Tag Archives: camping

Yosemite National Park

(To inspire you to read all of this and forgive me for not keeping up with the blog I will fill you in on some cool facts: yes we did actually see a bear, Chris hit something in the rv, I got pulled over, and we had a near death experience. I know you are excited to read now)

On Sunday afternoon we left Los Angeles (happily because we were done with all the traffic, smog, and basically LA in general. We grabbed some Subway (with guacamole again, all of the Subways down south should add that to their menu). We were staying in the Asian side of town and right across from Subway there was a jewelry store (I had completely ruined all of my Tiffany’s bracelets from being in the hot tub the night before, they were literally like a matte ugly grey color). I went in to see if they would clean them for me and the guy cleaned them and they looked perfect again. I asked him if I owed him anything for cleaning them (I have never gotten jewelry cleaned before so I didn’t know if it cost anything or what) and the guy said it was $20 cash. I thought that was super expensive and I only had 14 dollars on me. So him and I went back and forth for about 5 minutes (he didn’t speak much English) but I got away with only paying the $14 (my daddy would be proud of my bardering skills)

After that Chris and I went to this Asian Appliance company (Chris is trying to tell me now that it was called Happy Feel Good but I don’t believe him). Anyways we were looking for a small portable air conditioner because it is super HOT driving down the road with only the windows open. We look at a bunch of them and then decide to buy one for around $60 dollars. We go outside to the rv in the parking lot and fill this little machine with water (it works with water and ice). We plug it in and suddenly the thing started smoking and dripping water from a bunch of cracks. Let’s just say that we took that thing back so fast, we didn’t even have time to put it in the box. We didn’t want the rv to burn down! After those two excursions we decided it was defiantly time to get out of LA and head to Yosemite.

The drive there wasn’t too bad other than a couple miles of %6 grade through the mountains. A lot of the drive was actually pretty scenic. We even got to stop at a Camping World and Walmart to stock up on supplies. (We had been looking to stop at a Camping World since we left for the trip. Every time we pass them, they are closed or too far out of the way. We actually carried a 40 dollar vent with us, not small either, that we finally got to return and get out of the rv.)

So after about 5ish hours of driving, we pass through Fresno and start heading into Yosemite. We went in the south entrance and as we were going in there was TONS and TONS of traffic on this single land road, all heading away from the park. Chris and I started to get really worried that the park was being evacuated because of all the fires in California right now. Chris went to the Yosemite website on his phone and said that the air quality there is very poor right now from the fires which made us even more nervous; but of course we keep going. Well we realized all the traffic was from this HUGE casino right outside the park and were very happy it wasn’t an evacuation.

Chris had looked up a campsite right outside the park and around 12:30 we drove down into it hoping to plug in and sleep. The place was full and $45 !?!? a night for this crappy parking lot where all the rvs were packed in like sardines. Luckily the weather was cold enough that we decided to keep on driving and not plug in for the night (there were no more rv plug ins on the way to the park). We drive on the curvy road for another 45 minutes wondering how big of a mistake we had made going in this far until we pull up to Fish Camp, a mile from the entrance to the park. We pull down and guess what, ONE spot left (Chris and I can’t even count how many times we have gotten lucky and taken the last spot.) We pull in and go right to sleep.

In the morning we wake up and walk over to the entrance to figure out what we want to do for the day. We talk to the very nice campsite manager and he gives us a map and some information. He also tells us that there is a small waterfall just up the road. Chris and I walked up there to see it and Chris said he had kayaked bigger waterfalls than that. Haha but it was a nice start to the day. We get back and there was this creek right behind out campsite. When we were going to the waterfall we saw a bunch of Mexicans trying to fish in it but they left by the time we came back. Chris and I made some lunch and went to eat it by the creek. Our feet were in the water and all of a sudden we started to see crawfish EVERYWHERE. In our little area there were at least 6. Of course Chris decided he needs to start catching some and after feeding one of them some of his quesidilla, he got one. Overall, it was a pretty cool start to our day.

