Road Trip Co to AZ 2018 - Day #4


Up, the adventures are still coming along. But to start off the day Breakfast at BerryDivine Acai Bowls. So wonderful and that service was the best I had in all of Sedona.

Stop #1 - Tuzigoot National Monument

(Aside from breakfast) Ok, with a fully stomach (Red Rock Acai Bowl) I headed south/west towards Tuzigoot National Monument. This was really cool to see and was along the same timeline as the indians that lived Mesa Verde and the Cliff Dwelling in Sedona too.

The ruins were covered over completely until they excavated it and realized it was a huge complex that housed several hundred. 


Stop #2 - Montezuma Castle

Yes another cliff dwelling! Yes this is the theme of my road trip to AZ this year. Cliff dwellings. I've seen so many and have learned so much that i'm now good on cliff dwellings after this trip. But Montezuma Castle was my all time favorite out of all the places. The area was so beautiful, peaceful, sunny, quiet, and so picturesque. 

If you have a National Park pass you are good.


I wish I could have gotten the name of these types of trees. I love their bark. It looks like they have been painted and as an artist they just blew my mind. Had lots of photos of them, but decided to just post one and not bore everyone with my obsession with these trees. 

BACK to the road trip. At this point I was only about an hour and 40 minutes or so away from Phoenix. Sadly there was a bit of rush hour traffic, but got home safely and enjoyed a wonderful dinner with my Aunt, Uncle and dear friend.

Road Trip Co to AZ 2018 - Day #3 Sedona

Sedona, AZ

Many cool things about this location. Mainly the location is the biggest highlight. The rocks, landscape, you kinda go speechless trying to describe it, but it is really a beautiful place to visit. I had several place and popular hikes I wanted to do. Majority of the popular hikes are short and easy to do. So we got two of them done in no time at all.


Adventure #1 - Devils Bridge

First hike of the day is Devils Bridge. Fairly easy hike and easy to find, because there are a lot of people hiking and taking photos. Most of the people are currently behind me or to my left and right kinda in stadium seating and taking turns having their friends go out there and take photos of them.... like me below:


The one thing they don't tell you about the hike is that yes there is a trail head and then there is a 'over flow parking'. Technically the 'over flow parking' is where the trailhead starts. The road is a rocky dirt road that is meant for trucks and jeeps with tires for that type of terrain. It's easy to walk and only about a mile (point something) to the train head. Most poeple walk to the trailhead from the over flow parking area. So don't feel like you are in the minority (you aren't).

The total distance is 4.4 miles from the car and back and 587 ft of elevation gain.

The next hike was going to be a longer hike, but I needed to give my foot a rest (recovering from a foot injury from 2017). So I went to see some pictroglifs and another cliff dwelling. Starting to notice a trend with my 2018 road trip?


Adventure #2

Visit the Palatki Heritage Site is where you can go see cliff dwellings up close (like touch it its that close) and also see pictographs in a cliff/cave as well. You have to pay to park, but if you have a national Park Pass you are golden. To see both sites you should probably call in advance to reserve a spot during busy seasons. We were there midweek during off season so we waited maybe 10 minutes and had a tour with just 3 of us including the tour guide. The walk to the cliff dwelling is like 1/4 of a mile


Photo to the left: above the brick wall can see writings in charcoal


Due to unpaved roads (mild and easy to drive on) to get to this location the cave paintings are being covered up by dust. But they told us to take photos of sections and when we get back home to adjust levels, contrast, etc... and more paintings will be present then what we can see with the human eye.


Adventure #3 - Boynton Canyon

A bit chilly to do this hike in the winter and  towards the end of the day, but not bad at all. As the notes said about the trail to bring layers, because the last 1/3 or 2/3rds of the trail is really down in the canyon and gets cold. It was extra chilly for us, because there was snow, ice and the sun was setting. However the trail was really fun, gorgeous terrain and the scenery kept changing.


