2016 Summer Journal

W. Yellowstone to Sedona: A Challenging Start, then Smooth Sailing

The bus in front of the hoodoos in Utah


We knew something was wrong with the bus within 10 minutes of pulling out of our driveway in West Yellowstone. As we approached 35 miles per hour the bus started shaking violently back and forth, as if Will was jerking the steering wheel like someone pretending to drive in a 90s sitcom.

The bus is a pretty loud vehicle, but one thing that never makes any noise is our fold down IKEA table (thank you, velcro!) In this case, even that thing came undone and started bumping around… it was not a pretty sight.

Luckily the rattling stopped once we hit 40mph, so we could keep going, but we knew we needed to beeline straight to our friends at Western States CAT in Idaho Falls. Luckily we needed to drive through Idaho Falls anyway, so it wasn’t even a detour.

I haven’t mentioned much about mechanical problems with the bus, mostly because we haven’t had too many. However, the few we have had have been sort of frustrating to fix – not because of the problems themselves, but because of the attitudes of big truck mechanics. I don’t know what it is about mechanics, but they seem to be a grumpy bunch! When dealing with past repairs we found ourselves saying things like: “no, you can’t have it for two weeks… we live in it!”

Western States CAT was like a breath of fresh air after the other mechanics we’d dealt with. Not only were they willing to work on the bus, but they didn’t treat us like we were bugging them. On top of that, they’ve always come in under budget!

I called up our friend Seth at WS CAT and described the problem as we barrelled down the freeway. He stayed in on his lunch hour to take a look as soon as we got there. When a simple fix didn’t do the trick, he sent us over to the local truck tire & lube place to get our front wheels rebalanced.

$55 and an hour later, the wheels were balanced and the wobble was gone. I’m pretty amazed at this outcome – we found, diagnosed, and fixed a problem with the help of two different shops in less than four hours on a Friday afternoon. The road trip gods were definitely shining down on us!

After we got on our way it was smooth sailing all the way down to Provo, UT where we stopped over in a KOA to fill our water tanks (we couldn’t fill them before we left for fear that they would freeze!) The Springfield/Provo KOA isn’t anything fancy, but it is a tidy park worth looking into if you need a place to crash in the Salt Lake City area. Their bathrooms are my favorite type, with separate rooms for each shower, toilet, and sink (with a mirror!) instead of plain shower stalls.

The next morning we got up and on the road quickly, with plans to stop for a long run before we hit desert. Unfortunately the road had other plans, and a missed turn and nasty weather meant we pressed on past our run spot.

Flying by Zion and Bryce National Parks was torture – we were so close, but hadn’t planned on stopping. Our curiosity got the better of us when a break in the clouds revealed a gorgeous set of hoodoos just off the road. We decided to take the chance and pulled over for a quick adventure.

The bus in front of the hoodoos in Utah

Our impromptu run started on a trail that quickly ran out. We pressed on, scrambling over ledges and following game trails, looking for the hoodoos. It was muddy and occasionally spitting rain, but the views from the top were worth it! We were all happy to have a break from the monotony of driving before piling back in for the rest of the drive to Sedona.

Will running along the edge

Alyssa scrambling up the hill

Will and Alyssa cheesing for the camera in front of the hoodoos

Alyssa running along the edge

Exploring the Hoodoos in Utah


The rest of the drive was pretty uneventful. We cruised through several rainstorms and got some great views of the desert. We also stopped to marvel at the Glen Canyon Dam. I don’t believe it belongs there, but you can’t deny what a feat of engineering it was to build.

Will & Alyssa at the Glen Canyon Dam

Will & Alyssa at the Glen Canyon Dam

Check back tomorrow for some adventures in Sedona! 🙂

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