We packed up and drove into the park (saving 20 dollars with our sweet National Park Pass). Right through the entrance was the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. They wouldn’t let the rv down the road so we unloaded the dirt bike and rode off to see the big trees.

chris-and-fallen-tree reese-and-fallen-tree

Now although these trees aren’t as tall as the coastal redwoods (they grow to 628 feet tall and the ones we saw top out around 310 feet) It was about a mile hike out to see the Grizzly Giant (one of the largest trees in Mariposa Gove and is estimated to be about 2700 years old). The branches on top are 7 feet in diameter!

chris-and-the-biggest-tree reese-and-the-biggest-tree

1/4 mile further there is the Clothespin Tree which you can walk through or stretch out in like Chris and I did. We knew that we didn’t have much time to spend (we have less than 2 weeks until we have to be back in Clemson) so we decided to turn around and hike a different trail out.

reese-clothespin-treechris-and-clothespin-tree

We were going to load the dirtbike back on the rv and the parking lot was packed with cars. (Loading the dirt bike usually takes about 10 minutes because you have to unscrew the ramp hook up up roll it on blah blah). Some nice guys from the car next to us offered to help Chris just lift the bike on saving us time. We drive over to the gas station and paig 5.09 a gallon to fill up (in case most of you are wondering, gas in California hasn’t been too bad yet. The only time we have ever had to pay over 5 dollars was in the Grand Canyon and Yosemite.) After that we went to the back country permit office so we could hike off into the wilderness and camp for the night. The permit was free although we had to put a credit card deposit and pay 5 dollars for a bear canister rental. All food and scented things must be locked up in there and let me tell you, it even took Chris and me a couple minutes to break into it.

We had gotten our permit to hike out to a waterfall about 3 miles from the main road. We parked the rv on the side of the road and had to empty all of our open food into the big bear locker in the parking lot. We were the only people parked there and the only people that were going to be camping within miles of there. It took us almost 2 hours to pack up our packs and bear proof the rv.  It was about 5:30 when we finally started hiking in and our big pack had to weigh at least 80 pounds (we had a tent, sleeping bags, the bear canister, gallon of water, lantern, and a lot of extra stuff that we didn’t have to take when we went to the Grand Canyon). I carried the pack for the first, lets say .5 miles and I almost fell to the ground. They failed to tell us that we would be hiking straight up a mountain for 3 miles. It was even steeper than the Grand Canyon. Chris did the guy thing and carried it the rest of the way up and I carried the small pack. The sun sets at 8:20 and we were getting close to both the sunset and the waterfall. Chris tells me to start looking for a place where we can camp when all of a sudden…..

A BEAR!!!! I freak out and stop in my tracks and say omg Chris look there is a bear. He doesn’t believe me at first because he was concentrating on the GPS but when he turns and looks, there is a bear about 30 feet from the trail scratching his back on a tree!! He was really close and we decided to just keep walking because the bear stopped what he was doing and just started staring at us. We walked another 15 feet and then decided to take the camera out and try to take a picture. The picture turned out blurry but we didn’t want to mess with the bear anymore. We kept walking down the trail, turning around ever 10 feet to make sure he wasn’t following us. It was really cool to see the bear but it did make me a lot more scared to be sleeping out in the wilderness that night. We were also scared that our rv might get attacked in the parking lot. (It was impossible for us to empty all the food and smelly things into the bear locker because we didn’t want things to get stolen)

We get to the waterfall right as the sun sets below the mountains. Great, beautiful, wonderful, ummm we still need a place to sleep. So we kept following the trail and the forest turned really lush and green all around the creek that let to the waterfall. (The rest of the forest had big trees and had a lot of fire damage which prevented brush from growing). Chris and I dropped our packs and literally started running to find a spot……and there it was, the perfect camping spot right on the creek (which was not allowed, oops, we had to sleep somewhere). We run back and grab the packs, quickly make a fire ring, put up the tent, get firewood, then relax and make some dinner. We were really tired from our busy day so we went to bed around 11:30 after sitting by the fire and enjoying being back in the wilderness and away from the noise and pollution. Before we could sleep, we had to wash all the dishes and put the bear canister, med kit, bug spray, sunscreen ect. all over 100 feet from our camp to keep us safe. Call me paranoid but we also slept with the lantern on all night outside just in case.

We wake up in the morning to the bigs chirping after getting a pretty decent night sleep. The temperature was nice and it was a beautiful sunny day. We start to tear down camp and make pancakes over the fire for breakfast. We needed to hurry up and get back to cell phone service because it was a Monday and Chris is always SUPER busy on Monday’s with work. Chris is the professional camping pancake maker (ever since the pancakes he made on Spring Break 2 years ago when we camped on the Chattoga with Scotty and Cori). It was around noon by the time we started hiking out and we were a little sore from all the hiking we did from the day before (yesss Kevin we are trying to get into better shape :)  Luckily our hike today was completely down hill (which is worse for my knee) and we hauled ass out of there. I think we made it out in little over an hour when it took us almost 3 to hike it. We get back to the rv and…….

