But this time, it was a little different for Jessyca and me. We were very relaxed. The road trip we were about to embark on was very similar to that of last year. No wonder, since the goal was the same: to drive the ICARUS unit from Loki Expedition to Flagstaff, AZ, to present it to the visitors of the Overland Expo West 2022. This trip was not a race against the clock. On the contrary, we wanted to have more time to enjoy each of the stops. We planned a few new destinations, but we also wanted to return to some of our favourite places from the previous trip.
Self sufficient from Vermont to Utah
We crossed the Great Plains in two days. This time, instead of driving and sleeping in turns, we preferred to let ourselves be guided by the sun's cycle. We drove during the day and stopped at nightfall to rest in the comfort of our own home. A perfect combination!
When we arrived in Utah, we headed to Yellow Pine Campground to spend the night. While we felt like we were getting closer to the heat as we headed southwest, we were surprised to find it was -1 degrees Celsius in the forest. This was the perfect time to start the ICARUS underfloor heating. Thanks to this feature, we were comfortable in the cabin without having to start the heating.
The following day, we drove down a dirt road nearby and took the opportunity to take pictures at sunrise. The light was so intensely coloured in pink and orange that it made us feel like we were still dreaming!
The adventure on desert lakes
We passed by a huge wind farm on the way to our next destination. Like a forest of futuristic redwoods, the impressive white structures stood around us, their giant arms activated by gusts of wind up to 70km/h.
After a stop at a strange, deserted self-service gas station, we headed to the Great Salt Lake—the largest saltwater lake in the Western Hemisphere—and then to Bonneville Salt Flats, where we spent the next two days.
This immense plain with desert-like appearances is an ancient salt lake that dried up after the last ice age. In the center, salt accumulation can reach more than one meter thick. The surface is surprisingly hard and easily walkable, even with a vehicle like ours. People come here to practice their favourite sport, take memorable pictures... We were no exception! Jessyca took the opportunity to do some yoga (MAE 09082, and I took the opportunity to " Run for the Zebra ", an important cause for which I had committed to run 7 km.
It was a strange feeling: I was moving forward, but the scenery seemed still... As if I was running in place in this pristine white desert. The salt was sticking to my shoes, which became all white and encrusted with salt. Fortunately, after a little while on the Loki's dryer designed for this kind of situation, I was able to shake off the salt and get my shoes back intact.
Not surprisingly, the ICARUS caught the eye of visitors who came to meet us to see it up close and ask us questions. Each time, it's a pleasure and pride to show other travellers the practical and ingenious features that make the Loki Expedition a unique solution on the market. These exchanges often lead us to discuss nearby destinations that might interest us and even receive invitations!
After white, blue and orange
Our next stop gave a very different perspective than the last two days. Contrasting with the blinding white as far as the eye could see, the vast blue expanse of Blue Lake imposed calm. The crystal-clear water of this "diver's paradise" is warm all year round, even in deep water—up to 18 meters! —which makes it a perfect place for scuba diving courses. It was also scorching, a strange feeling around such a large body of water!
We then took the East 6 highway to Arches National Park, where our friends Isabelle, Elisabeth, and Josée were waiting for us for a memorable hike through the rock walls near the popular Delicate Arch. The hills here are sometimes gently sloping, then suddenly form cliffs. Once we reached the top, we took the time to observe this unique landscape, quietly discussing our recent adventures and our next stops. On the way back, we noticed that the moon was gradually decreasing in size... We were witnessing a lunar eclipse!
When we got back to our vehicles, we said goodbye without wondering if our paths would cross again... Indeed, when we arrived at the Utah Raptor State Park, we settled down for the night, and we were about to turn off the lights when we saw our friends' vehicle parked right next to ours.
Pleasant surprise to be off the grid
The next day, on the way to Canyonlands, we passed some cows roaming freely on the road, then stopped for a short hike to get a closer look at one of the arches, a typical rock formation in the area. Back on the road, our sixth sense then led us to our most beautiful discovery of the trip. Wanting to avoid a road that seemed too touristy, we took a winding road that seemed to be carved out of the rock. We had a lot of fun driving between the high rock walls that left a path that was sometimes barely wide enough for a car!
There was no wind at this place, so the heat was very intense. However, by opening the awning, we had just enough shade to enjoy the unique view during our lunch break.
Later, on our way to Hanksville—a recommendation from a traveller we met at the Salt Flats— we passed Hollow Mountain, a gas station in the middle of the desert with a convenience store carved out of the rock of a hill. There we met a traveller called Nicolas and his dog, both of whom had a keen interest in LOKI! Based on Nicolas' suggestion, we headed to Capitol Reef National Park, which offers a unique panorama with its linear rock formation. Like a huge wrinkle in the earth's crust, this fold has been revealed by the retreat of the sea and thousands of years of erosion. After exploring a bit of this park, we were satisfied with this day rich in discoveries, and we decided to settle in at a nearby campsite for the night.
Last day - back to last year's Best of
The next morning, as usual, we enjoyed the sunrise. We had better get on the road soon because the day's plan - our last full day before heading to Flagstaff - was going to be pretty packed.
So we headed for Teasdale, another suggestion from our friend Nicolas. However, a mistake on the way to Teasdale allowed us to meet Tony, who suggested we take a small detour and take HWY 12 to get a more exciting view... which we did!
We then drove through the Dixie National Forest, the largest national forest in Utah, and Anasazi State Park, where we could admire a range of landscapes in a short time: basins, plateaus, mountains, and rock formations passed by in turn before our eyes. And it was far from over! We then drove through the Grand Staircase-Escalante (which we explored last year) and Bryce Canyon National Park, where the limestone cliffs are contoured by thousands of hoodoos and vertical rock peaks. On the way out, we stopped at Red Canyon, where a perfectly shaped arch gives way to the road.
With our heads filled with these grandiose images, we headed to Lone Rock Beach, one of our biggest 2021 road trip favourites. As soon as we arrived, we noticed that the lake had dried up a lot. Last year, there was water where we parked the LOKI this time!
Daring Jessyca went for a swim: the water in Lake Powell was cold, but since the temperature outside was the warmest it had been in several days, it was perfect. Just like the last time, the sky was beautiful, and the moon was almost full, accompanying us for our dinner on the beach.
We were a bit worried that the LOKI had gotten stuck when we woke up. Had we pushed the envelope too far by parking so close to the water? Fortunately, no! We were able to get back on the road without any difficulty and drive the last few kilometres to our final destination.
Of course, we were not going to miss the region's most beautiful landscapes without enjoying them a bit! After a stop to take some pictures in the natural cradle of (JV2 0445)Vermillion Cliffs National Monument, we passed through Cliff Dwellers. These two places we visited during our 2021 trip were on our Best of list, and we were happy to return!
After 73 hours on the road, we arrived home in Flagstaff with 6065 km on the odometer.
Heads full of images, hearts full of gratitude
After seeing so many landscapes, each one more beautiful and impressive than the other, we were aware of the priceless privilege we had to travel on board a Loki Expedition... To be able to move around freely, regardless of the road conditions and without worrying about finding a place to sleep, shower or eat. We had access to all this, at all times... and much more. Because of this, we were able to make the most of every minute and realize our travel plan as we had dreamed it.
If our travel plan were an album, we would have called it the "Best of"!