Details about Boynton Canyon Hike: 
- hike is an out and back with a total of 6.1 miles
- took us about 3 hours and that is with my foot slowing us way way down. Also towards the end there is a lot of up hill hiking, plus we dealt with snow and ice on the trail which again slowed us down.
- 787 ft of eleveation gain
- more details


Road Trip Co to AZ 2018 - Day #1-2

My annual road trip down to warmer weather started with a lot of snow and white out conditions just trying to get out of Boulder.


Went south to 285 and then along 160 until I hit Cortez in the south west corner of Colorado. I spent the night at a super nice AirB&B. As you can see below they had this and much more for my breakfast spread. The perfect way to start day 2 of my road trip.


First official stop on the tour is Mesa Verde National Park.


It was a high of 27 degrees and windy so I didn't do much hiking around.


The view coming out of Mesa Verde National Park! It was gorgeous, cold, windy and pretty awesome to see so many different cliff dwellings. Was a bit bummed that my camera battery didn't charge correctly so there are all cell phone shots.

Had to take a selfie to document the "before" shot of my freckles in winter mode, but when i get to AZ before I know it those freckles will be popping out.

BUT continuing on with my road trip there was much more to see and do!


Didn't know there with just driving by, but my AirB&B host told me that this range of mountains is called the "Sleeping Ute". The highest point would be the folded arms of the Ute Indian Chief, to the right of that would be his head with an feather headress. To the left of the high point (arms folded) would be legs where at the very far left you see a rock spire... the Ute's toes. Thought that was pretty cool to see. Steve, the host of the AirB&B, volunteers at Mesa Verde National Park so he had lots of stories about the area.


4 Corners! A place I've always wanted to go to say that I've been in 4 places at once. The corners of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona all meet. Only $5 per person. I think in warmer weather there are a lot more venders and stuff, but honestly I just wanted to get my shot on the spot and move along. My photographer asked me to pose so I just did a head-stand :)

Hours, and then more hours later I finally arrived in Sedona, AZ. Stop #2 for my road trip.

Boating Around - Key West Adventures

Back in Miami for a day Andy and I got into more fun by hopping on a fan boat looking for dead bodies with CSI Miami!

No, not really. But we did go on a fan boat ride. They told us we were looking for gators, but I really didn't care and doubted we'd see any. I just wanted the experience of riding on one. Which was a lot of fun. Our ride was cut a little short because there was a storm coming through and it started raining. It wouldn't have been so bad, but going so fast in a fan boat we both got drenched. I couldn't stop laughing. There were so many people in the boat all huddled together trying to stay dry that it was just comical to me. I laughed the whole way back to the dock and was drenched.

While we were waiting for the fan boat they have a animal rescue shelter and a gator park. Loving animals I was more excited about seeing caged gators then wild ones. We were even allowed to hold a baby gator! That is something you can't do with a wild one.

Some of the above photos were taken by Andy Bussell

Key West & other Florida Adventures

Aunt Cynthia's Wedding

Swim Around Key West

Adventures Around Key West

Animal Rescue Shelter

Everglades National Park

Biscayn National Park

Fan Boat & another Animal Rescue Shelter - Current Post

Biscayne Bay National Park - Key West Adventures

Wanting to fill our day with as much as possible we zipped over to Biscayne Bay National Park. Sadly we were too late to go into the gift shop and get out patch, but we could still walk around a bit. Again the weather wasn't in our favor so the photos don't look like typical Florida, but it did create a really cool mood and feel that was fun to photograph.

We walked out on this board walk that led out out to some rocks where some guys were fishing. There were some birds hanging out fishing as well. When the locals were done fishing they threw their left over bait to the pelican so I could get some cool shots of him. I was thrilled with how those images turned out. The images of me were taken by Andy. It's fun to occasionally see what I look like when I'm in 'photography' mode. 

Key West & other Florida Adventures

Aunt Cynthia's Wedding
Swim Around Key West
Adventures Around Key West
Animal Rescue Shelter
Everglades National Park
Biscayn National Park - Current Post
Fan Boat & another Animal Rescue Shelter

Everglades National Park - Key West Adventures

After the Animal Rescue Shelter we drove into Everglades National Park. The had turned overcast because of storms coming up through the gulf so there really wasn't much to do or see. We hung out on the dock for a while watching manitee's surface and play in the water, but you really couldn't see much. The park was really cool, but would have been more fun if it was a better weather and not visiting during it's off season.