everything was fine (haha I built some suspense there with the ….. you thought a bear attacked the rv didn’t you!) We unpacked out food and trash out of the locker and no one stole anything (yay!). Chris hops in the driver seat and we had to drive a couple miles back to the back country office to return our bear canister. The roads there are very narrow and not really made for rvs and trucks to pass each other. The road also has big poles sticking out every 30 feet so the snow plow trucks don’t drive off the road in the winter. Well lets see, old rv, small curvy roads, frequent metal poles, and cliffs……..BANG there goes our passenger side mirror. A truck crossed over the line and Chris avoided it by swerving and it took out the mirror and mirror extender we had on it. Unfortunately, my window was open so the mirror shatters and comes in the rv hitting me (I was completely fine, most of it went outside) Chris freaked out when he saw that I might be hurt (I did scream) and he swerved hitting the back corner of the rv loosening the awning. We pull over and none of the damage is bad. We actually even have an extra mirror in the rv in our pile of stuff we were going to return. We walk back to the pole we hit and make sure everything is out of the road before we get back in and drive again, Chris of course made me drive after that.

We return the bear canister and could get a little bit of phone service by the hotel there. Chris checks his 12 voice mails and calls people back because we know there is no way we will have service as we drive the 45 miles out of the park. At first we weren’t that impressed with Yosemite; it was beautiful but it didn’t seem like we had seen anything too special at this point. We went into the village…eh…and then just decided we had seen enough and started heading out. A couple miles outside of the village there was a bunch of really sick rapids that we got out to look at. There were a bunch of class 4 navigable rapids all right in a row; if only we were a little better at kayaking we totally could have run them.

We stop a little while later to take pictures of this other waterfall down the road that was really cool. The drive then started to turn waayyy more senic. We started to see amazing views and even climed up to 10,000 feet! I think the road we were driving on was 120 (we were basically just following the GPS) and it was breathtaking. This drive, although it was long and slow, totally changed out views about Yosemite. We stopped so many times to take pictures and I don’t even think most of the pictures do it justice. We even got to see snow on the ground! This is the first time I’ve ever seen snow in the middle of July. We wish we could have had another night to camp up in the wilderness, even though it was a lot colder up there. There were lakes, rivers and waterfalls everywhere and we even saw a bunch of dear on the side of the road.

Now most of you wouldn’t appreciate this but I am saying this in support of all rv drivers in the United States. They go slow and they are hard to drive no matter how much experience you have. There are places called turnouts every mile or so and we pulled off every time to let cars pass. We probably pulled over at least 30 times and had 2 people that honked and waved. So here is my public service announcement, as long as you don’t tailgate us, we will pull over for your guys; when we do pull over, a wave is greatly appreciated because we do go out of our way and waste time slowing down and stopping.

So after we stop in our shorts and t-shirts to throw snowballs at each other, we jump back in and I am still driving. There wasn’t any turnouts for a while so I could see in the backup camera that there were a couple cars backed up behind us. All of a sudden, red and blue flashing lights behind us and a speaker saying for us to pull over ASAP. Those of you who know me or have been with me when I got pulled over (Brittney, Amelia, Olivia), know that I do NOT deal well with it. I immediately start teering up because I didn’t know what I did wrong. The park ranger comes up and said I went left of center on a turn and wanted to make sure I hadn’t been drinking. Of Course I Haven’t Been Drinking!!! I could obviously barely even drive these roads sober!! (note from chris: haha, she drives like a drunk person) He asks for license, registration and insurance and luckily I had labeled the registration and insurance in an envelope and knew where they were; my drivers license was another story. The rv is a MESS and I mean complete and total MESS. It took me 5 minutes to dig through pounds of dirty clothes and out backpack as I am freaking out the whole time I am looking. He takes everything back to his car and comes back with only a warning, PHEW! I can’t afford a ticket.

After that, I made Chris drive. The ranger also warned us about the steep grade we were only a couple miles from. He said it was the steepest thing he has ever been on and said we have to have good breaks to make it; another reason to make Chris drive. The sun was setting and we were contemplating just staying and the beautiful campsites and saving the difficult drive for the morning. We knew that we just needed to get out because we didn’t have time to stay. We see the first sign that says 8% grade for the next 11 miles. For those of you that don’t know, most of the roads that have run away truck ramps and really steep grade signs are only 6%, 8% is even MORE insane. We start going and in less than 2 miles, we had to pull over because our breaks basically stopped working. There were overheated and if you poured water on them, the water evaporate instantly. This is when we knew we were in trouble.

At this point we couldn’t make it back up the mountain but we also couldn’t go down; we were basically stuck on the side of the road waiting for the breaks to cool. Being stuck isn’t too bad when you are in an rv because we made a nice dinner and watched a movie while we waited. After almost two hours, they were cooler and Chris thought we could try to go another couple miles. Now you have to understand that the rv was backfiring the whole time, there are a few mechanical problems that we haven’t identified yet that could all be very critical for this drive, we are driving a 1973 rv, there is a STEEP cliff on one side and only a few places to pull over. We were basically prepared to crash into the mountain if necessary; it was really scary. We buckled our seat belts, said a quick prayer, a kiss in case we didn’t make it, and slowly started heading down.

