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Month Forty was pretty much split between work and roadtripping – a pretty good balance and it was nice to be making some serious money for the first time since I was in New Zealand – yay to work permits!
I started the month with a couple of days of catching up with my online work before we hit the road with my Dad, first stop: New Mexico!
We spent four days in New Mexico staying at my Father-in-laws place, and it was awesome to introduce Dad to one of my favorite parts of the US.
After dropping Toby off at the Albuquerque Airport to fly to Vegas for work, Dad and I headed back to Colorado and then Utah, where we spent a week roadtripping through mountain towns ensconced in the remainder of fall colors, six incredible National Parks, and stark desert landscapes.
It was an incredible trip and it was great to be traveling with Dad again.
After a week on the road in the Jucy camper, we got to Vegas in time to attend the Rise Lantern Festival that Toby had been setting up – unfortunately it didn’t go quite as planned, more on that in lowlights below.
Dad stayed a couple of nights in Vegas and we mostly just hung out in the room and relaxed (and I caught up on work).
Then Dad left and continued his road trip through Arizona.
I had two more nights in Vegas and spent my time at the pool and jacuzzi, and ventured to the Strip for a day to look around.
From Vegas, Toby and I flew back to Denver where we went straight to work the next morning. We spent nine days first building, then working, the Pumpkin Nights Festival in Brighton. It was hard work but we met some cool people and it felt good to be a part of something.
As soon as we finished work, we packed up and hit the road for our two month Southern Road Trip Honeymoon!
The last three days of the month were spent in New Mexico – the first night back at my Father-in-laws’ place in Espanola, then White Sands National Monument, the small mountain town of Ruidoso and alien-crazy Roswell.
Now onto the Stats!
Countries Visited: USA
- Colorado: Denver, Brighton, Georgetown, Telluride, Silverton, Ouray
- New Mexico: Espanola, Ojo Caliente, Taos, Chimayo, Ruidoso, Roswell
- Utah: Moab
- Nevada: Las Vegas
National Parks and Monuments Visited: Mesa Verde National Park, Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Zion National Park, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, White Sands National Monument
Islands Visited: No islands this month
Best Meal: First place absolutely goes to the Dynamite Green Mussels with garlic and ponzu sauce from Zenshin Sushi in Las Vegas – these were a food highlight of the whole year! Other food highlights of the month include the funnel cake with fresh strawberries, cream and maple syrup from the Funnel Cake Factory in Silverton; the surprisingly good black bean burrito bowl I had from one of the vendors at the Rise Festival in Vegas; and the incredible berry pie from Gifford Homestead in Fruita, the small town in Capitol Reef National Park.
Worst Meal: The Tropical Chicken and Mango Salad at Baja Miguel’s Mexican Restaurant at South Point, Las Vegas. Limp lettuce and mango, gross tasting dressing, overcooked chicken – it was bad. I also didn’t like the parmesan and truffle mac and cheese I had at the Mercantile in Ruidoso – there was just too much cheese, with massive hunks of half melted cheese strewn through the dish.
Best Craft Beer: Plum Walker from Something Brewery in Brighton, Colorado – this plum sour was delightful.
- Knife Edge Trail in Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado 2 miles/3.2km return
- Soda Canyon Trail in Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado 1.9 miles/3km return
- Delicate Arch trail in Arches National Park, Utah 3 miles/4.8km return
- Devil’s Garden Primitive Trail in Arches National Park, Utah 7.2 miles/11.5km loop
- Grand View Point trail in Canyonlands National Park, Utah 2 miles/3.2km return
- Aztec Butte trail in Canyonlands National Park, Utah 2 miles/3.2km return
- Hickman’s Bridge trail in Capitol Reef National Park, Utah 1.8 miles/3km return
- Inspiration Point to Bryce Point trail in Bryce Canyon National Park 3 miles/4.8km return
Other than still reading The Stand – it’s a very large book – we listened to Master of the Game by Sidney Sheldon during the first couple of days of our road trip and I was hooked. I loved the multi-generational family story of the McGregor family, spanning numerous countries and with so much drama including kidnapping, murder, power struggles, epic adventures, and more. I definitely recommend it if you are looking for an easy but gripping read.
