I headed off to one of the most beautiful places on earth, the canyons of Southern Utah. I’m originally from New York City, but I had lived in Salt Lake City for a number of years, so I was so excited to head back that way. Unfortunately, my excellent adventure did not start off so excellently. It started with me waving goodbye from a window at the Tampa airport as my flight rolled away from the gate. Total sadness.
Hours later, when I finally got on an airplane, I was routed from Tampa to Baltimore to Pheonix to Salt Lake City. And it only took me 14 hours to get there. How awesome is that!
But at least I got there. And I was so happy to be in a place that felt like home. It’s a place that’s not only beautiful, but also a place that brings me a sense peace which comes from the enduring friendships I developed while living there.
So before going on about my big adventure, I’m gonna take a moment to tell ya about a couple of people from Salt Lake that I am lucky to call my friends.They are two of the most awesome, kindest, smartest, unpretentious, thoughtful people in the entire universe and also some of the most interesting folks ever. Let’s call them Peggy and Cindy, because, well, those are their names and they are two people that I love dearly.
Cindy is brilliant. She’s a graduate of Johns Hopkins Medical School and she’s dedicated her life to helping others. Cindy founded The Fatigue Consultation Clinic in Salt Lake City. Her work there is a labor of love dedicated to her sister who suffered from chronic fatigue for many years. She also co-founded OFFER (The Organization for Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Education and Research), which specializes in advancing the treatment of chronic fatigue and fibromalasia. Many of the people who suffer from these conditions are unable to work due to the severity of their illness, so Cindy often treats patients with little to no compensation. With such a giving heart, the knowledge that she is positively affecting the quality of life of others is what drives her everyday to do what she does. She has a beautiful heart and a beautiful mind.
Peggy is Cindy’s spouse. Yes, same sex marriage is now legal in Utah! …and you can thank Peggy for that. More about that in a moment. But first, I met Peggy straight out of college. She was my very first client back in the day when I was a strength coach. She immediately took this naive kid under her wing and became my surrogate mom who supported me in every endeavor, through the best and worst of times. She gave me her shoulder when I needed it and, at times, while I put A LOT of weight on that shoulder and she never flinched. Peggy completely opened her heart and home to me. She is one tough cookie on the outside, with the warmest heart on the inside and I’m very blessed to have her in my life.
…But not only is Peggy a beautiful person, she is one of the most brilliant people on the face of the earth, one of the top attorneys in the country and I am so proud to say that my surrogate mom is THE attorney who drove the litigation that led to the approval of same sex marriage not only Utah, but in 37 states!!! Whoa! I mean how cool is that! I mean really, how cool, amazing, incredible, awesome is that!!! And it is such a fascinating story.
I spent my first evening in Salt Lake with my surrogate moms, along with a few other wonderful/amazing/awesome friends and I could honestly say that it was THE BEST DAY of my entire year! And even though it’s been years since we’ve seen each other, it felt like it was only yesterday. There is simply something about being with people who really care about you that brings back one’s sense of peace and the feeling of coming home. So it wasn’t an airplane that brought me home. It’s my friends that brought me home. So thanks guys. I love you much!
From here, my excellent adventure continues with my buddy, Mary, who flew in from Chicago to head off on what I had dubbed our Thelma and Louise road trip. I had, however, set a few ground rules.
We may not do this…
But if the opportunity arose, we are absolutely bound to do this…
…I mean, wouldn’t you?
On Mary’s first evening in Utah, we celebrated my birthday!
I just turned 29…. again.
We had dinner at my favorite Indian restaurant in the entire country. And I’m serious when I say the entire country. I’ve eaten Indian at some pretty awesome places in NYC, Chicago, San Francisco, Austin, and more. And my favorite Indian restaurant is still Bombay House in Salt Lake City.
And it’s now at the top of Mary’s list too. The woman nearly melted after taking her first bite. No kidding.
The next morning we packed up the car and headed off on our road trip.
Did I mention that my little one came along for the ride? That’s Lily in her little car seat. Yes, her car seat is always a must for driving.
I took the wheel for the first leg of the trip and shockingly (not really), I missed our turn off so we had to detour through some little bumpkin town. But at least we got to see Famous Mom’s Cafe!
So here’s a warning for any future would-be co-road-trippers: I am not directionally inclined and anyone who dares trust me with getting them from point A to point B is, well, probably screwed.
But we did eventually make it to Moab. And ain’t it perdy!
First stop was Arches National Park with all it’s crazy-awesome natural rock formations.
Can you believe that these formations were created by water wearing away at the surface of the sandstone?
I guess it took a few years to do that, don’t ya think?
This is the famous “Balanced Rock” formation…
And they call these fins…
…because, well, they look like fins.
And here’s Landscape Arch…
Our first trek was The Devil’s Garden hike.
The hike is considered difficult because there’s a lot of scrambling up and down some pretty slick rock faces. And at one point you have to traverse one of the narrow fins.
The trail route is marked with little piles of rocks called cairns.
There are also lots of little side trails off the main trail for the more adventurous.
Yes, Lily came hiking in her little sling carrier.
Since it was our first hike, we had only planned on doing about the first 3.5 miles. But things don’t always turn out as planned. Right about the time the sun was setting and we thought we were almost back at the trailhead, we saw this…
That’s when we knew something wasn’t quite right.
We pulled out the map and it turned out that we were at the Dark Angel formation which just happens to be the very furthest point on the trail from the trail head. Oh, and did I say it was getting dark??
Apparently, we had missed a turn off (see what I mean when I say not to trust me with directions!) and had headed off on a side trail to our dark angel. Did I say it was getting dark and we were on a “primitive trail” marked only by little piles of rocks that we apparently couldn’t even follow in the day light! And now we had about 3 more miles to go to find our way out… and it was getting dark!
So with the last bit of light we hauled ass and did our best to follow the “right” sets of little piles of rocks. We did have to back track a few times, and there was a bit of finger crossing… and perhaps some swearing. Perhaps.
By the time we made it back to the trailhead, it was pretty dark and there was only one car left in the parking lot (ours). Our 3 mile hike turned into 7.2 miles and we were starving! So off to dinner and a good nights rest.
The next day before heading off on the second leg of our trip, we spent a little more time at Arches, then found these AMAZING dinosaur tracks just west of Moab.
Check out how big they are next to Lily!
It had rained overnight, so the tracks had filled with mud. We dug some of the mud out of one of the tracks and was able to get a really good look at the detail of the three-toed tracks. So cool!
From there we headed west.
We drove through Capital Reef National Park and checked out some of the ancient petroglyphs carved into the rocks.
How cool is that!
Here’s a close up…
The Fluted Wall at Capital Reef…
After Capital Reef, we continued west to Escalante where we stopped for one of my all time favorite hikes: Upper Calf Creek. It’s a pretty short hike, only about 2.5 miles round trip, but what I love about it is that the hike starts out descending this giant dry dessert sandstone field….
…and it takes you to someplace completely unexpected.
You descend down and turn a corner and you’re suddenly transported from a dry, barren rock dessert to a lush green hidden oasis with an amazing waterfall that drops down into a gorgeous pool of water.
It was still a little too cool for swimming, but I still had to dip my toes in the cool water of my little hidden oasis.
The next big stop on our adventure was Zion National Park, where we hiked The Narrows. The Narrows is the narrowest section of Zion Canyon with thousand foot rock walls on either side of you. The Virgin River runs through the narrows so there are large sections of the hike where you are wading waist deep in water.
We suited up for the hike with some rental equipment from Zion Adventure, which is located on the way to the park entrance.
The staff was super friendly and very helpful. They suited us up with everything we needed, including dry pants (to keep the water out, obviously), fleece, neoprene booties, boots, a walking stick, back pack, and dry bag.
At this time of year, the water was close to 40 degrees, so the dry pants came in pretty handy. Although, the fleece ended up getting packed away.
The hike starts out on a mile long paved River Walk. After that, you’re in the water a lot of the time.
The Narrows was by far the best part of the trip for me. It is simply beyond beautiful and incredibly magnificent and I can’t wait to do it again!
For the final part of our adventure we headed to Bryce Canyon National Park. But on the drive to the park we had a completely different kind of adventure.
On the drive to Bryce, while going 80-ish miles per hour (the speed limit is 80), a semi truck’s tire had peeled off on the highway and came straight at us. It all happened so fast and luckily I was able to keep the car in control as we ran over the peeled off tire. We were fine, but the rental car took a bit of a beating.
The bumper was kinda messed up and that big heavy plastic under carriage guard thingy under the car had broken off.
Luckily I had some Gorilla tape in the trunk…
Sorta… Well, at least till we could get the car here…
Anyway, that was a waste of a morning, but we did eventually get on our way.
On the way to Bryce we stopped at Red Canyon…
They call it Red Canyon, because, well, it’s red-ish. The rock color comes from oxidized iron in the limestone. In other words, it’s rusty. But it sure makes for some beautiful scenery.
We also got to drive through a couple of these rock tunnels!
Now that’s cool!
Then we finally made it to Bryce…
Now that’s a post card picture if I ever saw one.
And aren’t those some crazy formations, or what?
They call them hoodoos.
We did a hike down into the hoodoos. This was by far Mary’s favorite part of the trip. It’s definitely beautiful, but for me nothing beats Zion.
They call this The Wall of Windows…
Check out the horses. They do trail rides through the canyons.
On the drive out of the park, herds of deer were feeding right along the roadside. You could literally reach out your car window and touch them.
From there we headed back up to Salt Lake the next day for our flights home.
I had as much luck on my flights home as I did on my flights in. My outbound flight got delayed to the point where I was going to miss my connecting flight. So they had to reschedule me for the next morning.
If I was any place else besides Salt Lake, I probably would have been pretty pissed off, especially since they don’t offer accommodations for weather delays. However, for me, this was good fortune. I was actually thrilled to spend another evening with my other moms, Peggy and Cindy. And we had the best evening.
Since my trip, I have pretty much made up my mind that when I no longer have the responsibilities I have here in Florida with my parents (which will be the saddest day of my life!), I’ll be settling back in Utah. Although, this time I’ll be in Southern Utah because the warm Florida weather has spoiled me to the point where going to a place with a cold winter just seems miserable.
So thanks much for joining me on this adventure. I’ve got some fun DIY tutorials I’ll be sharing soon, including how to install a mailbox post (I just got this really pretty locking mailbox that I can’t wait to show ya!) and how to install a new kitchen faucet. But in the meantime, please check out some of my favorite DIY concrete projects!