North America Travel

Cheesy feet on wheels

Bryce Canyon

We often were asked why? Why did we decide to hike? To tire the muscles of our legs until stretching them in your sleep wakes you up because it hurts. Tire your feet to the point where your blisters are bigger than the blister cushions you use to cover them. Tire your mind to not being able to think about anything else but “Has it been 1 hour already? When is the next break coming? Damn, these 30 minutes feel like forever” after having traveled through the deepest fantasies of your mind. Maybe a car wouldn’t be a bad idea. After all, didn’t many travelers say a car offered you freedom?

If you have read our guide on how to backpack in the US National Parks, you already know Couchsurfing is not only a mere website you can use to find a place to crash and spend some memorable time with locals, no. Remember we last told you we were having a blast in Vegas with Kim and Brandy? All good things come to an end and we had to start thinking about what our next step would be. Out of ideas, Lily scrolled through the “Las Vegas event” section on Couchsurfing.

“A Roundtrip – Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce…“ That sounded interesting. The event was summarized as quoted here:

“I propose a large roundtrip around some of the most amazing National Parks in the US for very low costs. It would take us about a week but it´s good to be flexible with the time. I plan on starting on Monday but I´m flexible. Besides my profile, you can get some impression of me from my blog: neventrip.wordpress.com

Sitting in a car while someone drives and visiting National Parks? Sounded like something we could do.
Neven (25, Bulgarian), Hilton (27, Chilean) and Rocinante (28, Japanese) picked us up from our temporary home in Vegas on a sunny Monday morning.

Before telling you about our roadtrip, let’s clarify some things:
The Oxford Dictionary defines roadtrip as the following: “A journey made by car, bus, etc.”
Let’s all agree to disagree here for a second. We unquestionably believe that whoever wrote the definition of a roadtrip never actually went on a roadtrip.
Let’s pretend the dictionary was like Wikipedia where you can freely edit definitions; this would be ours:
“Small, old, smelly car transporting tall young smelly travelers eating too much crisps and candy”
Yeah. That sounds about right.

The Rocinante Crew ready for a roadtrip!

Now that this is settled, let’s get started with the story because we should’ve done this weeks ago but were too lazy. This is what traveling does to you.

Only 5 minutes after we met we were facing our first challenge as a team; trying to fit everything and everyone in the car. We rearranged things, unpacked, repacked, left some things behind and the magic happened. You could almost believe Marry Poppins had helped us along the way.
We hopped in that complete stranger’s car without thinking twice, gladly swapping the miles of walking into miles of driving.

Now that everyone was sitting almost comfortably, we were ready to see if Rocinante could face her challenge of the day: start and, preferably, drive. Neven inserted the key. Click, tired stutter. Engine dies. “Don’t worry; she does that all the time!” That’s some reassurance.. All right, second attempt. Key turning, tired stutter… Start! And drive we did, to the grocery store.

When we were packing up for groceries, Neven really intrigued us with his love for vegetables; he was on a whole new level: lettuce, avocado, carrots, chickpeas, tomatoes, … He took it all.

Back in the car on our way to Zion National Park, everyone introduced himself. From the very beginning we both made it clear to Neven and Hilton that we were a lot of fun. We slept. Within the first hour. Like that. Nope, no shame. Just zzzZZleepinezzZZzzZzZzzzZ.

We quickly figured everyone had something in common with someone else. Neven and Lily shared pants. Lily shared a particular talent for frisbee with Hilton (Neven, I hope you read that. F*** you. Love – Lily) Kenzi and Hilton shared an obsession for food. Neven and Hilton shared a passion for The Beatles. Kenzi and Neven shared a way of fixing world hunger. Kenzi and Lily shared well, a tent.

We also learned about everyone’s weird habits. Neven likes to analyze every single ingredient of bread. Hilton, on the contrary, couldn’t care less. As long as it looked like bread, he would stuff it in his mouth from breakfast to dinner. He likes to tell everyone it’s a Chilean habit but we suspect him of broadly generalizing it to make it look as if there’s nothing wrong with him. Kenzi likes to sleep and eat snacks in-between his naps and if Lily could, she would make everyone eat dry pasta 24/7 to make the whole trip cheaper.

Neven and Hilton wanted to see as many National Parks as possible in 7 days, so to the parks we raced! We would usually drive to a park, hike, find a free spot to pitch our tents, hike again in the morning if possible then drive to the next park. In between that busy agenda we took occasional frisbee breaks.

