#17 – Arizona & California: Our last travel post! We explore Sedona, Pleasant Lake, Joshua Tree Park and San Diego before heading home!

Biking on Mission Bay Beach, San Diego

Our travels are now done for a bit! We are back at home and doing a ton of laundry and catching up with a lot of chores and tasks that need to be done after being away for 5.5 months! This last post is all about our final stretch of the trip through Arizona and California, before we headed north and back into the cold.

We came into Arizona along the I-40, after going through Albuquerque and then Winslow, and turned south at Flagstaff to go check out Sedona, AZ. This was a beautiful, but incredibly busy place. It was American Thanksgiving weekend, and the tourists were out in abundance. It definitely gave off a summer Whistler vibe, with lots of high end art stores and eateries. We spent a good day exploring the views, sights and stunning geography. It was so colourful and unique, warm and developed.

Enjoying the views from the Sedona Airport

There were many parks surrounding Sedona, and we hiked a couple. The city also has an incredible viewpoint from up at the Airport, as well as a beautiful church built right into the rocks that drew quite a lot of tourists while we were there. It was warm, sunny and bright for our time, perfect for hiking and gawking all around us.

Checking out some older park facilities in Sedona

After Sedona, we headed more south, to just above Phoenix, at a campground on Pleasant Lake. This is a huge man made lake that is part of the water system for Arizona and California and collects a lot of water from the area for agriculture and drinking. It also is surrounded by giant cacti and wild donkeys! This was the hotest part of our trip, with 27c days, beautiful sunrises and sunsets and even hot air ballons floating nearby.

Camping among the Cacti in Pleasant Lake, AZ

We stayed at Lake Pleasant for 2 nights and enjoyed it immensly. We explored on our bikes and hiked through the desert. After this relaxing stretch we hit the road again and found a neat day spot called Montezuma Castle, nothing to do with actual Montezuma, but instead an ancient settlement of the Sinagua people dating back to the 12th Century up in the cliffs. Very well done little park and we learned a lot about these people and the ways they lived.

Montezuma Castle, AZ

After this brief excursion we continued west and were able to secure a site at Joshua Tree National Park, a famous high altitude desert park. We were in the south entrance, and had a beautiful site with views, hikes and even Road Runner birds around our campsite. We made some friends from Canada, and chatted into the night under the stars. We also got to explore a nearby abandoned Gold mine that was very cool.

Joshua Tree National Park, CA

After Joshua Tree, we took a harrowing road up a mountain on a shortcut down to San Diego near Coachella, CA. Our time in San Diego was great! We spent 6 nights at a RV campground near the city on Mission Bay. We rode to the Beach every day and explored San Diego by transit. We even road up to La Jolla nearby and found some sea lions and sea caves, as well as delious tacos and drinks.

Riding on the beach in La Jolla, CA

After San Diego, it was time to head home. We’ve explored a lot of the Pacific West Coast before, so we knew we were going to skip over a lot of northern California, Oregon and Washington and we were eager to get home and visit with family and friends. We drove the entire length of the I5, from San Diego to Vancouver over 4.5 days. It as a nice drive, but a couple of crazy mountain passes in northern California and southern Oregon. The all too familiar rains welcomed us and we had a very nostalgic ride on the ferry back to Vancouver Island.

Ferry ride home to Vancouver Island

Overall, we had an amazing trip and could not have asked for a better time. We saw so many beautiful places. We enjoyed meeting friendly people from all over Canada and USA. We stayed safe, followed all the Covid requirements and still were able to get out and tour around a lot of North America. We had a breakdown and did some maintenance on our truck, and learned a lot about navigating together through busy cities, giant 7 lane highways and quiet country backroads with no cell service. We did it all together!

Thanks for coming along on this chapter of our Sabbatical year. Our next steps are a little up in the air as we are waiting to see what is happening around the world. We’ve got time and we are flexible for whats next and will enjoy spending the holidays with our family and friends.

