Jenine and I have had an awesome last few weeks meeting new friends and exploring awesome parts of Utah and California. We’ve done the gamut from seeing the magnificent Hoodoos in Bryce Canyon, slot canyon hiking in Grand Staircase – Escalante, soaking in incredible hot springs in Death Valley over halloween, and then a week full of surf in the some of the best surf spots in the USA. It has been “bitchin” as they say here in SoCal.
Bryce is a spectacular national park, with such unique landscapes. We hiked an eight mile figure eight loop in the park (Navajo and Peekaboo) that offered some of the most spectacular scenery we have seen so far on our trip. The park’s marquee features are the Hoodoos, which look like giant sand drizzle castles. Bryce should be on your must see list, because it is definitely a unique natural wonder:
Next up, Grand Staircase – Escalante
Escalante is a protected national monument of nearly 2 million acres of incredible landscape, and almost all of it is backcountry / 4×4 terrain. There is only one official hike in the park, but it does lead to an incredible waterfall. Escalante was the perfect place to test out Titus (our Sportsmobile) and also to hike in incredible slot canyons, most notably Peek-a-Boo and Spooky Gulch slot hikes. It would be great to return one day and spend more time exploring all the backcountry here, but we definitely need to get into rock climbing / canyoning before we return!
Halloween at the Saline Valley Hot Springs
We had heard by word of mouth about these hot springs in Death Valley. We knew that they were out in the middle of nowhere (50+ miles down a 4×4 road inside Death Valley), that a dedicated community keeps them beautiful, and that outsiders were tolerated, but not exactly encouraged to visit. There is no real mention of these springs at the visitor centers, and the park lets this community take care of this special place mostly on their own. We went there over halloween with our good friend Tim, and the experience was unique and amazing. It is a truly special place and I hope the park continues to let this place remain as it is.
The Ocean, Surf, FINALLY!!!
After the hot springs and all the time in the mountains, we were jonesing to see the beach and get wet! I’ve heard from so many people about the amazing surf in San Clemente, and I’ve been wanting to go there for so long. Finally, we were on our way to the coast. But first we stopped in Santa Monica to meet another SMB owner John. John installed a door “talon” on our van, a contraption he invented that keeps our side doors openly securely – a truly amazing upgrade for Titus. Not only that, he let us sleep in his driveway and took me on my first night mountain bike ride in the Santa Monica Mountains with his awesome wife Lisa. If you mountain bike, and haven’t done a night ride, it is a must do. Flying down single track in the dark with a high powered bike light is next level.
We did some maintenance on Titus with an incredible mechanic at South Bay Car Care in Redondo, and then hit the road to San Clemente State Beach campground. We got a site right on the ocean, and in the morning we met our new friends Jim and Jennifer, who stopped by to ask us about our rig. We are finding that Titus is a great way to meet people, as so many people come up to us to talk about our rig! We ended up hanging out with Jim and Jennifer several days over the weekend: surfing at old mans in san onofre beach, doing beach bonfires, and enjoying gorgeous sunsets. It was great.
The only other thing to note, is that we met another couple traveling down to Argentina. They are the FlightlessKiwis and have an awesome blog. We found each other through the Pan Am Travelers FB group and they camped with us one night in San Clemente. They were on their way to cross the border this Sunday, and we plan on meeting up with them in our first stop in Baja near Ensenada! I can’t wait to keep running into Ben and Emma on our adventure.
What we are listening to:
DJ MANNY WATERS! Chill Fall Remix
Oh, and we have a new business card…check it out! Next stop, MEXICO this Wednesday!
More pics of our last weeks in the US: