Tuesday, September 6, 2016

South, then North by Northwest – An Autumn Road Trip

“To travel is to live”
- Hans Christian Andersen

It was time to travel.  We’d had the travel itch for days and the suitcases had been in various stages of packing for a few weeks. We’ve been in one place – our Pacific Northwest home – since early May – the bags unpacked and stowed away - an unusually long time to be anywhere for us. It was definitely time to hit the road.

[Sorry about the print size this week. Blogger and Surface don't mix well and makes travel n writing a bit frustrating when it refuses to enlarge the font size.}

A scene from Scottsdale, Arizona
We are kicking off the ‘travel season’ with a trip to the Southwestern United States – Arizona, Nevada and Utah. The road trip began following a flight to Phoenix, Arizona and a week spent living our ‘timeshare life’ there.

Not everyone thinks Arizona in August is the most desirable of destinations. It is still a summer sizzler and it is monsoon season in ‘The Valley of the Sun’ (as the greater Phoenix area is known). But we decided to take a chance on the weather.

An Arizona rabbit that thought he was hiding in the desert

Monsoon season in the desert has an average starting date of about July 7th and ends approximately September 13th. Our visit was near the end of the season which is determined by the number of days with an average dew point of 55 degrees or higher.

Storm clouds threatened but we avoided the Arizona monsoon

The monsoon is a thunderstorm that can sweep across the valley bringing heavy rain, wind and lightening. Flash floods often close roads. It can cause an event called a haboob, an enormous dust storm that can envelope the valley with dust and debris. An advisory handed out at check-in, warned that if a dust or rainstorm should happen while we were outside to move inside immediately. If we were on the road, we were to move well out of the way of traffic. 

How green the desert can be in monsoon season in Arizona

We made it through the week without experiencing a monsoon or haboob, but were excited to leave the desert’s penetrating heat behind us. Daytime temperatures reached  107F and that made outside activities somewhat limited. However, a travel bonus of the desert this time of year is the lush green desert scape that surrounds instead of the dusty barren brown carpet.

Sand dunes in northeastern Arizona

Of course that isn’t to say there weren’t places along our route that reminded us of Egypt’s pyramids (like the dunes in the photo above)  in Northeastern Arizona en route to Moab, Utah. Our ultimate Utah destination was Park City, a popular outdoors destination (home to the 2002 Winter Olympics Alpine and Snowboard events) southeast of Salt Lake City that sits high in the mountains - 7,500 feet elevation, in fact. In the winter skiers and snow enthusiasts flock here; mountain bikers and hikers the rest of the year.

Map picture
Beginning in Phoenix, AZ then Moab, Park City, UT, and Las Vegas, NV
“A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.”
- Lao Tzu

We’d not planned to visit Moab when we left the Northwest. Half way through our stay in Phoenix we read a newspaper article about Monument Valley and decided it was high time we see it. We cancelled our previously made hotel reservation, switched our route and headed northeast instead of northwest. And decided to spend two nights in Moab, just the other side of Monument Valley.

Mother Nature's canvass in northeastern Arizona

It took eight hours to drive from Phoenix to Moab; much of it on two-lane roads, punctuated with passing lanes every few miles. Elevations changed like a roller coaster, 4000 feet at Flagstaff, then 5,000 then 6,000 by the time we neared Sedona 30 minutes later. We passed or traveled through  towns named Kayenta, Tuba City and Cameron, the latter which proudly proclaimed itself, “Home of the WWII Navajo Code Talkers”.

Afoot and light-hearted
I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me.
    -- Walt Whitman

The desert landscape in Northern Arizona near the Utah border
The hours and miles passed quickly with such an ever-changing and stunning landscape. We congratulated ourselves on changing directions - and not being tied to an itinerary. After a summer of being bombarded with presidential politics on television, it has been good to be reminded of America's beauty, small towns and friendly people. While western Utah reminds us of Arizona’s vast flat lands, the monuments and mountains that make up eastern Utah are simply spectacular. We’ll take you on a pictorial tour of them next week.

Again, thanks for the time you’ve spent with us today. Wishes for healthy and safe travels to you and yours.  We hope to see you back here next week - please bring a friend!  Have you taken a road trip lately? Are you the type to change plans in the middle of a trip or must you follow a set itinerary? Tell us about it in the comments below or shoot us an email.

Linking up with:


  1. An autumn road trip sounds lovely! Nice photos ♥


    1. Nothing better than fall colors no matter where you are in the world! Thanks for stopping by.

  2. What a wonderful idea, to go adventuring in wild places. Love this. :-)

    1. Well they are certainly new and out-of-the-way places for us. What a wonderful part of the U.S.!!

  3. Beautiful scenes!
    Thanks for linking up at http://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2016/09/orchids-other-worldly.html

  4. If plans are made we stick with them but on every trip we leave segments unplanned for spontaneity.

    1. Oh Jan, I hear you on leaving room for spontaneity in even the best of plans. We have friends visiting us in Greece next spring who have sent us detailed plans of when they need to depart our house. . .next spring, mind you! I was tempted to write and say, tell us that again the end of March 2017! ;-)

  5. Great catching up with you, and tagging along on your trip. I have not seen enough of that part of the country. I'd love to spend an extended amount of time one day.

    1. I think you would love this area, Amy. It is some of the "West's" most beautiful country! Thanks for the visit~

  6. Some of my favorite parts of the country. Sorry you didn't make it to the North Rim.

    1. We were coming your direction Gaelyn, when we switched directions and headed to Monument Valley. I had almost written you to see how we'd find you. Guess it will have to be next time!

  7. Hi, Travelers...:)
    We've always liked this part of our country...so many beautiful places to see in our loved U.S.A.
    Have fun traveling...xo

    1. As I wrote in this post after a summer of watching news reports on our presidential election and the name-calling and nastiness, I needed to be reminded of our country's beauty and all the wonderful people who live here! This trip did the trick!! xo

  8. I would like to take a roadtrip through this part of the USA, although preferably in the fall when it's a tad cooler. I especially like your photo of the sand dunes. Thank you for mentioning the small font. I thought my eyes had seriously gone crazy since I've never had trouble reading your blog previously. I just zoomed in, and now I can see it all.

    1. I still don't know what happened between Open Live Writer and Blogger but I've even tried enlarging the print since I got home and still can't get it to work! Seems to be fine (knock on wood for tomorrow's post). Thanks for sticking with it!

  9. thanks for this tour. My blogging friend lives in Tucson. She always puts up amazing images from her world.

  10. Thx for this great post, Jackie. It's been far too long since I've been to Arizona. Would love to return and do the spa circuit. Thx for getting me thinking about it!


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