After one and a half months of vanlife around Colorado we made our way towards Utah via Cortez, located on the Southwest corner of Colorado. From there we drove through the Canyons of the Ancients to Mexican Hat and visited the stunning Goosenecks State Park.
We planned to explore the stunning Canyons of the Ancients National Monument but due to several days of pouring rain we chose to instead visit the Anasazi Heritage Center, located in Dolores, Colorado. The museum offers a beautiful exhibit with artifacts and tools from the ancient people with education on the Anasazi culture and film documentaries and photo exhibits.
We stayed a couple of days in Cortez to get some work done at the Spruce Tree Espresso House, a cafe with delicious coffee and tea, smoothies and vegetarian and vegan food options as well as free wifi and lots of seating which is a welcoming way to get some work done as a digital nomad.
The small town has a couple of different restaurants and we especially loved the farm to table food at The Farm Bistro.
We were delighted to find a great yoga studio called Heart and Core Yoga Studio where we enjoyed a great vinyasa flow class. After speaking to the teacher who is also a homesteader we met the next day for an interview on sustainable living, check out the interview.
After a few days in Cortez, we made our way into the State of Utah and visited the incredible Goosenecks State Park, a state park with picnic area and campsites located in Balding UT where we took a hike along the canyon and enjoyed the gorgeous views: https://stateparks.utah.gov/parks/goosenecks/
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Music credit for this video: Mountain Spring High by Gavin Luke
Spooky Gulch is a beautiful Slot Canyon located at Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. The access takes some effort but it’s definitely worth the trip. The trailhead is located 32 miles south of the town of Escalante and the drive to the trailhead is not for the faint of souls as one has to drive 26 miles on a very uneven gravel/dirt road with some washed-out patches and bumps. Once at the trailhead, it’s another adventure to find the entrance to the slot canyon as the trail is not clearly marked. There are two slot canyons to explore: the Peek-a-boo and Spooky Gulch which are located near each other and can be combined for a fun loop hike.
We started our Grand Staircase Escalante adventure in the town of Boulder, Utah where we visited the Anasazi State Park Museum: https://stateparks.utah.gov/parks/ana… and explored the landscape along the Burr Trail (which leads from Boulder to Glen Canyon), then indulged in a delicious Farm to Table dinner at Hell’s Backbone Grill: https://hellsbackbonegrill.com/
The next day we made our way along the stunning Utah Scenic Byway 12 from Boulder to Escalante, stopped at the beautiful Kiva Coffeehouse: http://kivakoffeehouse.com/ for breakfast and enjoyed stunning view. From there we drove to the trailhead and hiked to Spooky Gulch and Peek-a-boo Gulch for a fun day of exploring and hiking the surrounding landscape. We fell in love with the landscape at Grand Staircase Escalante and highly recommend a visit! Thanks for subscribing to our channel!
Music credit for this video: Devil’s Canyon 2 by Hakan Eriksson
Our travel through Texas led us to Austin Orchards, a beautiful small family friendly orchard in Garfield just outside of Austin.
The farm grows peaches, pomegranates, figs, blackberries, strawberries, plums, pears, oranges and vegetables and generates multiple types of jams, and canned goods. The orchard uses only natural and pesticide free practices and the fruits, veggies and goods are sold at local farmers markets as well as directly to local restaurants and vendors in Austin and Dallas and the surrounding area: https://www.facebook.com/austinTXorch…
Our travel through Texas led us to Austin Orchards, a beautiful small family friendly orchard in Garfield just outside of Austin. The farm grows peaches, pomegranates, figs, blackberries, strawberries, plums, pears, oranges and vegetables and generates multiple types of jams, and canned goods. The orchard uses only natural and pesticide free practices and the fruits, veggies and goods are sold at local farmers markets as well as directly to local restaurants and vendors in Austin and Dallas and the surrounding area: https://www.facebook.com/austinTXorch…
During our stay we had the honor to speak to Manager Justin Sawyer who showed us around the orchard and educated us on natural growing practices, cutting and up-keeping of trees, pesticide free farming practices and more. We tasted and bought a few jars of their delicious Peach BBQ sauce, Peach jam and Peach butter and learned so much from Justin who is also a full-time RVer and currently works on Austin Orchards as the farm manager. Check out is blog here: https://ratpackdrifters.com/
Austin Orchards is a member of the Harvest Hosts Program which is a unique program offering overnight stays for RVers and self-contained Vanlifers at over 600 participating farms, wineries, breweries, distilleries, museums and golf clubs. For a $79 per year membership fee the hosts allow for an overnight stay on their land at no cost while members are encouraged to drink, eat or shop at the host’s establishment before going to sleep on their property. It’s a win-win situation that provides for unique experiences, learning opportunities and social exchange that make for wonderful memories. For more info visit the Harvest Hosts website: http://harvesthosts.refr.cc/wandergreen
We had some amazing camping experiences thanks to this wonderful program and highly recommend it!
Music credit for this video: Weightless Walk by Dew Of Light
Central Florida Earth Day was a great event to celebrate our love for the planet. The festival took place at Lake Eola Park in Orlando on April 20, 2019 and offered many educational exhibits and activities! The festival was founded by Vegetarians of Central Florida and has been growing bigger every year over the last 14 years.
We were excited to visit the event and learn about new eco-friendly inventions and get educated on a wide range of topics from sustainability, climate change, the work of different environmental organizations, veganism, animal activism and so much more.
These are the goals of Central Florida Earth Day:
Inspire sustainable, humane, healthy, and equitable decisions at all levels, from the individual and local levels to the corporate, governmental and international levels
Foster positive community-building in Central Florida and beyond
Support businesses and NGOs that are making a positive difference in the world
Promote all forms of creativity and artistic expression
Provide knowledge, resources, and inspiration to people of all ages through environmental and humane education
Assist animals in need through homeless animal adoption
Create access to and awareness of healthy, sustainable, and local vegan cuisine
We were impressed by the size of the festival with countless vendors, vegan food carts and stands as well as the many presentations and activities throughout the day. Check out the Central Florida Earth Day website for more details and learn more about all the participants.
We had a great time learning, watching and listening and had some great conversations with different participants.
Here’s a few organizations and vendors we spoke to during the Event
Save the Manatee Club
This organization helps to protect manatees and their aquatic habitat for future generations by aiding in the recovery and protection of manatees and their aquatic ecosystems throughout the world:
IDEAS For Us (IDEAS) is an Orlando-based 501(c)(3) grassroots non-profit organization and accredited NGO of the United Nations. IDEAS creates global environmental solutions through local actions.
Their mission is to develop, fund and scale solutions to the world’s most pressing environmental and social challenges.
The organization is the founder of multiple programs including:
-The IDEAS Hive that enables members of a particular community to come together to create real change in a city or college campus. -The IDEAS Solutions Fund which is a micro-granting platform that allows for a wide variety of organizations and individuals to engage in small environmental projects around the world. -Fleet Farming, an urban agriculture enterprise that takes unconventional lawn spaces in urban areas and coverts them into abundant micro-farms. Through its educational and community events.
This Non-Profit organization is dedicated to the protection of Florida’s natural treasures: water, land and wildlife. The organization has helped implementing eco solutions and projects, and brings awareness to Florida’s critical environmental issues.
Besides other projects, the group has been doing lake clean-ups and found that most of the garbage found in the lakes and streams are plastic bags, straws, styrofoam cups and bottles.
The organization has done great work and contributed to the change of some big companies and event organizers in Orlando to implement the change from single-use plastic and styrofoam to using more sustainable cups and eat-ware. They are also working on a political level with other organizations on the ban for fracking as well as the protection of trees, land and water resources.
Lean Orb sells plant based packaging products and eat-ware and cutlery that are compostable and made from natural agriculutral resources like Bagasse, the waste from the fibrous stalks from sugarcane which is used to create highly sustainable plates, bowls, compartment trays and to-go containers. Products manufactured from bagasse require less energy than plastics products, and biodegrade within 90 days. Bamboo is being used to create all natural sturdy cutlery that serve as an alternative to commonly used plastics.