I started watching The Haunting of Hill House and love it! It is understated but still creepy, and I love how the story is slowly unraveling one piece at a time.
Showing my Dad Around New Mexico
Toby and I had such a fun time showing Dad all our favorite places in northern New Mexico along with Toby’s Dad, Rudy. Over four days we soaked at Ojo Caliente, visited Taos and the historic Taos Pueblo, did some wine tasting around Chimayo and visited the sacred Santuario, and hit up all the good stuff in Santa Fe, including the Plaza, the History Museum and Canyon Road. It was another great visit to Northern New Mexico and Dad loved it.
Hitting up the South West National Parks
I have been wanting to get to the last three of the Mighty Five Parks in Utah that I haven’t visited yet for what feels like an age, but it just kept getting pushed back – not this time.
While Toby was working, Dad and I did a one week road trip that covered all five of the National Parks in Utah – Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park, as well as Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado.
I didn’t have a load of time in each park but I got a really good taste of the parks that I hadn’t visited before, and Arches in particular really impressed me. The primitive trail hike that I did there was an absolute highlight of the road trip.
Making the Most of Rainy Days in the Colorado Mountains
We didn’t have a lot of luck with the weather on our road trip, particularly for the two days we spent in the Colorado mountains, but we made the most of it anyway. Our first stop after leaving Mesa Verde National Park was to one of my favorite mountain towns – Silverton.
It was damn cold there and drizzling but we braved the main street, stopping in for excellent funnel cake and checking out the interesting San Juan Country Historical Museum, which was much larger inside than it looked from the outside and had loads of info about the founding of the town and mining history in the area.
In Ouray we took a local’s advice to check out the vapor cave and hot pool at the historic Wiesbaden Hot Springs Hotel and it was AWESOME! I have never been to a vapor cave before – a natural hot spring inside a cave – and it was a pretty special experience.
Our last stop in the mountains was another of my favorite Colorado mountain towns, Telluride, and even though it was raining most of our short time there, the fall colors were at their peak, and spectacular.
There is always something to do in the Rocky Mountains, no matter the weather.
Working Pumpkin Nights Festival
Although the set up was tough and I didn’t always know what I was doing, I really loved working the event. Pumpkin Nights consists of thousands of carved synthetic pumpkins that are lit up and designed intricately into lands like Dia de los Muertos, Pirates and Under the Sea.
It was incredible to see the finished product and to see how far we came with the set up – and to see other people enjoying it for the three nights we worked the event.
Getting Casper Running Like a Dream
Casper, our little campervan, has been steadily getting worse for a while – whenever we start the van it is sluggish and loud before it warms up. After having a couple of mechanics look at it and tell us nothing is wrong, we finally found someone that knew what the problem was – a cracked motor mount.
Once we got this replaced, as well as replacing our front brakes which were at the end of their lives, Casper has been running better than he ever has since we have owned him. Such a relief as we are taking him cross country.
Finally Getting to White Sands National Monument
I have been trying to persuade Toby that we should venture down to southern New Mexico to visit the white sand dunes of White Sands National Monument for ages, but it is kinda out in the middle of nowhere, unless you are driving to San Antonio – which luckily we were doing last month.
White Sands is a crazy sight – pure white sand dunes for miles but no ocean within 500 miles of it. We decided to camp out in the dunes for the night and got to watch the dunes turn shades of purple and pink during the sunset and sunrise. I also did a short hike in the dunes and we took turns sledding down the steeper dunes on a disc sled that we rented.
White Sand Dunes National Monument turned out to be even better than I imagined it would be.
Broken Body from Physical Work
Man, my body was broken after working long, freezing days during the Pumpkin Nights set up – by the end I had an aching back, all the skin on my hands was peeling and I had cuts everywhere. It took a few days after we finished to get over the exhaustion.
Cracked my New Phone
Within less than a month I managed to drop my new phone on concrete, smashing the side of the screen. I was so upset but luckily it still works (although the selfie camera is cracked – not a big loss as I rarely take selfies).
Rained out at Zion National Park
For the morning we had planned for Zion National Park, I was going to get up early and hike Observation Point but the weather had other plans. Unfortunately it was really rainy and cold so after a ride into the valley on the shuttle and a quick look at the Museum, we hit the road for Vegas to escape the rain.