Zion National Park was our first stop. We had forgotten it was spring break and seeing that many parked cars surprised us all. The two of us were so used to wandering by ourselves on the Arizona Trail that hiking the excessively packed Angel’s Landing trail even felt disturbing. But the thrilling and strenuous hike up to the top was well worth feeling like a hoard of sheep pushed through the fields by a herder.

We then drove all the way to Bryce Canyon. Call it vanilla-chocolate ice-cream wonderland. The fascinating rock formations have an intriguing resemblance to little towers of vanilla ice-cream topped with chocolate – which is red rock. Can you see what we mean? Okay, maybe we were just too hungry.

During our cooking ritual at the end of the day we talked about finding a place to sleep and Kenzi came up with an ‘amazing’ idea.
“We can sleep in the toilet!” Everyone raised their eyebrows, looked at Kenzi thinking “What the hell is wrong with this guy?” and returned to their cooking chores, pretending they hadn’t heard him.
“Guys, I am serious, let’s sleep in the toilet” Kenzi repeated. It was no joke; he really wanted to sleep in the toilets. We all thought it was really funny.
“But seriously, it’s warm in there and we can put our mattresses on the floor.”
He made a pretty good point. It was warm in the toilets and freezing cold outside.
“And finding a camping spot now will be hard.”
Another point made. It was really late, really dark and we didn’t know where we could camp for free. As inviting as Rocinante was, it was impossible for the four of us to sleep in the car.

The joke turned into a “maybe we should do this” discussion. At first we thought about the four of us sleeping there together, but Neven being afraid his car could be towed if he left it parked within the National Park boundaries, he and Hilton took Rocinante and went sleeping in her, outside of the park. And this is how the two of us ended up sleeping in the toilet of a National Park.
Sleeping in the toilets of Bryce National Park

We set up our sleeping pads and bags, locked the door and went to bed, ready to enjoy our long, warm and comfy night of sleep. And the stress and tension started popping into our heads. “What if someone comes?” The door was locked, that was ok. “What if a ranger finds us there?”

Luckily, nobody did besides the inebriated janitor coming in at 6AM and literally walking over our stuff before realizing we just spent the night there and telling us in a very demented voice to get the hell out of the toilet.

After seeing Zion and Bryce we didn’t believe the landscapes could become better. But the beauty escalated from gorgeous to mouth-dropping. Canyonlands was like no other place we had ever seen. And because a picture is worth a thousand words – and we already wrote too many – we’ll just share a picture with you.

Scenic Landscape of Canyonlands National Park

Come on, say it: Woaaaaaaaw!

Heading to Flagstaff, we concluded our Park Race with Arches National Park with, you guessed it, plenty of naturally formed arches and finally Monument Valley.

After having spent a week in the car we realized it didn’t offer the freedom we were looking for. Freedom for us wasn’t seeing landscapes through a window in a blur of colors and lights, unable to reach them. Freedom was taking breaks to look at the landscapes and identify every color of it, to smell the scent and spices of pine and grass and flowers, to feel their touch on our skin. We ended our road trip sharing a tiny motel room with pizza, wine and a good movie and great friends, thinking of the days to come. We would be where we belonged, free and in the nature again.

If you want another point of view of the same trip, check out Neven’s post on his own blog!
Y si tú hablas español, lee el blog de Hilton!

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22 Comments

  • Reply
    SuzeMonster
    April 27, 2016 at 3:55 pm

    Wow, what a freakin’ adventure! I love the story. The moments we get ourselves into whilst traveling sure are ones to remember. I loved how you told the story, I enjoyed your humor and felt as if I was there. I also can’t believe you guys slept in the toilets!

    Also, pro tip if you’re ever on a epic U.S hiking trip again the BML (U.S Bureau of Land Management) allows you to camp and have a fire, during safe times, at all times of the year. They just ask you pack in what you pack out and respect the land. It’s still outside and can still be cold, but at least it’s free and in the wilderness. Just research BML land near all our National Parks. http://www.wanderingchocobo.com/my-secret-camping-spot-in-zion/

    • Reply
      Tako Yacki
      April 27, 2016 at 11:47 pm

      Thank you so much for the kind words!
      We actually already covered in our guide on backpacking in US National Parks that BLM land is one of the many places to camp at in the States. But thanks for the heads-up anyhow. 🙂

      PS: you make the same mistake that Lily makes every-single-time! It’s BLM!! Not BML haha 😀

  • Reply
    Katie
    April 27, 2016 at 5:01 pm

    What a great road trip – the best are spontaneous. I visited Zion and Bryce on a Green Tortoise bus trip, which was great fun, but I never had to think about anything – all the organisation was done for me!

