It was one of those trips that didn't come together until the last-minute, yet I knew I'd do anything to make it happen. Marjan first approached me about road tripping out to visit Parker in Utah months ago, hoping to bring our 3 kindred spirits together before she takes off to get her Masters in documentary filmmaking at NYU.
I'm probably going to cry my eyes out when we say goodbye, but can't wait for her to experience this next phase of her life. This chick and I go way back to kindergarten, and we brought Parker into the mix the first week of 6th grade. Our friendships have only grown since then, and we always joke that we're the kindred spirits that decided to leave our little Minnesota hometown. From Wisconsin to Santa Barbara and Chicago to Thailand, we've always made an effort to see one another wherever we may be. But this is the first trip that brought all 3 of us to the same place in almost a decade.
With Parker living in Park City, it just made sense to make a trip out of visiting Southern Utah's most impressive parks. And naturally, we had to bring our nearest and dearest along with us. It meant the world to me that Roman got to come on this trip, along with Parker's girlfriend Libby and Marjan's best friend Stanley. Here's how it all went down:
Friday, June 23 – Drive from Los Angeles to Park City*
Saturday, June 24 – Park City, including Juniper Peak/Guardsman Pass Hike
Sunday, June 25 – Salt Lake City stop & Bonanza Campout**
Monday, June 26 – Drive to Arches with stop at Fifth Water Hot Springs; Camping @ Hunters Canyon
Tuesday, June 27 – Arches National Park; Ken’s Lake; Camping @ Hunters Canyon
Friday, June 30 – Drive to Zion National Park; Hiking The Narrows; Camping off Kolob Terrace Road
Saturday, July 1 – Hiking Angel’s Landing; Kolob Resevoir; Camping off Kolob Terrace Road
Sunday, July 2 – Drive back to LA
* This wasn't exactly our original route. After our AC broke down an hour into the road trip, we ditched our initial plan to spend the night in Death Valley. 127 degrees with no air conditioning? No thank you. Instead, we took turns driving through the night to avoid the sun and reached Parker and Libby's house by 4 in the morning. Sometimes you just gotta roll with the punches.
** Kicking off the trip with a music festival was one of the best decisions we could have made. It was such a bonding experience to be there together, and we had so many tender moments (#tendermos) reminiscing on our childhood and acknowledging how special it is that we’re all still so close after all these years.
As you can see, we didn't have the chance to hit all of Utah's Mighty 5 on this trip, but I'm honestly glad that we didn't. It would've been way too much. Sure, you can do it, but our approach to take it slow made it so much more enjoyable. As Parker put it, we have a lifetime to explore these places. No need to kill ourselves to fit them all in just for the satisfaction to say that we’ve been there. You do get to see all the parks on the drive, and it's enough to set the gears in motion to plan a second trip.
Every day was jam-packed with adventure, but here are a few of my favorite memories from the trip:
- Getting down to Method Man and Redman at Bonanza and watching the fireworks explode overhead during Odesza
- Making the claustrophobic climb up the Indian Ladder at Moonflower Canyon to take in sweeping views of the Colorado River below
- Day trippin' in the Valley of the Goblins
- Falling asleep under the Milky Way at Little Wild Horse Canyon
- Apricot picking at the Capital Reef National Park Visitor Center
- Seeking out every water reservoir we could find after days hiking in 100+ degree heat
- Finally realizing we'd gotten the hang of the whole camping thing when we passed up the chance to shower and made our best campfire meal of the week
I'll be going more in-depth about our visits to each park in the days to come, but for now you can check out the epic video Roman made to sum up the trip! It was hard to fit everything into an 8-minute video, but I definitely think he captured a lot of the magic. Hope you enjoy it! :)