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Havasu in the summertime (Part 3): End of Our First Year Traveling Full-Time

Everything was looking up for us. We finally had a working truck to get us place to place and a trailer big enough to store and organize all of our things. We weren’t stuck anymore! My extended work contract at the hospital was scheduled to end September 29, and Mike had put notice into his job. We were both excited to get somewhere new.

Aug. 23 was my birthday so Mike got the day off work. Our friends took us on their boat and bought me angel food cake to celebrate. Mike took me to dinner at our favorite italian place in town, Mario’s and bought me one of my favorite chocolates, Fannie May. Had an awesome day celebrating the last birthday in my 20’s!

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The following weekend, our friends were heading back east for a few months so we took them up to Vegas to catch their late Saturday night flight. We walked the strip, visited Margaritaville, and ate dinner at Guy Fieri’s restaurant. We sang some karaoke at Ellis Island before saying goodbye. They wouldn’t be back to Havasu until later in the fall so we knew we wouldn’t see them for awhile, so it was a hard goodbye.

Vegas with jim and michelle

After seeing them off, Mike and I walked back to the truck in a casino parking lot off the strip. We were trying to save money where we could so we ended up sleeping in the truck. We left our camper at home because we still needed to apply airbags to help the truck suspension before we added the extra load. We both fell asleep with the windows cracked, but I woke up sweating like a hot mess so I woke him up and asked him to turn the truck a.c on for a minute. Shortly after, a security guard came out and told us we couldn’t sleep there anymore. We probably would have been ok sleeping there until morning without the truck running, but I just couldn’t take the heat anymore. So we got up and Mike decided it was easier just to head back to Havasu since we were both up. So we got back home in the wee hours of the morning.

The following weekend was my weekend to take a flight out of Vegas. I was anxious to get back home and visit my family and to see my growing nephews. It had been 6 months since I was home. Thankfully, Mike was able to see his parents in Vegas in July when they came to visit for a few days.

So Friday, we headed back up to Vegas since my flight was leaving at 6:30am on Saturday. We ended up getting a cheap hotel Friday night, took the monorail to the other end of the strip to see the gondolas at the Venetian, and walked down the strip for a bit, got lost, and jumped a wall to get back to the hotel.

We found the hotel, set the alarms, and crashed. The following morning, I woke up, looked at my phone, and it was 5:45! I apparently had slept through all 6 alarms. I had 45 minutes until my flight departure. Mike’s stomach was hurting and couldn’t get out of bed, so I got an Uber to the airport. I arrived by 6:05. I was in line for a few minutes, waiting for some people ahead of me. By 6:10 I got up to the counter when I attempted to check in. The attendant stated I had to check in 45 minutes in advance prior to departure and there was nothing she could do for me. I explained that I understood I was late, but expressed my willingness to run if I needed. She again stated she could not check me in. I was devastated. I was so looking forward to my trip back home. I ended up getting a taxi back to the hotel, where I told Mike what happened and called my mom to let her know. Mike was trying to cheer me up and suggested that we make a weekend trip to Death Valley. We had planned to go here at some point, so it seemed like a good time now since it was only a few hours away from Vegas.

We were on the road again. I was bummed all day, but Death Valley was beautiful…and hot. When we entered the temperature read 97 degrees. By the time we got to the center of Death Valley, it registered at 123 degrees. I was surprised to see that Death Valley offered so much diversity in its’ landscape. We visited the lowest point in North America at the Badwater Basin Salt Flats, sitting at 282 ft below sea level, the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, one abandoned ghost town in Rhyolite, Zabriskie Point overlooking the badlands of Furnace Creek, and ate dinner at the Furnace Creek Ranch. There was much more to see, but it was getting dark and late and to stay in the lodge was very expensive. So after dinner, Mike drove the 4 1/2 hours back home. The weekend continued with kayaking, shooting guns in the desert, and jumping off cliffs near Castle Rock in Lake Havasu with some friends. I still missed my family, but I planned to attempt another flight in December.

The following weekend we decided to stay home and get some things done in preparation to move. We started organizing our new 28ft trailer, which turned out to be our new 26ft trailer. We started to take measurements for organizing  shelves and for the first time actually measured from front to back. It was 2ft shorter than advertised and as stated on the title. We had taken every other measurement, like the ramp doors, and the width between the wheel wells, and the height. But we didn’t even think to measure the length of the whole trailer. Lesson learned. It wasn’t a huge deal, but now we wouldn’t be able to fit a small second car in there like we had planned. But we continued packing and ordered everything we needed to get the new truck ready to load. We got the truck airbags for a stiffer suspension and a front hitch for the generator. We also finally got mini boat in the back of the trailer for stored coverage. We finally sold our 12ft trailer, which was the last piece of our initial set up. Overall, it was a successful weekend.

