Chris and I left Zion National Park in appreciation and made our way that night to Bryce Canyon National Park. We camped in a random parking lot next to Bryce since it was closed by the time we got there. It was a quite night by the road with a feeling of success felt in our bodies and hearts.
The night had been long and cold. My toes feet were ice blocks in the cheap $30 sleeping back I bought at DICK’s. Chris didn’t sleep much better. We began our morning with some yoga, taking advantage of the beautiful view we had by the cliff of the mesa. Breakfast followed with yogurt and granola. Except when Chris dished up the yogurt, it had completely froze over the night. I never had fro-yo for breakfast, but I was pleasantly surprised. Ray stopped by soon after to join us on our biking adventure in Gooseberry Mesa that day.
I turned on my GoPro camera, attached to my helmet, and the three of us set off on a trail. At certain points the trail would venture 2-3 feet from the edge of the 500ft mesa. We rode on dirt paths, over boulders and between them, and along ridges. I felt like a kid in a giant playground jumping off rocks and maneuvering around them. Chris, Ray, and I would venture to the edge of the mesa to dangle our legs off and look out at nature’s abundant beauty. Many pictures and videos were taken. Ray was a seasoned mountain biker and had no problems keeping up with us on this 5 1/2 hour ride.
Once Chris and I got back, a camping neighbor got their car stuck on a raised rock and needed to be towed. Chris stepped to action, while “Bucket” and I did the towing to free this car again. Sweaty after the long ride, Chris and I needed to clean ourselves up. In the 55f (13c) degree weather, I decided it was time to have my first sponge bath. The check list: bowl of soapy water and a rag. Yes, it was cold, but very effective. We laughed at each other’s momentary discomfort and wrapped up in fresh clothes.
We cooked dinner for Ray and ourselves and chatted until the fire burned out and it was time for bed. Aware of the cold, we prepared for sleep with 2 layers of socks, sweatpants, a shirt and sweater, a beanie, wrapped like a burrito with a blanket, slipped into our sleeping bags, and our feet wrapped in another blanket. It helped :)
I woke up feeling relaxed and unaware of where I was with all the curtains covering the windows. Remembering that Chris and I had parked “Bucket” in a random place on the highway, I quickly got up to look outside and see where we were. I opened the side door to step out into a crystal blue day. Red mountains ranged all around us and there was nothing, but the road beside us and nature. We breathed in the fresh mountain air. It was the perfect beginning to our adventure.
We drove into town to pick up some last food supplies and then went to a bike shop to repair the wheels on one of our bikes. The store was called ‘Over the Edge‘ and a man by the name of Clayton helped us change the tire. Chris and I both had a rough memories of changing a bike tire so 30 minutes later and a tire still on the bike, we decided to ask for help. Clayton happily helped us and lent us some tools. Not too long after, our bike was back in shape and set loaded back on the bike rack.
I asked for directions to Gooseberry Mesa and we were led to the entrance of a rough dirt path. “Bucket” took a little beating bouncing around, but taking it slow and with encouragement from Chris and I, he proved his strength. We reached a map station where we met a man named Ray. A 60 year-old, retired elementary teacher from Canada. Ray showed us the best camp spot that over looked the valley. It was a stunning view. By the time we set up camp it was already 4pm so we decided to take to walk around a little and take it easy. Ray joined us later around a small fire we made and we talked under the thousands of stars that were out that night.
We went to sleep with food in our bellies and awed by the beauty of our first destination. It was weird for both of us to have been working for the past year with school, internships, tech business, and preparing for this road trip and to come to this point and have an abundance of time. We also had not internet so no Facebook or emailing! Imagine the dilemma :) Tomorrow the biking begins!
Today Chris and I woke at the break of dawn in Palm Desert. A beautiful sun rose behind the mountains and amongst the clouds as we packed our last belongings together. My parents and Grandma woke up to say their goodbyes as we started the engine of our RV called “Bucket” (The Bucket List) and drove away. We drove 11 hours, which took us back towards Los Angeles, through Las Vegas, and into a town called Hurricane. (The weather was fine!) 3,248 ft above sea level, we passed red mountains and plenty of Walmarts.
When we arrived in Hurricane and our goal was a place called Gooseberry Mesa, a famous mountain biking and camping area right before Zion National Park. The sun had already set and the night had come. Not able to find the mesa camp site nor another Walmart, we pulled off the side of the highway and prepared our beds. It was our first night and we did not know where we were and it was very cold.
Chris and I had been thinking about this moment for the past 2 years. There was so much I wondered about what we would face and the people we will be by the end of this. We went to sleep with uncertainty, but with a great feeling of independence.
A documentary about a man who impersonates a wise Indian Guru and builds a following in Arizona. At the height of his popularity, the Guru Kumaré must reveal his true identity to his disciples and unveil his greatest teaching of all.
Winner of the Audience Award for Best Documentary at SXSW 2011.
1. Short-Term Happiness
– everyone knows that type of happiness, it’s the one that grants us immediate gratification but doesn’t last very long: the next piece of chocolate, the next coffee, the next time you have sex (uups did I say that?!) 2. Flow
– according to Csikszentmihalyi flow is a state in which we are so immersed in the task we’re doing that we forget about our surroundings, athletes also call that “to be in the zone” 3. Purpose
– this one is the longest lasting type of happiness, if we have a sense of ultimate purpose it gives us a meaning and makes us feel significant.
[HOW THESE 3 TYPES APPLY TO TRAVEL]
1. Short-Term Happiness applied to travel
In my opinion there are a lot of little situations that make you feel happy. It might be the thrill of skydive or just enjoying a piece of chocolate when there’s not any food left. Other situations are, being on top of a mountain and enjoying the view or just driving on an empty road.
2. Flow applied to travel
In travel there are lots of situations/challenges in which you are fully present and immersed in what you are doing. It might be asking people for the way, walking on a trail you’ve never been before or building a tent. These are all things that make me forget about the future and the past – I am fully present/alive.
3. Purpose applied to travel
Well I think there’s not much I need to say about here. Your travel always have one single purpose: to feel alive & connected. This urge to feel alive & connected makes you spend all this money and efforts for travelling.
Now you know why travel is a short-cut to happiness and can help us all to learn more about ourselves, connect with one another and grow personally.