LIFE ON THE ROAD: WINTER IN ARIZONA

Every winter Mark & I head south for a few months.  Back in the day we would pack up the Subaru until there wasn’t an inch of space left and go live with my dad in Arizona.   In 2012, when we got our truck camper, we were able to turn our winter migration in to a full blown tour of the Southwest.  The warmer climate, abundant sunshine and getting to have quality time with family is what draws us back year after year.  And every year, I fall a little bit more in love with Arizona.  From the lush Sonoran desert to the more rugged Mojave desert to the alpine forests and red rock country, there is a lot to love.  Not to mention, a bounty of free camping.   This winter we bookended our trip with two weeks in Lake Havasu City, my hometown.  In between we hit up some of our favorite spots like Cottonwood and Bisbee and added some new favorites to the list, like Ajo and Kofa.  Two months of living and traveling in a 100 square feet may not sound fun to some, but for Mark & I, it’s a lifestyle that suits us well.  There’s nothing I love more than sitting beneath the stars each night, waking up to the sunrise each morning, finding a dirt road and driving for hours without seeing a soul and spending the majority of my days outside.  If we’ve learned anything since buying our truck camper 8 years ago, it’s that we’re nomads at heart.  We’re far more comfortable living a life of perpetual change than we are living in a house.  Until we can once again live on the road full-time (we did it in 2017/18!), I’m eternally grateful that we get to continue to roam every winter. Here’s a little look inside our winter in Arizona…
01-0148-010220havasu.jpg 02-0027-010120newyearsday.jpg   Whenever we’re in my hometown, Mark is able to work on truck projects thanks to my dad’s shop.  Mark is excellent about doing preventative maintenance on the truck in hopes that this little roaming home of ours will be around for a while. 03-0313-010320shop.jpg 04-0525-010520shop.jpg   Finding the perfect spot in Sedona: 05-0584-010720sedona.jpg 06-0635-010720sedona.jpg   When our niece, Mackenzie, came out to visit us we learned that our little utility trailer makes for pretty good guest quarters.  Add it to the list why love that thing.  It’s used as an outdoor kitchen, garage, office and more. 07-0690-010720sedona.jpg 08-0720-010720cottonwood.jpg   Brins Mesa Trail in Sedona was a gorgeous hike. 09-1125-010920sedona.jpg 10-1231-010920sedona.jpg 11-1217-010920sedona.jpg   Mackenzie didn’t have to spend her entire week in the trailer, we rented one of these cute little cabins for half the week.  It worked out perfectly as there were some chilly nights that dipped in to the low 30s. 12-1279-010920sedona.jpg   We found this beautiful hiking trail on the edge of Saguaro Lake on our way to Phoenix.  Spontaneous explorations like this are the best. 13-1352-011020arizona.jpg   We headed to the Tucson-area specifically to hike Picacho Peak.  We did this hike 2 years ago and loved it.  It’s just the right amount of difficult and thrilling without being too much so. 14-1407-011120picacho.jpg 15-1458-011120picacho.jpg   I love saguaros.  Their silhouette is one of the most unique things I’ve ever seen in nature.  And the fact that, in all of the world, they only grow in Arizona, Mexico and a very small part of California makes them even cooler. 16-1487-011120picacho.jpg 17-1777-011320tucson.jpg   We spent several hours on a dirt road getting to our destination on this particular day.  Not many things make us happier than slow drives on dirt roads with the windows rolled down and the music turned up : ) 18-1935-011420arizona.jpg     The inside of our little roaming home: 19-2104-011520tombstone.jpg 20-2357-011720tombstone.jpg 21-1525-011220tucson.jpg 22-1997-011420arizona.jpg 23-2119-011520tombstone.jpg   Living in 100 square feet doesn’t feel small until it rains ALL DAY LONG.  It also makes living off of solar power a little difficult. 24-2266-011620tombstone.jpg   The rugged and remote wilderness in Southeastern Arizona is one of our all-time favorite places to explore. 25-2447-011720tombstone.jpg 26-2614-011720tombstone.jpg   Every night, at this particular spot, we would climb up on the boulders behind camp to watch the sunset.  Just my kind of ritual. 27-2488-011720tombstone.jpg 28-2805-011820tombstone.jpg   To be able to park and live at a place like this, for free, and leave after a few days with absolutely no trace of our being there (aside from some ashes and footprints) is one of the coolest things I’ve ever experienced. 29-2881-011820tombstone.jpg 30-2890-011820tombstone.jpg 31-2955-011920tombstone.jpg   One of my all-time favorite towns, Bisbee, Arizona: 32-3073-012020bisbee.jpg 33-3085-012020bisbee.jpg 34-3124-012120lascienegas.jpg 35-3167-012220lascienegas.jpg 36-3180-012220lascienegas.jpg   Our friends Seth & Drea have been living on the road full-time in their Airstream for about 5 years now.  Thanks to Instagram we discovered that we had been camped only a few miles apart in Sedona.  We met up with them later in Ajo where we created our own little “nomad neighborhood” for a few days. 37-3275-012320ajo.jpg 38-3319-012420ajo.jpg 39-3349-012520ajo.jpg 40-3333-012420ajo.jpg   Life on the road almost always consists of morning and evening walks.  