When do you consider yourself a true van dweller? Brushing your teeth while you drive as strangers gawk awkwardly, sweeping the van out in the middle of a park like it’s no big deal, mastering peeing in a bottle in the dark or is it when you start calling the van ‘the house’? Jeff and I have just started calling Vanna our house, which is true in a way I guess but are we crazy? I don’t think we’re crazy, we’ve just acclimated ourselves to this life style very well. It’s been just over 11 weeks since we left Idaho, 12k miles with Vanna and 78 days spent together on the open road. We’re seeing a lot and exploring new places all over.
We most recently spent a couple of days at the Grand Canyon. Theodore Roosevelt called the Grand Canyon, “the one great sight…every American should see”. It truly is a place everyone should visit in their lifetime. We spent time at both the South and North Rims which are about a days drive from each other. The South Rim was full of tourist and for good reason too, the canyon below was just breath-taking. We spent several hours walking along the South Rim, back and forth, seeing things we hadn’t seen before, mesmerized by the array of colors within the canyon and of course looking for Condors. Jeff was dead set on finding a Condor while we were there, so finally we asked a Ranger about sightings and he lead us to the right spot. He mentioned there hadn’t been any sightings for about two weeks due to a cold front that came through but wished us luck. The area he lead us to happened to be on our way to the North Rim, so started our long drive that direction.
We finally found the bridge the Ranger had led us to, with the afternoon behind us and the sun slowly slinking behind the hills, we walked onto the bridge with our fingers crossed. Jeff and I walked up and down the bridge for several minutes peering through binoculars and the camera eagerly looking for big birds. As Jeff was just about to give up, I spotted at first what I thought was a Vulture only realizing we found our bird! She was sitting on the edge of a cliff and we couldn’t believe we didn’t spot her before. We stood there taking photos for a while and before we knew it another came flying in just about 6 feet above our heads! She landed on the bridge structures right in front of us so Jeff was able to get nice shots of her. The other eventually flew in and they snuggled their heads up for sleep so we continued our journey.
We found camping in the Kaibab Forest right before the North Rim for the night still excited about the Condors but tired from walking all day. As we drove our way to the North Rim, we drove through the forest, amazed by the beauty. We both kept thinking there was no way among all of this gorgeous forest was the other side of the Grand Canyon. We were definitely wrong. As we pull up, we notice there were not as many tourist but once we got onto the rim we were puzzled as to why. The North Rim is just as amazing as the South Rim if not more so. I’m guessing more people visit the South Rim due to its size and accessibility. If you take that trip to visit the Grand Canyon, do yourself a favor and have enough time to explore both rims.
We camped again another night outside the North Rim in the Kaibab Forest. This time Jeff was on the hunt to photograph a squirrel. We read at the visitors center and in our National Parks book about the Kaibab squirrel. This squirrel only lives in this forest, it does not live anywhere else, making it a rare squirrel. We could not find any information on how many there are or if they are endangered, etc. But Jeff wanted a picture of one, so we set off on a walk and within 50 yards so from our camp we found one. We ended up finding three total by the time we left the Kaibab Forest. They were pretty cute little critters!
After we left Arizona, we headed for Vegas. Now, I know you’re thinking, ‘didn’t you recently talk about budget’? Yes I did just talk about our budget on a recent blog but there were a few places we’ve set aside money for as we’ve planned for them. (Vegas, Monterey Bay Aquarium, National Park Pass) I had never been to Las Vegas, so Jeff wanted to make sure I got to go. We got into town around dinner, got ourselves prettied up and headed to the strip. We played penny and quarter slots and only spent $10 on the machines. (got to stay in budget!) It was a nice time and I sure enjoyed myself, staying way up past our bedtime and goofing off.
California was our next destination and as we drove from Nevada we dipped back down into Arizona to stop at Lake Havasu City. We had heard about the London Bridge and had to see it for ourselves. As we drove into town the lake and beating sun tempted us, so we stopped for an afternoon dip. Lake Havasu has to be one of the prettiest lakes we have ever seen. The water was so clear you could see for days! After we dried off, we finally fell back to reality and remembered we had more driving to do and started toward California.