River Dog

Something has happened to our crazy P girl this year. She has absolutely completely fallen in love with the river. It is the only place she wants to go. The only place that matters to her, besides like my bed and the bottom of a chicken dinner.

This winter we experienced a big personal tragedy. The best thing we could do to start to heal was to go out in nature. Each weekend we would take ourselves and our dog out for longish nature walks. We went to the Verde River one day in Clarkdale and some lite up inside Penny. We had taken her to creeks and rivers and lakes before but she never seemed all that interested unless it was teeming with ducks.

On this particular day though something changed.

We were walking along the shore and Penny wanted to walk into the water. We let her and she kept skimming the surface of the water. Checking things out, smelling the leaves, taking a poop. All the things dog love.

This kept up for a while. We would take her to the River she would wade in, look for a duck, and keep hiking.

Recently she has gotten more brave she has wadded in until she can’t touch the bottom and has to swim a bit to get around. She is swimming from one side of the river to the other now. Looking for any ducks that might cross her path.

Last month we were on one of our weekend river walks and she jumped from the shore into the water just to chase a duck. It wasn’t actually a duck but a stick sticking out of the water. She swan to it bit it and then swam back so visibly proud of her conquest.

Verde River, Clarkdale, Arizona

She is such a goofy little dog. She reminds me to love things with all my heart and to share those things with my “pack.” She is the joy in a dark and hard time and the crier who will remind us that it is 5:23 and we haven’t taken her on a walk today. She is simply the best.

Petrified Forest National Park

Petrified Forest National Park

This week we celebrated our fourth anniversary! We went back to one of our favorite places, Santa Fe, New Mexico. We went there on part one of our honeymoon and have wanted to go back for a long time.

One of the things we enjoy doing most is taking a long road trip. We find places to stop and hike around and enjoy the long journey to our destination. On our way home from Santa Fe we made three stops and the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona was one of them.

I had been to the park before when I was in high school. It stands out in my memory as one of the most interesting and beautiful landscapes I have ever seen. The first time I drove through was during a summer rainstorm and it made the colors of the desert even more vibrant and beautiful. Our adventure was on a bright and sunny day this time and it was still beautiful.

One of the things that strikes me the most is how ancient the things I am looking at are. The petrified wood formed millions of years ago and can still be observed at the park.

This is a petrified tree that is still preserved in the park.

We only spent about an hour in the park as we were driving home. We stopped at Tawa Point and did a short 2 mile walk along the badlands landscape which was beautiful.

Tawa Point Hike

We drove through the rest of the park. There are two entrances and we entered in the east entrance and exited the west entrance near Holbrook. Traveling this way provided a wonderful scenic drive on our way home and I would recommend this strategy if you are stopping by on a drive on the 40. We enjoyed driving through the park with our windows down and rocking out a little too hard to “Free Bird.” It felt like the right thing to do on a perfect Arizona afternoon.

Tawa Point hike

Check out the Petrified Forest National Park webpage for more information!


Hello there and welcome to the home of our travels and joys, Sweet Vistas!

Throughout my life I have found joy in writing and sharing my stories. In fact, I have been blogging on and off for the last nine years and continually come back to the idea of Sweet Vistas. It is a simple idea really. A place where I can share our travels and joys. Since moving back to Arizona for graduate school in 2015 I have fallen in love with the natural beauty that surrounds me on a regular basis. Coming to this space every now and then gives me the opportunity to share that beauty with you and allows me to save memories that my family makes as well.

As I mentioned I live in northern Arizona and enjoy the diverse scenery that this part of the country has to offer. We are so fortunate to live in a place that we love and that brings us so much joy. Almost every day after work we take Penny out for walk among the red rocks and soak in the sunshine.

Not only do we enjoy our local surroundings but we enjoy living “van life” without the van. We take our CRV out quite often on dirt roads it was not designed for and enjoy finding a trail that is a bit off the beaten path and away from big crowds.

So who the heck am I?

I am Erica! I work full time in online education and did so before the pandemic! I promise that not all online learning is the worst, it can actually be a wonderful community of learners if done well. I enjoy the outdoors, working out often, a good book or story, a good tea drink, garden grown veggies, and big ol’ peanut butter cookies!

Since spending more time outside I have found that my life has been enriched. My mind can quiet down, I can breath clean air, I am surround by natural wonder.

So what you can expect from this website?

Things that we enjoy about the southwest.

Beautiful photos.

Hikes that we enjoy.

Road trip tips

Vegan/Vegetarian food tips.

Arizona gardening attempts.

Amazing photos of the wild cavapoo that lives with us.

People who love nature and hope to see it thrive in the future.

And other things that I think of as we go!