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Abra Kanabra

Sydney called me a few weeks ago to ask if I wanted to take a trip to Utah over her Spring Break. “Of course!” I said, remembering her photos from there last year. We ended up getting delayed by about 5 days due to a string of serious misfortune, but we were determined to get there somehow.

In the midst of all this, I was antsy so I found a way to keep busy. I had been planning to paint my motorhome, so I did that and then I added some bathroom decor from Arcata, CA.

Finally Sydney gets into town and we’re ready to go. It’s 4am Tuesday morning and we are completely prepared. We have everything we need, things are finally looking up and we’re stoked. We were 45 miles from home, rocking to music and making good time as we barely beat traffic through the commuter areas when I start to hear the engine knocking… Knocking is never good.

We debated, we researched, we threw minimal but enough supplies into the car, and we went anyway. Nothing would stop us at this point. We only had 4 days left of Spring Break to adventure. I left the RV at an auto center near where my grandpa works for the CA bureau of automotive repair… I knew it would be fine… and we hit the road finally at noon: My best friend and myself in the front seat singing along to Taylor Swift on the radio for the millionth time, because nothing else is ever on, and my giant German Shepherd laying across the back seat of my 2013 Toyota Highlander. It took us another 7-8 hours to get there, but we made it to the KOA near Bryce Canyon with enough time for some wine and unwinding before bed… Because of course, the wine didn’t get left behind.

Day 2 was pretty mellow.. after I hit my head that is. Or maybe I just don’t remember much because I hit my head. It was about 7am, before the sun apparently rises in Utah, and we were staying in a small cabin. I had to pee really bad. So badly, that I sprinted around the corner of the cabin in the early morning non-light and smacked my forehead directly into the corner of the roof. I was on the ground instantly, rubbing my head profusely and trying to think of a way to make it not leave a mark. I came up with nothing.

I was blinded when I flipped the light switch in the bathroom. As blurred vision slowly returned to my eyes, I saw the blood. It was worse than I thought. two marks had implanted themselves on the high right side of my forehead. Perfect since this was a great photo-op trip. I tried to think of a great story to tell instead of this one, but again I came up with nothing.

After that fiasco we set off for Bryce Canyon finally.

Now, it’s really unfortunate that EVERY national park costs between $15-25 to enter. Luckily for us, we were both well prepared. Before we left for Utah I already had my Annual National Park Pass. If you go to more than 3 or 4 parks in 1 year it pays for itself, and I’ve already used it in 2. It’s wonderful. I’m a VIP.

Back to Bryce Canyon.. we got to the trailhead and it said no dogs… but I checked it out. Legedu and I hike regularly. This trail, while higher up than the ones we would hike at home, was no more dangerous than those he has been on in other places. Without him with me, I honestly don’t know if I would have been comfortable on the trail. I feel awkward hiking without my dog.

He loved it. I forgot Legedu had never seen snow before! So of course he had the best time ever galloping and pouncing through it. He decided it tasted pretty good and would even eat dirty snow sometimes. Dogs..

From Bryce Canyon we went straight to Kanab to find a dog-friendly motel.

Kanab is pretty funny. Despite the fact that Spring really starts during Spring Break in March, everything opens in April and May. Some things are open, but half the town is dead. We got to the place we thought we were going to stay and decided to try the second-nicest looking hotel in town instead. The paint-peeling stained building just didn’t look very appealing to us. Holiday Inn was out because we’re on a budget, so we went to the Parry Lodge. It’s actually really nice. We got a suite, because it was the only pet-friendly room left (supposedly) and it only cost us $75 with the extra pet fees and tax. The hotel is themed old Hollywood too, which is awesome. I guess in Kanab they used to film a lot of movies. If you go to Kanab, I recommend staying there.

We sat down and began to unwind, pondering how to get alcohol. Then we realized we were in Utah, and getting alcohol after 7pm was highly unlikely. I called the front desk and got 2 suggestions. The State Liquor Store may be open until 8, or try the grocery store for beer only. It was 7:45.

We got in the car and left faster than I think we did the entire time we were gone. The liquor store was closed, of course, so we went to the grocery store. There, we stood for ten minutes looking at the different beers we hadn’t seen before and contemplating where to eat dinner. A woman came up and said “You must be new to Utah,” as she expertly selected her beer without glancing at the shelves.

“We’re from California,” Sydney told her.

“Oh yeah,” she said. “Go for the micro brews, they have more alcohol content.”

She walked away and we laughed, grabbing some Apple Ale. Perfect.

At the front, we paused again, debating whether or not to get chips. We must have just seemed completely lost, because the woman walked up behind us again and said to the two cashiers, “Oh don’t worry about them, they’re just from California.” Everyone laughed.

