This is going to be a very unusual post, usually my posts here are all about educating folks about the joys of being a Nomad and how to do it, or inspiring you to get out and travel by sharing my wanderings. Both of those will be a little bit true today, but mostly today will be all about me being a proud Papa!!
I grew up in Alaska since I was 6 years old and had two sons born and raised there, but after 45 years of living through the extremely long, cold (and worst of all) dark winters, I had had enough–I had to leave!! Fortunately, my reaching early retirement age and my youngest son (Robert) turning 18 happened to coincide so in 2006 I made the hardest, move of my life and left Alaska permanently. Boy, I gotta tell you, I shed a lot of tears over that! I was leaving the only home I had ever known and my sons, who I loved so much–so I cried a lot of tears on that trip down the Alcan!
If there was one thing I knew for sure, living in Alaska made maintaining relationships with family in the Lower 48 difficult. It’s so far away, and so expensive to get there, that most people tend to drift apart. I had grown up without extended family because they were all so far away so I knew how easy it was to have that happen. We’ve tried to keep close, but it has been difficult.
So when my son Robert emailed and said he would be in Moab, Utah visiting his girlfriends family I knew that was an opportunity I couldn’t miss!! I intermediately made plans to finish up what I was working on and run over there. I was in Pahrump, NV, so it was only 500 miles away, which is just one days drive. At that moment I can’t tell you how glad I was that I live on wheels! When an opportunity presented itself I didn’t need to ask permission of my boss or try to round up airfare, no, I just jumped in the van, turned the key and waved goodbye to Pahrump in the rear-view mirror!
It had been a year and a half since I last saw him so it was so wonderful to see him again–and this was the first time I had got to meet Deb, his new (to me) girlfriend–who is a very special young woman. She was also born and raised in Alaska, so she has the strong independent spirit Alaskans are known for and had chosen an unusual career path; she is an Electrical Lineman with the Union in Alaska and with the specific idea of being able to work short periods of time, make a lot of money, and then travel and do whatever she wanted with her time off–she has a nomad heart beating in there somewhere!! I fell in love with her right away and it was such a pleasure to get to know her.
They had come to Moab to visit with Deb’s sister, Ann who had also been born and raised in Alaska. She also had the famous Independent Alaskan spirit and had become a biologist with the U.S. Geological Service and worked in Moab for Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. That meant her “office” was out in some of the prettiest places on the planet! They both chose their careers very well!
Ann was very familiar with the area so she had planned an outstanding itinerary while they were there–time for a road trip!! And what a road trip it was!
First we headed over to Capital Reef NP with a stop along the way at Goblin Valley State Park, which is a very cool place. We stayed the night in Torrey Utah, which is just outside the NP. When you grow up that far from the Lower 48, you don’t get to see much of it, so, like me, Robert had never seen anything like the Red Rock country of Utah and both of them were mesmerized by it’s beauty. Nothing can prepare you for how breathtakingly beautiful it is! Alaska is of course a fantastic place to grow up, but it’s all mountain, forests and glacier–nothing like Red Rock country! Robert and Deb both love Utah now!
The next day we left Capital Reef for the rest of the road trip. and followed 95 through a beautiful Red Rock Canyon to the Hite Overlook over the Colorado River and then on to the Mogi Dugaway. If you’e never heard of it, it’s a super-steep decline down an incredibly steep hill in which the road is literally cut out of the side of a vertical mountain. It’s so steep they can’t even keep it paved and they just let it remain a gravel road that they continually grade. Standing at the top and taking in the impressive view is well worth the effort of struggling up or down the hill!!
From there it was on to Goosenecks State Park which is a very unusual rock formation where the San Juan River has done a total 180 degree turn in an extremely short distance, and not just once but six times in a row. It’s a real sight to behold and worth the stop. You used to could see it and even camp there for free but people had taken advantage of that and it had become an overused mess, so now they charge $5 for day use and another $5 to camp. It’s still a very good deal and worth the money. It’s about the cheapest and closest camping to Monument Valley (which is all Navajo Nation land) so many people use it as a base to explore the area.
Finally, we made a stop into Monument Valley to see a stunning and other-worldly place made famous by John Ford in Western movies starring John Wayne. It’s one of my favorite places anywhere and well worth the $20 entrance fee per car.
We had already been together for 4 days and the next day they were booked up solid, and the morning after that they left to fly back to Anchorage out of Denver so rather than drive that far to spend so little time with them, I stayed behind. It had been really cold and rainy (we even got snowed on in Capital Reef) so I was ready to get warm. I spent the night in Goosenecks, and the next day headed down to Cottonwood/Sedona where I’m camped now.
I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed seeing my son again and meeting his girlfriend and her sister! Especially in one of my favorite places in the world and doing the thing that makes my heart sing the most–wandering aimlessly enjoying the amazing creation we call Earth. I’m going to have to chalk this up as one of the highlights of the year for me–it’s hard to see how it can get better than this! But, if my past history as a vandweller holds true, my life will only get better and better!!
Come join me in the free life on the open-road!! Then your life too can can be an ongoing circle of better-and-better experiences!