TLDR: We visited Arches National Park, Horseshoe Bend, Upper Antelope Canyon (incredibly lucky opportunity), found an alternative to “The Wave”, probably almost got struck by lightning (we have proof!), crammed an impossible amount stuff into a moving van, drove to Denver, watched The Big Bang Theory, and continued to deal with the monumental stupidity of the Singapore Airlines Call Centers (Olympic gold medal incompetence and “not my problem” attitude), but against their best efforts, we still made a travel plan. Did I mention that Singapore Airlines customer support/corporate is the worst? The worst.
According to the finely crafted original around the world trip master plan (developed circa December 2019), we would have returned to the US after one year, and immediately moved our stuff out of storage. Since the original travel plan was obliterated by Covid and Singapore “Care-less-lines”, we had the opportunity to get out of the expensive/crappy LA Public Storage, early, while building Covid immunity after Shot #1. Additionally, we brainstormed creative ways to move our stuff (even considered buying a van), but settled on flying to Denver, renting a van, having a fun road trip to Los Angeles, somehow fitting our stuff into the van, and efficiently driving it back to Denver. The plan almost worked that way… Almost. Spoiler alert: The van was so full that Chinda couldn’t fit on the passenger seat.
We rented a Chevy E25 van (think bigger, but less creepy, ice cream van) and measured the internal volume to be 276 cubic feet. Unfortunately, we measured the volume of our stuff to be 280 cubic feet. We knew that loading the van would be the ultimate Tetris game, but decided to proceed with the plan anyways because screw it. From Denver, we drove to Arches National Park in an empty, half creepy, van and hiked up to Delicate Arch. Spoiler alert again: large rocks that have existed for thousands of years are not that delicate. It was great to see. The Utah license plates do not do it justice.
From Arches, we headed to Page, Arizona, for Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon. Horseshoe Bend is an unusual geological feature where the Colorado river makes more than a 180 degree turn. It is an easy 20-minute hike from the parking area to the viewing area. Unlike the previous two times I visited, now you must pay $10 to park your car. It is still worth it. Much more impressive than a horseshoe.
Page, Arizona, is also home to the famous Antelope Canyon. Upper Antelope Canyon is a beautiful slot canyon where the most expensive photograph ever sold was taken ($6.5 million, paid to photographer Peter Lik). I have been to the lower canyon twice, but never the upper because you need reservations that are sold out months in advance. Did we have reservations? Sure didn’t. Even better, the canyon websites showed that all of the tour operators were fully booked and were only operating at half capacity due to Covid. Staring disappointment in the face, we rolled up to one of the tour offices at 730am and expected to wait all day hoping to fit into the schedule. Jyn thought that we had a 1% chance. That was probably an accurate guess, but right after a tour employee told us that the tours were fully booked for the next three weeks, a different employee mentioned that two people had just cancelled, and we got on the tour immediately. That was lucky! The snobby photographer in me says that our tour was about two hours too early for the “good” light. The good light is when the sun shines into the canyon from directly above and the light rays can be photographed (as seen in the Peter Lik photo, “Phantom”). We were still thrilled to have the opportunity though. Fun fact: The upper canyon is “A” shaped and the lower canyon is “V” shaped. The upper is more desirable due to the light beams and the walking space.
I mentioned that we probably almost got struck by lighting and here’s the proof. In Page, we went to see the dam (small town so “the dam” is enough of a description). As we walked to the viewing area, nearly the highest point, we noticed a thunderstorm in the distance. Jyn started to take a selfie and said something to me, but I didn’t hear her as I took the picture, below. Then, I realized she said her hair is standing up. A second later, I felt my hair standing. Uh oh! Time to go! We ran to the van as fast as we could!
When a lightning strike is imminent, the charge in the clouds and electrons on the ground will try to neutralize via lightning through the highest point in the area (path of least resistance). If a person is in the path, they could feel the electrostatic charge buildup in their hairs. With a sufficient difference in electric potential, a lightning bolt will form. There are many documented stories of people who were struck by lightning after experiencing this sensation. Check out the zoomed in cropped picture, below, with her hair standing up.
I couldn’t believe that I unintentionally captured this moment. I certainly wasn’t going to take another picture this time! Wow! Glad we made it!
Since we were still alive, we made a quick pit stop in Vegas to pick up a new shiny purple iPhone 12 mini, avoid the 108 degree heat, play craps (Casino Royale removed their craps tables! They were the best odds on the strip), and see the Seven Magic Mountains art installation. I did play some craps at the Venetian and we left Vegas as winners 🙂
Shortly after arriving in Los Angeles, it was time to attempt to put 10 pounds of sh-stuff in a 9 pound van, so to speak. We meticulously put our possessions into the van, but at no point in time did it seem that all the stuff would fit. Not even at the end! We emptied huge trash bags of yarn and used the freed yarn to fill all of the spaces between the boxes, as well as all of the empty space in existing boxes. The organization system took a back seat (see what I did there?) to fitting everything into the vehicle. Many of the overflow knitting books went on the passenger seat. Yarn was tucked into the 3′ space under the passenger seat. Incredibly, everything fit, but the knitting books took Chinda’s seat. Since mailing the books would have cost more money than for her to fly to Denver, I drove that heavy beast to Denver and she flew back a few days later.
Three sweaty days later and a mile higher, I arrived in Denver and emptied the van’s contents into another storage unit that only costs a fraction of the LA unit. Mission friggin’ accomplished. Time for a shower. Yes, I showered along the way. Thanks for being concerned with my hygiene.
Next, we explored the Denver area a little bit, visited friends/family, watched The Big Bang Theory, and formulated a new travel itinerary. We had to work with the new time, budget, and travel restrictions, but we came up with a loose plan for the rest of the year. We expect to visit ~12 countries that span two continents (Germany, Netherlands, Austria, Croatia, Greece, Egypt, Jordan, Tanzania, Italy, Spain, Belgium, and Latvia). We expect the plan to change and there are two weeks of “wild card time” in the schedule, but this is the current path. Unfortunately, since the conniving scumbags at Singapore Care-less-lines corporate are basically stealing 102,500 award miles from each of us (even after a supervisor promised us FULL refunds!), the number of business class flights will have to be significantly reduced. Sigh. We despise them. The only thing more important than fighting them now is completing our trip. NOTE: If you are a great lawyer or know a great lawyer that can win a lawsuit against Singapore Care-less-lines, please contact us.
With regards to Singapore Care-less-lines, I think National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation says it best… “…I want to look him straight in the eye and I want to tell him what a cheap, lying, no-good, rotten, four-flushing, low-life, snake-licking, dirt-eating, inbred, overstuffed, ignorant, blood-sucking, dog-kissing, brainless, dickless, hopeless, heartless, fat-ass, bug-eyed, stiff-legged, spotty-lipped, worm-headed sack of monkey shit he is! Hallelujah! Holy shit! Where’s the Tylenol?”
Clip is here, just in case you need to see it… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQXuazYI_YU
Well, July was a heavy hauling hoot. August should feature a quick trip to LA, again, and a glorious return to travel. This time, we will try to avoid inadvertently moving to a foreign country for 15 months while the world shuts down. Hey world, keep your sh-stuff together for a while! See you in Europe! (fingers crossed)