I have been to Zion before and have hiked Angels Landing in the past but I was bummed that Dad didn’t get to properly see one of my favorite National Parks. He said he would like to go back the next time he comes to the US so hopefully it will be sunny for him them.
I will return myself at some point in the future too – to finally hike Observation Point and maybe the Narrows.
Rise Festival Cancelled
I was excited to see thousands of lanterns rising up from the desert at Rise Festival, but the bad weather that plagued our road trip followed us to Vegas and the event was cancelled half way through – about 30 minutes before we were meant to release the lanterns.
We did get to see the sun set over the desert, and watch some live music (and I got to stand in line for 45 minutes to get food and beers – lucky me) but I’ll have to wait till next year’s festival to get to see the lanterns.
Reaction to Jacuzzi
It seems that whenever I soak in a jacuzzi multiple times in a few days, I get an itchy rash on my back. I can usually prevent this by making sure I shower after each time but this time in Vegas, it didn’t help. It has been a few weeks now and the lumps on my back are still healing. Not sure what exactly causes it but it is itchy as hell and not nice.
Still more than I would like to spend, but there were a few one off costs including new hiking boots, signing up with Planned Parenthood and getting the pill (so expensive in the US!), getting my wedding dress dry-cleaned to sell, and having some work done on the van. Next month won’t be a cheap one either because we are heading off on our honeymoon, but at least the money will be spent on more fun things – like tours and lots of delicious food.
My paid accommodation this month consisted of one night in a cheap motel in Artesia, New Mexico, and one night backcountry camping in White Sand Dunes National Monument. I also spent twelve nights staying with my Mother-in-law in Brighton, Colorado; five nights staying with my Father-in-law in Espanola, New Mexico; seven nights sleeping in the Penthouse of a Jucy van on the road trip with my Dad in Colorado and Utah; and four nights in a hotel paid for by Toby’s work in Vegas.
Food and Drink $506
I thought this amount would have been lower this month. I actually didn’t eat out a lot this month as I was working long hours for ten days of the month, then my Dad paid for most things when I was traveling with him on our National Parks road trip.
- Hiking Boots $85
- Underwear $10.50
- Gas $30
- Parking $2
- Public bus in Vegas $6
- Flight Vegas to Denver $69
- Sled hire for White Sand Dunes $3.50
- Roswell UFO Museum $5
Vehicle Costs $150
- New front brakes and motor mount fixed on van $150 (my half)
Wedding Costs $140
- Wedding dress dry cleaned $140
The last cost for the wedding – thank the lord!
- Phone Credit $50
- Toiletries $112
- New laptop cover $41.50
- Turquoise Earrings $9
- Gambling in Vegas $5
- Doctor’s appointment $54
What’s in Store for Next Month
Next month will be allll about the Southern honeymoon road trip!
Our first stop of the road trip in month forty one will be Carlsbad Caverns, then we are planning to head over the border to Guadeloupe Mountains National Park then down to San Antonio for a couple of nights.
After checking out the Alamo and the Riverwalk, we will be spending three nights in Austin – a city I have been wanting to visit for a long time. I have a really long list of places to eat, and things to do, so it will be a busy visit.
From Austin we have a couple of days to drive to New Orleans and are planning to stop in the heart of Cajun country – Lafayette – and to visit a swamp and a couple of small towns around there, before rolling into the Big Easy in time for Halloween.
We have five nights in New Orleans and this will be the real honeymoon part of our honeymoon – we will be spending it up on seafood, ghost tours, and Halloween night fun. I booked a tiny home for the duration of our stay there and I can’t wait to check it out.
From New Orleans we have two weeks to reach Savannah – I’m thinking lots of beach time, more seafood, touring the historic city of St Augustine in Florida and maybe swimming with manatees if we are lucky.
We haven’t booked anything in Savannah yet but I would like to spend at least four nights there, soaking up this beautiful city.
The last two nights of month forty one will be the beginning of our three week housesit in Charleston – a city I can’t wait to thoroughly explore!
Another exciting month to look forward to.
To read additional Monthly Round Ups, you can find them here