Monday morning starts relaxed. I have a quick breakfast with my friend Ana and then we drive both to downtown Telluride. She goes to her office and I go to a coffee place.
At Sunday I get up and start driving around 4am again. I don’t feel like leaving here yet, but I want to be at the Grand Canyon before the crowds get there and it’s about two hours driving from Sedona. Just as on any road trip, there are drives to get somewhere and there are drives on which you really enjoy the ride. This morning is one of the latter and I’m really taking in the moments. I’m thankful that I can be here in this beautiful country. I’m driving with some relaxed music on while I enjoy the scenery. Slowly, but steady it gets light outside and when I’m at a perfect spot with a wide view of the mountains the sun comes up. It’s a perfect drive this morning and I think to myself how moments like these make the long workdays of the past year totally worth it.
When I arrive at the Grand Canyon there is still no one at the gates and no lines, so I can continue driving into the park without waiting. Better than last year when there were long lines of cars entering the park. I want to ride a bicycle today at the Grand Canyon, something I haven’t done before. The bike rental place opens at 8am, so I still have enough time for a relaxed breakfast and to apply sunscreen. It promises to be a hot day again. Just before eight o’clock I get my bike and ride to west side of the canyon. The biking path starts easy, but quickly turn into several hills to climb and go down from. It’s a good workout and I’m happy that I’m so early here, because it’s not too hot yet. I stop at several points to be mesmerized by the amazing views of the canyon. Biking here is a new and different experience than just walking along the rim, because it’s easier to go a lot further. It’s a great way to see more. After about three hours I’m back at the center. Even though I have the bike available for two more hours, I decide to return it now, because it gets way too hot outside. I drive to one of the lodges I know from previous trips to get a snack and a cold drink and enjoy some reading time. There are many rocking chairs and two swing benches, a perfect place to relax.
Since it’s about 37° Celsius / 100° Fahrenheit outside, I’m not gonna do many active things anymore and decide to continue driving in the direction of Telluride, Colorado where I’m meeting a travel friend Ana whom I know from a previous road trip. We’re planning to celebrate the 4th of July together. I make a few more stops at viewing points while driving to the east entrance of the park. Of course a visit to the Grand Canyon is not complete for me without sitting at the edge for a moment and I’m lucky that there is another cool guy named Shaun who wants to take some pictures.
After I leave the Grand Canyon, I take a scenic route via Monument Valley, a famous view that can be seen in many western movies. It’s nice to drive in an area that I often see on pictures on social media and stop to take some pictures myself as well.
When I see that I’m getting closer to Colorado I call Ana to ask if it’s okay if I arrive a day earlier and she replies happily that that is fine and tells me that two more friends are coming. The last two hours of the drive the landscape changes dramatically and the red rocks of Arizona are exchanged by the green mountains of Colorado. When I’m close to Telluride the mountain views are very impressive. They call this area the Switzerland of Colorado and indeed it reminds me of the Alps in Europa. Just before it’s dark I arrive at my friend’s house and it’s great to see each other again after five years. She hasn’t changed a bit and even still has the same car in which she lived for many years. Now she has a house to stay at, which is also nice for a change of course. We catch up a bit and then I’m going to sleep, because I’m tired from the long drive. In just four days I’ve already driven 1250 miles / 2000 kilometers and I’m a bit ahead of schedule which I like. Tomorrow Ana has got to work so I might also do some work and discover the town of Telluride by myself. The ride has gone quite fast so far, but I’m making sure to enjoy the moments fully and I’m happy with all the great experiences I’m having.
I wake up to the alarm clock at 4am, get dressed and drive to the hiking trail, about half an hour from the camping spot. It’s still dark and quiet outside. Also in the town of Sedona everything is quiet. When I get close to the trail’s end, there is a big sign saying that the parking lot is full. I doubt that’s true at 4.30am in the morning and indeed it’s still empty. There are just a few other cars. It’s nice and chilly outside and the first light is appearing at the horizon.
I wake up before the alarm clock around 3.15am. I slept well, even though it was a short night again. I freshen myself up and get dressed and pack a small backpack for the hike. I bring my camera’s as well, because I plan to take some beautiful pictures of the Los Angeles skyline from the mountain. With my headlamp on I start climbing the hiking trail. It’s very exciting to hike in the dark and I’m glad that I still have plenty of time before sunrise. Last year when I did this, it was a race against the clock and I actually had to run parts of the hike to be at the Hollywood sign before sunrise. Not this time. It’s still dark when I arrive at the first lookout point, wisdom tree.
Just as always when I travel to America, I wake up super early at 3am. I love that effect of the jet lag, making me even more a morning person than I normally am. I’m still feeling a bit tired though, so I keep laying down for a while, but I know I won’t fall asleep again so I get up for a shower and get dressed. The earliest breakfast restaurant opens at 6am, so I have some time on my hands. I use the opportunity to post yesterday’s story and pictures. Just like last year, I don’t think I’ll be posting on my blog every day, but I do enjoy writing again. One of the goals of this trip is to relax, so I’ll try not to be on the computer too much.
It’s raining outside. Of course it’s raining, it often does when I’m leaving for a long journey. In the quiet early morning I do a last laundry round, have a shower and breakfast and then I’m ready to go. Just like last year, Uber isn’t working and there is no driver showing up. This’ll be the last time I’ve tried that in the Netherlands. I walk through a drizzling rain with my heavy luggage to the train station, but fortunately about halfway there is a bus stop with a bus scheduled in a few minutes. With just a few minutes left I arrive nice on time at the station to catch the train.
When I wake up in the morning and go to bed at night, it’s the strongest: travelers doubt. At the moment that I just want the comfort of my bed, my mind comes up with questions. ‘Why are you doing it?’, ‘Why are you spending so much money on a roadtrip where you’ll be sleeping in your car?’ and ‘Why would you challenge yourself that way and getting uncomfortable if you could also easily stay home?’ When I’m half awake and just starting the day I don’t have answers on those questions. They usually come a bit later in the afternoon when I see a picture of the expansive nature or when I think of the people I meet during my journeys.
I’m at the airport for a moment to look at the planes. As soon as my eye catches the planes waiting at the gates, I’m filled with a joy from deep inside. A smile comes to my face and I realize that for me this is what it’s about. I want to travel and go on adventures. Suddenly my other concerns, like the small house I live in or the busyness of work, have lost their importance. Let me travel and I’m okay with those things. I look at a few planes taking off and then walk back with a smile on my face. It’s good to know what makes you come alive.
I hate goodbyes, I’m just not good at them. I know it’s better to talk positive, but that’s just as it is. This time it’s not me who travels around the world, but my sister who goes on an adventure. I find it awesome for her, but I’m receiving the other side of the coin I usually give to my family. Until now I had not fully realized how challenging it must be for them that I travel around the world almost every year. I usually just think about the adventure that’s ahead of me.
“Have fun booking, because I already know what you’re gonna do anyway”, my sister says on the phone as we end our conversation. I talked with her for a moment, because I had the usual travel doubt. I love going on adventures, but the time before booking is often filled with a lot of thinking.