Well hello there.

It’s been a little while since you’ve heard from me, which was my doing. I came home last summer and crashed, taking a much-needed break and partaking in local festivities and camping to soothe the soul.

I’d ventured out a bit in the early fall, but promptly returned home due to a stressful situation with a friend.

I had really looked forward to traveling at that time, but found that situation to be so stressful that it sapped all of my energy and will to explore. Which leads me to a fundamental truth: it’s ok to go home if you’re not feeling it. I’d bought in to the sunk cost of the dreams and desires I had for that trip, yes, but ultimately I gave myself permission to return home and rest. And so I did, for nearly six months.

This time was restful and clarifying for me: I invested in myself and in work, I watered my plants diligently, drank a lot of tea, cooked a shitload, went to a trillion doctor appointments (found out my jaw joints are disintegrating yay), and engaged in many cozy moments and close friendships. I also cooked and ate a shitload and gained ten pounds, but that’s what you do in the winter, right??

And a time came when I felt ready to venture out again. The desire came upon me slowly, as I was hesitant after the last time, and had grown comfy at home. But, I wanted to recapture just a little bit of exploration and the joy of feeling sunlight on my face, after a long, cozy winter season.

So I made a plan to hit the favorite spots, and be out for just a month or two. Having a shorter period of time away to anticipate makes this feel more possible, somehow. I miss my home (mainly my spice cabinet) already. But I know I’ll be back soon. (After all, yellowcard is doing a tour this summer and I have to go like a million times if possible.)

I left home, musing that I could visit Louisiana as it’s one of the few states I’d not yet seen. However, the weather was NOT cooperative, predicting heavy rain for the two days I’d be there. So I chose a bit more northern route, across Arkansas, Oklahoma, and the Texas panhandle, settling in the southwest: Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona being the destination.

I stopped at Texas Tavern in Virginia, and I’d heard of it because of its history and low prices. I grabbed some cheap, mediocre food which really hit the spot. I kept going and made another short stop in Nashville, grabbing a coffee and a donut from Five Daughters Bakery, which had come highly recommended from a friend. Holy shit. I got two donuts from there and a cookie and no joke, I already am planning my trip back. Usually I feel like donuts are hit-or-miss as I dislike yeast donuts and am on speaking terms with cake donuts. These completely knocked every donut I’ve had back home out of the park. A++++

I also made a stop in Arkansas at Big Dam Bridge. Not much to see, but nice to stretch my legs after so much driving. I stopped to get a Nashville hot chicken and accidentally went to a restaurant where everyone was wearing lingerie. The food was phenomenal. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

I slept over in Amarillo Texas as I kept cranking west. Seriously, this was so much driving. I kept myself occupied listening to the audiobook of “The Dark Forest,” the second in the Three Body Problem series. What a fucking phenomenal book — I wanted to keep driving so I could hear what happened next. Anyways, I woke up very early in Amarillo, and grabbed an early breakfast of eggs over tamales at La Campana. Wonderful. I also had chips and salsa and a sopapilla. Writing this, I wish I was still eating this food haha.

I took an early morning dip in the Blue Hole as I passed over into Santa Rosa, New Mexico. The water there was still really chilly, but I was really glad for it. I bet it would be great in the heat of the summer.

I blazed through Albuquerque and stopped just west of the city at El Malpais national monument. It’s a great little drive with a few hikes to a land bridge and a volcanic lava field. There was a neat ring around the sun in the sky, and I also had the delightful privilege of discovering a new chip in my windshield here. Just a great day, all-around.

I continued west, through the Navajo nation to take a quick peer out at Canyon de Chelly national monument. I stopped at the massacre cave viewpoint and ate my second Nashville donut. Wow!!!

I took an overnight in Monticello Utah and awoke on Easter Sunday deciding to spend the day at Arches national park in Moab.

I finally made my way over to Milt’s Stop & Eat, which is a much- famed Moab eatin’ location. Easter dinner was a sloppy burger and fries which was well worth it.

I took a few days in Moab to check out the Castle Valley area and do some small hikes and exploring, namely at Grandstaff canyon, a trail I’d hiked during my first trip to Moab, which has since been almost completely destroyed by the flood the year prior. The trail was rough but the huge land bridge was still looking great, even though resting under it was like being in a sand blaster due to high winds.

I reconnected with a friend I’d met hiking in 2020 and visited every trip into town since, and grabbed a meal at the Moab diner and also hung out at the windows section of Arches.

Here’s a few random pics for ya.

There was a day in there where I got done what needed to be done: had an oil change and a windshield repair in Grand Junction. While there, I stopped by Colorado national monument and snapped a few shots before heading back on 128.

128 is one of my favorite scenic roads in the country.

I also checked out a hike at Hidden Valley, which is one of my favorite trailheads right out of town. It’s a nightmare of a hike up (called moderate-to-easy by athletic folks), not technical but just a rough one due to the altitude gain. But once up at the top, it’s a great easy walk and a fantastic view of the La Sals and the rim rock.

At the top, if you sneak around to the left there’s some incredible Petroglyph panels.

I also zipped over to the petroglyphs off of Potash road — there’s some incredible pieces there, and a wide variety of etchings.

What’s next for me?

I’m not entirely sure. I am planning on being out for just a short while this go around, because I do love my home so much. Traveling has a special place in my heart, and makes me feel excited and have stuff to look forward to — but while I’m out I also look forward to returning home, cooking with my crazy spice cabinet, seeing good friends, and chilling on my couch with my Xbox.

This year, I probably won’t reinvent the wheel, and will hit up some old haunts and take it easy compared to the last few where I was just blasting through the country. I’m looking at focusing on quality over quantity this time.