So we found our campsite by a tiny little sign on the side of the road, in the dark. We were tired after a day of the desert sun, made camp quickly and passed out. Unaware of our surroundings in the night, we awoke to this sight. A mere 10 feet away from the tent and we could have walked off the top to the valley below.
We made our way to Santa Fe, on a gravel backroad that sometimes acted like it was going to consume my Nissan in the +foot-high depths. We drove thru the Valles Caldera National Preserve and into the back door of the famous Los Alamos. In Santa Fe, we found a local restaurant to taste the local flair and plan our attack. Chris and I both had to be back at work Monday. It was Thursday afternoon. We said “screw it” and decided to drive the entire 24-hour ride back home without stopping. It hurt us to be in Tennessee, driving by all these great caves, without stopping!
We checked for an open campsite for the night at Arches . . . they didn’t have one. So we found this outside the park along the Colorado River. Yeah, there were a lot of mosquitos.
But we were camped right next to some awesome petroglyphs!
Arches National Park, Day II
Chris and I spent the entire day hiking the rest of the trails in the park to see all the obscure arches in Arches National Park. Above is me standing in an unnamed arch we found while hiking to Sand Dune Arch.
Waking up in the morning at our beautiful campsite an Aspen grove in White River National Forest, elevation about 10,000 feet. The plan . . . to spend several days up at high elevation — sleeping, hiking, caving — to get acclimated to it. So when we arrive in Yosemite, at 7,500 feet, it won’t kick our asses nearly as bad.
Our view from a day hike.
And then we got to go caving again with Ken Headrick. He meet up with us after work and took us into Groaning Cave, Colorado’s longest cave at 10 miles, for a short 2.5-hour trip.
En route to Colorado from the Black Hills, we visited Wounded Knee Memorial on Pine Ridge Reservation. The place was erie and heavy. It saddened my heart to stand above the murdered.
A sweetgrass offering on the fence.
Western Wonderland Roadtrip
That night we set up camp at Toadstool Geologic Park in northwest Nebraska’s famous Sandhills. I wanted to roam the hills and take some wicked sunset photographs. We set up camp, with no one else there, had a few beers and then got hit by a spring rainstorm. We waited a couple hours for it to pass, but it kept raining harder. So we quickly tore down camp and drove the 20 miles back to a paved road. We were lucky to make it out of there on the sandy, rutted road, slowly being transformed into a mud wallow. We headed to the nearest town of any size — Alliance — and got a hotel for a dry night’s sleep.