Nature heals all wounds some people claim. After two weeks of traveling through the wilderness of the US I can only agree. Camping life is a lot of work, but when you are standing in the middle of these natural wonders it´s so worth it.
Camp life is filled with contrasts. The weather – sometimes freezing cold other times you are melting away. The space issue – one day you are crawling the walls of the small camper van and other days you feel like there is no better place to be than right here. I must admit that I sometimes think we are a little crazy, pushing our boundaries very close to the edge traveling like this with small kids. It is so much work, even more than I imagined and in the evenings when the kids have gone to sleep we sometimes just sit and stare into the darkness. Too tired to say a word to each other. Too tired to go to bed. Simply too tired.
And then there´s these moments, where you wake up at sunrise, take the van to a magical view point and have coffee with the full panorama of Grand Canyon in front of you. The feeling you have from this experience is just priceless. The kids are lined up in their little camping chairs with a bowl of yoghurt in their lap, tired but content. You are sipping on your mediocre camping coffee and just soak up every positive feeling that stream through your body in this sacred moment.
It is hard to describe the wonders that have passed our way the last week. It just tend to become this superlative word race where everything is just soooo beautiful or amaaaaazing or wickeeed or insaaane or whatever other word you can come up with to describe it´s excellence. Instead I will let the pictures speak for themselves. Although I will world school you with a little bit of facts to every site ;-). Here we go:
Bandelier national monument
These impressive dwellings, just an hour drive from Santa Fe in New Mexico, were originally made by a volcano outburst and shaped through millions of years by water and wind. In 1150 CE the Ancestral Pueblo People built homes here carved from the volcanic tuff. The preserved dwellings give you a small hint on how the native American people were living here thousands of years ago.
This rather touristy small town is what it is because of the stunning surroundings of red sandstone formations. The formations appear to glow in brilliant orange and red when illuminated by the rising or setting sun. Sedona is also said to have certain energy fields (known as vortexes) that are supposed to inspire people spiritually. We stayed in a fabulous little camping called Manzanitas, just by the river and a bit off from touristy Sedona. If you want a camp site here book in advance or come early in the morning.
Being one of the seven wonders of the world this 446 km, 29 km wide and nearly 2 km deep canyon is something you will remember for life. Grand Canyon is shaped over 70 milllion years by the Colorado River cutting into layer after layer of rock while the Colorado Plateau was uplifting. As today no one really knows how old the Grand Canyon is, geologists still debate this. Never the less this sight is in my opinion, even though it´s massive tourism, still something that you should add to your see-the-world-bucket-list if you have one of those.
In northern Arizona by Lake Powell just on the border to Utah lies another wonder shaped by the Colorado River. Looking at this natural wonder you understand how it has gotten it´s name. The Colorado River is floating just like a horseshoe through the canyon and the intense green water in contrast with the red stones is a fantastic sight. The overlook is 300 meter above the river and there are no fences anywhere. So beware.
Not far from the Horseshoe bend lies Antelope Canyon. From ground level it looks like just a crack in the ground but when you lower yourself to the 37 meter deep crack you find yourself in a whole new world of winding sandstones. With the light coming through it makes a popular place for photographing. Antelope Canyon was formed by erosion of sandstones, primarily due to flash flooding. Every now and then the passage gets flooded. Last time this happened was in 2006. It lasted 36 hours and closed the Lower Antelope Canyon for five months. The Antelope Canyon is only accessible through guided tours.
As you can see these impressive sand stone formations is all over the place here in the southwest desert region. I could spend days or months watching them, taking pictures of them, hiking them. Still, when you have small kids the sand stones becomes a background image to your daily life. For the kids it is all about the small things. Eating candy on a bench in the middle of the Sedona red rocks, meeting a fantastic family where you can play all day long with their little girl while parents are enjoying the surroundings, blowing soap bubbles instead of watching the magical view of the Grand Canyon or practicing their English so that they can understand more of what their peers say to them. World school it is.