utah volkswagen roadtrip: memorial day weekend, 2016.

hey folks! our 2nd annual memorial day weekend volkswagen adventure was a success! even with a sudden engine rebuild and a last minute change of plans...

we had been planning for the last several months to go to glacier national park in montana for this road trip. two days before we planned to take off, we saw that there had been flooding, road closures, and tons of rain at glacier. we looked all over the map to see where else we could go that might have good weather, and we ended up deciding on UTAH as our destination.

[all photos in this post were taken on my iphone 6, some utilizing the moment wide lens]

peter had the bus tuned up about 3 weeks before our trip and it was feeling lots smoother and a little bit quieter, too. but the dude recommended that he also get the engine entirely rebuilt, which is a big (very expensive) task. so we thought about it for a few days and even considered (for about 2.5 seconds) selling the bus. WAHHHHHHH. no way. that was not going to happen. so he went through with getting the engine rebuilt.

when he got the bus back on monday, vw mechanic man told peter he needed to drive the bus about 500 miles before our road trip.....which was in 3 days time.  he would need to give the engine an extra tune-up after 500 miles were driven.

for the next three nights after work, pete and i hopped in the bus and drove hundreds of miles with no destination. it was weirdly relaxing, though...because we had nowhere to actually be and we had to keep it at 50mph. soo we drove allllll over seattle, to everett and back, next night to olympia and back, and the last night to bellingham and back. so before we had even taken off for our actual road trip, we had already spent 3 consecutive nights in the bus, just driving for the sake of driving.

wednesday evening after our final aimless 150 mile journey, we dropped the bus off at the mechanic. we were hoping to leave the next night for our actual road trip. this vw guy is really great (shout out mike wagenschmitt in the u-district) and got the engine tuned up again by the following afternoon. pete picked up the ol' cheddar bus, we threw some stuff in the back and we were on our way that thursday evening!

the first night we made it across the mountain pass and into eastern washington. we ended up sleeping in prosser, washington at THE nicest rest stop i've ever been to! last year when pete made me camp overnight at some sketchy rest stop north of weed, california...i was not stoked. but this prosser place was great with huge clean bathrooms, a starbucks and other food shoppes next door, and a "citizen's watch"...a man who sat at the picnic table all night playing chess with himself. he looked like hodor from game of thrones in a baseball hat (like a reeeal life night's watch starring hodor). and i sure do/did like that hodor...so, it was oddly comforting..? even though it sounds.....creepy as all hell..?

the bad thing about sleeping overnight at rest stops is that people come and go, park right next to you, and open and shut their car doors. it wakes me up because the bus walls are so thin that is sounds like people are trying to open OUR doors. haha. the great state of washington allows you to stay 8 hours at a rest stop, so we slept, got up, said byebye to hodor (who was still playing chess at the picnic table), and hit the road, jack. 

the day we left, i feverishly blended and chopped and cooked up all the remaining produce we had in the fridge. it was SO nice to have fresh chopped veggies in the cooler, some apples and oranges, and a few big jarred smoothies. sounds gross to drink a 3-4 day old fruit smoothie, but we changed out the ice in the cooler every day and the smoothies kept their consistency and really hit the spot each time we went to drink one. there's nothing that will make you feel more like total crap than eating weird car snacks and camping food for a week.

i think the big green smoothies above were something like: apple, LOTS of spinach, ginger, lime, mango and peach. these ones were delicioso. 

the blue ones were something like: spinach, blueberries, apple, lemon, ginger, and peach. 

oh hey here's the oregon trail! i saw a real life cowboy and was excited about it! yeehaw! ^^^

we stopped in boise, idaho for lunch on friday. we ended up going to 10 barrel brewing and the food was really delicious. we got both tasting flights and sat out in the sun and enjoyed it very much. then pete realized they'd been bought by anheuser-busch and he was bummmmed. i mean, i get ittttttt...they sold out... but i can look past that in a time of hunger and thirst. 