Obviously I am writing this right now so we are alive and well. I can’t remember the last time I was that scared though. If I had cell phone service I probably would have called home and woken up my family just to say I love them. We were very lucky. At this point there was one gas station and nothing else for miles. We filled up on gas and kept on driving.

For those of you that have never driven through no where, we have multiple times now. Literally a road, (this one have tons of dips in it) and the road has no pull offs, intersections, or any other cars on it. Chris tells me to look at a map because it is almost 11 at this point (it took hours to get only a few miles out of the park) and I say hmmm, the nearest rv park is over 100 miles away. The nearest town is 40 miles away. So we get to the town and see a sign that says population 164. 164?!?!?! If you have a baby or go away to college they actually can update the population. There was one gas station/grocery store/post office combination that was all closed. We bought some gas and decided to keep driving until we had cell phone service. We drive for another mile and by the looks of everything, we are back in the desert, surrounded by mountains. One bar of service, no service, extended network, roaming…..finally 2 bars of service!! We pull over right there and decide to just sleep on the side of the road for the night. We watch a little tv and then go to bed in the middle of no where.

We wake up in the morning around 9:30, burning up because it was so hot. Chris answers some calls and then we keep driving. Oh ya I think I forgot to say this but we are in Nevada now. If you want to know where, just pick a spot away from civilization and thats where we are. We finally came up on a town today and it was unlike anything we have ever seen before. It was almost like and old cowboy town (Chris said he expected to see a Wagon Wheel or something). We are sitting in the McDonald’s right now so I can finally blog some for all you avid readers and so Chris can answer Illstreet e-mails. Unfortunately about 4 bus loads full of smelly, loud, annoying high school kids filled this place for almost 45 minutes. Chris and I almost had to step outside to get some fresh air. From here was are going to get on route 50 and head in to Moab where we will hopefully be able to do some kayaking.

Look for updates to LA and San Diego soon. I am going to try to catch up on all of those as soon as I can and post more pictures.  I really do apologize for not having time to write. We have the whole rest of our trip planned out (not because we are over achievers otr anything, we are basically following one of the routes in a cross country book Chris bought) and have only a week and a half of adventures left to go. From Moab we are going through Colorado, Kansas, and St. Louis (where we have to stop and try to find and apartment for me for law school.) We are about 11 hours still from where we need to be in Utah so we will probably be sleeping on the side of the road again tonight (although at this point we REALLY need showers, it’s been a couple days, and to do laundry; I just washed my face in the McDonald’s bathroom) We miss you all and can’t wait to get back out of the desert again.

(sorry this one was so long, 6 pages in Microsoft Word—I have to type in there so it corrects my horrible spelling for me)

Where in the world are Reese and Chris???

Yes yes most of you must be wondering where we are due to the lack of posting. We stayed in San Diego until Sunday July 6th and then left and started driving up the coast. We only drove about an hour or so because we left pretty late from Kevin’s. We also had nooo food, so before we stopped at the state park where we were going to spend the night on the beach we made a trip to Albertson’s to stock up. Of course this turned into Chris reading the newspaper as I shopped for food, but hey what do you expect, he is a boy. He did pick out a handle of Jack Daniels that was on sale for $30.

We pack up our food and drive over to San Clemente State Beach and realize that there is a “campsites full” sign outside; great, just what we needed. We decided to drive through there anyways because we were still sooo tired and recovering from our crazy week with Kevin. Luckily there was an empty spot so we plugged in and pretty much went straight to bed. The next day we woke up and tried to reserve the campsite we were staying in again for Monday night that way we would wake up at the beach on my birthday, but no it was reserved. We stayed in that spot 2 hours past what we were supposed to (we wanted to get our full $34 out of it) and when the next people were honking to get in the spot, we quickly unplugged and drove over to the beach (we didn’t have to pay the ten dollar fee to park at the beach because we had already paid to camp the night before).

We spent the whole day hanging out at the beach, napping, and watching all the surfers. The waves are pretty crazy there but the water was WAY to cold for us to go in. Right behind the little stretch of beach that we were sitting on was the oceanfront railroad tracks and we saw at least 5 passenger cars go by us that day. The sun was beginning to set, so we hiked back up to the parking lot and made dinner right there (one of the convinces of living in and rv).

