Saturday 18th March – Happy Birthday Kevin

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We both had a good sleep in (Kevin more so than me) before getting up and making breakfast. Kevin pretty much knows where everything is in the van now so he could make his own coffee. He’s adjusting well to van life. Just before we left, Kevin wandered off to use the port-a-loo while I finished packing up. Ben came over to wish me goodbye, surprised we were only staying one night, then I drove up to the port-a-loo to pick up Kevin. When I got there, I found him waiting outside with another lady (Ben’s wife it turns out). Ben’s son was in the bathroom and had been for a good while. I checked the oil and fluids while I waited, then once Kevin had his turn, we were off.

We drove back to where we’d been yesterday, but this time, we parked at the trailhead for the waterfall. This would only be a short one, but we wanted to see these waterfalls that so many people had raved about. We were happy to be there early, I could imagine the small carpark filling up very quickly. We travelled light, not even carrying water and set off up the creek. We didn’t follow the trail, instead doing a bit of rock hopping right at the creekside, walking right by the wild river. After three kilometres, we’d made it to the waterfall. Our first reaction was that what we’d seen yesterday had been far superior, but this place also had its charms, apart form the rubbish that was littered everywhere. This was definitely a place where people bring loaded eskies and hang out the whole day, leaving their rubbish behind for someone else to deal with. We climbed to the top of the falls where people were jumping off the rocks into the deep water at the base of the falls. After scoping out some information from the people there, we sussed out the best jumping spot.

When I mentioned I didn’t necessarily need to jump from the top, Kevin made a joke about me being a girl so I followed him to the peak. He was off, with perfect form, plunging feet first into the water about ten meters (maybe more?) below. I stood atop the rocks awhile, looking down into the blue pool of water, thinking how far down it really was. When Kevin gave me shit from down below for being a pussy I jumped off, in pretty good form I think. The water was refreshing to say the least. After trying to swim under the waterfall and getting pummelled by the current, we went around the side and snuck intot he back of the waterfall where we swam out again under the strongest part, getting more than a massage on our backs, being thrown out into the bowl.

We got out, dried off a bit in the sun, then clothed ourselves and climbed back down the side of the falls and walked back, this time along the trail which took no time at all. Needed a bit of soap on our bodies, we got some shampoo and a bar of soap from the car and hopped back down to the creek for a bit of a shower in a nice secluded spot. We’d certainly done a bunch of swimming the last few days, we just kept getting that refreshed feeling.

Back at the car, it was time to drive out of Fossil Creek. It took longer than I remembered coming in and the rough road was tiring. After a good hour of shaking the shit out of the Astro, we finally hit tarmac. Sweet, smooth tarmac. We drove into Camp Verde and stopped at the same café we’d got a coffee at before going to Fossil Creek. On the way in, we got phone reception for the first time in a couple of days so Kevin was inundated with birthday wishes, making him feel very special.

At the café, we were served by the same girl who had told us about the snake-infested hot springs and we told her that we’d managed to have ourselves a very good time at hot springs that had no snakes and found some sweets watering holes in the process. We got sandwiches for lunch, when we probably should have shared one, but that didn’t matter, we needed to get our energy back. Kevin caught up with family back home while I caught up on my blogs, updating the world with our adventures. We ended up chilling outside the café for a good couple of hours. They even let us fill up our water when we were done.

Left on our agenda for the day was to do some shopping and find a bar in Sedona were we could get drunk and eat some ribs to celebrate Kev’s birthday. We stopped at Cottonwood’s Walmart and I was impressed with Kevin’s attention to detail from the outset. He didn’t look at anything without thinking about storage space in the van, very conscious that we had to buy the right things in order to fit everything into the fridge. We did a huge shop, buying everything from baby wipes to beer and left $100 poorer, but set for at least the next week.

Nest stop, Sedona. My excitement levels were high since I’d last been here over a year ago and had been waiting for the opportunity to come back ever since. Kevin was also suitably excited to see the red rocks lining up in front of us. Our plan for the night was to find a bar that would allow us to camp in their carpark overnight so we could drink as much as we liked and stumble back to the car without issues. Kevin noticed a nice spot with a balcony as we drove into town, but we carried on to see what was up the road. No point, first instincts are always right. After driving all the way through town which was a hustle and bustle of tourists, we opted out and went back to the original bar. We did briefly stop in at a grille place that was high up and had a huge outlook over the rocks, but it was way too la-di-dah for us. The original place couldn’t have been more perfect. When we asked about parking our car overnight, they had no issues with it. After talking to the young man at the welcome stand, Victor, who seemed to run the place, showed us up to our table and recommended us beers that would suit our taste. He made us feel very special and gave us all sorts of attention. We seated ourselves on the balcony, chairs facing out towards the beautiful rocks of Sedona. Within minutes, Victor was back with our beers and I was thoroughly happy with what he’d recommended me. After a bit of chilling out looking at the view, I struck up a conversation with Chloe who was sitting alone behind us. She had a very interesting story, a British girl, only 25 years old that has been floating around the world ever since she was seventeen, getting odd jobs here and there to support her lifestyle. She told me some very useful information about how the US ESTA visa-waiver program works which gave me a lot of confidence for my plans to re-enter the US after going through Canada. The best part of her story was when she told us about her career as festival promoter, if that’s what you’d call it. She was paid 1800 pounds per month to go to music festivals every weekend, get to the front of the mosh pit and get the crowd excited about whatever was going on. Blew me away.

Chloe was Victor’s girlfiriend so she left us for a bit when she went to get him dinner, but when she came back she was soon followed by some of her local friends and before we knew it, there were six of us sitting around a table talking shit about shit and getting drunk. I’d retreated to the car to get us both some warm clothes since the temperature had considerably dropped to downie-levels. When Victor brought our ribs, Kevin was in happy town, as was I. The ribs were beautiful and the coleslaw more than just a side. Our new friend Zachary beside us was the talk of the town, so drunk that Chloe had to keep reprimanding him for saying stupid things, but he was good value. Soon enough, Zachary faded away, as did Chloe and her other friends, to return when the party got started.

Kev and I finished off Zachary’s order of Chilli Cheese Fries (which was bloody amazing) while we adjusted to the sudden quiet of the balcony. Most people had retreated inside to the warmth and the entertainment of the DJ. While Kevin was in the bathroom, a lady, Janette, came up to me to compliment me on my pants, these are the red tartan ones that I’m a little bit famous for. Janette was a bit crazy, but it was her birthday so we gave her some leeway. Kevin was cold so we moved inside with the rest of the crowd and seated ourselves at the bar for another beer, this time accompanied with some water. The DJ was playing some good tunes but the dance floor hadn’t quite got started. There was a wedding party in the corner playing pool that we watched for a bit, but mostly we talked over the music.

Some time after 10pm, Kev called it. He was full, so was I. Victor was sorry to see us go, even a little disappointed, but he didn’t let us go before he gave us a full rack of ribs in a takeaway box, saying that he’d accidentally put in double the order. Unbelievably generous, we left him a huge tip before we stumbled out to the car. It would be Kevin’s first incognito camp and we managed it ok. Kev was convinced he’d be getting up to pee so he took the door side of the bed, but it was me who caved first. We probably hadn’t been in bed for an hour before I had to relieve myself. I tried to look as subtle as possible as I crept out of the van and found a dark spot in the corner of the carpark. Kevin followed after me and for the rest of the night we were set. The curtains were drawn, windows closed, so it got a bit steamy in the Astro, but we both had sound, uninterrupted, drunken sleep.

There was no cake, but I think Kev enjoyed his birthday.

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