Key West & other Florida Adventures

Aunt Cynthia's Wedding
Swim Around Key West
Adventures Around Key West
Animal Rescue Shelter
Everglades National Park - Current Post
Biscayn National Park
Fan Boat & another Animal Rescue Shelter

Everglades Out Post - Key West Adventures

Skip forward or backward which ever way you like. Rather then try and catch up I'll just post what I feel like posting right now. Tonight I'm taking you back to June 6, 2016 when I left Key West and went to explore more of southern Florida. Frist stop was an animal rescue outside of the Everglandes National Park.

This animal rescue shelter, Everglades Outpost is better then any zoo. We were the only people there and got to talk personally with the volunteers that take care of the animals. Some of the photos may look a bit sad, but realizing that at one time all of these animals were in far worse living conditions and being abused made me happy that they are now living in a more natural and less stressful environment. For their stories and more information about the Outpost go to their website:

If you'd like more information just email me!

Key West & other Florida Adventures

Aunt Cynthia's Wedding
Swim Around Key West
Adventures Around Key West
Animal Rescue Shelter - Current Post
Everglades National Park
Biscayn National Park
Fan Boat & another Animal Rescue Shelter

Key West Adventures

Sunday - the day after the race was dedicated to relaxing. I spent most of the day on my computer editing wedding photos and resting. Mom and Aunt Cynthia went for a walk and shopping, Steve hung out reading and working on a puzzle and Andy ran around the island. Andy had told me how he ran past the Ernest Hemingway House and a few other cool spots. So after dinner we headed out, via car, to see the sites.

When Andy ran past Ernest Hemingway's house he just jumped up to look over the wall to see the house. Well, with my bumm shoulder I couldn't really jump up to see over the wall. I tried climbing up onto Andy's back, but realized my shoulder couldn't handle it so I tried climbing on his back a different way so my right arm was free to take photos. Bad idea, because of my shoulder I couldn't lift my right arm up high enough to take a photo. I was also trying to stay modest because I was in a dress and sliding down Andy's back. While all of this was going on there was a guy at the ticket booth that saw us.

He called out to us "What are you guys doing?", sigh, "come here" - he let us into the Ernest Hemingway grounds for free! So we quite happily walked through the grounds and took lots of photos. Great Times!

A couple blocks away is the Southernmost Point in the US, a beautiful light house and pier

Finishing our self-guided-tour of the Hemingway house we excited through the back garden gate and onto Olivia Street! Yes, that is correct Ernest Hemingway's house is on Olivia Street, proof is in the mail box. We finished the day with visiting the "Southernmost Point in the Continental U.S.A" and pina colada's.

Key West & other Florida Adventures

Aunt Cynthia's Wedding
Swim Around Key West
Adventures Around Key West - Current Post
Animal Rescue Shelter
Everglades National Park
Biscayn National Park
Fan Boat & another Animal Rescue Shelter

Swimming Around Key West - 2016

Swim Around Key West, how do I start to describe this race?

It was a lot of planning and even more training and the most amount of hours in the pool I have ever spent. The race is a swim clockwise around Key West which is a total distance of 20k/12.5miles long. I actually can't even remember what time it started in the morning of June 4, 2016, must have been around 6:30 or 7am. Any ways, below are some pre-race photos.

The Swim - Mile by Mile

Mile #1 - was a blur, the water was choppy and you were being tossed every where. I was suppose to be spotting a pier, but I never saw it.

Mile #2 - same choppy water conditions

Mile #3 - the water changed and it was super smooth. The race director said "You'll start to feel like Michael Phelps" Well I did to the point that I don't remember Mile #4 or #5.

Mile #6 - I was trying to remember the map and the mile markers while swimming. I thought I had just started mile #5 when Andy held up 6 fingers to tell me that I was now on mile #6. I was super surprised. I had just swam a 10k and felt really really good."

