We found a magical place to camp the other night, on our way to Capitol Reef.
Valley of the Gods would not even have been on our radar if we hadn’t caught a post by Becky of Interstellar Orchard (thank you, Becky!) describing its beauty and excellence as a boondocking location. The timing was right for us; we had thought we’d make it as far as Glen Canyon or Hite that evening, but it had been a long driving day, and as we left Monument Valley—which was spectacular and crowded—we were tired and ready to find a home for the night.
Following Becky’s clear directions, we wound our way up highway 163 to the brown ‘Valley of the Gods’ sign and turned onto a dirt road that immediately took us over a cattle guard and through a small stream in a wash. There hadn’t been too much rain lately, or the road would have been impassable. As we climbed higher, the stunning vistas opened up. There were other trailers and campers already settled in various sites along the way, but about two miles in we found the perfect little pullout, framed by Rooster Rock and Sitting Hen Rock, smack in the middle of 360 degrees of awesome.
The valley floor was gorgeous, with tons of rock formations.
You could even view Monument Valley from our campsite—far into the distance, but still visible.
I could have stood there staring at that landscape for hours. Attempts to describe it are feeble; it’s like trying to describe the night sky. Vast, magnificent, alien; the sense of ancient times is powerful. Gazing at it, I felt tiny and humbled, calmed and comforted. I thought about death and love and gratitude. It was the perfect place to be.
Five weeks into the trip, I finally got out the Crockpot! Woohoo! I was beginning to think that maybe it was an unnecessary use of storage space, but suddenly…it was the right time and place to make chili.
I seldom follow recipes exactly. One of my superpowers is the ability to take whatever random food is in the fridge and pantry and create a delicious—or at least, edible—meal out of it. This is a great skill to possess, but the downside is that many of my best creations are impossible to duplicate, because I can’t remember everything I put in them, and that particular combination of ingredients existed in my kitchen in only one moment in time and space. My family has, on occasion, found this frustrating.
My idea of good “road food” has shifted dramatically in the last few years. It used to mean lots of crunchy snacks and possibly some candy to eat while driving; lunch stops at A&W or Burger King for burgers, fries and floats—the kinds of “treats” I didn’t usually eat at any other time—and some kind of easy camp dinner, usually involving large amounts of processed carbs. And possibly Spam (but that was a REALLY long time ago). Road food was kind of like fair food: you knew it wasn’t good for you, and you might be really sorry later, but it tasted so good that you didn’t care.
Since adopting a clean, whole foods, low-carb way of eating (I won’t call it a “diet”; it’s simply the way I eat), I have experienced such a huge improvement in every area of my health, energy levels and body composition, that I no longer view a road trip as an excuse to eat junk.