It’s around ten o’clock and night and we were still homeless for the night. Chris wanted to just sleep in the parking lot at the beach but I didn’t want to wake up on my birthday to someone towing us or an expensive parking ticket. Instead we drove 2 miles away to another state campground that was also completely full. We drove through and found a nice secluded spot and plugged in. Chris made a fire and we just relaxed until midnight when….I turned 22. (I even got a really cool video of little Kuhsie duck singing happy birthday with a corn muffin and candle. Maybe I can upload it later with Chris’s help.)

We woke up and cleaned up the campsite, and then went to go take showers, which cost 25 cents for 2.5 minutes!! Well we of course have no quarters so we go up to the booth and they don’t have any change at all either. We go back to the rv and dug around for change and came up with 5 quarters to share (i wonder who used more time…).

We left the campground and continued up the coast to Laguna Beach where we were going to have lunch for the day. After the short 45 minute dive we had to figure out where we could park our house. Parking was ten dollars most places so instead of giving money to a parking lot, we decided to pay ten dollars and park at a state campground, which we ended up regretting because they were all assholes to us and kept giving us Such a hard time when we were loading and unloading the dirt bike (they even accused Chris of riding around in the park and he had to continuously tell them that we were only using it to get to town.)

Well we rode into town and drove all around Laguna Beach (to me it didn’t look the same as what the tv shows looked like). Yes the houses were all huge and nice and there were a lot of nice cars everywhere but it’s not one of my favorite stops on this trip. We find this little Mexican place that you can see the water and the beach from their balcony. I ask if they have any weekday or happy hour specials (Chris and I are always looking for a great deal) and the waiter says “um I don’t think anyone has ever asked me that before” I guess they aren’t used to cheapos like us. Well we have a nice 50 dollar Mexican food lunch and head back to the rv so we can continue onward to LA.

Chris drove this next stretch because there was no way I was going to drive the rv through LA’s traffic.  People are speeding around us left and right and blinkers, well I don’t think they mean anything to people in LA. Chris had to put on music after awhile to calm his road rage. We get to Culver City (about 8 miles outside of LA) and check into the Radisson there (I had a free stay saved up from a bad experience Chris and I had at a Radisson in Niagara Falls for my birthday last year).

We have a nice bottle of wine in the room and call a Taxi to head off to dinner. We were going to  pay the $45 each way to go into Hollywood but instead we just went and ate at this really nice Cheesecake factory right on the water. The food and drinks were all really good and it was awesome to eat right on the beach. (my mom said that I could charge a dinner under 100 dollars and it just happened that our bill came out to 99.99 with tip:) haha I’m so tricky. After dinner we walked over to this really cool bar where we had some big margaritas and watched some motocross on tv. The bar was two stories, had a fire pit and plasma tvs everywhere. Our waitress was awesome and Chris asked if I could get a free shot since it was my birthday. She said sure as long as I went downstairs and took it with the head bartender because her birthday was in two days. We finish our drinks and go down to get my shot at the big bar. The bartender said it was another guys birthday too! His birthday was the 9th, mines was the 8th and the bartenders was the 10th. She pours us all (even Chris) a free shot a Patron…whoop whoop!!

After the bar we walk down to the beach and sit on the lifeguard stand for a little while. It was nice and cool out and we knew this was going to be the last time we were at the beach for a while. We started to walk back and there was a little convenience store were we bought a couple of really good cheap bottles of wine and Chris bought me the newest Cosmo magazine (since it was my birthday). We go to call a cab and see that there is one right outside of the bar we were just at. We go up to the cab and I guess some foreign girl had called for it and was trying to round up her friends inside. The driver didn’t care one bit, he told us to just hop in and $17 dollars later we were back at the hotel. It was a fun night and nice to come back to a big room.

In the morning we started to pack up (and of course got an extension on our checkout like we do everywhere). Chris does some work and we decide that since we are on this side of LA, we should take the dirt bike out to do all the sightseeing this afternoon before we got to City of Industry to see VIS and Seibon for Chris’s work. We left the rv in the parking lot and drove off to Rodeo Drive and Hollywood.

First we arrived at Rodeo drive and drove down looking at all the expensive stores that I won’t be able to afford until way after my law school debts are paid off. I didn’t even want to go look in the shops because I know I can’t afford anything. We did see about 50 people outside of one store with a bunch of cameras so we guessed someone famous was in there. We drove on trying to find a place to eat lunch and couldn’t find restaurants anywhere; people in LA must not eat. We finally see this place that has a nice patio outside and flowers, I think it was call Chick a Roo??? We order our food and go to sit down outside. I grab a magazine because Chris loves to read things while he waits for food. I opened it and start to realize that it had a lot of like gay news in it. I thought that was just how the issue was. Then Chris looks up and realizes that there are two big rainbow flags in the street; we totally stopped to eat in the gay part of town without knowing it. It worked out because everyone was super nice and the food was pretty reasonable.

