Hiking Rim to Rim in Grand Canyon – North Rim to South Rim

At the Trailhead
At the Trailhead

This was our first backcountry experience and we were both a little bit nervous about it. You have to have a permit to camp in Grand Canyon and we faxed our request back in February while we were travelling in Brazil. When I received the congratulations email to confirm that we had secured camping spots my stomach turned over with excitement and fear. We weren’t confident that we could do Rim to Rim on our own but after doing the rafting trip and several other nights camping we felt we had to give it a shot, it’s hard to get permits and it was an opportunity too good to pass up. We purchased a small tent, sleeping mats and enough food for the 4 days and we looked like we were professional hikers/campers!

We spent the night before the the hike at De Motte campground which is a great little site about a 20 minute drive from the entrance to the parks north rim. The north rim of Grand Canyon is a world away from the south rim, it’s so much quieter and smaller but you still get the fantastic views.

Day 1 – We were up at 4am and on the trail at 6am, it was 6.8 miles down Roaring Springs Canyon to Cottonwood campground. The North Kaibab Trailhead starts in forest and you could think you were in the Rockies not the Canyon. Hiking downhill is tough on your joints so we took it slow and admired the views as we went. We arrived at Cottonwood at 10.30 and spent the afternoon cooling off in the creek, we were ready for bed by 8pm!

Day 2 – All packed up, we hit the trail at 5.45am, today’s hike was relatively flat walking along the Bright Angel Creek the entire way. We stopped off at Ribbon Falls which was like being in an enchanted forest. We arrived at Bright Angel Campground at 10am and set up camp right by the creek. It was so bloody hot at the bottom of the Canyon; it was still 100 degrees at 8pm at night! Time to visit Phantom Ranch and sample some chilled lemonade, which tasted like expensive champagne after the hike. Phantom Ranch is air-conditioned and is a great place to escape the heat, you can also send postcards from here and they are carried out by the mule train, a fun thing to do. We then head to the Colorado River and spent a couple of hours at Boat Beach watching the river, washing our socks and cooling down. We got chatting to a group of river guides at the beach and we relived our rafting trip for a while, one of the guides gave us a couple of beers. Great afternoon by the river, we headed back as we had our steak dinner booked at Phantom Ranch. The steak dinner is served at 5pm and is served family style dining, the dinner tasted amazing after eating trail mix and freeze dried food for 2 days.

Day 3 – Up at 4.30am, moving a bit slower today as we  didn’t get much sleep due to the heat. Hit the trail at 6.20am and followed the river for the first 1.8 miles, I love being by the river, there is something very special about being at the bottom of Grand Canyon by the mighty Colorado river. We took our first break at Pipe Creek beach which was where the rafting company dropped us off a few weeks ago. Great to be back at the beach, we spent 50 minutes here, again reminiscing over our rafting trip. Time to start hiking out of the Canyon; it was 4.5 miles to Indian Garden campground, we arrived at 9.30am. Our pitch was in the shade and it was about 20 degrees cooler than Bright Angel Campground, yeah it was time for a nap and a well earned rest.

Just after the sun had gone behind some rocks Richard walked up to the toilet block which was only about 50yds from our tent, he heard a hissing/rattling sound which stopped him dead in his tracks and yes he was 5ft from a Diamondback rattlesnake, it raised up and looked at him so he turned around and reported the sighting to the ranger who went over to look with some other campers, the snake circled around and then went back into the bush, after this we were more careful when we were walking around. At around 6pm we did the 3 mile roundtrip hike to Plateau Point, wow the view from here, you get a 360 degree of the canyon, including the river. What a place to watch the sunset, breathtaking.

