We woke up covered in sand that blew in overnight, packed the tent away, and drove to catch the shuttle at the visitor's centre. 'The Narrows' was the very last stop. We climbed onto one of the shuttles- even this early there were many tourists and people moved on and off to their hikes. The shuttle was filled with people with the best gear. Two awkward teen boys sat in their seats making terrible loud jokes to one another to try to get some laughs. It was 7 am and I stared at them willing them to stop, because I am a grouchy morning person and because their jokes were bad. Few of us were left when the shuttle pulled up to The Narrows Trailhead and we stepped off of the bus, wishing we had brought a jacket. The shuttle had "Hiking tips" and spouted off some gear that you should have while hiking the narrows. Water boots, hiking stick, jacket, wet bags. We had our water shoes, tanks and shorts, and backpacks full of snacks and water, Off and sunscreen. We started the hike anyways, trekking the river up to where it meets the walls of the canyon.
The water was cold but not as cold as the Colorado River we had floated on days before. Small pebbles and big boulders lined the bottom of the river. We had to place each foot strategically from land to land, often single file with other hikers in tough spots. I really loved the game of watching and trusting my feet to step into the right places to keep my body steady and not tumbling down into the water. I moved swiftly on the rocks, picking out the best path for my feet and around other hikers. Others had walking sticks and trekking poles and blazed through much quicker. Next time. We hiked for an hour or so and stopped for a break, chatting with an older couple. The woman had lived in Kansas City briefly and loved it, said that there is no place like it. So rarely do we meet anyone who has been to Kansas City. Talking to someone who actually loved it slightly closed the span of land that separated us from home. It was day 7 and I was already missing Kansas City. On the first road trip, I had missed Kansas City so tremendously that I felt guilty like I was cheating on the road trip I had planned to enjoy. Since then I have learned to embrace the pull in my heart towards home. Or I am learning to embrace it. I love travelling and I love home, and I've learned to love the renewed longing for home that travelling gives me. It gives me a little bit of reassurance that I am in the right place.
We sat and ate protein bars and trail mix before heading back out of the narrows. It was a long walk back. It was day seven and we were wiped. Incredibly wiped. If we didn't want to be in Colorado that evening we would have both been happy setting up our hammocks somewhere and crashing for hours. Future note: Day seven may not be the best day for a several mile hike. through water. Early in the morning. Regardless I still loved it. I loved being so close to the towering red walls and I loved walking through the water that ran through them. But I needed to sleep for one thousand days. Our road trip was coming to an end.
We drove miles and miles through Utah, getting the full experience of it's vastness and beauty. We stopped a few places and stretched our legs. Blue skies surrounded us in every direction, and so did the rural lands of Utah. The GPS said we would make it to our destination by 5pm. Colorado is one of our favorite places to travel. Its just close enough to Kansas City to feel like home, but the mountains that hug the cities and the roads far surpass the hills and trees we are used to. A couple of years ago we found Jim Bishop's Castle and swam in a heated pool overlooking the Sand Dunes in the South. Since, I have been back to Denver. To Boulder. I saw Estes Park covered in snow and hiked the Flatirons. I love it there. There is so much time needed to explore Colorado, we had barely made a dent.
We camped at a KOA next to a Tee-pee, ate candies in our tent, and laughed until we fell asleep. The next day we would travel to Boulder to eat our favorite pizza at Pasta Jay's and shop the local vintage store before we continued on the road to camp closer to home. The site-seeing was over and what was left was endless, tired miles across Kansas. But we had each other to talk to and knew home was right around the corner. And like we have many times before, we survived the drive and pulled into the parking lot of home back to "normal life". Two weeks later I am still ready to return to life on the road.
Thank you all for reading, it means so much to me that others have been enjoying these stories, rather than me hoarding them all to myself. Its been a fantastic way for me to answer "How was your trip?" with photos and details that actually feel like a genuine answer. Traveling is only complete when you get to share your experiences with others. I hope to share and hear stories from all of your spontaneous trips and/or planned vacations in the future,
Photographer on the road