Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon.

After a night in Flagstaff, I was on the road bright and early to get to Grand Canyon in time. It wasn’t that long of a drive, and I arrived at the park around 10 in the morning. After getting convinced to buy a park pass for all the national parks for a year, I drove in and parked. I expected there to be a crazy amount of people, but it wasn’t too bad actually. I love the feeling when you know that you’re about to see something spectacular, the expectations as you walk towards the first overlook and know that in just seconds you will be seeing a world famous phenomenon.
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Seconds away from seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time…

And it was just that good. I was in awe from the very first moment I laid my eyes on the canyon, and just never stopped. It’s hard to capture just how beautiful and magnificent it really is, but I tried my best. Here is a tiny amount of the photos I took at the park. 
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There were warning signs that you shouldn’t leave the path and climb the rocks. Well, not a lot of people listened, me included. But I never went as far as the people in the picture above, that is just stupid. 
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There are a lot of hiking trails down into the canyon. Can you see the switchbacks in the corner? 
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(it looks worse than it is, there were cliffs all around me, you just can’t see them in the picture. I promise I was never at risk of falling.)
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Once again, some people were just being plain stupid. 
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I took a bunch more pictures, but I won’t bore you with all of them. I did manage to meet some Swedes though! As I was climbing up from having taking one of the pictures, a family came climbing down and I knew right away they were Swedish. One of the sons even had a NY rangers t-shirt, a dead giveaway. Why? Henrik Lundqvist, duh! We had a quick chat, which was nice, but nothing too long, we’re still Swedish after all… I did have a longer talk with an American family I helped take a photo off though, they were super nice.

After having spent 5 hours just walking along the rim, I got back in the car and headed northeast towards the city of Page. It was only a 2,5 hour drive and I had a stop planned just before Page: the Horseshoe Bend. This was also on the list of beautiful places I should see, that I googled a few weeks back, and once again I have to thank google (and National Geographic!) for guiding me to the most amazing places. Just take a look at this:
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You might not be able to see it on my face, but I was absolutely terrified. It was SO high up, and super windy, so for some reason this was much scarier than Grand Canyon. You could tell that this was the general feeling, everyone was almost shuffling towards the edge to be able to get the best picture. You had to almost lean over to get the entire bend… scary! But so beautiful. Just unreal.

Minutes after I arrived to my hotel in Page, and during the check in the lady asked what else I had planned for my visit here.

Me: Tomorrow I’m going to see Antelope Canyon.
Her: What tour company have you booked?
Me: No, I’m just planning to go by myself.
Her: Oh no, it’s on the Navajo reservation, you have to book a tour and guide, otherwise you can’t get in.
Me: What.

Note to self: start doing better research and don’t leave everything for the night before! But I started googling and luck was on my side because I found a company and could book a tour for 10:30 the day after. The tour began with a Navajo man showing us the traditional hoop dance which was very impressive. I filmed the ending of it, where he was covered in all the hoops.
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Then we boarded the cars, and were driven to the park.
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At the canyon the driver of each car also turned out to be our tour guide, mine was a native Navajo man named Leonard. All the guides were Najavo, which I think is pretty cool, it’s their land after all. We entered the canyon, and I was just in awe once again. Seems like that’s my constant state recently. Leonard told us stories about the canyon and its history but also turned out to be a great photography guide as he kept telling us where to stand and where to point the camera to get the best shot. The light was just amazing and I got so many great photos that I want to print as paintings when I get back to Sweden and have a home again, that I’m not sure how I’ll be able to pick. But here I don’t really have to pick, so you’ll get to look at almost all of the pictures I took.

