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The Solo Traveler Blog

The Meaning of Landscape: road trip through the American Southwest

View from the trail head of one of my hikes.

Sedona with its stunning red buttes was my first destination on my trip.

I LOVE a road trip!

I love driving. I love moving from town to town, from city to countryside,  listening to local radio and seeing the landscape change along the way.

It was the same on my recent trip through Arizona. The stunning red mountains, buttes, mesas, canyons and cliffs, the gorgeous desert and tumbleweed (tumbleweed!) tumbling was all so novel for me, dramatic, stunning!. The landscape  was like nothing I had ever seen before.

But when I passed the Vermillion Cliffs and started to climb into the Kaibab Forest toward the north rim of the Grand Canyon, I found myself relaxing into the geography. I experienced an emotional response that ran through my body as the landscape changed to something more familiar to me. Being amongst the forest with Ponderosa Pine and Quaking Aspen was like going home after a long trip of fine food to a plate of macaroni and cheese.

It was “comfort landscape”.

Taken through the car windshield before Tuba

The painted desert in on my way to the north rim of the Grand Canyon.

An even greater respect for those who change their landscape for good.

Cruise America helped me with this trip by supplying a small RV. It was just me, the open road and big-sky landscapes. When I felt my emotional response to the Kaibab Forest I wondered: what is it about a landscape? How much is the landscape of central Canada part of who I am. Can one change their landscape as easily as changing a city? Does one ultimately find a new landscape relaxing? How long does it take?

People who immigrate must face this issue. They travel to a new country, often with a very different landscape. But, unlike travelers, they may not have the opportunity to go home to the familiar. I have always admired people who take the brave decision to emigrate and this trip has made me even more so.

Highway 89A north before Vermillion cliffs

Highway 89A north before Vermillion cliffs.


The Vermillion Cliffs in northern Arizona.

Colorado River at Marble Canyon

Colorado River at Marble Canyon on route to the north rim of the Grand Canyon.

View of where I saw for my breakfast overslooking Roaring Springs Canyon 100 ft away from Grand Canyon

This is the view from where I sat for my breakfast overlooking Roaring Springs Canyon, 100 ft away from Grand Canyon


At Zion National Park. Beautiful.

Zion National Park switchback

One of the hairpin turns at Zion National Park.

Looking back and switchback hwy 89A below Flagstaff

Regardless of how much I marveled at the desert, red buttes, mesas, canyons and cliffs, I still love a pine forest.


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  • Janice Waugh

    I believe it was 16 feet long. The first two days I found it stressful but after I got used to handling it and to using the mirrors I was just fine.


  • Laura

    I just got back from Arizona as well. I went to Havasu Falls and camped for 4 days. Wow! Was it ever beautiful! Turquoise, spring-fed waterfalls….

  • Sidney Hardie

    What model RV did you drive? I would love to rent one, but the size of most does intimidate me.

  • Janice Waugh

    Hi Patricia,

    It took me a couple of days to get used to the vehicle I was driving. It was much larger than I’m accustomed to. But I did and it was so worthwhile!

  • Patricia Havis

    I would love to take a roadtrip through Arizona. I get anxious driving in unknown places and I am working on facing and overcoming my anxieties. The landscape is gorgeous there!

  • Diane

    LOVE a road trip!! Just me & the open road with George Jones on the CD.

  • Angela

    Roadtrip! There’s a special place in my heart for the southwest states.

About Janice Waugh and Tracey Nesbitt

Screen Shot 2014-07-30 at 8.52.44 PMI'm an author, blogger, speaker and traveler. I became a widow and empty-nester at about the same time. And then, I became Solo Traveler... Here's the full story. >>
Tracey NesbittI’m a writer, editor, food and wine fanatic, and traveler. On my very first trip abroad I learned that solo travel was for me. Here's the full story. >>

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