It was rather hilarious, but oddly embarrassing. I think I will need to get used to this Cali-girl discrimination if I’m going to travel to the rest of the country. These people were joking, what happens when I encounter someone more serious? Like a cop… Sydney told me about her last encounter in Utah.. talk about profiling and intimidation tactics… I will never disobey the law outside my own state.. it’s apparently like being in a foreign country.

Anyway, we got our Ale, grabbed Chinese food and headed back to the room to look at pictures from the day. The funniest part is that until this moment, we thought we didn’t see what Bryce Canyon was most famous for- Thor’s Hammer. As we flipped through photos we realized this was where we stopped to take pictures the longest. Legedu even got to take a picture in front of it.

The third day was the biggest adventure we had planned: Buckskin Gulch. This is the day that Legedu almost died.

Things started out great. Legedu had his backpack and his GoPro and he couldn’t have been happier.

There was no one signed in at the trailhead and no cars so I figured keeping Legedu off the leash was fine. What was the worst he would he do? Chase some bunnies? Okay. We were walking in the middle of a dried river bed, no WAY he could get into trouble.

Wrong. Very wrong.

I had just finished turning off the GoPro when something caught Legedu’s attention. His ears perked up and I followed him to the edge of the river to see what he was looking at. Oh, how cute! A free range cow.

Wait, ****. A cow. Legedu was already 10 feet from me, so I lunged. Not fast enough. He took off. He’d never seen a cow before in person… curiosity got the better of him and his natural shepherding instincts… he could do nothing but chase.

I heard frantic mooing and two more cows appeared with their newborn calf. “MOO,” the first cow charged my dog. They ran head first toward each other and my heart dropped. Eventually all 4 cows turned and ran the opposite direction. My dog followed…

As I left Sydney behind in shock, surrounded by dust, I could hear more mooing and periodic barking getting farther and farther away. Syd trailed behind me as we sprinted for about a mile, screaming Legedu’s name until we finally stopped short of breath, unable to continue. Syd thought she could see him up ahead, but he came running out of the bushes, tongue flopping, like he’d won the world’s dumbest dog award a few seconds later. A big sigh of relief and the realization that the GoPro wasn’t on hit me at the same time. Those photos would have been priceless.

I’ve never been so terrified I wouldn’t see my dog again. We passed by the cows a half mile later and they stood posted along the high ground… making sure we weren’t going to come any closer to them again.

The rest of the day was relatively uneventful. Buckskin Gulch is amazing. I’d spend a few days hiking the 48 mile long slot canyon if I had a survivalist type person with me and someone who can carry much more than I can… But we turned around 4.5 miles in where Buckskin meets Wire Pass and took a break near some Native American petroglyphs.

The last day was the most awe-inspiring. We went to Lower Antelope Canyon. We got extremely lucky and went through when you can see beams of light. A lot of them. Usually, upper antelope canyon is known for the lighting and lower is known for its dark crevices. Well.. I got both in just lower antelope canyon. We also went through at the same time as more than one photography tour, so we utilized their sand-throwing tricks as we passed by.. I paid $22 less than those suckers and I may not have been allowed to have a tripod, but my photos came out AMAZINGLY, possibly just as good or better than theirs. I will never know.

Our tour guide was awesome too. Martina Mountain knew more about photography than most photographers I know. I don’t include myself in that, because I’m not a photographer. She DEFINITELY knew more about my camera than I did. I’m still learning.

Poor Legedu had to sit in the car the whole time, then we left straight for our drive through Zion National Park and trip home. He spent all day and night in the car again. I don’t think he minded too much though. He slept the whole way.

We tried to go to Weeping Rock, BUT it was apparently the first day of spring. So Zion changed the rules and we could not enter in the car. The crushing weight of my motorhome being out of commission started to hit me and my back pain seemed less bearable. Suddenly I was terrified to get home and I couldn’t wait to get there all at once. It’s weird to say this, but my motorhome is like my home, not having it makes everything much more difficult to cope with. We made it home safe and sound, with nothing but memories and thousands of pictures… and rocks. A lot of rocks. I’m so happy Sydney took me here. I can only hope we’ll go on more adventures together.

Total we traveled over 1400 miles, not including our side-trip to get my Highlander from San Diego when the motorhome broke down.

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I'm a 24 year old writer and full-time wanderer. My dog, Legedu (Leg-a-doo), and I just finished a trip in my 23 year old motorhome wandering through half of the vast USA. Armed with an annual national park pass, a camera and my pen, I'm determined to see everything this country has to offer. Next Spring I will set out once more to travel through the rest of the states.As a Master's Graduate at the School of International Service at American University, I'm fascinated by culture and societal conflict. This is the story of my ultimate global cultural immersion. I'll get to know the culture of my own country intimately and then set out to meet the rest of the world.

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