Monday, July 4, 2011

adventures in the u.s.a.!

i'm not going to lie, i'm not the most patriotic person. sure there are great advantages to living in a developed first-world country, but there are plenty of things that make me so frustrated, so baffled with my country and culture that it's hard to celebrate today.  however, i have had the joy of living and traveling all over this great big country and let me tell you, it's gorgeous! 

a couple years ago the mister and i took a big backpacking trip through as many southwest national parks as we could.  it was august of 2008, before i had this blog, so i don't think i ever shared our adventure.  it was one of the most fun experiences i've had, so i thought it was only fitting to reminisce this great adventure and give honor to the beautiful land i call home as my way of celebrating the u.s.a.

when we left san francisco it was a chilly 50 degrees {yes, san francisco in the summer is quite cold}, so we were excited to head out for warmer weather.  the first day we drove down into the sequoia national park, found a pretty looking spot, and backpacked up into the woods.  when we awoke the next morning we discovered several herds of cattle roaming freely through the woods.  they were so curious about us that they decided to hang out while we made breakfast.  i was already a vegetarian {mostly}, but after that morning i vowed never to eat beef again. it was very much a "bah-ram-mu" situation.  we spent the next day visiting the giant sequoia's, playing in waterfalls, and sleeping by the kern river. 

from there we made our way over to death valley.  now if you're thinking to yourself, "death valley in the middle of august? isn't it brain-boiling hot there?!" you would be correct. we spent most of our time in the car, only jumping out for 2 minutes at a time, and only after we had stuffed ice cubes in our clothes.  we were dry in under a minute.  death valley and the sahara desert go back and forth beating the record for the hottest place on earth.  we don't actually know how hot it was when we were there because the thermometers only went up to 125 degrees, but you better believe those thermometers filled all the way up to the top!  still, with all that heat, it was by far the most beautiful place i have ever been.  it's majestic and eery, surreal and magical.  we have plans to head back and go camping near the racetrack playa {where the rocks move} in the winter.

our next stop was at our friend's house in las vegas where we finally got a shower and some thai takeout. ah the comforts of home! the next day we were off again, this time to the grand canyon.  we hiked down a trail that was no longer maintained {meaning: dangerous trails and no rangers around} to a mesa in the middle of the canyon where we camped. in the middle of the night i felt a spider {eeek!!}, and woke up to discover a HUGE meteor shower above us {you get a free pass on this one spider}.  i've seen meteor showers before, but never with as much awe as from the middle of the grand canyon.

the next morning, we hiked even deeper into the canyon in pursuit of water.  i'm not going to get into it, but that day was a pretty significant day in my life.  we very nearly died that day and i have never felt more isolated, more in tune with my intuition, or more thankful for miracles as i did that day trying to
climb out of the grand canyon {don't worry mom, we made it!}.

after another stop in vegas for more showers and a tour of the strip, we grabbed our friend and headed back out, this time to explore zion national park and hike the narrows!  this was the most pure unadulterated fun we had on the whole trip.  yes it was beautiful in its own way like the other places we explored, but
this time we got to spend the entire trip hiking in the river that flows through the canyons.
sweet, refreshingly cold water!  we swam, we climbed, and we laughed a whole whole lot.

that trip was such a blast {albeit hot and sweaty - i've never been more grateful for 50 degree summers than i was heading back to san francisco after this hot adventure}. we got to see awe-inspiring parts of the country and spent time with various friends along the way.  i can't wait to go back to some of these places now that we live closer, and i'm even more excited to explore the parts of the country i haven't seen yet.  i think alaska and hawaii need to be next on the list.  maybe a tour of the non-contiguous states?  and let's go ahead and
throw in the pacific territories while we're at.  hip hip hooray! 


  1. What an amazing trip! The pictures are great.

  2. Oh my gosh, how amazing! I'm so glad you made it out of the grand canyon. And look at you, you were even able to turn that scary experience into something positive. Beautiful.

  3. I too struggle sometimes... I love the freedom that America allows, but the politics and religions issues still frustrate me. Especially living where I live. But I know despite those issues, it is still miles above many places.

    And exploring the country as you guys did is so fun. So many beautiful corners to find.

    Have a great day!

  4. Yeah death valley in August... we went in the end of June a few years back and it was HOT... we have some great pictures from there, but most of them taken from the car... we loved the AC!

