Houseboat-Camping, Hiking, Cliff-Diving and More: My Adventures in Arizona

This June, our blogger Bethany got to take a breathtaking trip out to Arizona with her extended family. She shares her adventures with us in her vacation journal: 

October 15, 2014

Dad text me saying we’ve booked a houseboat for a week on Lake Powell in June with my sister Angie’s future in-laws.

I’m sorry, what? A whole week?? On a boat??? We haven’t even met half of these people yet!?

May 3, 2015

Angie’s wedding goes off without a hitch, and the now current in-laws have stayed with us all weekend. They’ve seen us in high-stress-wedding-crazy mode, and have yet to flee for the hills.


We part that weekend truly looking forward to next month’s trip.

May 31, 2015

It begins to dawn on me that we leave in a few days, and I am going to have to spend a week on a boat, at a lake, out in nature.

Me and nature dont usually hang out much.

The new brother-in-law, TJ, assures me that everything will be ok.

Doesn’t a week without having to worry about makeup, doing your hair, or showering sound fantastic!?


Call me basic, but I truly enjoy makeup, and my curls will revolt without hair gel.

Saturday June 6, 2015

It’s departure day!

My feelings are 90% excitement, 10% anxiety. An entire week is a long time to be with the same people. I’m convinced that by Thursday all the “togetherness” may make me want to jump overboard. BUT I’m determined to be positive.

One of my friends always says “you have to go into it with the right attitude.” I GOT this!

We touch down in Phoenix around 1:00pm Arizona time, and I’m instantly overcome by how beautiful the desert is. Flat landscapes that seem endless, red mountains at every angle, and I can’t get enough of the cacti.


It takes us pretty much the rest of the day to get to Lake Powell, and when we arrive at the marina where the houseboat is, it’s so dark we can’t really see much of anything. By this time it’s 10:00pm in AZ, but my body thinks it’s 1:00am in OH, and my brain thinks “OMG put me to bed…”.

But all thoughts of sleep are instantly forgotten once I step onto the boat. You guys, this boat is insane! First of all it’s HUGE! It has a big kitchen, two tables, a TV, fireplace, five bedrooms, a water slide off the back, and a top level decked out with a hot tub and wet bar.

OK, if this is “camping” I am 100% on board.

Sunday June 7, 2015

It’s 6:00am, and I’m already awake.

The sun comes up SUPER early out west, not to mention I’m still on OH time and it’s 9:00 am there. The sunrise over the marina is breathtaking, and I’m already falling in love.


Most of the preparations to get the houseboat ready to depart is done by my sister’s in-laws. There are 20 people going on this trip (plus two little kiddos), and luckily a good portion of them are very watercraft savvy.

My family is not part of that percentage.

I find myself helping out when I can, but mainly just staying out of everyone’s way. Which isn’t that upsetting, since it involves grabbing a drink and heading to the top deck to sunbathe.

A few people drive ahead of us on a speedboat to start searching for the “perfect spot.” They’re looking for somewhere big enough for all the boats, surrounded by a nice sandy beach, pretty secluded, and of course with a breathtaking view.

It takes us around three hours on the houseboat to reach our destination, but it is the most relaxing three hours of the whole day. Sipping cocktails, laying in the sun, listening to music, and enjoying the scenery. It’s so nice getting to just hang out with my sisters, and Dad even got to drive!


Our “perfect spot” it turns out, is indeed pretty perfect.

Lake Powell is surreal, like being on another planet. Everywhere you turn there are mountains and canyons towering above you. It’s so peaceful you forget the outside world even exists.




Monday June 8, 2015

It’s 7:00am and once again I’m already up and at ‘em. This “rise with the sun” action better not make me a morning person…

I’m pumped, though, because today we’re setting off for an adventure! My other sister, Janel, has decided she wants to climb as high as she can get. There isn’t a real plan of attack, just start walking and don’t get lost. This turns out to be a pretty simple task since there aren’t any giant trees blocking your view, and you can see the boat from a few miles away.



