This year's annual road trip started slightly different. Now that Celeste lives amidst the canyons and desert land we love to wander through, I had to make my way to her, alone. Alone and not alone- I had Sookie my cat niece- but she would not talk to me the entire trip. I took off on a Wednesday morning; 16 hours to Arizona with a night spent somewhere in New Mexico. There is not a lot you can do to brace for 12+ consecutive hours on the road, besides a night of rest and tons of coffee. I had plenty of the latter but traded going to bed at 9pm for something like 12am. Kansas dragged for miles and I blared music and sang to keep my eyes open, with Sookie as my constant meowing background singer. We made it safely to a campsite around 8 and Sookie cuddled my neck and crawled into my sleeping bag before settling in her bed.
I woke up with my head on Sookie's bed, her eyes inches from my own. She hadn't shredded the tent the way she likes to shred toilet paper roles, so we hit the road- and made it to Phoenix around 1pm. Having only been to Flagstaff, AZ and north, I was knocked on my ass by the Phoenix heat. It was over 100 when I arrived and my skin was completely surrounded by heat as I stepped onto to the pavement. "We're in the valley" Celeste kept telling me, "that's why its so hot." But she still somehow managed to move her things in that heat, move, walk, talk, BREATH in that heat. She walked me around her apartment community and showed me a pool that was warm as bath water. She showed me the fitness center (Indoor. But after the walk to get there in the heat!? nope) and the lounge. While this was going on I was pretty convinced that the heat was slowly baking my organs. But Celeste handled it like she was already used to it--already accepting of it--so I put my poker face on and managed to only make comments about the heat every five minutes or so. I have the urge to rant about how Celeste's shoes were melted and how leaving Target's beautiful air-conditioning was like walking into my coffin- but I'll just smile and visit again in October.
We left the next morning with a lot of land to cover, making a stop at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon (Old friend!) before heading to Bryce Canyon. We pumped our bodies with caffeine and booked a campsite for the evening while we talked and cruised through the red rocks we visited on our very first road trip. When we made it to the North Rim, we packed up our gear and headed to one of the lookouts. In order to view the views and get the photos without all of the other tourists, we climbed rocks to reach a boulder that sat us in solitude over the canyon. Then we climbed a little further, eager and a little overzealous. We have this joke about a dream I had before our first ever road trip, wherein Celeste fell into the Grand Canyon and I had to call and tell her mom. It's only a joke because it didn't happen, and we like to imagine the scenario if it did. (we are funny) So when Celeste was stuck on a slightly angled rock covered in pebbles on the edge of the North Rim, we laughed so hard. Her feet wouldn't get traction to pull her back up but she was right next to a bush she was able to pull herself up with. But as she froze on the angled rock realizing her dilemma, she said the words 'I'm stuck', and we both fell into a twisted hysterical laughter- which was not helping her dilemma or mine as I had found myself in a similar situation. But we climbed back up and stayed away from the very edge as we knew the next time would not be as funny.
We nearly lost our campsite and we missed the sunset over Bryce Canyon by minutes-- but we were happy to be back on the road where life was less structured and more unexpected. As we arrived back to our campsite that evening, we both noticed that we were surrounded by other groups of ladies camping. Alone! Camping! Can you believe their nerve? Joking obviously. We are the women that wander the west.
Photographer on the road