did you note that pete's burger had CARROTS on it??? it was some sort of peanut butter burger situation (which...if you haven't had a pb bacon burger yet, then you'd better get on that if you eat that meat stuff!), but i kept being confused by the carrots! you definitely had to channel some thai vibes when eating it...then it made more sense. it was good!

i know that last year i said i'd wished that i'd taken some more realistic pics of what the inside of the bus looks like when on the road. it looks like this. piles. ^^^

btw we are learning the ukulele! well, pete is putting in a lot more effort into it than i am...but so far i can play jason mraz "i'm yours" and bob marley "three little birds." thaz all i got!

if you're into the ukulele...you should check out cynthia lin on youtube. i want to be friends with her. she's so cool and good at teaching to beginners and she has excellent taste in music, i say. i can only really learn from her...i get to be a real grumpster when peter tries to show me things. sawwry petey.

south idaho made for a gorgeous sunset that evening!!!

last stop for gas for many miles was in the actual "middle of nowhere." they've got gas station donkeys, sheep and llama. these animals looked pretty sad, actually. but i sure was happy to see them.

quite the gas station sunset, though!

walmart makes TWO appearances in this post..weird. i gotta give it up to walmart for their open policy to overnight camping in their parking lots, though. we were in panic mode/exhausted mode once we hit utah because it was almost midnight, super dark, and the utah rest area website said they do not allow overnight stays at ANY rest areas in the state of utah.....what gives, utah??

anyhoo, had quite a pleasant stay in the walmart parking lot! once it closed, the parking lot was nice and quiet and we were posted up next to several other campers and RVs. and! they've got real bathrooms!

we had a bit of a snafu when we got up to leave the next day. we woke up around 5:30am to try to get to arches national park by 10 or 11...but the bus did not want to start up. pete fiddled around with the engine, read his classic owner's manual, we attempted to roll start it (again), and finally went in to wally world and bought a certain sized wrench to fiddle around with something else. at this point, i was thankful for ye olde walmarte and that we were not up on a mountain in glacier national park montana when this occurred. this part was scary and disappointing because we really thought we were going to have to end our trip here, in the walmart parking lot near ogden, utah. guhhh! i had visions of us shlepping camp chairs and sleeping bags and coolers onto the airplane and having the bus towed home. what a sad awful vision that was!

...3 hours later, she slowly started up and we were back on the dusty trail.

...3 hours late to the camping scene on the saturday of memorial day weekend (anyyywhere) is not an ideal situation. but we really enjoyed the scenery through utah now that we could see for the first time what it all looked like:

storm's a'brewin! ^^^

finally made it to the desert! we scoped out EVERY single camp site option that we'd looked up on all the maps around moab. all full! every last one. this was like 3 hours worth of driving around to all the campgrounds and looking for spots...the desert is such a vast place that it took forever and ever just to get to the next "designated" campground, 10+ miles away or whatever.

this part was frustratingly ironic because...SOOO MUCH SPACE OUT HERE. ALL THE SPACE. SPACE FOR DAYS. but no "open" designated space. man, its like 10,000 spoons when all ya need is a knife.

searching the desert high and low for a little place to go!^^^

the nice people at moment sent me some extra camera lenses and a case for my iphone after i posted this photo on instagram, which was also used on the arc'teryx website on one of their goretex product pages.

a lot of these shots from our road trip were shot on the wide moment lens using the phone case for iphone 6. the phone case is super clutch! if you get a moment lens for your iphone, i would highly recommend the phone case over the standard mounting plate that your lens comes with.

i got some really fun and cool photos with the wide lens in utah, including the shot at the very top of this post that was also shared by moment on their instagram account. actually, that very photo was a hot little commodity on the internets last week. it was also shared by roadtrippers, and teamvanlife. everyone loves a happy little yellow bus!!

pete and i were talking about how weird it would be if the bus were a different color....i wouldn't want this bus any other way! :)

^^^so here's the point in that day when we were feeling like all hope was lost in finding an open camp site. we pulled over at a view point area and just thought aah hell why can't we just camp out right here...worse thing that happens is someone tells us to leave. so we plopped down our camping chairs and had a beer and started singing the blues.

