Go, Kristi!!!

My travels through life and the world.

Day 23 – Petrified Forest and Painted Desert July 28, 2014

Filed under: Countryside,Tourist attractions,Travel,USA — Kristi @ 9:58 pm

This will be a quick post, but I figured I hadn’t posted anything in a while and it looks like I spent the rest of my trip at the Grand Canyon, which is not true. 🙂

On my way to Albuquerque I decided to swing by the Petrified Forest/Painted Desert National Park. I’m really glad I did. There isn’t much to say about it, but it was lovely and here are some pictures.


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This is what the “forest” looks like. It wasn’t what I was expecting, but…


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the petrified wood is REALLY gorgeous on closeup!


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Here’s me in front of the biggest trunk. It’s pretty big. 🙂


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Then I drove north towards I40 and there were some beautiful rock structures. This picture doesn’t do the purple color justice. I think this formation is called “The Tipis.”


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Later I went to the “News Paper Rocks” which are covered in petroglyphs and then I went to a Native American ruin that had more of them. They are so cool!


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This next one is my favorite. In the middle you can clearly see an ibis eating a frog. SO COOL!!!


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Then I went through the Painted Desert, which was beautiful.


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It took about 2 hours to get through, but it was completely worth the detour. Really lovely! Then I headed east to Albuquerque!


Days 21-23: The Grand Canyon July 18, 2014

Filed under: Countryside,Hiking,Tourist attractions,Travel,USA — Kristi @ 9:18 am

I left Phoenix and headed north on Monday. In Flagstaff I stopped for some groceries, as I was camping, and when I walked outside there was a torrential down pour. Ridiculous, it’s Arizona, people!!


Anyway, I made it safely to the campground and set myself up. Luckily I was getting used to the afternoon thunder storms so I put the second layer on my tent.


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I then took the shuttle bus to the edge, this was my first view.


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Then I saw this sign, which as a medieval historian made me smile. It also made me warn a couple people not to feed the squirrels. The plague is not fun and because it is so uncommon it is often misdiagnosed. This was definitely something I didn’t think I would have to worry about on my trip.


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On my way back to my camp I saw this guy on the other side of the road. Isn’t is grand?

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The next morning I decided to take the shuttle to the beginning of the rim trail and hike back to the village, it was about 8 miles. I started at Hermit’s Rest and went from there. Here are some pictures of my hike (It was difficult to choose which ones to use because they were all so similar HA!)



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It took me hours, but I made it. Then dinner and sleep, I was exhausted! The next morning I got up early and went back to the visitor’s center took some more pictures in different light. There were also a pair of crows that I thought made a nice picture.


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On my way out of the park, I saw my elk friend again. So handsome!


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I also stopped at the tower at Desert View, which had a really nice view.






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I’ll post about the drive out and the petrified forest later. This is enough for one post. 🙂


Days 20-21: Phoenix, AZ July 11, 2014

Filed under: Countryside,Hiking,Tourist attractions,Travel,USA,Writing — Kristi @ 9:50 am

I decided to drive to Phoenix via CA 78 rather than straight using I 10. It’s all about adventure and interstates just don’t seem adventurous. Anyway, it was a bit adventurous, but we’ll get to that later.


I started through a dry mountain scene, which was lovely but windy so not a lot of pictures.


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But then I got into the sand dunes, which were really cool. I stopped at a pull-off to take some pictures…


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And got stuck in the only patch of sand that was on the parking lot. Luckily just at that moment a Jeep pulled up (with a winch if necessary) and the guys pushed me out. I feel like this was karmic repayment for the overturned Jeep incident last week. In reality I could have dug myself out, but it was nice to not have to as it was 108 degrees. It is also amazing that there happened to be someone at that viewpoint at that time, because I saw almost no cars. So there you go, and here is a picture of the sand pile.


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Then I hit more rocky mountains and my first ever saguaro cacti, there is the picture. When I saw them I started cheering. It was a very exciting moment for me.


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Then I stopped in Buckeye, AZ to check out the local history museum, which was closed, and the Hobo Joe statue that is very large.


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It is monsoon season in the south west, which I didn’t realize, so my wettest time was in the desert. On the plus side, it has created some amazing cloud formations.


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Bryan and I did some work at the local Barnes & Noble.


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And then we tried to go see some ruins but it ended up being much too late, so I went the next day to the Sears Kay ruins. They were built by the Hohokam around 900 years ago. This was my first opportunity to see Native American ruins, but definitely not my last. These were really exciting for me and reminded me of my tour of medieval ruins in the UK a couple years ago.


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It also afforded excellent views of the valley.


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This side trip was on my way to the Grand Canyon, which *spoiler alert* is very grand. I think I took roughly 250 pictures, so I’ll have to try to limit the ones I post. I also went to the petrified forest, which was pretty cool. So you have that to look forward to.


Days 14-16: The Pacific Coast Hwy and Santa Barbara July 5, 2014

Filed under: Countryside,Tourist attractions,Travel,USA,Writing — Kristi @ 9:44 am

After leaving San Francisco I had 2 days to reach my friend in Santa Barbara so I decided to drive down the coast road (CA 1) the whole way. First, I met with a high school friend for breakfast in Pacifica. Excellent pancakes!

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Then I headed south. It was a beautiful day and I decided that I wanted to camp on the coast near Big Sur. Here are some pictures of the road, it was gorgeous, amazing, and very very curvy!


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I had a bit of an adventure. I checked out the campgrounds in the area I wanted to camp and they were all full. Unfortunately I didn’t decide that I wanted to do this until the last minute, so it was too late to make reservations. One very helpful lady at the campground said that I could turn up a particular road into the mountains (I don’t remember the name), park on a turnout, and just pitch my tent. So I did. Here was my campsite for the evening.





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I did actually get a couple hours of work it, it was VERY sunny!




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A nice German woman named Lena stopped by to ask for directions and decided to stay, so I had some company. Then the fog came rolling in. It looked pretty cool.





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In fact, the fog didn’t leave until the next afternoon, so this is the drive for about 15 minutes the next day…


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Until I came upon this.


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About 10 minutes into my drive I met Jonathan, who had flipped the Jeep but was relatively unharmed. Luckily he had been going slow or he would have ended up over the cliff and in the Pacific. Anyway, I stayed with him until the tow truck arrived, helped him get a rental car, and sent him on his way. We ended up spending about 4 hours together, and I had company for a short part of my drive, which was nice. He made it safely back to Indiana.


And I made it safely to Santa Barbara, and Elise! We hung out, had excellent Mexican food, and then did some sightseeing at the pier and in the mountains.





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The next morning we went to the Santa Barbara Mission, which is still an active Franciscan monastery. As you can see in the second picture, I almost became a monk, but I was too short for the habit. 🙂


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Then I headed out full of Backyard Bowls’ quinoa with cashew milk, a very California kind of breakfast, I think and into LA traffic. Honestly, it wasn’t so bad except I was rear-ended, which was startling, but did no damage. I made it safely to Carlsbad, CA with no further incidents.


Days 13-14: San Francisco Pride! July 2, 2014

Filed under: Countryside,Tourist attractions,Travel,USA — Kristi @ 9:18 am

I arrived in San Francisco on Saturday and headed into the hills, because I hadn’t quite gotten enough time walking up and down, obviously. Actually my friend was enjoying themself with other San Franciscans for Pride weekend, and there was no way I was going to find them in the crowd. So I went to the Golden Gate Recreational something-or-other.


There were great views of the city, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Harbor Seals. They’re the light gray globs on the rocks. 🙂


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This is  proof that I was actually there and not posting stolen pictures. I have to say that while I rarely look good in my selfies (I accept that I’m not photogenic), I am REALLY good at taking them. Seriously, look at that perfect selfie! It must come from traveling alone so much. Anyway, I was really there.


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And I drove over the Golden Gate Bridge into LOTS of traffic. I did not take a picture of the traffic, it just looked like normal city traffic.


