A Tranquil Morning on the Custer State Park Cathedral Trail

On a morning in September, the stone spires on the Cathedral Trail in Custer State Park stood tall and imposing. Contrasting the towering rock was a vivid blue-sky background draped with fluffy white cumulus clouds. We were on the trail at the break of day and the picturesque landscape in front of us was stunning. […]

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Sedona’s Fay Canyon Trail Has a Surprise or Two

Fay Canyon Trail is an easy 2.5-mile roundtrip hike in Sedona. It was the second hike of the day for us and we actually selected it because it was less challenging. Our expectation for the trail was modest. We thought it was a good way to add a few miles for exercise while seeing an […]

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Cathedral Rock and the Scramble to the Top

The Cathedral Rock in Sedona is one of the area’s iconic landmarks. The sandstone butte emerges from a relatively flat section of uninteresting land. From a distance, it looks inviting but doesn’t seem that much different than other buttes in Arizona. As we got closer and stood at the base of the mesa, the towering […]

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Chaos and Splendor – The Bear Mountain Hike

The day we hiked Bear Mountain was among the most memorable we experienced while in Sedona, Arizona. Our story starts with a near disaster and ends with a feeling of inspiration and awe. After a few days of visiting the area, we felt like we had seen the most popular and infamous landmarks. We decided […]

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Jordan to Soldier Pass is a Good Intro to Sedona

Gail and I had never visited Sedona, Arizona before. Arriving to town mid-morning our eyes scanned the landscape with awe. The town and surrounding area were beautiful and inviting in every direction. After a quick stop at the visitor’s center to get our bearings and some regional maps, we chose the Jordan Trail to Soldier […]

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Devil’s Bridge Sunrise is Stunning

Sedona, Arizona has so many great hiking destinations it’s hard to decide what we enjoyed the most. For us, the 4 mile out-and-back Devil’s Bridge hike at sunrise was among our favorite. Considered the largest sandstone arch in the area, the natural bridge offers stunning views of Red Rock County. The trailhead is located off […]

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Lower Cathedral Wash to the Colorado River

Many of the best places we visit come from recommendations of people we meet while on the road. The Lower Cathedral Wash in Lee’s Ferry, Arizona is a perfect example of an astounding hike we would not have found on our own. This adventure had no major technical challenges, but scrambling and careful decision making […]

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The Chiricahua National Monument Jewel

When we were planning our trip to Arizona, I contacted a person who follows us on Instagram. Knowing she lives in the state, I asked her for recommendations on places to see. She ranked Chiricahua National Monument as her favorite place in the entire state. She also encouraged us to hike the Echo Canyon Trail. […]

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White Sands National Park Lives Up to Its Name

When we decided to visit the White Sands National Park, I was less than excited. I don’t know why. Fortunately, my attitude changed for the better when we pulled into the parking lot by the visitor’s center. I instantly found the white sand landscapes intriguing. The visitor’s center was not open when we arrived, but […]

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Slaughter Canyon Cave Trail is Short, Steep and Beautiful

After spending the morning at Carlsbad Caverns, we decided to hike the Slaughter Canyon Cave trail in the afternoon. The trailhead is about 18-miles south of the caverns but still inside the boundaries of the national park. Interestingly, we learned about this hike from a total stranger who we met at the Carlsbad Cavern National […]

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Charming Fishing Villages on the Coast of Maine

Much of our time on our New England trip was spent visiting the many small fishing villages on the coast of Maine. We enjoyed these towns, the nearby islands and the rocky beaches.  We started this coastal trip up in Calais and completed our journey at the southwest tip of Maine near Salisbury Beach. The […]

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Tunnels, Alice and the Blue Ridge Parkway

After spending several days in the Great Smoky Mountains we were looking forward to driving from the mountains to Asheville, NC on the Blue Ridge Parkway.  I had been on the Blue Ridge Parkway in northern Virginia growing up so being back on this parkway was very special.  We stopped to take a picture by […]

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Fitness Life By Design

When we started our Van Life By Design website and blog, our mission was to write about and photograph our travels in our Sprinter van Alice and other travel related topics. This is still true. Gail is also interested in writing about exercise and fitness, healthy eating and other lifestyle topics so we have launched […]

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