I still can’t believe this is actually a real place that I got to see, and these are pictures that I actually took myself. While Grand Canyon was amazing because of how huge it is, Antelope Canyon was great because of the light and the shape and the colors. Both beautiful but in completely different ways.
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I must admit that this picture is a bit fake! You can’t actually see light unless something is blocking its path, so the guides would stand and throw sand into the air and then jump out of sight so that we could take pictures like this. I think this is my favorite out of all the ones I took. 
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This is Leonard, my guide. He played the flute when we exited the canyon on the other side, such a nice touch.
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Heading back through the sand towards the cars. It was a very bumpy and dusty trip, I had sand everywhere when we got back to town.

After a quick lunch stop I got back in the car and headed north towards Lake Powell to go for a swim. As I approached the area I had seen on the map, I realized that I was entering another park, and that it had a 20 dollar fee to get in! Once again I was in luck, as the national parks pass I had purchased at Grand Canyon was valid here as well. I think it has almost already payed off actually, and I have a bunch of parks left to visit.
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Yay, the beach! And look at the little cooler Janet gave me, it’s perfect! I can finally buy yoghurts and cheese and other things that needs to be kept cool without problem. And it’s very cute.

On my way back to the hotel I drove past the Glen Canyon Dam. It seems like Arizona will never stop surprising me.
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Tomorrow I’ll have an early start, as I’m driving to Zion National Park in Utah, about 2 hours away. I’m planning on hiking the Angel’s Landing trail there, which is supposed to be pretty hard so I want to get started early. It’s supposed to be really beautiful.

How am I doing otherwise? I must admit I’m doing very well. I’m happy, very happy and I feel so blessed to be able to do this and see all these amazing things. Life is easy at the moment, and I’m living the best life I can imagine there is. All I worry about sometimes is how much money I’m spending, but it’s just that, money. No matter how old the saying might be, you actually only do live once, and life is for living. And I sure am living. I can afford to do this, so why shouldn’t I? Yes, I’m spending a lot (A LOT) more money than I originally intended, but I’m gaining so much experience that I wouldn’t change it for the world. As I have experienced myself on this trip, you never know what might happen in your life, so what’s the point of waiting? I’m living my dream, and yes, it comes at a cost but I wouldn’t change anything that has happened to me up until this point in my life. I’m a firm believer in that everything happens for a reason. 

The hand situation is a little bit better. The bump is still there right behind my knuckles, and there is a constant tension across my upper hand and the knuckles. I can use my hand without problem but I have to flex and stretch it a lot. I had originally planned to go whitewater rafting as I get further north, but I don’t think that is an activity I’ll be able to do soon unfortunately. Holding on to a paddle while in a raft on wild water is not the smartest thing with an injured hand.

Okay, time for this lady to sleep, so that I’m ready to go hiking tomorrow! Expect an abundance of pictures…

Driving, being in awe, and driving some more.

When they told me Texas was big, they weren’t joking. I found a great picture the other day for comparison.
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In the past few days I’ve driven across all of Europe basically. It’s flat. The roads are long and straight. But for some reason, I don’t get bored. I put on cruise control, listen to my documentary podcasts about murders, robberies, rapes, and other crimes, and get educated in the Swedish crime history while driving. It’s great! Well, except for the fact that some of the podcasts are quite upsetting…

Anyway. I drove from Marble Falls the other day, and knew that it would just be a travel day. I had looked at the map though, and saw that I would be passing by a cinema, so I timed it so that I could go see a movie. I decided to see Trainwreck, a film with the tagline “not your mother’s romantic comedy”, and it’s rated R here because of the sex and swearing. An R-rating means you have to be 17 and over, so imagine my surprise when the girl working there asked for ID. I just stared at her, before handing it over and telling her that I promise I’m over 17. So offended. I do NOT look like a teenager! I’m fine with them asking for ID when I get a beer, but this was just… and even worse when I googled later and realized that when it’s released in Sweden, it will be from 11 years! Oh wow. We take violence a lot more serious than sex and swearing in Sweden. You can even swear on TV, it’s no big deal.
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I spent the night in a little town called Big Spring in Texas. Nothing special really, but it was my last day in Texas! But I had a lot more miles to go, of long and straight highways…

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The last one is at the Bottomless lakes national parks in New Mexico. Oh, and yes, I saw some bicycle tourists! There were a lot of them, so I’m guessing they were out on an organized trip.

