MONUMENT VALLEY: THE MOST EPIC CAMPSITE VIEW

MONUMENT VALLEY

Another destination for your bucketlist

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Monument Valley is something out of this world. It’s a breathtaking 92,000-acre landscape where you see nothing but vast desert carrying on for miles and miles and then, out of nowhere, massive sandstone rock formations explode out of the valley floor. It’s no wonder dozens of movies have been filmed here and more than 250,000 sightseers visit per year. There’s magic felt on these lands, and it’s one of those places you must see for yourself to really feel it.

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WHERE TO STAY

AKA WHERE TO FIND THE MOST EPIC CAMPSITE

Are you ready for it? The most epic campsite is…. IN THE PARKING LOT! The Visitors Center offers overnight parking in their lot for fairly cheap! The cars can pull up and get front-row scenic views, like you see above. Tent camping is also available with the same scenic views and is located just below where I’m sitting in the van. Behind me, the parking lot continues and there are RV spots (no hook up). Simple as that!





WHAT TO DO

  • Guided Jeep Tours! If you want to explore more of the land, you must do a Jeep tour! It takes about 3-4 hours and takes you to spots that you otherwise could not get to.

  • Photo op! Upon arriving to the park, you will get a sweeping panoramic view of Monument Valley. Don’t worry about missing it, there will be 25 cars pulled over, too. ;)

  • Hike! The only hiking trail in the park that’s hikable without a Navajo guide is the Wildcat Trail, which loops around West Mitten Butte. The trailhead is at the edge of the visitor center parking lot. Allow 2.5 hours and carry plenty of water!

  • Go horseback riding! I loved seeing all of the free-roaming horses in the area - really felt like the wild west.





THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE VISITING

  • Contrary to popular belief, Monument Valley is not on public land and, despite its name, it is not a National Monument. Unlike many nearby National Parks in Arizona and Utah, Monument Valley is a tribal park owned and operated by the Navajo nation. As soon as you step inside the park boundaries, you are on Navajo land. It is vital to not go off trail as these are the homes and property of the Navajo people.

  • Monument Valley’s navajo name is Tsé Biiʼ Ndzisgaii, which roughly translates to the ‘Valley of Rocks’.

  • Be prepared for “res dogs.” Unfortunately, within the reservation community, there tends to be a large population of unhealthy stray dogs. It’s extremely heartbreaking, but if you’re up for it, take one home with you and help it find a home! That’s what we did when a stray wandered up to our van to get some shade! He traveled across the country with us and we found him his furever home. ;)

  • Entry is $10/person or $20/vehicle. They do not monitor the entry booths after 4pm, so you will not receive a map upon entering if that is the case.

  • Here, you will witness some of the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets, so be sure to stay for one! :)


Here is the dog we rescued from the reservation!

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STEP BY STEP GUIDE: HOW TO DOWNSIZE TO TINY LIVING

Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah

Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah

Welcome to Part Two of my “Tiny Living" blog series. Head over to “How I Went From Living in a 1,600 sqft House to a Van” to read more about my journey.


If you want to downsize to tiny living or to simply have less stuff, this is the guide for you! It’s super easy to say “I would love to do that someday,” but going from desire to action is a lot easier said than done. Below are practical tips and tricks on how to go from a house to a home on wheels! I hope this helps! Don’t hesitate to reach out to me on here or my Instagram!

Pulled over somewhere in Utah

Pulled over somewhere in Utah


STEP ONE: FIND YOUR WHY

Okay, this may seem a little odd and “self help-y,” but for me, I had to ‘find my why’ for wanting to downsize. Whether you want a simpler life, you have a wanderlust bug, you want the freedom to do whatever the heck you want, or you feel called to minimalism. Whatever it is, answer the question authentically.

I had three ‘Whys’:

  1. I wanted to live life simply and out in nature. I wanted to choose where I woke up in the morning and where my backyard was every day. I wanted to live my life by experiencing it. Don’t get me wrong, many nights were spent in Walmart parking lots or overpriced campgrounds. However, the awe we experienced when we did spend a night out in the middle of nowhere was unparalleled.

  1. I wanted less stuff. I felt claustrophobic and overwhelmed by all the items I had accumulated. I began having panic attacks (little anxious Annie over here) and eventually realized they were directly correlated to when I tried to organize. My thought: less items = less anxiety.

  1. Thirdly, I felt like living minimally aligned with my values. I have always been very eco-conscious and I knew having less stuff meant I was consuming less and doing more for the environment.


Over time, I learned there are things I didn’t really need and there are things I don’t want to live without. This journey, through all the highs and the lows, has really allowed me to get to know myself incredibly well.

STEP TWO: START DECLUTTERING

This sounds simpler than it is. How do you begin? What do you do with all your stuff? What room do you start in? JUST START SOMEWHERE. The amount of time you’ve spent thinking about decluttering, you probably could have had all the kitchen cabinets done. So my advice: pick a spot and start.

What to do:

Step 1: Pick a room or section of the house.
Step 2: Set up your piles. Make piles for recycling, trash, donations, to sell, to give away to a specific person and to keep.

Step 3: Label your piles (and stick with them! It’s super important to stay organized as to not get overwhelmed.)

What you’ll need: sticky notes, a sharpie, tape, bins, and bags


What to do: Write on the sticky note where the items inside your bag or bin are going or who they are for and tape it to the outside. For recycling, use paper bags. For trash, use trash bags. For donations, use trash bags or a large bag you also plan on donating. For items to be sold, use storage bins (be practical about this — is it really worth trying to sell your old pants on OfferUp that you may get $5 for?) My suggestion for items you plan on selling would be to have two bins: one for taking to a resell shop and the second for items you’re posting online/will sell at a garage sale. Donate the items the resell shop doesn’t take and the items no one buys after a month or two. For items you plan to give away, use grocery bags. Finally, for items you plan to keep, toss them in a pile off to the side and put away as soon as you’re done with that area.


