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rocks on rocks on rocks

Red, orange, pink, white, brown, grey, black, green—oh my!

On the morning of October 1—with five girls and ten XL suitcases shoved into our gold Dodge Caravan, courage in our hearts, and “Home Means Nevada” on our back bumper—we kissed our San Diego humble abode goodbye and embarked on our nine-hour drive to the infamous Williams, Arizona (population: 3,200).

Grand Canyon

Bruce Springsteen screeches “Born in the USA” through Emmie’s iPhone 6 at 4:30 AM. By 4:45 AM, the moon still watching over us wrapped in its black blanket, we were on the road to the first item on every American’s bucket list.

I will say, our timing was impeccable. Starting the 13-mile Bright Angels Trail by 6:15 AM, we got to take in the canvas in two separate lights: a cool palette of blueberry-plum on the way down, a warm clementine-strawberry on the way up. Lighting aside, the Grand Canyon looks photo shopped. As if I could reach out and grab the infinite expanse of notoriously red and imposing peaks, a spitting image of my newly-purchased tourist poster from the local gift shop.

Tumbleweed, Arizona

Considering each Arizona town has the option of whether or not to buy into daylight savings, our concept of time was rather warped these five days. We pulled over to grab Subway for what we thought was “lunch,” but turns out it was actually 5:30 PM, and I was munching a $5 footlong for Linner. Thank god for Lily’s parents punishing her with a Sprint plan though, as she had full bars all the way from Grand Canyon to Zion while the rest of us went hours with no service.


Upon Emmie’s asking me which national park was my favorite, I responded: “If every other park is my friend, Zion is my boyfriend.”

Trying to curb your caffeine addiction? Try Angel’s Landing, the ultimate espresso shot. Terrifying yet empowering, physically but even more mentally taxing, this hike should instead be labeled a “journey.” Never had I considered every step, every movement, with such concentration. Never had I felt more euphoric having traveled a total of 2.5 miles. It would be a shame to try to do the landscape justice with some thesaurus adjectives on a black and white page, so I’ll leave it to you to fall in love with my “boyfriend” on your next Utah family vacation.

Bryce Canyon

The Fairyland Loop Trail would mark our last hike of the roady. Pretty much a massively enlarged version of those drip-drop sandcastles kids make at the beach by dribbling wet sand between their fingers. Except not the brown-gray shade, but a magnificent orange sherbet ombré. A warm note to end our five-day journey, one fueled exclusively by yellow Gatorade, Monster trail mix, and Uncrustables™.

Arriving in Park City just before midnight, we camped out for a week, it snowed (?), I naturally bought a cowboy hat, and somehow, I find myself now on a rooftop deck in Nashville sipping sweet southern tea and recapping a road trip that feels like a lifetime ago. We’ll see where COVID takes me next, and in the meantime, is it so wicked to say... thanks for giving me the nomadic semester I never would have gotten otherwise.

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