When my friend Sachi invited myself, and our friend Ashley to come to Utah and hang out with her family for a weekend, I jumped at the chance. A weekend away with my favorite ladies was just what I needed. I mean who wouldn’t want to get out of rainy, cold Washington, and head to some of the most beautiful National Parks in the country. Plus there was the lure of packing a bag without pull-up’s and toy trucks.
Our journey started with a 3am wake up call in order to board our 7am flight. You know the weekend is off to a great start when your travel companion and yourself can “watch” in-flight movies with no sound, and recite every scene, word for word to each other.
After landing in Utah, we hopped in Sachi’s truck and headed straight for the desert. Well, after stopping for snacks. No road trip, no matter how long or short, is complete with out an arsenal of chips, chocolate and Swedish fish. Turning up the music, and merging onto the hi way, we were all set for a weekend in the sun.
This was my first trip to any of the National Parks in Utah, and I was so excited to explore some of the beautiful places I had researched. But no research or instagram posts could have prepared me for just how breathtaking it truly was.
Growing up in Southern California, I have fond memories of camping in the desert, and exploring dirt covered rocks, but this was new. The red canyons, winding blue-green river, and a backdrop of mountains all made for a magical experience. Stopping first at Canyonlands National Park, I was immediately awe stuck with everything around me. Deep red canyons, painted with streaks of black, purples and greens, dotted with cottonwood trees and endless views stretching far into the horizon. There was ample opportunity for play and exploration.
Our next day in the sun was chock full of adventure plans. Rising ridiculously early for a weekend without my kids, Sachi’s sweet husband delivered us coffee and breakfast right to the tent. This was definitely the way to start off a fun filled day. Finishing off my delicious steaming cup of joe, I rose and prepared for a day of classic tourist sightseeing.
Driving towards our destination, I was immediately caught breathless as the high red rocks surrounded us at the entrance to Arches National Park. I had seen many images all over social media, and visitor websites, but the deep burnt oranges against the bright blue sky had me immediately wishing we had more than a day to explore the vibrant playground. With only so much time we decided to head for one of the most famous sights in the park, along with what seemed, everyone else.
The trail that led to the Delicate Arch was littered with people. They quite literally looked like ants marching up a hill. But what awaited me at the top was well worth the climb.
Nothing could quite prepare me for the giant wonder that stood before me. I understood now why so many people would hike in the heat of day just to snap a few shots.
After relaxing for a bit in a rare quiet, shady spot, we headed back down to prepare for the evenings festivities. Originally Sachi had asked Ash to fly out and shoot family photos. It’s quite a privilege to have such a talented friend. And even more, to be able to tag along and take part. The evening that followed was ridiculously fun. So much laughter and shenanigans should not be allowed in one evening.
We sat around the fire laughing and sharing so many stories. Of dreams come and gone, of the friendships we have made, and goals we will achieve. Stumbling to our tents, still full of laughter, we snuggled up to prepare for another early morning. Our final day in Utah held the biggest adventure yet.
As the alarm rang at 5am on Sunday morning, I slowly stretched my tired legs, and climbed from cozy sleeping bag. The sun was just beginning to rise over the desert floor as I put my feet on the dusty earth. Looking back I wish I had taken longer to soak it all in. This beauty surrounding me had quickly grabbed my heart, but I needed to get ready for adventure, and a cup of coffee was calling my name.
The sun continued to rise as we made our way down the road, winding past Arches NP, and through Moab. Our conversations from the night before still lingering, and bringing laughter to the drive. Just an hour past Moab, we turned onto a dirt road, and made our way towards a grand adventure. I truly had no idea what I was about to partake in, but it has become one of the sweetest adventures I’ve ever had.
Arriving at our destination, we quickly got ourselves ready to climb. My beautiful friend Justine had joined our trip, and was leading me on a 3 pitch climb. After climbing the red sandstone, we took some time to enjoy the feeling of standing on top of the world. I was surprised by how cool the rock felt under my feet while baking in the sun. It felt so good to remove my tight climbing shoes and wiggle my toes. We waited for a group in front of us to rappel down, then followed, and set up the best part of the day. An epic swing, hanging from the arch of rock we just climbed. Pictures just do not do the experience justice. I can still feel the high from flying above the earth, and feeling absolutely free.
As I drove back to the airport late Sunday afternoon, I took in the landscapes, sang out loud, and thought of how thankful I was to have this opportunity. Not only am I thankful for the opportunity to travel to beautiful places, or the friends that I get to explore with along the way, but that I have those in my life that support my need for adventure. Sometimes I still ask myself “Is this real life?”, but can answer with a resounding “YES”!
Thank you to the always amazing Ashley Schieder for contributing her beautiful art to this post. You can follow her here.