As I loaded my skis on the rack for the fifth consecutive Sunday, I knew we needed to escape. Somewhere warm. Somewhere sunny. Somewhere with dry singletrack. I don’t mind skiing, but unlike many other Utahns, it’s not my first love. Mountain biking is.
We lived in Arizona for nearly a decade before moving north three years ago, and we haven’t been back as a family since. A nostalgia for our old mountain bike trails, and the fact that my parents were spending a month there (hello, babysitters!), made AZ the natural choice for a Spring Break road trip.
After finagling the time off work, we left on an unseasonably warm Friday afternoon and drove to Page, AZ while Little P took an unusually long nap—score one for mom and dad! We spent the night in a very nice and very cheap hotel, and then hit up Horseshoe Bend in the morning. This was actually a spontaneous adventure. Upon seeing a sign for the Horseshoe Bend trailhead, Blair spun a 360 u-turn on the highway and had pulled into the dirt lot before I knew what was going on.
None of us had been planning on going for a hike, but we headed out in our sandals anyhow. It was an easy hike, and Blair and I were excited to snap some pictures at the famous Colorado River overlook, but P was more interested in climbing rocks and hunting for lizards. We returned to the car happy to sit in the a/c for a few hours.
But our fun for the day was not done! We continued our drive to Sedona, AZ—past the Navajo settlements in the dry northern AZ dessert, thru the pine tree forests of Flagstaff, and down thru the majestic cliffs in Oak Creek Canyon. And what did we do once we were there? We went mountain biking of course!
Little P provided quite the tourist attraction at Bell Rock by powering up the hills and practicing his slick-rock riding. It was humorous how much attention he got from all the hikers and sight-seers. Once he was worn out on riding, we did a family ride on Slim Shady. This was probably the most technical trail we’ve ever ridden on with him, and it was a wild ride!
Not ones to stay still for too long, we took off the next morning for Prescott Valley to see my 92 year old grandmother. The drive took us through the ghost-town of Jerome, and over the scenic Mingus Mountain where we stopped for a mid-morning picnic. Happy with Grandma and Grandpa and Great-Grandma, Blair and I left Little P while we did a ride on Lynx Lake and some other trails in the area.
Finally, it was on to our main destination—Usery Mountain Park in Mesa, AZ where we had a hard-to-come-by campground reservation. This was our basecamp for the week. We did lots of biking (Usery Mountain Park, Hawes, South Mountain, San Tan Park, and McDowell Mountain Park), as well as water play. We got lucky that the Chandler pools were open for spring break, so we even got in plenty of swimming.
We are now back home in Salt Lake City, more ready than ever to leave on our year-long road-trip. This mini road-trip reaffirmed in our minds that we are making the right choice to spend more time as a family, get in lots of healthy mountain biking, and explore the beautiful earth that we have been given. We have a mere 4 months to buy our trailer, rent our house, and finalize a lot of other details. Wish us luck!