Warm regards, quite literally!

It’s been absolutely hot as hell in Fresno for the last month, over 100F pretty much every day. So I decided, what better way to celebrate this than to drive to an equally hot desert location?

I talk a big game about my favorite place, so much so that I wrangled some friends, old and new, to accompany me there to partake in some dusty antics. The drive East from Fresno took us about 15 hours to make, all told, with a stop in Flagstaff to regroup with the homies, and a few stops on the way up.

This kicked off a grueling few days with little to no sleep, too. Traveling! Worth it, but hard on the body. I saw quite a few sunrises over this long weekend. Thankfully, we refueled with Food! Water! Atmosphere! At the Toasted Owl Café in Flagstaff before continuing northward.

The drive up from Flagstaff is pretty barren, with a few notable points of interest. I’ve driven this road a zillion times this year, but finally had the encouragement of someone else with me to be like, “Whoa! Look at that! Let’s stop!” Indeed, traveling on my own, I usually focus on the end destination, and disallow myself from living in the moment, at times. I very much appreciated the encouragement from others to try something new. There’s a bunch of graffitied and reclaimed spaces off of highways 89 and 160, and after gazing longingly at them for months, I was glad to stop and catch a closer look.

On the way up, we passed through Monument Valley, and also impulse stopped at Goosenecks State Park again, because I was like, “Oh! You’d love this!” And it was a worthwhile stop just off the road up.

Maps also took me up the horrifying switchback portion of 261 again, which I’ve just learned is called the Moki Dugway.

We made a quick stop at Natural Bridges National Monument, and viewed a few of the land bridges there. I absolutely love this national monument, it’s absolutely one of the most impressive and expansive ones I’ve had the privilege to visit this year. I definitely want to return and hike around the whole place when it’s cooler.

One quick stop at Newspaper Rock at sunset, and then a late slog to the campsite to set up and eat after dark, and then we all passed the fuck out. It was a late night, but also 100% worth it to check out the milky way in a hammock under the stars.

There’s not much better than waking up at a campsite in your favorite place and seeing someone making you breakfast.

We awoke early to hike and avoid the 100F+ heat, and arrived to Arches National Park at 8am on a Friday, which had already closed due to overcrowding! The national parks have been absolutely jam packed over this and last year, in my experiences. I couldn’t believe the park had filled up so soon, and was pretty bummed. But we reconfigured, and landed at the hike to Corona Arch off of Potash road, which was nearby.

It was really nice to make this hike with company, and to see it through the new eyes of others.

After this hike, we swung back over to Arches, and did a few of the low-impact, sightseeing hikes around the park, and checked out balanced rock, the windows, and double arch.

That evening, we made it out to Canyonlands National Park, and checked out grand view and upheaval dome.

We dragged our exhausted asses back into town and went to bed early with intentions of rising even earlier the following day to actually gain admission into Arches to complete the delicate arch hike. And it worked! We got into the park just after sunrise, and even then, parking was near impossible to come by at this hike. Even so, it worked out, and despite being sweaty and exhausted, I got great pleasure out of enjoying this magnificent vista with others.

I also clambered up to twisted donut arch, where you can see delicate a ways off. An arch through an arch!

Exhausted, we all jetted to the Moab Diner to cram our faces with various breakfast foods that I was too busy eating to photograph. But I did get ice cream with breakfast.

We did some driving around Castle Valley before getting lost and being like “Where the hell is the castle?!” And then upon doubling back, maybe (?) found it.

I found I was so tired after this that I just pulled over on the side of 191 to sleep in the air conditioned car. Wonderful.

We woke up hungry as hell and hit up El Charro Loco, there enjoying a boatload of chips and salsa as well as some chiles rellenos. Then caught the sunset at Sand Flats.

It always feels hard to leave Moab! Look at this campsite! I could stay there forever, even though it was like 110F.

But leave we did. We stopped in at Gloria’s Corner Cafe, where they had a DJ playing EDM at breakfast?? What an experience. I love eating, and jamming out, so, awesome.

It was a long ass drive back into Fresno. We pulled another all-nighter to make it. Driving through Utah was absolutely gorgeous, and we also made a stop at the Kolob Canyon side of Zion for a quick drive through.

I’m exhausted. I’ve since caught up on sleep, but dude, I’m so done with driving for a little while.

It was so great to get out and experience things with others for a change. And this also reinvigorated my desire to return home, one of my favorite parts of traveling. I have loved ones there waiting for me.

During this experience, I made space to allow myself to feel so much gratitude. I love my friends. I love the fact that I get to spend my time working in a job that I can look forward to. I love that I have the privilege and ability to travel. I love taking care of myself and my body. I love sharing with others. I love the outdoors!!!

My time traveling over these last few months has been humbling and contributed to my self development in ways I’m still determining. I’m hoping to make this next month be even better in that regard.