“The final push.”

Moisés getting into the car after finishing second in Endurance Challenge Utah. ...sitting on the sun reflector to keep the mud off of the seat.
Park City, Utah.
Camping outside of Zion National Park.

Throughout this week—the last week—we keep calling everything “the final push.” The last city? We called that The Final Push. The last big drive? Also The Final Push. The last few river showers? Final Push.

After leaving Park City, Utah, we started the Final Push to the final destination: Flagstaff, Arizona.

On the way to Flagstaff, we posted up in Zion National Park for a few days. There, we played in the park during the day and marveled at the stars at night. We realized, in a lot of ways, how much we’d learned since the beginning of the trip. We realized that now, we know how to deal with bears. We know how to navigate the highways together, and now I know how to drive a stick. We know how to sniff out a dispersed campsite, and how to create a stellar dinner over a campstove.

Sleeping in a yurt in Flagstaff, Arizona.

Then, all of a sudden, it was time to leave the West; time to head back to the Midwest, back to Michigan, where my family lives…and from where we began our trip at the end of July.

We started The Final Push, the final drive, by going for a run in the Grand Canyon. We figured that was a good spot to tire ourselves out before The Final Push, and it was. Moisés ran top to bottom to top, and I did half. It was surprisingly cold, the wind was strong, and the depths of the canyon glowed chalk-orange with the sunrise. Down down down down then up up up up. Then, we took a shower at a campground, and buckled in for the beginning of the three-day drive.

The Grand Canyon

The drive back to Michigan seemed daunting when we looked at the map, and truth be told, it was. It took us three days to cross from the Grand Canyon to my family’s driveway in Michigan; and while driving through the eight states we crossed on the trip back, we realized just how far we’d gone…and what a cliché, but we realized just how big this country is.

So first it was the Grand Canyon, then back up through Utah, through Moab, and onwards. Then out of nowhere, we’re back to Colorado: first Grand Junction, then onto I-70 across the state. We’re tracing our route backwards, back the way we came. We wind through the Rockies, past the exit for Leadville, and pull into a sleeping Vail. Sleep in the Subaru on a forest road, wake up to the snow, and do it again. Vail to Boulder. Boulder for a run—up Mount Sanitas and back down into the car. Over to a truck stop for a shower. Then suddenly the mountains are in the rearview mirror and the Great Plains stretch far and wide. Corn corn corn Nebraska corn corn corn Iowa corn corn Walmart parking lot. An early morning oil change (the third of the trip), a lot more corn, and we’re into Illinois. Indiana. Michigan. Then there’s my hometown, where leaves crunch red on the ground, where my parents are waiting with hugs and pumpkin soup and where the house smells like fall.

It’s amazing, actually, how traveling slowly and by car feels even more like time travel than jumping on an airplane does. Realizing that it’s possible to wake up next to the Grand Canyon and go to sleep in snowy Vail, to wake up in a farm-surrounded Wal-Mart and then go to sleep in your family’s house? That’s what feels like time travel.

These last months have been a dream. I’m not sure that I want to wake up yet. But the good news is that life is full of dreaming. I’m dreaming now, already, of new places, of new ways to explore. There’s Iceland, there’s Siberia, oh, the world is fantastically huge. These months have been a wonderful tool in learning how to explore—on a budget, on my legs, on four wheels—and I can’t wait to put these tools to use.

…from a base. In a place. In a home with a foundation and maybe not quite so many wheels. 🙂

Dinner and caffeine during Day Two of the trip back to the Midwest.
Driving through the Plains.
Parting Souvenir: At the half way point of our two month Non-Trip Roadtrip, this photo was taken on top of Lone Peak, Montana on September, 7th.