Utah! 3 days, 5 national parks. A road trip.

Utah!  Oh, Utah.  I feel like writing you a love song.  Or maybe a sonnet.  I have been filled up to overflowing with your beauty and I want to show everyone! I want to stick it right up in their faces and rub their noses in it and make them appreciate it and crave it and inspire them to go experience it.

I went on a road trip this weekend.  The world’s most lovely road trip and I don’t even know how to write about it because undoubtedly the words will come out wrong and fall short (but I guess that always is the writers task, no?)  We all know that vacation recap posts are the most boring of all blog posts so I’m going to try to make it seem as least recappy as possible and just dump the photos at the end.  deal?  ok.

My love and I visited all 5 of Utah’s National Parks in 3 days.  Go ahead, I’ll wait while you swoon.  Surely, I can’t be the only one who swoons over that kind of thing?

Let me break it down for you.

We left our baby with a grandma and started driving.  There was lots of driving.  Not the “are we there yet?” kind of driving, but the “I don’t even care where we’re going because this is beautiful” kind of driving.  There was music (oh, the music!  I love you spotify) and much singing, many a throwback, an Alanis Morissette education hour (for Tanner’s benefit of course) and let me just take a moment to make fun of Tanner for loving Katie Perry.  done.  Cinnamon bears, sour patch kids, sun chips, sandwiches.

First stop was Zions National Park –where the red rock grows like weeds.   First hike on the agenda:  angels landing.  Enough said, if you’ve never gone, go!

Bryce Canyon National Park–where it’s quiet.  So quiet.  Like a hush has settled over all of its visitors in respect for its splendor.  We hiked down Navajo loop at sunset and had the whole place to ourselves.  We stopped and sat and the silence was pressing and full–something my ears are sadly so unaccustomed to.  It felt as if I shouldn’t make even the smallest sound–that if I scratched my itch, sipped my water, or adjusted my footing, it would be an unforgivable disturbance of the perfect quiet.

We spent the night.  Had dinners wrapped in foil and cooked slowly over a fire we built ourselves.  Sat in folding chairs, ate too many s’mores, worried we didn’t bring enough bedding to keep us warm (every camping trip right?) brushed our teeth by a bush with a water bottle, slept in a tent.   Mmm, camping.

More driving–through some of the wildest and most remote areas in the United States, the last area in the 48 contiguous states to be mapped.   Tumbleweed, scenic lookouts, and a stop in Torey for a panini and the most wonderful apricot pear peach smoothie.  Capitol Reef National Park, land of more red rock.  Oh the red rocks!  I just. . . i just. . . there just aren’t any words.  Cassidy Arch, Grand Wash.  I could spend a month here alone.  So many hikes on the hiking guide that we didn’t have time for.  And there is the most adorable of all adorable campgrounds in/surrounded by fruit orchards (fruta) where I should like to pass many an afternoon.

But alas, onward!

Through mars.  Seriously.  The most desolate place we’ve ever seen in our lives.  We’d pass a random house or two, or the teeniest of tiny towns followed by many exclamations of “people actually live here??”   We needed snacks and stopped. . . in Hanksville.  Population 200.  200!!  I think I have that many cousins.  Guys, I could dedicate an entire lengthy blog post to Hanksville.  It would contain far more WTF??’s than you’ve ever seen me type in all my blogging days.   We stopped at their only grocery store and the whole thing was smaller than the makeup section at Target.     There were only 7 (10 foot long) aisles and let me tell you, slim pickings.  We asked the lady at the checkout with as much tact as we could muster “why do you live here?”  and the look on her face said to me “I ask myself that every day.”  We spent the next 50 miles marveling and speculating on what such a life would be like (I don’t want to know) and feeling more and more like we’d really like to see some civilization soon.

Which brings me to the most disappointing of all the national parks:  Canyonlands.  I’m sure it’s beautiful and all, we just didn’t get to see it, as it was dark by the time we drove about 25 miles down a road out of our way to get to it, just to be greeted by a “campground full” sign.   Curses!  Lots of curses!  Our plans to wake up on the island in the sky had been foiled.  We backtracked to a campground we’d passed a few miles back. . . full.   Another one. . . . full.  (And since it’s a national  park, camping anywhere but designated areas isn’t allowed) Deeply disappointed and sooo tired we concluded that maybe our only option was to drive into Moab and spend the night in a hotel.  Finding a vacant campsite along the river would be too tricky in the dark.  So, I call the Motel 6 and talk to Sharisse who all but laughs and me and says “dear, we’re full.  The whole town is full.  There’s a car show this weekend.”  D’Oh!

We drove through Moab anyway (cursing all the car shows attendees), hoping, hoping, wondering what the heck else we’re supposed to do. Passing “No Vacancy”  after “No Vacancy” sign.  One that just said “NO”.  Another:  “sorry, no vacancy”  (at least they felt bad about it) Finally, we were resigned to our fate:  we slept in the back of our car in the parking lot of the Archway Inn.

Yes, we did.  Not our finest moment.

We gathered up what was left of our pride, drove up into Arches National Park, and then threw it all away (our pride, that is)  grilling indian spiced skewers for breakfast at a picnic stop at 9:00 in the A.M.  The skewers that were supposed to be our dinner the night before if we had been able to find a campsite with a grill.  As we were stringing our raw dripping meat onto wire hangers, our fingers dripping with marinate, looking and smelling like we hadn’t showered in a few days, a nice-looking older (and foreign) couple pulls up in their RV.  They get out, set out some perfectly adorable place mats with their toast, spreads, and washed berries in a tupperware container.  I’m one million percent positive they were horrified by the barbaric scene we were making, but ooooh man those skewers were good.  (Our Best Bites, surprise surprise, page 150.  Highly recommended)

We hiked parts of Devils Garden and then to the iconic Delicate Arch.  I shamelessly hugged me some red rock like it was hug-a-tree day in the forest.  We made fun of a lot of ridiculous Aisian tourists (you know you do it too).  Tanner had this moment when we rounded the bend and he saw the Delicate Arch for the first time and it was cool to share that with him.  It’s just one of those things that is better in real life than it is on the license plate, you know?  We saw a girl get proposed to under the arch–gotta love that.

And then we came home.  And now that it’s all over and we’re back to our hard-work-requiring lives, we’re wondering a little bit why on earth we didn’t go somewhere relaxing and stay in a hotel and lay by a pool somewhere all weekend?  But we didn’t, because that’s not really how we do things, and I wouldn’t trade that trip for the world.  It filled me up with all of the things I want to be full of.  It’s so refreshing to not put on makeup, to let my hair run wild, to wear what I wore yesterday.  It feels so good to sleep outside, eat food cooked over a fire, breathe fresh air, sing loudly, be where no one else is, reach peaks, behold gorgeous vistas.  Words cannot express how beautiful this state is that I live in.  I sort of want to go off on a lecture about how not enough people living here go and experience these beautiful places (it particularly saddens me when college students live here for 4-5 yrs and never once visit our national parks) even though thousands of people travel from all over the entire world to come here. . . but I will refrain.  And just encourage you to go do it the soonest chance you can.

happy road tripping!

*sorry for the billions of pictures, I couldn’t help myself.  Also, just pretend that Tanner changed his shirt at least once.  You’ll have to just pretend. . .*


IMG_3654 IMG_3661 IMG_3665 IMG_3666IMG_3653 IMG_3668 IMG_3669sometimes you learn things on road trips, like that your spouse is quite afraid of heights.  Just a thousand and a half foot drop off on either side of your 2-ft wide trail, no big deal.
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5 thoughts on “Utah! 3 days, 5 national parks. A road trip.

  1. Kelsey says:

    I have to laugh, Because we went on a small trip too. But instead of viewing Gods beautiful creations I saw the opposite in the city of sin. My happiness came from pool laying, dining, and shopping. But I admire you two and wish I loved camping and hiking that much it looks and sounds like so much fun!

    • ya, I did pack all of those sandwiches, in such an imprudent, rookie way that half of them got soaked by melted ice in the cooler and had to be thrown away. so annoying!

  2. Lyndi says:

    This trip looks so fun! Dana you’re a total babe in every single picture. Glad you had such a good time. 🙂

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