how the west was fun.

in 2015 my best friend, roomie, human diary, platonic life partner picked up and moved across the country. Phoenix, Arizona. i was devastated to say the least, though i knew she was on to the pursuit of better things. we took the opportunity to have new places to explore.

in August 2016 we decided to take a road trip from her home in Phoenix, to Utah – stopping to see what nature had to offer. our itinerary included:

-Page, Arizona (Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, Lake Powell)
-Zion National Park
-Bryce Canyon

chelsea and i started our adventure fueled with Starbucks, water bottles, chips, jerky – all of the necessities. road trip play lists consisted of just about everything from Taylor Swift to Alanis Morissette to Dashboard Confessional. The views of cactus and sandy dunes were beautiful. They sky was backdropped with sillohuettes of purple mountains – nothing familiar to my daily midwest scenery.

after a long day of driving we finally made it to Page, Arizona. Page is a place i had never heard of, but had recognized pictures from most travel resources. before even making it to our hotel, we headed straight to Horseshoe Bend to make it before dusk.

lemme tell you, this day was HOT, like real toasty. i wasn’t used to the desert heat. it seriously felt like the sun was closer to the Earth there. we brought along our water bottles and made the short hike from the parking area to the cliff overlooking the river and rock formation below. breathtaking. those moments where you know a photo couldn’t possibly capture what you’re seeing. i felt like i was in a postcard.

being up so high felt so liberating. it was scary, it was freeing, it was beautiful. you look at Horseshoe Bend and wonder “how did this get here?” how does nature place these gems in hidden spots?

the walk back to the car was a rough one. the heat really got to me. it seemed so crazy, it was not a tough hike at all. why was i getting out of breath and lightheaded? we made a few stops back on the way back, but ultimately i needed out of the sun.

when we arrived to the hotel, i felt anxious and dizzy so a nap was definitely required. i woke from my nap drenched in sweat, heart pounding out of my chest. i felt like i was going to black out at any moment. Chels rushed me to the nearest emergency room. luckily it was a super short drive and we were admitted instantly.

i’ve dealt with anxiety my entire life. i’ve had panic attacks. this felt like more. i was honestly terrified. the doctors and nurses at the Page, Arizona emergency center were thorough and wonderful. after several tests were completed they had said i had a dehydration induced panic attack. this was strange because i was drinking water all. freaking. day. apparently, if you are hydrating without electrolytes, it doesn’t matter.

i received fluids and medication and after a few hours we were able to leave. chels and i were left with the only option but dinner at Dennys, because it was the only thing open so late. yumo.

the next morning we made nutrition and hydration a priority before heading over to Antelope Canyon. in order to go on the grounds of Antelope Canyon, you must first get a permit. this was my first experience with this. basically, in this case we had to wait in two lines- one for the permit, another for the tour ticket. this area is preserved and monitored. the nice thing about this is you must be on the tour in order to access it.

when it was time for our tour we were loaded into the back of a pickup truck to be driven a few miles to the canyon. these slot canyons were beautiful and unharmed. as we admired the peanut butter walls surrounding us, we were told stories of how during monsoon season the canyons will completely fill within ten minutes.

our tour guide was wonderful. he was all about the photos. knowing all the techy iphone tricks to get the best shots, the best locations for lighting, and how to capture the canyons to show their true color.

check out this way of using panorama to capture the height of a location.

we left Antelope Canyon in awe. there are other locations in Page where you can actually kayak through the slot canyons. though we never did this it is now on my list.

if you haven’t heard of Lake Powell, it is a fresh water lake that lives on the boarder of Arizona and Utah. it is MAGICAL. the weather this afternoon was so perfect and the sky was clear. the breeze coming off the lake made for a perfect dreamy day.

the lake is surrounded by marinas full of little boats, people on kayaks – seriously loving life. i could have spent a week right here and would have been fine.

after our swim/photo/splash sesh we headed back to the car onto the next leg of our journey. onward to Utah to head to our lodge just outside of Zion National Park. the drive into Zion was like none other. all i can say is i am so thankful i wasn’t the one behind the wheel – sorry chels. imagine descenting a winding road into the set of Jurrasic Park. the light of the golden hour setting upon the canyon rocks was mystical. in the distance you see rock climbers. like actual humans scaling walls – what?!

the town of Springdale surrounding Zion is a place i could only wish to retire to. little shops line the main road selling glass and crystal and hand crafted jewelry. restaurants vary from high end, “i’m sorry i can only afford the gelato,” to an all you can eat Mexican fiesta complete with margs of course.

we arrived to the park at the crack of dawn along to wait in the line to enter and catch a shuttle to the trail heads. all i could think the entire time i was there was, “this is Disney.” the way i mean that is, everything is so well kept, pure, untouched and truly magical. i have never been in a place that was so natural.

The first trek we attempted was The Narrows. this is a trail at the narrowest part of the canyon. (get it… The Narrows?) this was hands down my favorite part of the trip. the thing about the particular hike is, there is no path. you hike through the Virgin River at the bottom of the gorge. of course we were not prepared for this. we began with a walking stick we found along the bank and our socks and running shoes. at some points the water was so deep it was up to our waists! though we didn’t complete the entire trail i definitely have added it to my list, and can be more prepared next time.

we spent the rest of the day testing out trail heads and wishing we were brave enough to tackle Angels Landing. there is something about being in a place so untouched. yes there are concrete paths, and shuttles, but once you enter a path you are lost in it. lost in the beauty, lost in the adventure and sometimes like, really, actually lost.

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