anticipation & preparation: the canyon & cactus road trip

My Canyon & Cactus Road Trip will be a huge undertaking. I hope to drive to Denver, Colorado (three days of 8+ hour drives) and pick up Mike as he flies in.  We’ll visit our son in Denver and have he and his girlfriend accompany us to Utah.  In Utah, I want to visit Goblin Valley State Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Rainbow Bridge National Monument, Bryce Canyon National Park, Kodachrome Basin State Park, Cedar Breaks National Monument, Zion National Park and St. George.  At some point, Alex and his girlfriend will return to Denver, and Mike will fly home from Las Vegas.

Once everyone departs, I hope to continue my way into Arizona. I will probably have to save the Grand Canyon and Vermilion Cliffs National Monument for another trip. I plan to head to Sedona, Turzigoot National Monument, and Red Rock State Park. Then I’ll head south to Agua Fria National Monument and then to the Phoenix area. 

In the Phoenix area, I’d like to visit various sites around the city of Phoenix.  I’ll keep heading south, to Casa Grande Ruins National Monument, and then to Tucson. From Tucson, I’ll visit Ironwood Forest National Monument, Saguaro National Park, Tumacácori National Historical Park, Tombstone, Chiricahua National Monument and Ft. Bowie National Historic Site.


Coal Mine Canyon in Utah

After all of this, I’ll have a very long drive home, four days of 8+ hour drives, hopefully stopping in Deming, New Mexico; Abilene, Texas; Forrest City, Arkansas; Kingsport, Tennessee; and back to Northern Virginia. 

A lot must come together for me to go on this trip.  As I just had my Stretta procedure on my lower esophageal sphincter on September 17, I must see how my healing goes and I must see my doctor on October 15.

Luckily I managed to vote early in Fairfax County. I had to stand in line for an hour and 40 minutes, but the deed is done!

If all goes well, my hope is to leave on Saturday or Sunday, October 17 or 18.  I imagine the trip will be less than a month in duration.

All this year, I’ve been reading books set in New Mexico and Texas, as I hoped I’d be going there. All that reading will prepare me when I eventually go either in 2021 or 2022. I’ve been to Arizona and Utah before and here are some of the books on my reading list.

  • Arizona
    1. Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver ****
    2. The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver
    3. The Woman Lit by Fireflies by Jim Harrison *****
    4. Sycamore by Bryn Chancellor
    5. The Song of the Lark (Great Plains Trilogy #2) by Willa Cather
    6. Arizona: Kicks on Route 66.  Text by Roger Naylor, Photographs by Larry Lindahl
    7. Inland by Téa Obreht (currently reading)
    8. Crossers by Philip Caputo
    9. The Turquoise Ledge: A Memoir by Leslie Marmon Silko
    10. Gallatin Canyon by Thomas McGuane
    11. Epitaph: A Novel of the O.K. Corral (Doc Holliday #2) by Mary Doria Russell
    12. These Is My Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 by Nancy E. Turner (Arizona Territory)
  • Utah
    1. The Never Open Desert Diner by James Anderson ****
    2. Lullaby Road by James Anderson
    3. When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka *****
    4. Junction, Utah by Rebecca Lawton
    5. The Glovemaker by Ann Weisgarber
    6. Basin and Range by John McPhee (non-fiction)
    7. Under the Banner of Heaven by John Krakauer
    8. Mormon Country by Wallace Stegner
    9. Desert Solitaire: A Season in the Wilderness by Edward Abbey
    10. The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff

There are also a number of movies set in Arizona and Utah.

  • Arizona
    1. Raising Arizona (1987) ****
    2. Thelma and Louise (1991) ****
    3. Grand Canyon (1991)
    4. Tombstone (1993)
    5. How the Garcia Girls Spent Their Summer (2005) ****
    6. 3:10 to Yuma (2007)
    7. Lucky (2017) ****
  • Utah
    1. The Electric Horseman (1979)
    2. Footloose (1984) *****
    3. Indiana Jones & the Last Crusade (1989)
    4. 127 Hours (2010) ****

I haven’t had time to prepare my journal yet, but I have a couple of weeks left. I have however picked out the journals I will use.


journals for my Canyon & Cactus Road Trip

The orange highlights on the Utah map below show my route during my Four Corners Road Trip in 2018. The places I plan to go this time are circled in the southwestern part of the state.


Utah planning

The orange highlights on the Arizona map below show my route during my Four Corners Road Trip in 2018. The places I plan to go this time are circled in the southern part of the state. I plan to skip the Grand Canyon and Vermilion Cliffs on this trip.


Arizona planning

Here are a few pages from my travel journal, still in progress.