    • Reply
      Tako Yacki
      April 27, 2016 at 11:49 pm

      Green Tortoise sounds oddly awesome haha glad you enjoyed it!
      It wouldn’t be something for us though, we rather live day by day instead of having everything organized, especially by a third party.

  • Reply
    Amanda Williams
    April 27, 2016 at 5:30 pm

    Woaaaaaaaw that view!! Thanks for the insight into doing this trip by car. I think I would have to pass on sleeping in the toilet though.

    • Reply
      Tako Yacki
      April 27, 2016 at 11:52 pm

      I tell you; as awesome as this may look, it was even better in real life!
      There’s plenty of pictures on our Instagram if you want. Would love for you to check them out. 🙂

  • Reply
    GlobalMary
    April 27, 2016 at 6:27 pm

    Spending a night in a toilet?! OMG, that is so crazy, but definitely a thing to remember! Really fun 😀

    • Reply
      Tako Yacki
      April 27, 2016 at 11:55 pm

      Hahaha it’s totally something we’ll NEVER forget!! Especially with that guy coming in when we woke up. I still remember how hard our hearts were hitting our chests!

  • Reply
    Laura @ Grassroots Nomad
    April 27, 2016 at 6:44 pm

    BAHAHHAHA I love that you slept in the toilets! Not really the romantic way that people imagine road trips. I love this article. Excited to subscribe for more hilarious and informative articles 🙂

    • Reply
      Tako Yacki
      April 27, 2016 at 11:57 pm

      Kenzi always has the best ideas!! haha (no I didn’t write this myself :0) )
      Glad you enjoyed it Laura, can’t wait to entertain you even more!
      And welcome to the subscribers family! We’re super-fun through mail as well 😀

  • Reply
    Patricia
    April 27, 2016 at 6:58 pm

    Those photos are gorgeous. Utah is so high on my list right now, even as a novice hiker. Major kudos to you for not only traveling with strangers, but finding such a happy balance(and sleeping in the toilet). When I’ve traveled in groups, the travel styles haven’t always meshed, but your trip sounds like so much fun!

    • Reply
      Tako Yacki
      April 28, 2016 at 12:02 am

      Thank you! There’s more on our Instagram if you want to see more!
      You should definitely go and check out Utah. We’ve only seen a few parks but the state is big and there’s so much more to see.

      We were really lucky indeed to meet strangers that we became friends with. It was crazy fun indeed!

  • Reply
    marie
    April 27, 2016 at 6:58 pm

    Oh well, you have to try everything once! The scenery looks absolutely amazing and you managed to have fun along the way.

    • Reply
      Tako Yacki
      April 28, 2016 at 12:03 am

      It was beautiful and we had so much fun! And that toilet was so warm hahaha

  • Reply
    Bailey K.
    April 28, 2016 at 5:32 am

    First of all, as an avid hiker, I’m so glad you were able to hike in such beautiful places – even with all the blisters and cramps! It’s totally worth it! Hiking and backpacking helps you to see things that you could never see by any other mode of transportation. Secondly, I like how you tried to fit so much in 7 days. I’ve had really slow trips before, AND really “rushed” trips. They aren’t ideal, but they make for such different adventures and I think if you only have a few days, then why not. Great story!

    • Reply
      Takoyacki
      April 30, 2016 at 10:15 pm

      It IS totally worth it!!
      If it was up to us though, we probably would’ve seen only two parks in the 7 days hah.

      Thanks for the kind words

  • Reply
    Christina
    April 28, 2016 at 3:55 pm

    I have done this road trip previously. I enjoyed your humorous storytelling. I completely agree…just when you think you have seen the best, another jaw-dropping point of view hits you 🙂

    • Reply
      Takoyacki
      April 30, 2016 at 10:16 pm

      Thank you for the support Christina 🙂

      Where did you go on a road trip?

  • Reply
    Clair Kelly
    April 29, 2016 at 7:34 pm

    Sounds like and amazing trip. I love how real and honest you are about it!

    • Reply
      Takoyacki
      April 30, 2016 at 10:17 pm

      Heh, glad you see it. That’s our focus when telling our stories; we don’t hide anything and tell nothing but the truth!

  • Reply
    Stella @ Travelerette
    April 30, 2016 at 12:04 am

    Ha, that’s so funny! I can’t believe you spent the night in a toilet. The worst place I’ve ever spent the night was on a Greyhound bus. I like how you each wrote a different version of the story as well.

    • Reply
      Takoyacki
      April 30, 2016 at 10:19 pm

      And it was definitely a comfy night! We were so warm haha
      Oh god on a Greyhound bus? Where were you traveling to? Any crazy experiences that night?

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