From there we drove into Hollywood. We parked the dirt bike and walked the main strip where all the stars are and the Chinese Theatre. We did the touristy thing and put our hands and feet in the molds and walked the street while getting harassed by people trying to sell maps of stars homes. After a little bit of walking, I actually got to shop for the FIRST time this whole trip. I think I went in like 3-4 stores and bought 3 new dresses (all on sale). After I got a few new clothes, Chris decided that he really wanted a new cool “west coast style” t-shirt to wear. For those of you who don’t know, it’s the t shirts that have a lot of designs on them, skulls sometimes, they are the cool things to wear. Well we started looking and most the ones we likes were right around 100 dollars; there is no way Chris was going to pay that for a t-shirt. So we keep walking.

And walking. We kept walking down the road going in tons of stores that sold that style of shirt. Chris didn’t want too extreme of a shirt because he wants to still be able to wear it on the east coast and didn’t want to pay over 40 dollars for a shirt. Finally we find this store that had a shirt we both liked for around 40 dollars. It was a smaller store away from the tourist area so the owner comes up and offers Chris a 15% discount. After we hear that, we find another one that he likes and end up getting both shirts for a good deal….almost an hour and a half after our search began.

We walk back to the dirt bike and head back to the hotel we were are sure the rv is racking up a crazy parking bill. We also had to get out to City of Industry to we could meet Irving for dinner. (Chris’s VIS rep that he has never met and done business with for years) I go inside the hotel to pay out parking bill and somehow talked the guy into validating it for FREE…total score because it saved us almost 30 dollars. We loaded the dirt bike and headed off on the hour drive to the other side of LA, through rush hour traffic, while trying to find a decent hotel to stay at.

We hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon!

Chris and I successfully climbed up and down the Grand Canyon. We left our campsite Thursday morning around 5 am and drove to the back country office to park the rv (we were allowed to park there overnight for free) and then had to wait for the express shuttle to take us to the South Kaibab trail. We got a slightly later start than we wanted but what do you expect, Chris and I aren’t morning people.

the-grand-canyonhiking-down

So we started hiking, and hiking, and we saw a few people in the zone on their way up. And down further we go. Chris kept looking at the gps to calculate how far we had gone and at one point, we asked this other group if they knew how long the trail was; they said “About 6 miles.” We see the amazing views of the canyon that this trail is known for and take some pictures. We saw mules carrying people and loads down and were pretty impressed with the two restroom stops. This trail has NO water on it so we packed over 4 liters for each of us. Once we got close to 6 miles, Chris and I were like “wow this wasn’t that bad, we weren’t even that exhausted.” But oh no, that woman was very wrong.

We still had another 3 miles to go downhill. Ugh! By this point, Chris was carrying the big pack and I was carrying the backpack. We switched on and off the first few miles but my knee was started to get weak. Having a trekking pole saved my life when it came to getting up and down the canyon. (I bought mine for 30 dollars the day before but we found out later that you can rent them for $2 a pole per day. Definitely rent them if you are going to do this hike!)

skeleton-pointfile0000138-desktop-resolution

The sun started to get hotter and our stops became slightly more frequent. Yes we did get passed by a 15 year old boy hiking by himself (we think he was a boy scout trying to get a badge or something because he was hauling ass) And around 10:30 we were passed by this guy who was heading up the mountain. He stopped in our shady rest area and told us how he had ran down the bright angel trail and was now running up this trail AND he had left the same time we did in the morning. Some of these people are nuts; they made me feel really out of shape.

Finally, around noon, we made it to the tunnel that leads to the bridge. We had finally made it down. We cross the bridge thinking we were there but oh no, there is another MILE walk to the Phantom Ranch! Chris and I decided early on that we were going to go straight to Phantom Ranch and buy a 4 dollar cold beer to celebrate as soon as we got down. So we dunked our heads in water and slowly started to make our way uphill. We got our beers, 2 Tecate’s each, carried down the canyon by mule. We also got some bagels because we were too tired to make our freeze dried meals.

After our beers, we went and checked out the campsites by the creek. It was sooo hot that the temperature was 105 but felt like 125 in the sun. All of the full shade sites were gone so we took a half shade site that had 4 trees for us to tie our jungle hammocks too. (tents are way too heavy to carry down, and the ground is way too uncomfortable to sleep on so the hammocks were perfect) We sat in the creek and drank some wine, so we could be cool and do what my parents did when they hiked down, even though we didn’t hike down and up in one day (Sitting in the creek is what EVERYONE does down there. It is too hot to be anywhere else so all the hikers just sit in this 2 foot deep cold clear creek until the sun sets).