  5. kim, you have a blog award :) xxxxx check my blog. love the photos. happy week!

  6. Fabulous photos! I love the one of Dannon stretched out on the Death Valley sign. Totally the type of photos we'd take on a road trip!

    You should definitely do Hawaii and Alaska next. Hawaii for obvious reasons {hello! LOST!} and Alaska because you'd have to drive through BC to get there and we could finally meet up for diet cokes :)

    Happy 4th, Kim!

  7. Wow, thank you for sharing the adventure! That sounds amazing (minus the almost dying part). Sweetie, I'm so glad you made it out okay! When I was reading that, I was thinking of how I just got done watching 127 Hours the other day and I can I say my heart picked up speed a bit. I'm so glad you two got to share such an intense experience and lived to tell the tale! Flavors of life, I suppose. That day was just extra-spicy! :)

  8. That's great! I love seeing photos of people traveling. :) I haven't been to Zion, it seems like a great place to visit (I love water!). We took a trip to the Southwest right before my senior year of high school. At the time I really didn't enjoy it. I'm from Virginia and like a lot of green in my country side and everything was too brown and dead-looking. However, I now have a firm understanding of geology and the earth sciences so I think it'd be INCREDIBLE to go back with this new point of view.

    I'm sort of with you. I'm not a very patriotic person either. I didn't grow up in a 'military family' (even though my dad, uncle, and both grandfathers had fought in wars for the USA). I guess I get embarrassed because of some actions we take as a country or some injustices, in my opinion, in the social aspect of politics. But today is different. Today is the day I put aside to celebrate everything that is great about our country because there really are a lot of wonderful things. I'm grateful I can write this without fear of reprimand from my government, I'm grateful we're taking the right steps forward in marriage equality (albeit much more slowly than I'd like), and we can vote. Sometimes I feel like it's hopeless in the sense that every politician seems to have a downside but at least we still have a choice.

    So with that, happy fourth of July and I hope you have many more amazing trips!

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  11. Kim I am so excited to read about your amazing adventures - the whole experience, the pictures and the smiles on your faces is just heartwarming. I would adore going on a trip like this, but will probably have to wait now - as I think scorching heat and small children don't quite add up :) Have a happy 4th july - and I look forward to more adventures soon.
    A xx

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  13. what an adventure, you and your husband are too cute!!

  14. Wow! This looks amazing! I had planned to explore this area this summer, but I have to be back to teaching on the 1st of August and am not sure I can fit it all are making me want to try to cram it into my schedule! Beautiful photos!

  15. Wow, awesome, Kim! I'm so glad you shared this trip with us today (and especially part of your going 100% vegetarian/the visiting cows). It's also very cool that you realize that America has a long way to go. It's rare that I meet someone from America who isn't tooting their horn way too loud (so to speak) and are blind to so much of the truth.

    P.S. I plan on emailing you back sometime soon to answer all of your questions, ha! Just wanted to let you know I've not forgotten your questions. : )

  16. that picture of you in the middle of the dessert is awesome! i hope you have the framed. same with the death pose on the death valley sign. that looks like a pretty epic trip!

  17. Wonderful photography.. great scenery! The shot of you at Death Valley is so surreal.. I'd frame that in a heartbeat!

    This is an awesome (a bit dangeous too.. I'm glad you guys got out safely) trip and I'm eager to do something similar when time permits. Maybe not so much in the heat of summer but definitely when it's nice and warm..

    Regarding the 4th, I agree with you about the country needing more time to develop... but we're young (at least I think 235 is young in the grand scheme of history) and we still have a lot to learn.. still you did a nice tribute here.

  18. Oh Kim.. I have missed a lot of your postings the past 3 weeks !!
    Hope everything is going well there!

    I must say your mister did a great job with your hair :) Love your new hair-do!

    Ahh this post makes me wanna go backpacking right now! Thanks for sharing this Kim.

  19. these photos are so wonderful! sigh, the parks in this country are amazing!

  20. There are so many beautiful places right here in our "back yard" that I'd still love to see. I think the TV series "Northern Exposure" is what first got me started with a curiosity about Alaska. :)
    Hawaii is amazing! I'm in love with Maui!
    By the way, I had no idea that San Francisco could be so cold in the summer!! Wow!! Now I kind of want to head north! ;)

  21. what an amazing trip! I really, really love Death Valley in CA... it's so breath taking isn't it?