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Archive for the ‘Road Trips’ Category

I first saw the Grand Canyon out the window of a plane….a small plane.

In 2010 I spoilt myself with an hour and a half flight in a little 10 seater aeroplane.  Back then though I thought that I was landing at the Grand Canyon and that I would get to spend the day taking in all the wonderful and amazing views.  It was not to be.  Somehow I had incorrectly selected the ‘flight only’ option which included simply, just that.

At the time I was disappointed.  Really disappointed, but I have since learnt that there is a reason why these things happen and in late September I found out why!.

After exploring the Valley of Fire with Fi, I got to spend the next day exploring the West Rim of the Grand Canyon with Laura.  And what a day it was.  I’m not sure how many times we said ‘this is amazing’ to each other as we wandered around the various points at Eagle Point (see above – can you spot the Eagle Kaylene??) and Grotto Point. But they simply were and I thought that I’d share some with you, just so you can see for yourself.e

(Test yourself on the first pic.. once you spot the eagle, can you spot the dog and his ball – it’s amazing what the natives can see!)

First stop – The Ranch.. complete with snake warnings.. thank goodness I never heard any ‘rattling’

Always the way! 

The Grand Canyon Skywalk.. Yes we did!

Enjoying unbelievable views at Grotto Point

 

Quite simply ‘Trail Closed’

Some places are just made to meditate

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I have come to realise that sometimes you just have to stop.

You have to stop living the fast paced life that you live. You have to cherish every moment and you have to live. You have to take the time to ‘smell the roses’ as they say.. take the time to enjoy.

Recently I was in Las Vegas for the wedding of my friends, Tannis and Dave (watch for post to come) and decided that sometimes there is more to Las Vegas than just the neon lights and high rolling gambling tables (yes there is also awesome premium outlet shopping too).  But the ‘more’ that I’m talking about is the beautiful nature that lies within the desert not to far from Sin City.  The beautiful, amazing ‘Valley of Fire‘.

I won’t lie.  When most people think of Las Vegas they think of The Grand Canyon and I did too the first time I went there.  But some other friends had also told me about the Valley of Fire.  A smaller park not to far from Vegas that was full of stunning red rocks and simply one hell of an amazing drive.

Given that I had been to Vegas twice before and this time I was staying for a week. I didn’t fancy my chances of enjoying the full week on the strip so I suggested to Fi that perhaps we get out-of-town one day and take a road trip.    Well, plus there was the added incentive of this:

Living Life

Who says you can’t live the life of luxury in Vegas.. after all, what happens in Vegas…..

Quite simply our day was truly amazing. I flick back over all the photographs and am still amazed that I have been lucky enough to have witnessed such amazing scenery and I live in awe that landscapes such as this. In such an unknown place exist.

I am simply grateful for the opportunities, the sights and the ability to be able to enjoy such amazing landscapes..

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Picture Perfect Sunset Over Seeley Lake, Montana

 

Part of my love of road trips is being able to experience things that you may never have had the opportunity to see before.  The freedom to set your own schedule and do what you want to do.  To spend as long as you want or as little as you want and the opportunities to enjoy every single moment.

The first day of our road trip from Calgary to Saint Catherine’s had been a long one.  We had hiked the Bear’s Hump in Waterton National Park and driven the spectacular, amazing and absolutely awesome Going to the Sun Road through Glacier National Park.  As much as the drive is breathtakingly beautiful, it is also mentally taxing.   Tight corners, narrow roads and 1,000+ foot cliff drops. But I would still do it over and over and over again.

With no real plans on where we would stay, let alone, where we would eat, we basically drove until we got hungry.   We arrived in Seeley Lake around 8pm and the sun was just beginning to drop.

Rather than ‘searching’ for food we decided that the Hamburger Cafe beside the lake would be a nice enough option.  Something casual and a chance to sit outside and enjoy our surroundings.  Unfortunately the cafe was closed, but the steakhouse next door was still open and still serving meals.  It would have to do.

After taking our seat we were presented with the menu.  Literally a sign that stood 4ft tall and listed 3 items:

The ‘extensive’ menu @ Linsday’s Steakhouse

We both guessed that sirloin was on the menu for the night :-), which caused some snickering between the two of us (don’t worry.. this was just the beginning of our nightly laughs!!).

After dinner we wandered down to the lake with enough time to take in the beautiful sunset.

Chance just happened to land us in Seeley Lake at the time that it did. And Fate just happened to provide us with a beautiful sunset over the water that truly cannot be described.

The tourist brochures all describe Montana as ‘big sky country’…. I think this picture proves it correct.. What an absolutely stunning view..

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Making tracks across the U.S.A.

Solo travel can teach you many lessons, but the biggest ones it has taught me are to ‘Trust your Gut’ and to ‘Take a Chance’.

For me learning to trust my gut has been a huge learning curve.  Growing up I know that I was not the most self-confident person and quite often relied on others for direction and to make the decision for me.  But travelling has changed that and so often it’s one of the hardest things to listen to.  When your mind is telling you one thing and your gut is telling you something else. It’s hard to hold true and follow that gut feeling.

Anyone who knew me growing up knows that I did not take chances.  I was NEVER the first to do something, nor the second.. perhaps maybe the third or the fourth, but preferably always the last.  I NEVER did anything that would put me out on a limb, out by myself, rather more preferring to stay as one of the crowd.  While some of this is still true today, there is a higher chance that I will be tempted to take the plunge.  And I know now from experience that if I trust my gut when I take a chance… I’ll probably be ok.

Packing up and moving myself to another country and starting fresh was the first chance I took.  The second, stepping out and taking the chance to put myself out there to meet total strangers knowing that I might not have anything in common with them and the third? The third was taking a chance to drive halfway across the country with someone I had only met not eight weeks earlier and with whom I had only spent a couple of hours (at the most) with.

What makes someone do this?

The chance of adventure.  The chance to do something that you might never have the opportunity to do again. The chance that you might miss out on something. The chance that you might see something that you would never have otherwise seen. The chance to see it all. But mostly it’s the chance that if you don’t, you will live to regret it the rest of your life and forever ask yourself, ‘what if?’ and tell yourself ‘if only’.

When Laura first mentioned moving to Ontario and the potential of a road trip, I know that my eyes lit up (who doesn’t love a road trip) and I knew that I’d be jealous of her if she did it without me. It’s strange thinking about how easily it is to become jealous of someone you hardly know, simply because they are going to get the opportunity to do something that you know you could only dream of.   So when she mentioned that she needed company and a copilot for the drive, I told her, without hesitation, that I was in.

Preparation of trips can be consuming.  They can also be stressful and loads of fun. Laura can probably tell you a different story but when you email each other a potential road map and your trip routes are almost identical.  I think that you are pretty much on the same page. It almost felt too easy.  We never had any discussions on ‘what if’s’, and the only time I considered the potential of this trip not going to plan was the night before we left when I drew the conclusion that no matter what happened and where we parted company, as long as I had my credit card and could get to a bus station or an airport, I could get back to Calgary no problems.

Thankfully I can say it was the only time I had that thought and now fourteen months on, it is almost a distant memory and one that I am almost ashamed to admit.

In eight days we covered eight American states, including; Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan and the two Canadian provinces of Alberta and Ontario. But within the confined space of the car we also covered a lot more. We talked and we sat in silence.  We sang and starred in awe. We laughed (OMG did we laugh) and every day I became more thankful for this road trip in more ways than one.

Since that moment we pulled away from the curb in Calgary I have been thankful that I chose to take the chance.

 

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