After I had passed into New Mexico, I soon came to a little town called Roswell. It’s famous for a UFO crashing nearby in 1947, though it was really a air force surveillance balloon. Enthusiasts believe that it’s a cover up by the military though, and reports that there have been several sightings of UFO’s since that time. They even have a UFO museum there, which I of course had to visit! I was also a big fan of the 1999 TV show Roswell, which made it even more fun. IMG_4699 IMG_4707 IMG_4709
I LOOK SO WEIRD! I forgot to bring my glasses and only had my sunglasses, and even though I walked around with them on in there because I enjoy seeing where I’m going, it would have looked weird for the picture. So I removed them. I look weird. I love my glasses. 
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Roswell! Such a great show. Well, maybe not by today’s standards. I believe it’s on Netflix though! Or that was a lie, I know it is because I have seen a few episodes…

After Roswell I headed north towards Albuquerque. Wow, that is a complicated name. More roads. But it was very pretty, I finally saw some bigger mountains, and an insane rainstorm. Luckily it was on the field beside me, and I didn’t have to drive through it.
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After a night in Albuquerque I headed for Arizona this morning. I had googled “what should I do between Albuquerque and Flagstaff” and the internet told me to visit the Petrified Forest National Park, and a meteor crater. Thank you internet!

North western New Mexico and Arizona are both SO beautiful. Rough, but with the most amazing hills and landscape. I love it! And the sky is amazing too. Blue and endless.
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When I entered the Petrified Forest I had really no idea what to expect. I didn’t know anything about it and had little to no expectations, but wow. I started driving and less than a minute later I pulled over onto the first overlook and was amazed. The red landscape was unlike something I have ever seen before.
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Look at this little house, doesn’t it look like something from Flintstones?

Every single time there was an overlook, the landscape looked completely different. It was so amazing.
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I took this photo just because I knew it would freak my mother out. It did! My self timer is for 10 seconds so I had to run to even get a shot with me in it. It took four tries… 
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As I pulled into the last stop, a guy standing by a bunch of motorcycles waved me over. He wanted me to take a picture of him and his three brothers who were driving cross country on their bikes. I took a bunch of photos and then I got to try out one of the bikes. They thought I should switch vehicle, and I felt kind of tempted… haha nah, I’ve driven a moped before but unlike the 70’s when you got a motorcycle license for free along with your car license in Sweden, that had changed in 2004 when it was my turn. But they were so nice and they’re going to Grand Canyon tomorrow too, would be funny if we met again.
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The last stop on the 26 mile/42 km drive was to the actual petrified forest. It’s wood that million and million of years ago turned from wood to rocks and minerals. It looks like wood from a distance, but when you get close you can see that it’s not.
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I love the petrified forest and would definitely recommend a visit if you’re in the area!

Cherry Bomb and I headed back out on the i-40 highway, this time with destination Barringer meteor crater. All I knew about this place was that a meteor hit the earth around 50 000 years ago, and the crater is still there. It was very impressive, especially when I learned just how small the actual meteor who made that HUGE hole was. Supposedly it was just 45 meter/150 feet wide, and that crater is really big.
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Me: Could you take a photo of me?
Woman: Sure!
Me: *gets suspicious* Where are you from?
Woman: Denmark.
Me: Jaha! Jag är från Sverige!

I’m disappointed I couldn’t spot them being Scandinavians right away, but the moment she opened her mouth I knew. There are a lot of Danes here! No Swedes so far though, but I suspect I’ll meet some as I get to more touristy areas. 
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And that was the entire drive from Texas to Arizona. Tonight I’ve done some washing and planning, and tomorrow I’m heading for Grand Canyon. I will almost be hitting a different national park now every day for weeks, I’m excited! This country is beyond beautiful.