Day 4 – Final day of our Rim to Rim hike. Time for the hardest part of the hike 4.5 miles (3040ft elevation) up the Bright Angel trail. We started at 5.30am trying to beat the sun; we rested at each resthouse on the way up and made it to the south rim at 8.50am. The last 1.5 mile is a killer, carrying a backpack in the sun you are like one of the mules. The Crumps had completed rim to rim, how did that happen, very impressed with ourselves. Time to find a shower, ice cream, pizza and wine in that order. The trans-canyon shuttle picked us up at the Bright Angel Lodge at 1.30pm and transported us over the 200 miles back to the north rim to collect our car.

Where the movies are filmed – Moab, Utah

Dead Horse Point at Dead Horse Point State Park
Dead Horse Point at Dead Horse Point State Park

Moab is in eastern Utah and is home to Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park and Dead Horse State Park. Driving along I-70 you wonder if you are still on planet earth or if you have landed on Mars, the road twists and turns through the red rocks for miles.

Moab has a lot to offer from hiking, biking, raftering and off-road adventures. We visited Canyonlands National Park and Dead Horse Point State Park, my favourite spot is Dead Horse Point overlook, it’s like a mini Grand Canyon.  There is a long list of movies that have used Moab has a backdrop and you can see why, it’s like being in a western movie and you expect to see John Wayne riding by on his horse, the movie ‘Rio Grande’ was filmed at Red Cliffs Lodge (formerly Whites Ranch).

Red Cliffs Lodge is a great place to stay or if you are travelling on a budget, just visit the movie museum. We went for dinner overlooking the Colorado River and the atmosphere and service was outstanding.

CMA Festival 2016 – Nashville

Fun in Tootsies
Good times in Tootsies

Why are 2 brits at CMA fest, well we started listening to Country music around 10 years ago now and it all started from us visiting North America on holiday and hearing different country songs playing in bars or on the radio. Our first songs were ‘Friends in Low Places’ by Garth Brooks and ‘I love this bar’ by the one and only Toby Keith, this was the start of our love for Country music. I have played and talked about cowboys so much to my two brothers Steve and Stuart that they have finally given in and started listening to some country music and they even went to see Kip Moore a few months ago, see nagging does work!

Nashville is one of my favourite cites and CMA fest was on my bucket list, we arrived in Nashville 2 days before the official start of the festival and already there were several events taking place, our first event was held at the Marathon Music Works hosted by Pandora Country. We lined up from 5pm waiting for the doors to open at 6.30pm, hoping to be in the 1500 to get free admission, yeah we made it in! Kip Moore one of my favourite artists was playing and to make the night even better it was open bar all night, are you freaking kidding me right now, to say I was excited was an understatement! Kip and Tyler Farr rocked the house and we took full advantage of the open bar, what a great start to the festival. I was happy enough already I could go home now and feel like I had a great festival!

As newbie’s to the festival we were overwhelmed and sometimes a bit lost as to what was going on and where or if you need separate tickets for meet and greets etc. Each day the music starts around 10am and finishes up with the nightly concerts at Nissan Stadium, 2 full days in and we were exhausted but you have to make the most of your time here. Highlights for us were of course Kip Moore, Eric Church, Tyler Farr, Sara Evans, Chris Young, CAM singing with Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, Keith Urban, Nitty Gitty Dirty Band singing Fishin’ in the dark and much more.

It was nearly 100 degrees in the sun some days and some afternoons we headed to the bars along ‘Broadway’ to enjoy the air-conditioning, you didn’t feel like you were missing out on the music because each Honky Tonk had a band playing our favourite country songs. At the end of the festival even though we were exhausted and needed a rest we were both sad that it had come to an end and it was time to leave Music City behind. Nashville is a fun city, great atmosphere, great people and the best country music.

Living in England you don’t walk into a bar at the weekend and hear Kip Moore, Toby Keith, Garth Brooks or any other country songs being played so to visit somewhere like Nashville where you get to hear all your tunes blows us away. Nashville will always be in our hearts and we will always return to this city. Now we just need to listen to some of the older traditional artists like George Jones, Merle Haggard and all the other greats that really set the bar high for all the new country artists. Thank you CMA fest we had a blast, our trip just seems to be getting better and better by each destination, now it’s time to hang up our cowboy boots and get out our hiking boots for the next few days.

Camping in Yosemite National Park

The famous Tunnel View
The famous Tunnel View

Yosemite National Park is in California and covers an area of 747,956 acres. We spent 6 wonderful nights camping at ‘Camp 4’ in the Park, which is a first come first severed campground. Your spot includes your own Bear proof locker to store all your food, there are no showers on the campground but you can head over to Housekeeping Camp to use the showers there for $5.

To get the best experience of what the park has to offer you need to get out on the trails and lose the hordes of tourists that visit the valley on a daily basis. Our favourite hike was the Mist Trail which was a 7 mile round trip hike following the river and hiking by Vernal Falls to the top of Nevada Falls, depending on the wind direction you can get a free shower, which is a bonus for us campers! Another great hike is to the top of Upper Yosemite Falls, this is a strenuous hike but great views from the top. You could spend weeks exploring the park; there are so many hiking trails, heaven for people that like the great outdoors.

There is nothing better in life than being sat around a campfire at night, surrounded by large pine trees and looking up the granite rock shining in the moonlight. Everything you need in life is right there, nothing materialistic, just back to basic nature.

Now rant time, national parks are there for everyone to enjoy, which yes is a good thing, but should idiots be in the parks? Idiots that throw rubbish out of their car window as they drive through the park! Idiots that drink too much and then throw up all over the floor of restrooms! Idiots that feed the wildlife and then the idiots who drive above the speed limits through the park endangering the lives of wildlife that may be crossing the roads. We saw them all so if you are one of these people please don’t visit the parks until you have learned some respect!

Rafting the Upper 89 miles of Grand Canyon


I don’t know how best to describe our experience in the Grand Canyon, my words and pictures will not do it justice so here’s a poem to set the stage. Steve our guide read this to us before we started one of our days’s on the river.

Go There
Anything you have read about the Grand Canyon is a lie
Language falters and dies before the fact
The experience is inexpressible in words
The Grand Canyon is its own language
Written across space, causality and time
See how puny these words are
Do not believe them
Go there

– Amil Quayle. Grand Canyon and Other Selected Poem

In 2007 the first time that we did a small hike down the South Kaibab Trail to Skeleton point I knew that I wanted to be on the river and before I had even got home I was already researching how to get onto the river!

We finally booked our trip over 18 months ago, we decided to do the 5 night/6 day rafting the upper canyon. At the time of making the reservation we had never camped or been white water rafting before, this was going to be a tester of what the outdoors has to offer to us newbie’s.

The days leading up to the start of our trip I started to feel nervous and excited, I was nervous about the rapids and falling out of the boat but it’s just like being on the log flume at the fair right? I was excited to be on the river and to be surrounded by the canyon.

May 14th, a Saturday morning we arrived at Lee’s Ferry which was our launch site. Our 6 boats were lined up waiting to go, Richard commented “I thought we were on bigger boats” Oh yes so did I. The boats did look small compared to the bigger motorized boat lined up next to ours,  I do remember when we booked that I didn’t want the motorized trip, I wanted more of an adventure, I really should pay more attention to these details!

Over the next 5 days we had the best adventure of our lives! Each morning we would be woken at dawn with the coffee call, it was such a magical time of the day in the canyon, the sun was just coming up, it wasn’t too hot and the river was right there just doing it’s thing. We spent the days lazing on the boats through the calm parts of the river looking up in amazement as the canyon seemed to reach for the sky. Then you would hear the thunder of the white water ahead, here we go, there is a rapid around the corner, we would hold on as we prepared to go down/through the white water. It didn’t matter if you were in the front or the back of the boat, the water would smack into you, it was exhilarating and bloody freezing.  Just watching the sheer power of the water hitting the surrounding rocks and bouncing our boat around was thrilling, this is Mother Nature at its best.

We had time to do some side hikes, this is when you start to realise the massive scale of the canyon and how dangerous it can be out there if you don’t know what you are doing, luckily for us we had a great team of guides. Each evening we would set up camp right by the river, the guides would prepare dinner while we had a bath in river and then sit with a glass of wine chatting with our new friends about our day on the river. One of my favourite times of the day was falling asleep and waking up listening to the sound of the river. I feel emotional writing this, I already miss being by the river, the new friends we have made and I know we will be back to do the lower canyon or even the full canyon. Grand Canyon is a special magical place it captures your heart and changes you. For the true experience see it from the river, we did our trip with AZraft and we would highly recommend them.

On day 6 it was time to say goodbye to our new friends and the river, we were hiking out of the canyon up the Bright Angel Trail to the south rim. We were dropped off at Pipe Creek and at 7.30am and we started up the trial, it was a tough but rewarding hike and we made it out just after 1pm. I guess now we can call ourselves hikers and campers because we survived and loved our time in Grand Canyon.

Historic Route 66 – The Mother Road

IMG_0187Route 66 originally ran from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California and covered 2448 miles. Route 66 became one of the most famous roads in the USA, we all know the song (get your kicks on) Route 66!!

When Highway 40 was built Route 66 was bypassed and local family businesses lost passing trade. Many businesses closed and some even moved closer to the new highway in order to survive. Now Historic Route 66 is making a comeback, more and more people are coming to the US to travel this iconic road. Some of the motels, mom and pop diners and strange but funky things that make Route 66 are still open and others are being restored.

We haven’t really got the time to travel the whole of Route 66 but we are dipping in and out where we can. Some of highlights along the Mother Road that we liked are the Worlds Biggest Rocking Chair, The Blue Whale, Cadillac Ranch, old gas station and of course you have to visit the Big Texan for a steak! We will be back on Route 66 throughout the trip and will add more pictures as we go.



Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas

On our road trip South into Texas a stopover in Dallas was a must for me having been intrigued by the events that happened that day in Dealey Plaza back in 1963 since I was at school.

The assassination of President John F Kennedy has fascinated the public for over 50 years, was Oswald the lone gunman as first thought, was there a second shooter from the Grassy Knoll, the conspiracy theories and questions are still being discussed today.

We took the DART light rail train to downtown and got off at Union Station which is only a short walk away from Dealey Plaza, and as we approached it the infamous former Texas School Book Depository Building on Elm Street came into view and it was a surreal feeling to finally see it in person, I started to get Goosebumps and I sort of had a WOW feeling come over me as I looked up towards the 6th floor corner window. To the left was Dealey Plaza, we stopped and looked over at the Bryan Pergola and the Grassy Knoll which although it was the first time seeing them they seemed so familiar, we were early for our tour so we spent 15 minutes taking some pictures and just taking in where we were and the events that had happened that day.

The tour of the museum is on the 6th floor of the book depository building, it’s a self guided audio tour with information of the Kennedy presidency, the events of the fateful day and the following investigations and conspiracy theories. The corner of the 6th floor where Oswald was positioned was behind glass screens to preserve the area but the window was clearly visible and amazing to see and I sneaked a photo which is not allowed.

After the tour we went back out into Dealey Plaza to take some more photos from every angle to try and fully capture the experience, sometimes just standing and looking around in amazement that I had finally managed to visit this historic place.

I was even able to stand on the same concrete pedestal where Abraham Zapruder stood and take my own video footage along Elm Street of the route the Presidential motorcade took.



Our first stop in the USA was one of my favourite cities, Nashville also known as Music City. This is the place to visit if you love music, yes a lot of it is country music but you can also find Blues, Bluegrass, Rock n Roll and more. The Honky Tonks on Boardway have around 40 live bands playing each day from 10.30am till 3am the following the day, you could be watching the next big thing.

Away from the downtown area there plenty of other attractions such as the Bluebird Cafe which hosts twice nightly intimate shows by some of Nashville’s new and established singer songwriters. We were lucky enough to attend the show, In The Round with Erik Dylan, Kristen Kelly, Jimmy Stanley and Danny Myrick. We loved Erik’s new single Pink Flamingos and we got to meet him after the show.

We spent one day visiting Loveless Cafe which offers great value typical Southern food, famous for its biscuits and the Belle Meade Plantation and stables founded in 1807, it was one of the largest thoroughbred horse farms in the South covering 5400 acres where 13 of the last Kentucky Derby winners can be traced back to.

Along with the Country Music Hall of Fame, historic RCA studio B and the Grand Ole Opry, Nashville is a must on any music lovers bucket list. We will be back in June for the 4 day CMA Festival, very excited!!

The Crumps final thought

As our 3 months in South America come to a close, we look back with happy memories of our adventure. It was more than I had hoped for and we will be back sometime in the future.

Some Statistics
6 countries visited
8570 miles travelled (all by bus)
220 hours in transit (all by bus)

Things we will miss about South America
– Waking up to a new adventure everyday
– Summertime in January
– Learning about new cultures
– Pisco sours
– Tasting local wines and food
– Meeting new interesting people
– Walking around local markets

Things we won’t miss about South America
– Showers, do we have hot water or not? 1 minute it burns your arse the next its freezing!
– Smelling of sulphur after you have had a shower
– Stomach cramps – is it the food, the water, who fricking knows!
– Overnight buses
– Lost in translation, you order an omelette and get a fried egg!
– Touts trying to sell you everything and anything
– The smell of piss on some of the streets
– South America breakfast – bread that is like cardboard!

Classic Inca Trail Expedition to Machu Picchu

Hiking the Classic Inca trial had been on my Bucket list for over 10 years and it didn’t disappoint, it was the highlight of our 3 months in South America.

We picked Alpaca Expeditions to do the hike with, they were recommended by a friend, have great reviews on Tripadvisor and they care about their porter’s welfare. The night before our trek we had a briefing at the office to go through the logistics, meet the other hikers and meet our guides.

We felt excited but nervous at the same time, we haven’t done this type of adventure before, and we aren’t really campers or hikers! Anyway our green duffel bags were packed and the alarm was set for 3.45am, yes that’s correct they were picking us up at 4.20 in the morning. We were awake before the alarm, not sure if that was the excitement or the fact that my stomach was not so good. I won’t go into too much detail about the hike, but here’s a link to our itinerary.

The hike was tougher than we thought it would be, there were a lot of bloody steps and you are hiking at altitude. The views all the way along the hike through the Sacred Valley were spectacular, as Ferris Bueller said Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it’

Our guide Rosel Calderon has a true passion for his country and that of his ancestors, a huge smile would appear on his face every time he spoke to the group about the history and meaning of the different sites along the trail, our chef Walter and team of porter’s (nicknamed The Green Machine) were amazing. We had some of the best food during the trek, better than we had had throughout South America. The porters were running past us up the mountain carrying 25kg each and some of them were just wearing sandals. We arrived at our campsite’s each evening to our tents and sleeping bags already set up and our dinner not far behind.  We were all in bed by 8pm, 2 mornings we were up at 5am and the last morning we were up before 3am. Needless to say we were exhausted at the end of our trip and needed a few days to recover and sleep!

I was emotional when we reached the Sun Gate and got our first look at Machu Picchu, this enchanting site was home to between 700-800 people and it’s one of the largest Inca sites to be discovered. It’s strange to think that there could be more Inca sites hidden under the vast forests that overgrow the terraced hillsides.

We spent the day walking around the ruins, trying to image how they lived on this site. I didn’t want to leave, I didn’t want this adventure to be over, it had been a true ‘once in a lifetime experience’ and considering we weren’t hikers or campers we had conquered the 42 km hike and survived without showers for 4 days. Now what will the next adventure be? We have a few things up our sleeves. Hehe.