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Our last US road trip: part 2

A sculpture in Jackson that reminded me of Jax and the equine friends he made just days earlier.

So in Jackson Hole I got the Subaru looked at for the 3rd and 4th time. The check engine light came on shortly after I left Minnesota and each mechanic since South Dakota (there are 2 Subaru dealers in South Dakota and I went to both) has told me the car will be fine, turned off the light and sent me on my way. Yet the light kept coming on and knocking out my cruise control. The catalyst efficiency system had been malfunctioning and it is apparently the most common and yet the most difficult problem to diagnose in Subarus. It seemed like the kind of problem that a dealership could help me with more than any other mechanic so I took it to the Jackson Subaru and they couldn’t help me either.

5 minutes outside walking Jax and it was snowing so hard I could barely see.

So I took it to a local mechanic hoping he could help me. He tinkered with it all day and couldn’t come up with any solutions. His own Subaru has the same problem and he said the best thing to do would be to get the car to California and have a mechanic tinker with it for a week. He didn’t charge me anything and I was grateful for his honesty because so far no one else had told me anything but “there’s no way of knowing.”

We celebrated Jax’s 5th birthday in Jackson Hole with a huge treat!

To be honest, Jackson Hole is really boring unless you have plans to ski or something. So we hung out at the Motel 6 for 2 days. Doing nothing. We left early the next day.

The plan for the rest of the trip was to see my friend Paige in Colorado Springs and see Monument Valley in Utah. That left a whole lot of time in between for travel and spontaneous adventures. I wanted to get out of Wyoming as soon as possible (it sucked to be brutally honest) and into Colorado so we could stop at a dog park in Ft Collins that we had visited in 2016. It was fun then but Jax wasn’t in the mood to play when we got there and he sat by me the whole time.

Horsetooth Dog Park

When we were in Ft Collins, Paige realised she had overbooked herself and could only make time for lunch or dinner. This is very Paige. She fills her social calendar and constantly overbooks herself. And while a weekend with my friend would’ve been great, we’ll be working together all summer and so I can’t be selfish or upset. Still, I bought her a day planner for her birthday, which was a few days after I saw her, so that she would avoid more overbooking. We met up for a nice lunch and did some shopping before she had to run to her next engagement.

Before we met up with Paige I wanted to do a nice early morning hike in Cheyenne Canyon. The 7 bridges trail is a good 3.5 mile hike (we did it twice last year when we stayed in Colorado Springs) and it is a part of a longer 6-7 mile trail. I wanted Jax tired for the day but also, we are so out of shape. There was nothing for us to hike in Florida and so we needed all the exercise we could get. Jax is the best trail dog and so far his inner diva still let me take a picture of him every now and again. I have to make sure I get the shot in one take because he will walk away if I’m taking too long. Diva.

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Now we were on our way to Four Corners Monument. We drove through the night because I wanted to get there at sunrise. Turns out that Great Sand Dunes is also on the little strip of highway to Four Corners and Monument Valley so I decided we’d spend the night and get to Utah the next day.

We spent half the day at Great Sand Dunes and had a good time trying to climb to the top. My lungs gave up near the top but I got some neat pictures from the trip. Jax loved the sand and had a blast running up and down the dunes. The next day we finally got to Utah! And our first stop, Four Corners, turned out to be pretty unremarkable and was a glorified pee break on the way to Monument Valley.

Monument Valley was… crowded with tourists. But you can do self guided tours around the park and that’s what we did. But not before a few pictures to show off Jax’s natural modelling abilities.

We took a few pictures in the parking lot and the tourists loved it.

Windswept and annoyed

By the third stop he wouldn’t even look at me.

Best little Subaru that ever was.

It was pretty great. And the fact that we got to do some light off-roading was nice. Highly recommend it if you’re ever in the area.

The view from Artist’s Point

I wanted to drive through southern Utah instead of Arizona because I knew if Jax had to use the bathroom in Arizona, he wasn’t gonna go. He needs some kind of greenery to do his business, but also southern Utah is cooler. So off we went. The drive was pretty dry so when we got to Page, AZ and I saw a very green park we stopped for a few hours to play and let Jax do his business as he pleases. When it started to get dark I looked around for a place to stay and the Walmart down the road was our only option. So we camped out with the other 20 or so campers in the parking lot.

The night was really calm and the parking lot started to quiet down when it got dark so we went for a walk. On our way back to the car when we were maybe 20-30 parking spots away, huge gusts of wind started whipping across the lot. Picking up debris and sand, knocking out lamps and rocking even the biggest RVs. Then it started to rain. We hid behind an RV but the wind still got us. The sand hit my skin so hard it hurt. I knew we had to get back to the car but who knew how much longer this would last. So we ran. As fast as we could. Jax closed his eyes and followed the leash and I just ran with my eyes barely open. When we got in the car I had to wash the sand out of my eyes in a bowl and wipe the sand off of Jax’s fur and face and out of his ears. The car shook so hard it made Jax whimper. This storm came out of nowhere and in a matter of minutes it was over. Likw it never happened. I guess that’s the desert for you.

While I was cooking dinner that night I looked at the map to see what was around and we were literally 3-4 miles from Horseshoe Bend. What luck. So I decided we’d go there for the sunrise. Unfortunately, about 50-60 other people had the same idea. And then once the sun was up even more people came. It was ridiculous. But Jax was being especially well behaved and people even stopped to take his picture before they left.

I will admit i did not get the best pictures of Jax and the bend.

Need a decent camera and good telephoto lens bad.

Good boy.

Because of the rain, stopping to hike a slot canyon would be dangerous so we headed to Kanab hoping to find a place to have lunch. I went to Kanab knowing that Best Friends Animal Society had their massive headquarters there but I figured it would be out of the way and not worth the trip. Turns out it was on the way to St. George and so we had to stop in to see if we could get a tour. Unfortunately, while they do allow dog owners on their tours, they require someone to wait in the car with the dog whenever they make a stop inside a building. Because the property is so big, the group has to drive to each location. So we settled for hiking one of their trails instead. We met a lovely couple who flew in from Maine for vacation and to possibly adopt a dog. Best Friends allows you to spend the day and night with the pet they match you with to see if everyone is a good fit for each other. It’s a great practice and they were having a great day with their possible adoptee.

We tried meeting a few sheep and horses. All of which ignored Jax. I think he was heartbroken. He whined when he couldn’t get their attention and I guess he thought he would make friends like he did on the farm in Montana.

Our very last night in a parking lot. The end of an era.

When we left Kanab it really started to feel like the end of an era. Our last cross-country trip and we fit in as much as we possibly could. I was exhausted and a little sad. While I’ve never really felt like I fit in in the average American lifestyle or society or whatever you want to call it, I’ve enjoyed the last few years (2016-present). Anyone who knows me well has agreed it’s time for me to move on. And I’m so happy and grateful I have friends who understand me and know I don’t feel quite right here. But also they know I’ve done all I wanted to do and seen all I wanted to see. It certainly doesn’t feel like there’s anything holding me back and this move to Spain feels like the right thing for us. I’m ready to start over again and be out of my comfort zone in a new country, culture, language, all of it. Excited doesn’t begin to cover how I feel.

But first…I’ll be keeping track and taking even more pictures this summer as I document the last of our west coast adventures. Stay tuned!

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