I LOVE these canyons! Hiking has never really been on the top of my favorite activities list, but out here it’s a completely different experience. There aren’t any trees or plants getting all up in your business, rubbing against your legs, or providing the perfect opportunity for a bug to crawl on you. You have room to breathe! And there are so many rocks to scale!

This is another personal discovery. I, Bethany Wellman,  REALLY enjoy rock climbing. #StrongIsOurSexy

Did I forget to mention we’re super fun people to vacation with? Well, we are.


Handstands are ALWAYS on the agenda.

Tuesday June 9, 2015

What’s the plan today? Wakeboarded, tubing, and of course the unavoidable wipeout…or seven.


I’ve never been a fan of haphazardly crashing into the water, so I’m more of an observer during this part of the day.

The weather turned out to be more overcast than sunny, but Mom and Dad are in charge of dinner, and spaghetti with our famous meat sauce is on the menu, so all is well with the world.

Wednesday June 10, 2015

The night before a few showers did eventually roll in. We all had to sleep inside the boat (which was hilarious) instead of the young’uns camping out on the top deck.

In the morning, the clouds are so low you can’t even see the top of the mountain we climbed.



That doesn’t stop us from kayaking though, and setting up the best sand volleyball court Lake Powell has ever seen!

Fortunately for us, the sun does decide to make an appearance.

Since the weather has cleared up, we set out to Dangling Rope Marina to refuel the boats, sip on root beer floats, and get into other random acts of shenanigans.


That night we just sit back and watch the clouds roll in. You can see each flash of lightning beyond the canyon, and it’s like our own personal light show. Slowly but surely the clouds descend right on top of us, and it’s time to call it a night.


Thursday June 11, 2015

OK, Thursday turned out to be pretty legendary.

The downside?

I don’t have ANY pictures of said legendary experience.

What went down was this. We had heard through the grapevine that at the end of our canyon (West Canyon) you could follow the river up about five miles to this spectacular waterfall. The hike itself is apparently one of the best on the lake and involves wading in water, climbing through narrow passageways of rock, and swimming through pools.

Swimming = def leaving the phone on the boat.

We had literally no idea what we were getting ourselves into, but isn’t that the point of an adventure? Once we figured out where the trail began, our first obstacle was wading through waist deep water that was pretty gross-looking. Thank God I had decided to pick up some water shoes at Target the week before.

After that initial challenge, the next four miles were pretty tame. We kept to following the river, and the only trick was to avoid getting stuck in knee high pits of mud. But this mud wasn’t mud mud, it was more like quicksand, and somehow this made it less gross. Numerous times I found myself being sucked down into the sandy pits of who knows where, but after little wiggling and a rinse in the water, no big deal!

Eventually we came across a small shaded area carved out of the canyon we designated “the lunch grotto.” Once everyone was rejuvenated, we analyzed our path ahead. This is where things got a bit tricky. The river now gave away into little pools you had to cross, and the canyon walls became narrower and narrower the further we went on.


The thrill of not  knowing if your next step would be on solid ground, or deep into the water was exhilarating. Trekking into the unknown we conquered that last mile having to swim completely submerged, helping each other climb over rocks, and squeezing ourselves through tight canyon passageways.

The hilarious part is we never did find that waterfall that we initially set out to see. The clouds started to become more frequent, and we still had a five mile hike to get back to our boats.

So worth it, though.

That night we celebrated our victory of survival by having a fire and toasting up some s’mores.


FYI, did you know the correct combo to make the perfect s’more is: graham cracker, marshmallow, chocolate, marshmallow, graham cracker?

I know…double the mallow. My mind is blown too.

Friday June 12, 2015

This is my lazy day.

Everyone went out on the boats again to try kneeboarding, but I’m staying behind.

I also may have broken open a bottle of margarita.

Friday wasn’t a complete waste though, I did jump off of a cliff.


Yeah. You heard me.

I jumped off a 45 ft cliff!


Saturday June 13, 2015

Sadly, our time on the houseboat has come to an end. After a morning of packing, cleaning, and attempting to eat all of the food that’s still leftover, we start the three hour journey back to the marina.

It’s a little depressing leaving the beach we’ve been calling home all week, but that gloomy mood is quickly lifted when one of the guys declares he wants to have a lip-sync battle.

Oh yes.


My husband Eric did his best Jimmy Fallon impersonation, while us ladies channeled our inner Weather Girls.

God bless mother nature!!! She’s a single woman toooooo!!!

Having to say farewell to everyone is surprisingly hard. I knew leaving Angie would be rough, but we’ve already planned a visit to see her in October. The rest of TJ’s relatives though? Who knows? They’ve basically become part of our own family over these past seven days, and it just doesn’t seem right that we won’t be seeing them again anytime soon.

But back to shore means back to reality…at least, for everyone else, it does.

Our adventure continues onward to Flagstaff, where we’ve rented out a condo for the next three days.

Sunday June 14, 2015

Black out shades have to be the greatest thing on this planet. For the first time in a week I’m able to sleep in past 7:00am. And good Lord, I get to take a shower! An actual SHOWER!!! Not just scrubbing soap over my body before jumping into the lake. I can practically hear my hair singing with rejoice as I stand under the hot water.

Getting clean is basically pointless though, as our first stop of the day is the Grand Canyon.


Never in my life have I seen anything so vast.

We hike for a little less than a mile, singing songs, joking around, and enjoying the view. But as they say; “going down is optional, but coming up is mandatory.” Thank goodness we didn’t decide to venture down further, because the way back up is deceivingly difficult. Unlike most hikes, when you reach your destination you’re usually rewarded with the help of gravity on the way back down.

Not this time.

But the strenuous sweaty workout is worth it because I can now cross “Hiking in the Grand Canyon” off my bucket list.

Monday June 15, 2015

Dad swears today will be the last day of hiking on vacation. Even though it’s senseless, I take another shower…because I can.

This time we’re headed to Sedona, which is known for its trails, stunning views of the valley, and fudge.

Yet again, nature in Arizona does not disappoint.

Wellman_Vacation_19 Wellman_Vacation_20

This specific group of giant mountain and rocks is called Cathedral Rock Trailhead. It turned out to be the perfect combination of walking and climbing (snaps for more climbing!) and even had a very satisfying “end of trail” sign at the top.

Tuesday June 16, 2015

Final day of packing up the car and driving. Our final stop of vacation is Scottsdale, just outside of Phoenix, and holy crap, is it HOT here!! A record-breaking high of 113 degrees basically makes me want to play hermit inside all day. But adventure is once again calling our name, plus we’ve already made reservations for a nighttime Segway tour of Old Town Scottsdale. After some tacos for dinner (hello, taco Tuesday) off we go!


Fun fact, my fam segways on almost every vacation we take. We’ve done tours in Indianapolis, Austin, Boston, San Francisco, and now Phoenix! If your city offers a tour, I highly recommend you take it. Not only do you learn a lot, they’re a blast to ride!

Old Town Scottsdale is so unique. The whole area is a historical landmark bursting with restaurants, museums, art installations, classic hotels, and beautiful lights. Each street and tree is covered so the entire place glows in the fading sunlight. My only regret is not doing the tour sooner. We’re discovering all these fantastic places to eat and see, but with no more time left to experience them.

Oh well.

Guess now we have a reason to come back!

Wednesday June 17, 2015

It just makes sense that our final morning would kick off with a 5:30am wake up call.

Luckily the rest of the day is pretty uneventful. Our flights are on time, no one loses their luggage, and we have a “last supper” of sorts while waiting out the Columbus rush hour.


Family trips are fun, but I always end feeling like I need a vacation from my vacation. That must be my adult-self demanding she get back into a solid routine. I can honestly say though, I would do the whole trip again if given the chance. Yes I had to step out of my comfort zone a few times, but I never once regretted it. And good thing too, I hear next year’s trip is already in planning mode.

More nature?

Bring it on.


About Bethany W

Graphic Designer by day, self proclaimed decorator and creator of things by night!
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