Our full route over 5.5 months! 22,000kms, 1 Territory, 6 Provinces, 19 States!

Photos from this segment: https://photos.app.goo.gl/6hH2J1ppPfWzSmiK6

#16 – Exploring the Bayou and the Desert! Caddo Lake and Palo Duro State Park, Texas, and Louisiana.

Crossing the Mississippi River into Louisiana

As we left Alabama, we crossed the mighty Mississippi River and began making our way west. We decided to stay a little north, and not go too deep into the heart of Texas, and more skip along the top, visiting Arkansa, Oklahoma and Louisiana along the way. Our first stop was in Jackson Mississippi, where we boondocked at a Walmart for the night. We then made our way to Caddo Lake State park, where we planned on staying for a few days and enjoying a bayou tour!

Sasquatch sighting in the Bayou

We stayed in a little town called Karnack, which was very close to Caddo lake, and a warm spot for us to stay. We had booked our tour with Captain Ron’s Bayou Boat Tours, but his boat broke down! Our camp hosts had a good recommendation for us, and their friend John took us out for 2 hours on his own really fast boat. We had a great morning zooming through the bayou, seeing lots of birds, turtles and even some Sasquatch sightings in the bush! We did not get to see any Alligators however, as they were all hibernating already for the winter. We did get to try some fried Alligator though at the local watering hole! Very tasty and slightly like chicken!

An old steamboat on the Bayou

Staying next to the bayou was quite spooky, especially when the fog rolled in and the sun went down. We heard lots of weird noises and kept our eyes out for Armadillos and Sasquatches! Our neighbours and hosts at the RV camp were super nice, very friendly and gave us lots of tips and advice for routes going north and west.

Enjoying our day on the boat in the Bayou

After fully exploring the bayou, riding our bikes around Caddo Lake area, getting to know some locals and eating lots of fried food, we headed out and made our way north, to go above Dallas and Fort Worth, on our way west along the I-40. We made our way to Oklahoma City, and had a very windy evening there, but according to the locals, “if your RV door dosen’t blow right off, its not that bad”. Our Camper was good at keeping us warm, but the wind was loud and the trains nearby kept us up as well. We had a beautiful sunrise before we headed out and made our west, on the windiest day of our entire drive.

The drive was a white-knuckle affair, with sustained winds all morning that made it a little tougher to keep straight. We got through it however, and made our way into Texas, near Amarillo, to Palo Duro State Park. This was definitely a highlight for us, as we experiences a beautiful spot with amazing geography that was super different than anything else we’ve encountered so far. The campsite was deep into a large canyon and was surrounded by amazing hikes and beautiful vistas.

Palo Duro State Park

We saw our first Armadillo right beside our campsite rummaging through some leaves. It was not too bothered by us and Caroline was able to get quite close to it and take some photos. We heard coyotes every day at sunset and sunrise, howling to start and end their day. It was a great spot and felt very different from our time in the bayou. It was warm during the day, the stars were super bright and we were most defintely in the west.

Armadillo right by our campsite

After the sun went down, I spent a little time playing with my phone, getting some Astrophotography shots of the night sky. Where we were, we could easily see Venus, Saturn and Jupiter, all lined up in the western sky, just after sunset. It was a great way to spend our evenings, outside, staring up and talking about our trip so far, we just had to bundle up to stay warm!

Big sky full of stars!

We also found a great cave in the park, called “The Big Cave” and wanted to explore it a bit before we moved on. It was not as big as we anticipated, but was still cool to see and explore a little bit.

The Big Cave in the Park

After this, we packed up and began our last leg of our US tour, the southwest. We were excited to head to Arizona and California, as we explore Sedona, and Joshua Tree Park before hitting the west coast and slowing down in San Diego for a bit.

Photos from this chapter of our trip: https://photos.app.goo.gl/4FAVja7PF27mULiS7