Chris set up his hammock and then accidentally fell asleep before setting up mine. I tried to go sleep on a picnic table in the shade but it didn’t work too well. I ended up sitting in the river for another 2 hours until he woke up. We made freeze dried lasagna which was actually pretty tasty. After dinner, we decided to go for a walk (and no we aren’t crazy, we just wanted to see the Colorado River) So we went and sat on a different bridge overlooking a rapid and then went to the sandy beach once the sun set. The stars down there were breathtaking. I have never seen stars that clearly in my life. And the weirdest part of the beach was that bats were flying 6 inches over our head as we laid there.

We started to get sleepy so we went to leave and Chris realized that he had left his knife in the sand. We had brought only one head lamp and after skimming the beach, we realized it must have gotten buried. This was a knife Chris has had since he was little so after some digging, we finally found it. By this point it was 9:45 and we had to get back to the ranch store to try and get mole skin for my blisters and a few other things. Unfortunately, by the time we hiked up there, it was closed. We flashed our light in and a woman opened a window asking if we needed anything. We convinced her to let us in to just buy the mole skin.

We went back to our campsite and made a second freeze dried meal, beef teriyaki, climbed in our hammocks and went to sleep for a few hours. The people next to us got up at 2:30 and our alarm went off at 3:30……nooo thank you. We were way too tired to get up then. Around 4, Chris gets out and convinces me to get out of bed. We packed up our gear, ate freeze dried scrambled eggs (yuck they were horrible, I didn’t eat any, I had a granola bar.)

We get on the Bright Angel Trail around 5 am, about 2 hours later than they recommended. So we hike and hike and the trail is completely different than the trail we took down. This one passes by a few creeks and actually had a few trees at the beginning.

We were making pretty good time and filled up with water and the 3 different watering stations. By the time we reached 3 mile (3 miles from the top) we started to see a lot a day hikers and people that were WAY less tired than we were. The next mile and a half took us an hour and a half to complete. It was starting to get very hot and very steep. We made it though with the help on this family who gave us some trail mix to help replenish our salt.

chris-restingwe-made-it

We got a mile from the top and I couldn’t go any further because I felt very sick. I had only eaten 300 calories that day and my body literally had no energy left to burn. One of our fellow friendly hikers gave me a bag of trail mix that had 900 calories, enough to boost up my energy so we could make it to the top. By the time we were close, we were stopping about every 200 feet because we were soo hot and tired. But guess what…WE MADE IT!!

After we made it out, we were sooo exhausted and looked pretty awkward and dirty compared to the rest of the tourists. (We were pretty much stumbling around using our walking sticks for guidance) We had NO desire to walk the mile to our car so we waited in a line for about 15 minutes to eat some ice cream. We sat on the ground and ate while turning our cell phones back on and calling home. The ice cream gave us some energy so we went in the store right there to buy our shirts that say we hiked the Grand Canyon. Still carrying our packs and half delusional from exhaustion, we head off in search of our rv. We couldn’t really remember were the backcountry office was so we just stumbled on the railroad tracks (we remembered we parked right by them) And Yay we made to the rv and everything was still in tack. We throw our gear in and decide that we want some Wendys, which is about ten minutes away.

I decide to drive since Chris was even more tired than me because he had to carry the huge pack all the way up. About 2 minutes down the road, the rv started smoking. We stop immediately blocking traffic and Chris diagnoses the problem as an old wire that had come loose. He pulled it out and the smoke went away. 3 minutes later down the road, the rv started sputtering and oops we had run out of gas. Stopping traffic again, we filled up our tank with the 3 gallon reserve we kept bungee corded on the back. All we wanted some fooooddd. We had to stop at the nearest gas station and had to buy gas for 4.69!!!!!! After that, we ordered 17 dollars worth of Wendy’s from the dollar menu. Delicious!

We were tired and sore but knew we wanted to try and make it to Sedona that night since it was only 2 hours away. I start driving and we were off to Lo Lo Mai rv park in Sedona.

The Grand Canyon

The alarm goes off and after about 20 minutes(remember we went to bed at 3 and this is at 5 am), I drag myself up and continue driving. In case if anyone was wondering why we just didn’t stop for the night, we HAD to get to the Grand Canyon today on Wednesday so we could try to get a permit to hike into the Canyon on Thursday. Chris and I didn’t make any reservations on this trip and had already called the Backcountry office and campground. There was nothing available.

I stopped after about an hour to get McDonald’s breakfast (a treat for myself) and picked Chris some food too. I was letting him sleep until we got to the Canyon. It took me about 2.5 hours but the drive was really pretty. We finally get to the entrance and didn’t have to pay the $25 fee because we had bought a National Park Pass in Carlsbad. (For 80 dollars, you get admission to all national parks and a bunch of other stuff. The card is good for up to 4 people or one vehicle. We already saved 37 so hopefully we will earn the rest back in the next year.)

