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  • Sarah

2017 Road trip

Updated: Feb 3, 2018

Oregon Coast September 1-2, 2017


For our first night, we stayed at Seaside, OR. We arrived in the evening, walked along the beach as the sun set, wandered through the shops, and ate fish and chips at the Crabby Oyster. After the sun set, the beach got cold, and we headed back to the motel for the evening. We rose early to grab some coffee, wander the last of the shops, and get back onto the road.


We had full intentions of reaching the Redwoods to camp by the evening. Along the way we stopped off at Yaquina Head Lighthouse just outside of Newport, OR. I had visited when I was a kid, and wanted to show Michael the black volcanic beach. We walked up to the lighthouse, but wanted to escape the crowds, so we went down to the beach. We sat down on the black pebbles, and as I tried to fill my little vial with some smaller grains of the black sand, Michael proposed to me!


We drove down Highway 101 to California. At the time there were a large number of forest fires in Oregon, which made the air hazardous to be out in for extended periods of time.

California September 3-5, 2017


We didn't quite make it to our campsite in the Humboldt Redwood Forest. We ended up crossing into California around midnight, realized we still had two hours until we reached our campsite, and stayed the night at a rest stop just passed the Trees of Mystery.

I had a difficult time sleeping in the passenger seat, so I woke around 5:00am, ready to get the day started. Michael slept until about 7:00am, so I people watched until he awoke. I was so surprised at how many people could not figure out how to open the bear-safe garbage cans. After I watched those particular people get back into their cars, I went out to open the latch and throw away their wrappers and recylce their water bottles. I guess you really do have to be smarter than the average bear.

We brushed our teeth, made some coffee, and moved on toward the Humboldt Redwoods. Along the way we drove through the Avenue of the Giants Auto Tour and wandered through the trails.


That night we made it to San Francisco. We crossed over the San Francisco Bridge, (which is an $8 toll) and became tourists. After sitting in the same position for almost 24 hours, we needed some way to stretch our legs. We wandered around a neighborhood by the airport, ate some giant burgers and onion rings, and people watched as we made our way back to our comfortable hotel. We grabbed some tourist brochures and maps, and browsed through them for the evening.

After a good night's rest and some caffeine, we drove down to Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39 to wander the shops in the morning.

(Photo credit: Michael)


We continued down to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park for our first actual night of camping and no cell service. At our first viewpoint stop, we found a large open clearing filled with stacked rocks. Black bears roam freely around the park, so at every campsite is a metal bear-safe container where we were to put everything from chapstick and fire starters to any kind of food item and stove tops.

In the morning, I awoke before most people in the campsites around us. At 6:00am, you could feel autumn quickly approaching with the crisp morning air. I bundled up in the some sweats, brewed some coffee, and crawled into my hammock to read through the park informational pamphlets.

Washington has some pretty narrow and steep roads, but I don't think I've ever been on a road like the one that passes through this state park. On the way up there were countless curves and trees so close to the roadside, that if you were to put you arm out the window, you could probably touch them. On the backside, you travel down switch backs with barely any barriers separating you from the canyon. The views were absolutely gorgeous, so I didn't mind the crazy roads.

Arizona September 5-6, 2017

I don't know what I was thinking when I designed this road trip. Never again am I planning anything that requires more than four hours of driving a day. We drove from Sequoia National Park, California to Flagstaff, Arizona. That is an estimated 10 hours of driving. I really don't know what I was thinking.

We drove through Southern California and got to see oil fracking first hand. Temps rose to 115 degrees in 29 Palms and we braved the heat to stop at a rest area. A mother and daughter were in the restroom when I came out to wash my hands. The little girl insisted she needed the air dryer to finish cleaning her hands. I couldn't help but laugh to myself when I heard the mother say, "They turned those off for a reason. As soon as you step outside your hands will be dry. Let's go." Sure enough, I wiped the excess water off on my jeans, and as I stepped outside the water instantaneously evaporated.

Back on the road, the desert seemed to stretch on forever.

As we approached Prescott, AZ, a stretch of thick, dark clouds loomed at the top of the hill. Lightning hit the ground and rods all around the highway. The rain drops were so large we were afraid we might not have paint on the front of our car. Almost three inches of water covered the road. Heavy winds tried pushing the car. I white-knuckled the steering wheel as we pressed on. Neither of us had experienced a storm so bad.

When we arrived in Flagstaff, they were just receiving power again. We decided on dinner at Applebee's, where only a handful of college students sat in the bar after the storm.


The warm sun was a wonderful change from the blazing temperatures of SoCal and the crazy rains we passed through. The sky was clear enough the next day that we even got sun burns on our faces and shoulders.

Michael was incredibly excited to finally check the views from the Grand Canyon off his bucket list. As a Geologist, he was a kid in a candy shop.

After visiting the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, we headed Northeast through the Navajo Reservation. Along the way, we stopped at a pull-off on the side of the road next to a jewelry and rug outpost. At the end of a quarter-mile trail, we found a lookout spot. We were alone, besides a small English family, viewing this giant crevasse in the the earth. Soon thick raindrops started to fall, giving off the sweet scent of water hitting warm, red dirt, and we headed back to the car.

(Photo credit: Small, enthusiastic Asian man who wanted us to take his pictures after)

Utah September 6-7, 2017

We made it to Moab, UT that evening. We found a little diner to settle our hunger, and then went back to hopefully get some sleep. Come to find out, upon further looking at the floor, our room had ants. We were unable to switch rooms, so we had to kill as many as possible before pushing it out of our thoughts and finally getting some sleep.


Although we set out early to Arches National Park, the heat still got up toward 90 degrees by 11:00am. Our little Washingtonian bodies couldn't quite take the dry Utah heat. We didn't make the trek to delicate arch, like so many people do, but we did climb around the rocks on double arch and sat in the shade for a while.