just as i go to take this picture ^^^ a jeep comes barreling down the hill toward us and this older dude named chad tromps out and hollers about how sweeeeeeet our bus is and how he saw us having beers and playing the uke and just wanted to say "right onnnnn!" btw as he's greeting us, his jeep starts to roll away onto a desert drop off and his nephew is in the background scrambling around trying to hold it back from rolling off a cliff. chad looks back at him and simply says, "don't worry about it! call me when you get there!!" haha. that was sorta funny.

so we got to talking to this chad character and told him we were having a hell of a time trying to find an open campsite. without any hesitation, he invited us to squeeze into their camp spot up at the top of the hill while he and his nephew went into town for dinner. he gave us their site number and told us that the trailer and truck for his motorcycle business would be there - at which point we realized we were probably a-ok to stay in a complete stranger's campsite in the moab desert. oh man...such relief!

shout out chad and the vintage spoke motorcycle company of abilene, kansas! i cracked up when we got settled in the camp site and noticed the wings on the logo of his motorcycle trailer. i felt just like tom hanks in castaway, with the wings on his fedex package that kept him curious and kept him persevering to stay alive. HA! chad and steffen, the moab life savers.

we ended up having a really fun night hanging out with them around the fire. they told us what life is like in kansas and we told them about our lives in seattle. good people.

the next morning, we set out to find a primo camp site down on the colorado river, where we had looked the day before with no luck. we had to start our search early and didn't want a repeat of yesterday's struggles. we wrote chad and steffen a note, thanked them again for sharing and left them a few beers from the great pacific northwest.

we got to drinks canyon campground on the colorado river in moab and were jazzed to see an open site behind some trees, so we swooped it up and thought we were the luckiest cats ever. a sweet guy named gus approached us to chat us up about our bus and tell us about his westfalia bus that he'd been traveling in, too. he let us know that people had been stealing other folks' campsites the day before, and that these people from colorado let him park his westfalia at the end of their campsite - also that they were about to take off and their big site right on the river would be up for grabs.

i couldn't believe how cutthroat the camping scene around here was!!! we ended up hearing other stories of people coming in and stealing up peoples' already reserved and paid-for camp sites. 

the nice couple from colorado that had let gus park his bus at the end of their site welcomed us in here and let us set up our stuff while they were going to go do some desert drivin.' so instead of the original site behind some trees and brambles that we had somehow thought was top notch, we ended up having THIS whole huge site instead!!!:

actually top notch. ^^^

thank you, colorado friends!!

so excited to have scored this amazing mondo camp site on the colorado river, we had some celebration beers and cooked up some deeelicious breakfast sammiches.

^^^one pack of jimmy deans hot sausage lasted us the whole time. we had 3 different days worth of breakfast sandwiches, and also used the remainder in some makeshift chilaquiles that we made using the rest of our salsa and our tortillas that had gotten completely torn up somehow. added grilled corn, too. the chilaquiles were something we threw together with literally the only food items we had left one night...and it turned out to be one of our favorite things that we made. 

poor old peter. stay hydrated, people!

g damn this pic makes me thirsty.

and want to put on lotion.

sooooo we saw this hike listed in our little arches national park pamphlet and i swear it said "100 yards to view point," so i was like ohhh whatever i'll just wear the birkenstocks that i have on and walk on over there, ho hum diddly dum!

'twas not 100 yards to view point.

it was still a brief hike, only 1.5 miles, but i should have completely changed my outfit and shoes, worn a hat and brought more water. it was just stagnant, stale desert heat the whole way up with not a whisper of a breeze. it was such a crazy landscape it felt like we were hiking on mars or something. i'm pretty sensitive to heat and get heat rash and things so i thought i was dying. haha. also, birkenstocks are essentially boats for rocks to ride around in. sand, too.

once we got up there, it was cooooool breezes for days. sweet relief. 