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Then I found princess parking outside my friend’s house, which I also did not take a picture of and hung out until the Pride parade! Here are some of my favorite pictures from that.


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Then I met some friends in Oakland at Lake Merritt in the Gazebo. I took no pictures of my friends this weekend, which is stinky, but they know they were there. 🙂


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I left San Francisco via Hwy CA 1. It was an adventure!



Days 8-9: Portland to California and the Redwoods! June 29, 2014

Filed under: Countryside,Hiking,Tourist attractions,Travel,USA — Kristi @ 9:31 pm

It’s been a while since I posted because of lack of internet, so I have some catching up to do.


I left Portland last Tuesday and drove south along the coast on the 101, it was pretty awesome. This will be the only non-sunny post thus far, but it wasn’t too bad.


I ended up stopping in Port Oxford, OR for lunch and to see the coast. This is where I ate, and this is the view from above the restaurant. Amazing, huh?


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Then I entered The Prehistoric Gardens (duh duh DAAAAAHHHHH!!!). It was pretty awesome!


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It was a rainforest with life-sized dinosaurs. Seriously, it was awesome!


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And I almost got eaten by an elasmosaurus, but I escaped… barely.


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Then I made it to the redwood forest and got the last camp site in the park (I’m a very lucky person). Here is my campsite and my view when I woke up in the morning. Not bad.


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Here are a couple pictures including “Big Tree” which is very big. That picture is terrible, because I asked someone else to take it. Oh well.


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And since I’m not a great camper, I just like sleeping in tents, here’s where I had breakfast. 🙂


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Then I went for a hike in Fern Canyon, near the coast. You see why it is called Fern Canyon. It was really cool, but it was a bit like an obstacle course and I cracked my head on a fallen redwood branch I had to duck under. Ouch! I also saw elk, which was cool.


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This was the view as I was leaving. You’ll notice I don’t have a work picture. I had chosen the perfect spot to work but then it started raining and I figured it would be better to not use my laptop in the rain.


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Next stop, Garden Valley!


Day 1: Iowa to Colorado June 18, 2014

Filed under: Countryside,Tourist attractions,Travel,USA — Kristi @ 8:09 am

I rolled into Colorado around 8:30 last night. It was a gorgeous drive through Nebraska and NE Colorado, and I’m feeling really good about this trip. This is something I’ve wanted to do for a really long time, and I’m just so happy to be on the road. The only problem about my adventure that I foresee is a very VERY tan left arm, and a not-so-tan right arm.


I’m also happy about my first roadside attraction!



If you guessed that this is the Great Platte River Road Archway Monument in Kearney, NE, YOU ARE CORRECT!!!!




It is an interactive (whitewashed) history of western expansion. It begins with pioneers, the Gold Rush, and the Mormons (Iowa City gets a mention here), continues with the Pony Express, the railroads, and finally Rt. 80.


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I wanted to stop at a Pony Express station a bit further west, but I wanted to get to my destination more. Finally I made it to Colorado!! I love the welcome centers along I80. The one in CO was “manned” by two really sweet old ladies who made me register (they strong armed me ;)), and gave me all sorts of books and brochures about the Denver area. Basically, if I ever come back, I’m set. This was also, apparently, the only stop in CO of the Pony Express, so they had a monument, as you see below.




NE Colorado is actually very beautiful. It felt emptier than Western Nebraska, but I had cell service, which was nice (I did NOT have that in WNE). The landscape reminded me of Eastern-central Wales, for some reason. People might disagree, but I kept coming back to that as I drove (the picture doesn’t do it justice but I was driving).





The moment I realized I could see the Rockies, was a thrilling moment. I have seen them before, but I’ve never driven to them. They just start appearing in the distance and you’re not sure if they are clouds or mountains. Then there is a switch, where you can tell they are pointier than clouds and you know you’re close.




It was an excellent drive!


Today, I’m going to get some work done in the morning, and then Maneesh (the friend I’m staying with) and I are going to go on a fun hike. Enjoy the day!