Andy filmed some sections of the race and yes there were times while swimming that I had no idea where I was, what to spot or which way to swim... hence the video below

Mile #7 - was fine, I could see more things under water and I was on the Gulf side of the island.

Mile #8 - was awful, you were a mile away from land so spotting was difficult, super choppy rough water, wind was bad, you were just being tossed around left and right. At the end of mile 8 you go underneath a bridge and they do a swimmer check in. That just means your kayaker yells out the swimmers name so they can keep track of who is where. Mom and Aunt Cynthia and Steve were all there to watch, but I could only here Mom cheering me on.

Mile #9 - you are swimming in-between Key West and another Key. The water was finally calm and it felt wonderful.

Mile #10 - can't think of anything unique about it

Mile #11 - my right should started hurting me a lot a lot. Andy gave me some ibuprofen which took the pain down a little bit but it was still killing me. So I would swim with my left arm most of the time. It was around now that I kept telling myself only 2 miles left so just an hour of swim practice at the East Rec Center in Boulder and I'll be done.

Last Mile - I was siting off of some some huge logs in the water wanting the finish line to come sooner rather then later. There was a blue kayak in front of me that was all over the place. I stopped to see what was going on and realized he was following his swimmer and the swimmer was zig zagging left and right. Totally wasting time and energy... but left the door wide open for me to go straight and get ahead of him. I did this, passed him and swam as hard as I could towards the finish line.

So Happy to be done.

Thank You:
• Steve and Cynthia for hosting and taking care of room and board
• Mom for all the support, encouragement, applying sunscreen and washing it off
• Andy for kayaking, taking care of all my needs, videos and keeping me safe
• Stacey for coaching me, complaining with me about training, tips, and just being there
• Jane Scott for coaching me and for the tube of zinc oxide sunscreen
• Jane Fettig for the mermaid good luck charm
• and all of my swim friends that kept on encouraging me

Key West & other Florida Adventures

Aunt Cynthia's Wedding
Swim Around Key West - Current Post
Adventures Around Key West
Animal Rescue Shelter
Everglades National Park
Biscayn National Park
Fan Boat & another Animal Rescue Shelter

Wedding - Key West Adventures

The part of this trip that was a surprise and a blessing to be apart of was my Aunt's wedding. She has met an amazing man whom she has known since childhood. They are crazy in love and decided to just tie the know while we're all in Key West. 

Key West & other Florida Adventures

Aunt Cynthia's Wedding - Current Post
Swim Around Key West
Adventures Around Key West
Animal Rescue Shelter
Everglades National Park
Biscayn National Park
Fan Boat & another Animal Rescue Shelter

desert Botanical Garden - before sunset

Last night I accompanied my Aunt and Uncle to the Butte Botanical Gardens. We were meeting some of there firends there to see the Bruce Munro: Sanoran Light art exhibt displayed through out the gardens. My aunt had sown me photos of the event in a magazine, but actually being there was amazing.

Arriving around 5:45, just before sunset we were able to walk among the gardens before the sunset. These are the photos I took before sunset and the lights came on.

We started the evening with wine and I got a Prickly Pear Margarita, super tasty, and walked around. The Gardens architecture and layout were beautiful. The colors and variety of catus were fun to capture while there was till light.

I'll be posting more photos of the actual lighted art exhibts soon. To learn more about the artist you can go to:

To learn more about the Dessert Botanical Garden go to their website:



In & out of Utah & Arizona

After Monument Valley I continued on and entered Arizona and headed towards Page, AZ which is south of Powell Lake and right where the dam is for the Colorado rivier continuing through to the Grand Caynon. Before I got to Page, AZ I stopped at Lower Antelope Canyon. By just hearing the name of this canyon it probably doens't do anything for you, but I garuentee you that you've seen photos of this canyon in magazines, calendars, and with inspirational quotes. It is a gorgeous canyon and when the sun is just right beams of light come flooding in (that is about at 10am this time of year).