Areca Palm leaf fiber is being used to create biodegradable plates using a non-toxic production process which doesn’t aggravate deforestation. Fallen palm leaf disposable tableware can be composted in any residential or commercial setting and biodegrates within 6 weeks. And wheat straw comes from the stalks of wheat plants, which do not store protein, gluten, or allergens. Lean Orb uses this popular agricultural by-product as a sustainable alternative for styrofoam products.
By using palm leaf and birchwood products, Lean Orb provides primary level education as well as basic training in micro-enterprise for women who choose to work with the company and therefore contribute to the improvement of communities.
Koru creates earth-friendly swimwear and apparel and accessories and aspires to be a leader in eco-responsible manufacturing practices by using only sustainable fabric derived from 100% regenerated polyamide made by ECONYL® who works in partnership with HealthySeas.org to use discarded fishing nets pulled from our oceans to make the regenerated yarn for the fabrics that eliminate the use of harmful herbicides, pesticides and fungicides. Koru also sells sunglasses are made from biodegradable bamboo. The company uses recycled paper hangtags and uses compostable clear bags made from plant materials for packaging.
Koru Swimwear and apparel are assembled only in factories where fair wages and working conditions are standardized by strict laws.
As a member of 1% for the Planet and a partner of Healthy Seas, Koru Swimwear gives back to the environment.
Evan is an 8-year old vegan activist on a mission! Evan helps to make the world a better and happier place for all animals and humans. With the help of his mom and grandma he participates in leafleting, marches, protests, disruptions, vigils, Cubes of Truth and many other forms of vegan activism. He also visit sanctuaries and makes videos & livestreams so that people can meet the animals they call “food,” to show, that they are the same as our cats & dogs at home.
Evan also raps, and speaks all over the United States about animal rights and living a vegan lifestyle. As the President of Animal Hero Kids, an all-volunteer, non-profit organization, Evan helps to reach millions each year with the message of being kind to all. He is also a Spokesperson for the Solutionary Species Movement and for the “Save the Animals, Save the Earth Campaign” as well.
Orlando Vegans is a meet-up group and food blog that helps vegans and aspiring vegans in Orlando navigate to vegan food and friends. If you are in the are, go check then out and meet some like-minded people for a delicious vegan meal in the City of Orlando!
Vegetarians of Central Florida (VegCF) is a social and educational group for vegetarians and vegans and those aspiring to be in the Central Florida area.
VegCF is a group of vegetarians for human health, human rights, animal rights, environmental, simple living, spiritual, religious, and cultural reasons. We welcome non-vegetarians, who we like to consider potential vegetarians.
The VegCF Facebook group has an open forum that allows members to post discussions and announcements. VegCF has over 5,000 members on Facebook!
Animal Rights Foundation of Florida
The Animal Rights Foundation of Florida was founded in 1989 to promote and protect the rights of animals in Florida. Since the founding, the organization, the group has reached out to the public through demonstrations and outreach events, letters to the editor, and personal appearances by our spokespersons on radio, television, before civic groups and in school classrooms. The organization works with volunteers who are at the heart of it and they promote the well-being of animals through meetings with, and campaigns directed at, industry and community decision-makers.
Noor XVII is founded by a vegan couple as a vegan modeling & talent network. The fundamental purpose behind the network is to make being vegan more mainstream. Noor XVII hosts a wide range of events such as social mixers, fashion shows, public speaking workshops, and the list goes on and on. Check out their vegan talk show called, “Royce Airs”, and listen to interviews of different vegans who have amazing things going on all over the world! The network also organizes the 2019 International Vegan Fashion Show, a 100% vegan, red carpet extravaganza with different fashions from all around the world being rocked on a cruelty-free runway. There are models of all ages, races, ethnicities and religions. . . but what they all have in common is that they are living a plant-based and ethical lifestyle!