Do this until you’ve gone through every part of your home. This will probably take more than one day, so don’t be too hard on yourself and take breaks when you need to! With that being said, make sure you’re in the right mental space to do this, because sometimes throwing our stuff out or donating it is emotionally tough.


Helpful tip: no “maybe” piles & do not go back through it!


STEP THREE: GO CHECK OUT SOME HOMES ON WHEELS!


Now that you’ve wrapped your mind around having less stuff and have actively begun the process, check out some homes on wheels! I can’t tell you how helpful it was to actually step foot in a variety of tiny homes.

We went to several local dealerships so we could physically see the space and picture ourselves living in each potential home. This experience was incredibly eye opening because we originally thought we wanted a 22-foot pull-behind (so much so, we did thousands of dollars of upgrades to our truck!), and after a few visits we decided we wanted something more drivable.

Fun Fact! We had a 36-foot motorhome that we lived out of for more than a year before we downsized to the van. When we decided we wanted the van, we visited dealerships again and met up with people from Craigslist.

Head over to my blog post “Why I decided to sell my RV and downsize to a van!” if you’re curious on hearing more about that. (Coming Soon ;))


STEP FOUR: REPEAT STEP 2

Honestly, you’re probably going to repeat Step 2 two, three, or four times (or a hundred times). We keep stuff we think we want/need only to realize later that isn’t the case. I remember I kept my empty 4x6 picture frames (all 15 of them) for years, and not once did I ever put a photo in them. Why did I keep them? Because I had this cute idea for a gallery wall up my staircase. I never actually did it. So when I came across those frames again, my decision was to donate them and, if I wanted to do my gallery wall, I could find some really cool and unique frames I hand selected or had more meaning instead of Amazon Priming black plastic frames.

Some helpful tips:

  • If I’m not planning on using that item anytime soon, I would get rid of it and when I was actually ready to use it, I would buy it then. It really helped me value my purchases (& save money honestly!).

  • Turn all your hangers around backwards. In 6 months, the ones that aren’t forward facing, donate!

STEP FIVE: STORAGE UNIT OR NAH?

So, this was a really tough decision for us. When we first decided we would do tiny living, we sold 80% of our belongings (we’re still in the process of getting rid of the rest). That was including our first home we bought together and my business I had for 2+ years. Then boom. I found out I was pregnant.

We decided to forgo tiny living, and repurchased an entire house full of stuff only to decide when she was two months old we actually still wanted that RV. I still cringe thinking about that. If you want to read more about my story with this, head over to my blog post “How I Went From Living in a 1,600 sqft House to a Van.”

This isn’t a decision anyone can make for you. You just have to assess what makes the most sense for your situation. Do you plan on working full time and don’t know when you’re going to stop? Is the furniture something you’re okay with letting go of and rebuying when you settle back down? Do you plan on relocating after? Do you only want only travel part time? Do you really want that extra storage unit bill? Will your friends be okay with keeping a few bins for you for “X” amount of time?

If you decide to forgo the storage unit, repeat step 2 with your furniture!

We have done it a few ways, but this last time we let go of everything except for about 4-5 storage bins. We sold all that damn furniture we bought again that I had to have (from West Elm mind you, so that as a pretty penny down the drain, haha). What it taught me is that material items come and go, and they don’t actually mean anything. They are just stuff.

I don’t say this lightly because I learned it through some pretty tough lessons. I had a house fire, I was robbed, my car was stolen, all my camera gear (+ years worth of photo memories) were stolen, I bought a home, sold everything in it, only to repeat that process again. The 4-5 bins we had left are in my mom’s spare bedroom closet, and they have our keepsakes/some items we just aren’t willing to let go of for now.


STEP SIX: FIGURING OUT INCOME


The most common question/concern when it comes to living on the road is “How the heck do I make money?” You may be thinking to yourself that this should be your first step, and as much as that may make the most logical sense, think again! I believe that the Universe has our back, and if we feel like this is what we’re meant to do, God or whatever you believe in, opens opportunities for us as long as we’re doing the footwork.

You may think that is crazy, but I promise doors will open for you! There are many opportunities where you can make money on the road. What skills do you have? How can you be of service? What do you want to be doing? You can do whatever that thing is you’re saying “I could never do that,” so don’t hold yourself back!

Here are the ways we have made an income for our travels over the past several years:

  • Saved up enough money with our regular 9-5’s to not work for a year

  • Found temp jobs in the places we visited

  • Photography gigs + Instagram + this Blog

  • My husband got a job in SoCal and we traveled locally for 7 months

  • Rented our house out

  • We started a few companies:

    • Elevation Marketing Co (Social Media Marketing)

    • Q + C Wilder (Photography business)

    • PRV Remodeling (Commercial & Residential remodeling company my husband owns — while we were in Columbus, he built it to have people under him where they can run the jobs while he does more of the business side of things on the road)

As far as steady income goes, it’s not the same every month which is sometimes stressful. One month I had about $1,000 in collaborations and then the next month I didn’t have any. For me, it was worth it to have a little bit of financial instability and more freedom to live my life.





Provo, Utah

Provo, Utah

So, there you have it! That was my process.

Of course, there are other things you will have to consider depending on your situation. If you own a home, will you be renting it out or selling it? Where will you be living after you’re done? Are you willing to have a lapse in your resume if you are not working during your travels?

I hope this helps you get started! If you’d like some inspiration check out my “Best Inspiration to Live Tiny: Books, Documentaries, and Podcasts!” blog post. (Coming soon!) GOOD LUCK!