I miss the wide open spaces. It’s been over two years since we first headed out on the road with no set destination on a three-week trip around the west. The last stretch of our trip was a drive through Utah, a goldmine for national parks. There are several notable parks in Utah but we made it to some of the best on the way home.
I first went to Arches National Park in a Cruise America RV, rented for the sole purpose of getting a few friends together and having a once in a lifetime spring break. I still remember vividly driving into the park the first time; the towering sandstone figures dotting the wide open space; the sun setting as we returned from a hike up to Devils Garden; the RV parked in the nearby campground. It was surreal and perfect, at least in memory. I’ve never had quite the same feeling even after visiting many other beautiful national parks but it doesn’t devalue the experience each and every time I have an opportunity to visit Arches.
This time we finally took the time to hike up to Delicate Arch, one of the most famous arches in the park, and it certainly was worth it; why I hadn’t hiked it before now, I couldn’t say.
If you visit Arches, it’s also worth taking the time to drive over to Canyonlands on a clear day and get lost in the space. While I have yet to drive the White Rim Road, it’s on the list and it’s easy to understand why, by gazing down into the rugged wild canyon. It’s the essence of freedom without risking too much. Last time I was in Canyonlands, it was on the brink of winter, and while it was a unique way to view the park, it wasn’t until this trip that it was possible to really understand the vastness of the canyons below. A short hike up to Mesa Arch is a great cap to the day.
Our last stop on our way home was Bonneville Salt Flats. Again, it’s another eery alien like site; sheer white cascading across as far as you can see; white crusty powder sticking to your shoes.
Veni, vidi, vici. I came, I saw, I conquered – so true in an abstract sense. While I will never own or conquer the places we travel to, the places always end up owning a little piece of me each time I visit. Old or new; it doesn’t matter – the places latch on and don’t let go. Now after working for a few years, I remember the liberty of the road and it’s hard to not crave it. I miss the canyons of Utah, the peaks of Yosemite, the California coast and the Joshua trees. It’s a country full of special treasures, and while the world around us changes, hopefully these remarkable places always stay the same.