My favorite way to start and end the day. 41-3392-012520ajo.jpg 42-3659-012620kofa.jpg 43-3671-012620kofa.jpg   At Kofa National Wildlife Refuge we shared a gorgeous piece of desert with our new friend Ann.  She’s been living full-time in her truck camper for 3.5 years.  The people we’ve met on the road over the years have made our travels and experiences that much more incredible.  44-3778-012620kofa.jpg 45-3911-012720kofa.jpg 46-4151-012820kofa.jpg 47-4220-012820kofa.jpg   Hands down, my favorite way to spend time with the people I love is around a campfire.   48-4550-012820kofa.jpg   The view from the top of Cupcake Mountain with Lake Havasu City in the background: 49-0143-020120cupcake.jpg   I’m still not sure how, but we convinced my very un-outdoorsy brother and sister-in-law to hike to the top of Cupcake Mountain with us.  When we got to the top Brent busted out two beers to celebrate.  He didn’t have much in his backpack but did haul beer AND ice up the mountain with him.  All while wearing jeans and street shoes.  This whole scene cracked me up.  I’m pretty stoked that Mark & I got to share this experience with them, it was a blast. 50-0184-020120cupcake.jpg 51-0270-020120cupcake.jpg 52-0497-020120cupcake.jpg 53-0604-020120cupcake.jpg 54-0639-020120cupcake.jpg 55-0642-020120cupcake.jpg   The Cupcake Mountain trail has some of the most dense concentrations of teddy bear cholla cactus that I’ve ever seen.  I’ve always known to steer clear of this stuff and was not happy when I tripped and got a chunk stuck in my leg.  Luckily Mark had pliers in his backpack to pull it out since it can’t be removed by hand.   56-0705-020120cupcake.jpg 57-0729-020120cupcake.jpg 58-0852-020120cupcake.jpg My brother’s hiking attire.  Proof that you don’t need fancy gear to get outside and summit a mountain. 60-0906-020120cupcake.jpg 61-0971-020120cupcake.jpg 62-0993-020120cupcake.jpg   The view out our door from a spot we weren’t entirely sure if we were allowed to be parked at or not.  We didn’t linger that morning, but it sure was a good view. 63-1003-020220blackmeadow.jpg 64-1016-020320havasu.jpg   We got to enjoy one last dose of family before our winter migration came to an end. 65-1079-020420havasu.jpg 66-1149-020420havasu.jpg   My dad and brother own and run a paving company in Arizona.  I love hanging around the shop and being a part of their everyday life for the short time that we’re there. 67-1244-020520havasu.jpg   While hanging out with one of my oldest and dearest friends, I realized that her and her husband don’t have any professional photos of the two of them.  We rectified that with a fun little sunset session and cruise around town in her 1950 Pontiac.  I absolutely love gifting my friends and family with photos. 68-1925-020720morton.jpg 69-2054-020720morton.jpg   No matter where we are or what we’re doing, there’s always some element of aviation in our life.   70-2352-020820havasu.jpg 71-2353-020820havasu.jpg   As we began our way back North, our friends Claire & Brandon from Idaho were beginning their way South.  They had just sold their home, minimized their possessions and moved in to their trailer to begin living on the road full-time.  This was their very first stop.  We were pretty thrilled that we got to share a week in the desert with them.  Almost exactly a year prior, I met Claire and told her how Mark and I had just moved back in to a house after living on the road for a year.  Her and Brandon were immediately inspired and decided that full-time RV living might be right up their alley.  To see them bring it all to fruition and share their first camp with them was pretty awesome. 73-2413-021020mead.jpg 74-2726-021120mead.jpg 75-2420-021020mead.jpg 76-2586-021020mead.jpg 77-2820-021120mead.jpg 78-3083-021220mead.jpg 79-3183-021320mead.jpg 80-3120-021320mead.jpg   Our way back North thru Nevada.  The expansiveness of that state combined with so few populated areas is incredibly peaceful. 81-3250-021420driving.jpg 82-3059-021220mead.jpg 83-3264-021420driving.jpg   One last breakfast outside before returning home. 84-3310-021520nevada.jpg 85-3318-021520nevada.jpg   I don’t want it to be over!  I also can’t see with the sun in my face!  LOL 86-3329-021520nevada.jpg 87-3367-021520nevada.jpg 88-3397-021520nevada.jpg We’ve been doing these trips for years and somehow each one is even better than the last.  These 60 days on the road are 60 days I will cherish forever.  I cannot freaking wait to do it again!   If you could go on a road trip anywhere for 60 days, where would you go?

About

Hi there!  I’m Michele, a Colorado wedding photographer.  I’m here to give you authentic, joy-filled photographs capturing the moments that happen once but want to be remembered always.  When I’m not working you’re most likely to find me camping or flying with my husband (and bff) somewhere around the Mountain West.

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Your wedding photographs should not contain my fingerprints.   My role is to see life through your eyes, not mine.  To witness and preserve, not stage and manipulate.  I want to give you photographs that will bring you joy for a lifetime.

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