After a beautiful and beyond our expectations visit to the Grand Canyon North Rim we had to find a place to sleep for the night. There are many campsites just outside the National Park in the National Forest but the cold temperatures overnight push us down the mountain to lesser altitude and higher temperatures. Plus, getting a little closer to Phoenix, AZ was a good idea, it was Sunday night and we needed to be outside Phoenix by Monday night. On our way out we stop into Jacobs River Inn and purchase of a few more postcards for the grandchildren and friends that love to get them. After a little cozy break in their comfy chairs next to their warm roaring fire, we carried on down the mountain to a free campsite.
While sitting beside the fire Hollis had scouted a place just a little over an hour down the mountain. Since its Fall it’s dark by 6 pm and we drove out of the park in dark. We pulled out at 7:30 in hopes to be in place by 9 pm. Sometimes Hollis just trusts, doesn’t think too much about it and in the end, they discover that their ancestors have usually guided them to something magnificent, yet at times we have found ourselves searching for a parking place much later than we want to be. Likely we learned something on those nights, but that’s a different story! Over the years we have gotten better, now in year 4, we are pretty confident. Hollis read the details the previous scout left online “This place is a real gem, the roads tough so you need good clearance and there is a broken gate at the entrance, it says to keep it closed. Be sure to visit the end campsites!”
This was another public land in Marble Canyons, just beside the Vermillion Cliffs in Northern Arizona. Hollis scouted out the site online and drove for the last 75 mins. We were grateful to see the temperature come up to the 40’s as we went down in altitude. It was dark when we left the Inn. So the view was limited but after about an hour of National Forest and BLM land in the distance, Hollis could see a Motel and the navigation was showing the gate was coming up on the right. As Hollis pulled off to the side to the gate we could see the sign on the front that said, “Please Close Gate”. Hollis looks at Bright Hawk and smiles. This place looks like just another ranch but it was obviously public lands with little markings, just this little sign that was barely legible on the gate. Bright Hawk jumps out to open the gate so we can pull in and is immediately challenged by the fence. The hinges had broken and it was hard to lift and carry, but she manages the gate opens and closes it up after Hollis pulls in the van.
As we continue down the road we are slowed to 1 and 2MPH to manage the tossing around of all our stuff behind us. Slowly creeping down a road that seems barely manageable except that this van has great clearance. Hollis traverses large rocks and huge ruts in the road slowly and with great patience. Both of us taking deep breathes, to release the stress, after each challenging piece of the road. The coordinates for the actual campsite were at least 1.5 miles down this dirt road, it was late and both of us are tired. We traveled several hours today, had a several hour hikes, plus the excitement of getting to see the North Rim Grand Canyon! We hoped it was not taken by other boon-dockers and that is was the gem that was promised, but really we didn’t know, we rarely do.
Hollis was nervous about how the road actually got worse with a huge deep sand bar in the center of the road and very sandy paths for our tires. In the past, Hollis and Bright Hawk got the van caught in deep sand in Louisiana, but we did manage to get it out. With that experience, we know our van does not handle well in deep sand, so we both hold our breath as we move through sand. Hollis can feel the tires losing traction beneath them and realizes that its essential they do not touch the center at all, not even a little as it could pull us out of the path. We wonder aloud, “Are you sure this is okay?”
Driving very carefully we find ourselves returning to more huge rocks in the road and ruts along the way to be avoided. A one-lane dirt road in the desert, we cannot see any trees or much of anything in the distance. We carry on driving very slowly to avoid the tussle of the large rocks in the road. Hollis is grateful for technology telling us that we are getting closer and that it’s just a matter of time before campsites begin to pop up. Should we take the next one? A campsite on the right, fire ring and all, but the scout before us suggested taking the end campsites. We are both growing tired with this added stress of traveling such an intense road but with determination we move forward, trusting in a stranger’s comment online.
Soon the road turns and we pass a very large campsite with 2 fire rings and Hollis is aware that there is likely a body of water, nearby. It looks like this campsite might be up against running water. We carry on to see if we can get the very last campsite but as we approach we can see other boondockers. Hollis decides to drive in reverse back down the road, turn around in a small campsite and go take the other huge one, a bit of driving skill in this large Ford Transit Van. We wanted to work tomorrow and since we still had signal we may have found the perfect space. Only dropping into the 40’s overnight, we knew we would be okay. As we pulled in, set up our privacy curtains, and set up the bed for the night, Bright Hawk suggests we step out for a look at the stars.
Together we step out to see where we have landed and as we inspect the now very dark sky we see very little lights, including that Motel way off in the distance as now we were over a mile away. There were some other notable lights and as we looked up we see a clear beautiful star-filled sky. We both gasped in wonderment at the intensity of the Milky Way. As we stood beside each other we held hands staring up at the stars. Agreeing just how small we are and how the stars always remind us that we are just a speck of sand. Reminding us that we are just a tiny being on the planet earth among all the brilliance of our universe and beyond. A shooting star streaks the sky to our delight! As we hold hands and stare at the stars we are also reminded of how together makes us stronger. Reminding us that taking care of ourselves is the best we could do for the world. Our sleepy eyes take us off to bed while we dream of what our world might look like in the morning.
Hollis is up at dawn, peaking out the privacy curtains to see where we had landed. Bright Hawk steps out to catch the sun’s rise to power and we are in awe at the beauty all around us. The vermillion cliffs on one side of us in their brilliant shades of red and just next to our van were the marble canyons. Deep canyons that seemed impossible to get to the bottom, we both wondered out loud if someone had ever been down there. We decided that SOMEONE probably had. The river rushed through the center of the canyon and we heard nothing but the quiet of the wilderness and the rush of the water. We were surrounded by beauty and we realized we had the place to ourselves as the other boondockers made their very slow exit from the campsites. We set up our solar panel and set in to get a little more work done. Even in our adventures, we work hard to stay focused on sustaining our lifestyle. We are grateful to work among such beauty and we give thanks to such a beautifully preserved campsite. We could see ourselves returning here in the future as we had it to ourselves, had a great connection, and the views where marvelous. Trusting we were being guided we surrendered each time we took a deep breath along the road. Now we reaped the benefits of surrender and trusting the universe. Our gratitude grows as we manifest a life of our dreams.