I have been to the Grand Canyon a long time ago with my family but Chris has never been here. On our way to the Backcountry Permit Office, we stop at Mather Point and jumped out so Chris can get his first view. I don’t even think there are words to describe it. Unfortunately this was a quick stop because we had some major begging to do.

We show up at the permit office and were greeted by a very friendly park ranger. We wanted to put our names on the waiting list to camp overnight in the canyon on Thursday but instead…..WE GOT THE PERMIT. You have no idea how stressed we were (well I was) that we weren’t going to get it. Our friendly ranger gave us lots of tips and advice on how to do the trip properly and safely. After all of our questions were answered, he even gave us free fuel for cooking that a camper had left behind.

After that experience, we were in such a good mood that we thought we should at least try to see if there were any cancellations or openings at the fully booked rv park and campgrounds. (We didn’t want to drive out of the park since we would have to be back here at 4-5 am. to hike) I walk into the rv campground, the only place with hookups for an hour radius, and ask if by any chance they had room for us. There was even a sign on the door that said, “All Booked, Reservations Only.” And guess what, WE GOT IT….haha and the girl working the desk was from good ole Greenville, SC. She let us check in right then (2 hours early) and gave us an awesome shady spot on the end of the row.

So overall, today had been AMAZING. Haha I don’t think anything could have worked out any better. Chris is working outside in the breeze and I started packing for our adventure tomorrow. There won’t be any more posts until Friday night because we will be farrr down the canyon. I am hoping that my knee will hold up (if any of you don’t know I have had two surgeries on my knee, one replacing my ACL).

One last thing before we head out for the day. My Dad’s sister Nuria Serrat died of dehydration while hiking on the trails of the Grand Canyon a couple years ago. We know the dangers and already packed more than enough water and have located the water stations along the trail. I was curious to see which trail it actually was that she was hiking and while I was looking that up, I realized that she began her hike on June 26, 1999. In case if any of you don’t know, tomorrow is June 26. This was completely unplanned and I just remember that she died in the summer and I couldn’t attend her funeral because I was away at a soccer camp.

So along with our permit on our pack, I have attached a note saying that we are hiking in memory of my Aunt Nuria. She was an avid hiker and outdoorsman and I know she will watch over us on our journey keeping us safe. Wish us luck and thank you all for your comments. We love hearing from everyone.

Dauphin Island, AL

We made it to dauphin island. we got the lady at the rv park to wait for us a half hour after they closed. the springs proved to be a great $454 investment. the campground where we are was crazy hard to find online. it is literally on the beach with trails through a bird sanctuary. The only problem with the island is everything closes at 9 or earlier. We drove around aimlessly at 930 until we finally decided to pull over a cop and ask him. coincidentally his name was officer triple A. sike! I don’t know his name but he sent us to a bar for a liquid dinner. we’re staying another night here so we will have all day on the beach tomorrow which is awesome because so far this isn’t very relaxing. keepin it real …posting from the bar -chris

Touring Dauphin Island

We finally made it to the beach!!! We got in last night and Chris already wrote about the cool bar we went to. Since no place was open to eat, we made my parents favorite road trip meal; spaghetti with little pepperonis in it.

The place we are staying in is Right on the beach. There is a boardwalk that leads to a private beach and marshy area.  We walked the beach and build cool sandcastles during the day and then Chris beat another level in Grand Theft Auto 4.

chris-building-a-sandcastlechris-and-reese

After a little sunburn and all that excitement, we took the dirt bike to go get Chris some local seafood (since I don’t like seafood, I got a hamburger) We ate right on the water at the Crab Shack. I went upstairs to get margaritas from the bar up there and guess how much our two drinks cost….$18.00!!! We got to watch the sunset and then rode around the Island. We realized how much damage Katrina did 3 years ago and half of the Island looks like it is either for sale or empty real estate.

dauphin-islandsunset-dinner

Overall, Dauphin Island was really pretty and we enjoyed it here. It still looks underdeveloped so if anyone want to rent a huge beach house for cheap….go here. It’s about 9:00 now and we are just going to lay low and probably walk on the beach and have a fire outside later before we head to NEW ORLEANS tomorrow. Luckily, it’s a short drive. We are learning a lot about how these campgrounds work and how to reserve the best ones, hopefully we will start finding cheaper ones.

Costs for the Day– $72 two night stay at Dauphin Island Rv Park, $35 seafood dinner, $18 for 2 margaritas

View all of our Dauphin Island Picture Here: