While I’ve had my feet planted more firmly in New York City in recent months, there was a stretch this fall when Zach Fackrell was away for all but two nights in eight weeks. Unfortunately none of his travels brought him to New York, so we hadn’t seen one another since the Passport Express pulled into San Francisco in late September. We even missed each other at last month’s Passion Passport team summit in the Adirondacks.

Being half a world apart hasn’t stopped us from putting together projects for Passion Passport. But as much as I love the functionality and efficient communication that modern technology affords us, there is no real substitute for the creative flow and collaboration that comes to life when we’re in the same room. And so when I was in Los Angeles last week visiting friends, and Zach happened to be back home in Salt Lake City, we decided it was time we meet up. Using the Meet Halfway tool, we saw that Flagstaff would be the midpoint for a spontaneous adventure. In a couple of clicks, our flights were booked and paid for using PayPal and loose plans were established: we would meet in Flagstaff a couple of days later, rent a car, and embark on an adventure in northern Arizona.

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Once we landed, we scribbled and circled on our map and pieced together a rough plan of attack at our Airbnb. We first set our sights just south of Flagstaff, spending an entire day exploring the red rocks and canyons near Sedona. We started with a long midday hike at Cathedral Rock, a mesmerizing Arizona landmark of redbed sandstone formed from ancient coastal sand dunes.

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From there we headed to the Devil’s Bridge, a precarious natural bridge with a dizzying drop located northwest of Sedona. We timed our visit for a late golden-hour arrival, but unfortunately the light was fading faster than we’d anticipated. We made it there just in time, out of breath but amazed—it was every bit as beautiful as we’d expected. We weren’t, however, equipped for the hike back to the car in the dark, and learned the difficult lesson that hiking at sunset without proper preparation is a recipe for catastrophe—we ended up bushwhacking back to the car for nearly two hours.

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The remaining days in Arizona were planned with a bit more precision. After some time in Flagstaff, exploring some of its coffee shops and boutiques, we ventured north. We were dwarfed by our vast surroundings at the Grand Canyon and similarly inspired by the winding river in the chasm at Horseshoe Bend. On the final day, we continued on to Antelope Canyon, a place I’ve seen countless photographs of. It was immediately obvious that words and photos cannot do it justice. We spent an hour walking through Lower Antelope Canyon in awe, often pausing to look at one another, mouths wide open in disbelief. The last stop on our road trip took us just over the state border and into Utah. There, we took in a view of Monument Valley and allowed ourselves to run wildly down the same highway that Forrest Gump had once traveled on.

 
Prior to this trip, I’d seen plenty of images of the natural beauty in northern Arizona and had always wanted to see it for myself. I never sat down to do the research, never quite understood just how many jaw-dropping sights were so close to one another, so I didn’t even realize all that I was missing. This was a dream of a mini-road trip: I find it incredible that we were able to do and see so much in just three days. I’m terribly grateful for the opportunity… and now I’m itching to explore more of the area.

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Zach
Zach is the son of a travel-writing father and a wanderlust mother who met on a bus in Guatemala. He wants to inspire you to travel, too. Find him on Instagram or Twitter.

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