^^^ this is delicate arch. the most famous arch that you see on postcards of utah and stuff.

there were a lot of drop offs and edges that are totally dangerous, but i was not scared at all until i sat down right here

to take this picture of the arch. ^^^ at first i felt just fine, but as soon as i turned my phone up to take this photo, i got hit with a wall of vertigo. i don't even know if vertigo is the right term, but it was instantly like... oh my god, i'm very scared. just frozen in fear. i'm not really afraid of heights normally; i go up on tall structures and have jumped out of a plane. but when you can't see over the curve of the massive rock mountain to see what might be below, its scary. the rock is curved/layered in a way that you are probably just fine if you slide down a bit, but it was like a visual illusion and my brain was terrified all of a sudden. i was the person sitting lowest down on the curve of the hill, so there's probably a good reason no one else was wandering down below the arch. i put my head down and tried to slide my phone into my pocket without moving very much. i put my hands down on the rocks and scooted backwards until i could flip over and crawl up to where pete was standing. yikes. that was a new feeling for me.

on the way back down! ^^^

^^^i was a bit bummed that this was the only photo we got of the two of us in front of the bus. the guy who took this had a huge camera and was clearly a photographer, so i thought he'd get a stellar pic. i appreciate that he framed it well, at least.

hehehe. ^^^pete took this pic of me by the bus in my dad's save the earth shirt, much like the photo below of my dad, me, my sister, and my mom circa 1991. my family had a volkswagen vanagon when i was growing up, which eventually got smashed in half by a huge tree in a windstorm. i was cracking up that we even had a similar crate and cooler to recreate this photo:

the apple does not fall far... 

there i am drinkin a jug o milk and bouts to look at some care bears books. ah, the good life.

the canoe on top of the vanagon is the same canoe my parents gave us at the end of our road trip last year!! how funny. 

thanks for the excellent 80s tee shirt collection, father.

^^^i love these 2 photos of pete above. just having a great time enjoying himself.

we were so thankful that other people were willing to help us out over the weekend that we felt we needed to pay it forward and hoped an opportunity would present itself! we had such a giant camp site; there was plenty of room for others.

when the sun was going down on this night, a car pulled up and a girl came out looking desperate and tired (just like we looked the day before with chad!) and without even having to ask us, i told her that they should totally camp in our spot, too. they were so relieved and thankful. man, rough times finding camping in moab on a busy weekend!! i can't believe how exhausting that task was. 

we were glad to help those people for sure. gotta keep that good volkswagen bus folk karma steady while on the road! they were from san francisco and their names were helen, early, and canyon (for real). those are their tents behind pete in that photo. ^^^

^^^ sunset // sunrise ^^^

headed out of the desert. such an awesome camping experience in moab and on the colorado river, all thanks to the kind people who spend time in nature and are willing to help others.

the cheddar bus looks so stinking cute from far away. 

we had to let the engine cool off pretty frequently. that's okay, because i like to get out and see the sights :)

i saw this sign that just said, "real good," and i was like ha! oh what a sweet little funny sign. i take picture of that..

..but i didn't know it represented this amazing roadside jerky stand with jerky that was REAL GOOD. the guy said "howdy, y'all!" and started cutting off samples of his jerky. so tasty! so many different flavors and types of meat, too. 

even driving through the main cities like salt lake and provo, these are the sites that you see. ^^^ utah is undoubtedly beautiful wherever you go.  i mentioned on instagram that the north and south are just soooo different!! the north is a lot like the sound of music setting with green rolling hills, and crossing into the southern part its suddenly like the desert of the lion king. its wild how the climate can change so drastically within a state. 

my boo and his bus. once again, many thanks to pedro for driving us the entire time. i haven't taken any strides since last year to learn to drive it. next time..?

there's nothing like getting home to the great pacific northwest. it really is the best.

even through this bug-infested windshield pic, i can feel the cool mountain air and smell those lovely green trees.

it was an awesome trip overall; we could have spent much more time exploring utah. we would eventually want to go back to visit bryce canyon and zion as we had originally hoped to do this time.

we drove 2,325 miles through 4 states in 6 days. we saw some beautiful sights and experienced some new challenges. 

i truly think it was the kindness and helpfulness of the folks that we encountered that made this trip so great and memorable!