The next weekend, we took a trip up to Zion National Park in Utah. I had been talking about Zion for months. I’m part of many backpackers pages on Facebook and this place kept popping up with gorgeous pictures. We finally had the time and a reliable truck to get us up there. I had picked out 2 hikes and found some free camping on BLM land nearby. So we headed up Friday night, found a good camping spot 15 minutes from the south entrance of the park, set up our new pop up tent, and crashed.

 

The next morning we had breakfast at Oscar’s Cafe, which was right on the edge of the entrance with beautiful views of the mountains.

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Then we headed up the mountain, through the Zion-Mount Carmel tunnels to Canyon Overlook Trail. This was a moderate, short 1-mile trail to look between the canyon walls. The trail was fun with different terrain, including steep steps, sand, narrow passages, and ending at this beautiful overlook of Zion.

 

We got a few pictures and started to head back to the truck for the next 5-mile, strenuous hike. Mike and I had a good pace walking down the trail, when I heard a slip and a thud. I turned around and Mike was already on the ground. He looked up and you could just see the pain he was in. He grabbed his ankle and said it rolled out from underneath him when he stepped down onto a sandy rock. I looked at it immediately and it was already starting to swell. I didn’t have any wraps or braces with me, but I was able to use my cooling towel to make a compression sleeve to add some stability for his ankle to at least get him down the mountain. Thankfully, another hiker noticed he was limping and offered some Advil, which helped.

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So we continue on, slowly walking down these sandy steep steps and narrow passages. And to make matters a little worse, Mike has never been super excited to do these long hikes that I always drag him on, but he goes with me because he knows hiking is one of my favorite things to do. All I could think to do was offer a hand and a piggyback ride. He appreciatively declined, and made it down the mountain and into the truck. Since it was his right foot and it already looked like a softball, I drove us down the mountain to get an ankle brace from the local market, HooDoo’s, and ice from Subway to bring the swelling down.

 

The swelling had gone down within 30 minutes, and he was able to bear weight on it without much pain, but the idea of another hike was out of the question. We decided to take the free shuttle bus around the park so we could still get some pictures. After a long day, we decided to head out of the park to get some dinner and much needed drinks to relax a bit. After dinner, we decided to go back to the market to get some wood to build a fire back at the campsite. Back at camp, Mike was just looking around exploring and found a mason jar with a note and some figurines under a tree. It was a geocache. We had heard of these before but had never gone out specifically looking for them. The note had 2 other couples’ names and where they were from. So we added our names and added our little smurf that we found in the new truck after buying it. We put our blog name down and hope to hear from whoever finds it next! The next morning we packed up and headed back home.

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The following week, the focus was on the upcoming few weeks. I still needed to find an assignment in California. I had narrowed the cities down to 2 and was starting to call nearby campgrounds for availability. I left a few messages and was starting to get calls back. One call I thought was a callback from a campground ended up being a automated message from a radio station offering a free 3-day cruise to the Bahamas. I figured it was a scam, but they said all I needed to do was answer 3 questions right about music. I had extra time so I thought what the heck and went through all 3 questions, which were:

  1. Name an artist related to the color purple: I picked Prince
  2. Who sang Just Beat It: I picked Michael Jackson
  3. Name the lead singer in Nsync: Justin Timberlake

I hear the ding ding ding! You are a winner and have just won a 3-day cruise to the Bahamas! I’m skeptic the whole time, until I get my confirmation email and confirmation  call from the cruise line. I also did some research on the radio station and it was a legit radio station giving away legit cruises. I actually did win a 3-day cruise to the Bahamas!! From Palm Beach, FL to Freeport, Grand Bahamas Island, we have 18 months to book our free cruise!

I also got the flight tickets and rental car set up for our 2 week vacation to Hawaii. Mike and I planned to take 2 weeks vacation in Hawaii between assignments and we made a deal. He’d go hiking with me for 3 days (with ankle brace this time) like I wanted, and then we can spend the rest of the time lounging on the beach like he wanted. And then I finally got the permits for the Napali Coast hike in Kauai! I had been trying to get these permits for a month! This hike is supposed to be one of the best in Hawaii and permits sell out a year in advance. I read on one of the backpacking sites on Facebook that permits may become available only if someone returns their permit for a refund. So I was watching the park website several times a day and 2 permits finally became available to grab! We’re set for vacation.

Now we just need to lock in a California assignment, pack up, and head out! More adventures to come!

To watch our FIRST YouTube episode, and review of our FIRST year on the road, click here!

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