Antelope Canyon property is owned by local family for several generations. They have put together a company with tours for $28 a person. It isn't something most people want to pay, but once you are in the canyon you totally forget about it. I high suggest going during winter times and during the week. I was lucky and had a small group of only 4 of us, inculding the tour guide. I never got her name, but her grandmother and grandfather own the property. She knew were all the best photo spots were. She would even have us stand in certain sections and take our photos for us, give us tips on best settings for a cameras (yes for iphone, android, canon and nikon). I was with 3 other german people and the group before us were all Eruopean or Asian. I believe I was the only one who was an american tourist, which was really cool. The tour was about an hour, but felt way shorter. 

The history, before the Lake Powell dam, which i think it is called Glenn dam, was built the antelope would come from the mesa's and hung out in and around the canyon all the time. The antelope would jump over the top of the cave and climb and chill through out the canyon. That is how it got the name "Antelope Canyon". 

I was throughly impressed and was so happy I went and did the tour. This would be a must do trip for anyone. I high recommend doing this the canyon during the winter when the weather is cooler and there are fewer tourist. Our tour guide told us that during the summer is is stiffling hot and there are so many tourist that they just have to rush people through. Meaning that you'll get people in your photos and you won't get individual shots of yourself in awesome spots.

Do you see the Eagle in the photo above?

Next stop was THE WAVE! An amazing spot, just google The Wave, AZ and you'll be amazed. But to get there you need to take 89 over the dam and back up into Utah. After you cross the county line you clock 25 miles and turn left on to House Rock Road. If the road is impassable when wet, and thankfully it was bone dry, but that didn't matter. The 8.3 miles of dirt road was a bit rough, but my RAV4 made it no problem. Parked at the trailhead and started at down the trail. Ok, there is no map, no directions and the directions I got from online were using gps half the time. I got turned around twice and by the time I figured out which way I should be going it was already 4pm. I had missed the best time of day for photos at The Wave and being so far away from civilization as the day was getting later just didn't seem smart. So I turned around, but not defeated. I will go there again and find it!

Doing my best to not feel disappointed I hike out of AZ, drove through Utah and then go back down into AZ and make a beelined towards Horseshoe Bend which was only 2 or 3 miles south of Page, AZ. Orginally I wanted to see horseshoe Bend during the day, but my tour guide at Antelope Canyon said she liked it best at sunset. I hiked as fast as I could and then sat at the very edge and played around with my camera until the sunset and I got some awesome photos. Watching the sunset and just sitting there relaxing with about 30 other poeple scattered all over was amazing. It was the perfect ending to a beautiful and adventrous day.

The orginaly plan was to camp at The Wave, but since I was back south of Page and wasn't tired I drove another 125 miles to Flagstaff, AZ. Once in Flagstaff I went to a coffee shop and started working on photos, then found a safe place to sleep and went to bed.  Awwww life is good :)


A camera, an Audiobook and the open Road

I am so excited about this post and the next post to come. Today has been awesome and I've seen and done so many things that it all won't fit in one place. This is Part 1 of my monday drive down to AZ. Leaving Moab, I went south on 191 then continued right on 163. Where I saw this awesome place called Mexican Hat! Seriously there is a whole one stop sign town named Mexican Hat.

The rest of the drive was amazing and took me through Monument Valley. It was like going back into an old western movie and I swore any moment some wild buffaloo or Indians or Cowboys were going to appear. Well, sadly I didn't even see a covered wagon, but no regrets, because the views were stunning.

Highway 163 connected back up with Highway 191, but I jumped off of 191 and on to 98 towards Page AZ. Yes that is a bit out of the way if you are planning on going to Phoneix, but there is this amazing place called Antelope Canyon that I have dreamed of going for years. That will be my next blog post, but mean while enjoy the photos below of my trip through southern Utah. The landscape and geography is amazing. 

Take a look at the landscape in the background. You can tell it's along a fault line where the fault shifted and part of the land goes town underneath the other one. Geography is much more entertaining in nature then in a classroom.

I couldn't decide if I liked this photo in black and white or in color. What are your thoughts?