Started our day at Bryce with a horseback ride. I thought I had booked the ride that goes down into the canyon, but this one just rode along the rim. It was still fun and so relaxing. Horses are so beautiful! I was assigned a white horse called Windy and she was so sweet. I wish I could have taken her home with me. I think I would maybe like to own a horse one day.
It was about 12:30 in the afternoon when we finished our ride and it was super hot! So we decided to go back to the trailer and have lunch. We heated up leftovers and sat outside on the picnic bench. After a little while the wind started kicking up a huge dust storm and then it started to rain which cooled things down a bit.
After the storm, we went back to Bryce. We started by driving to the end of the park and stopping at each of the scenic overlooks on the way back. As you drive through the park all you see is a pine forest. You would never know there is a huge, incredible Canyon to your left unless someone told you (or you stumbled upon it... hopefully not down it)!
At each overlook the hoodoos got more & more amazing! Until we finally reached the amphitheater at Sunset Point, which is definitely the crowning jewel of Bryce National Park. There we did the Navajo Loop trail which was a steep 1.3 mile hike (down via Wall Street & up via Two Bridges).
The Indians say that the hoodoos “stand as the men they were before ‘Coyote’ turned them into rocks.” I can see why they would think that because a lot of them definitely have personalities. It was fun to try and figure out what they looked like, just like you do with clouds.
Checked out of Ruby’s Campground. We had a four hour drive to Moab ahead of us, so we stopped by Wanderlust Coffee one more time before heading out of the area to get some (people) fuel for the road. This time I tried their coffee (it was really good) and something called a “kolache” which is a Czechoslovakian thing that is popular in Texas. It was a soft bread stuffed with egg, cream cheese, bacon, and jalapeños. Super yummy!
Two hours into our drive we made a pit stop at Capitol Reef National Park. After popping into the visitor center we drove a little ways down the road to check out the Gifford House. We had heard they sold yummy little pies so we planned to get some and have a picnic in the grassy lawn, but they were all sold out. (It was about 3:00pm when we got there.)
We noticed a group of deer sitting under a tree only about 50 feet from where people were sitting having picnics! They were so beautiful... it look like something out of a dream or a little bit of heaven on earth.
Next we drove another few minutes down the road to check out the “Fremont Petroglyphs.” It was pretty cool to see something so ancient. Whoever drew those images must have been tripping on peyote of something because they sure are strange!
Then we jumped back on Hwy 191 where we drove for miles & miles on a wide open road towards Moab. Something that amazes me about this southwestern desert landscape is how much it varies. One moment you’ll have these big, towering, red rock mountains. The next moment you’ll have what looks like multi-colored sand castles. Then flat, sandy land as far as your eye can see! It’s ever changing and never boring. I feel like you could explore this area your whole life and always see something new. The landscape even changes with the time of day... the same place can look completely different in the morning light, than what it does in the afternoon and evening. It’s magical!
After about 6 hours (a four hour drive, plus our stop in Capitol Reef) we finally made it to Moab!
We were hungry, so we dropped the trailer and headed into town. Found this place called Hidden Cuisine which had some interesting African dishes on their menu. They had a nice outdoor patio where we could sit and watch the sun set over the mountains while we ate. Even got to see a rainbow!
Our waitress recommended a place called Spitfire where we could go hang out for a bit after dinner. It had a cool, laidback atmosphere. We ordered a pitcher of their local Wasatch Brewery seasonal Apricot beer and played board games and pool. It was a fun night!
We drove past Arches in the morning and we noticed the line to get into the park was still pretty long. So we decided to just go into town for breakfast and try the park again later in the day.
In town we found this place called Jailhouse Cafe which called itself “Moab’s breakfast place.” While we waited for a table, Dawn & I walked over to Moab Coffee Roasters which was about a 3 minute walk up the street. I got a cup of their cold brew which was good enough to drink without any sweetener. Breakfast was good too. I got a multigrain waffle with fruit & walnuts and a side of scrambled eggs. The restaurant got its name from the fact that the building used to be the town courthouse/jail. The room where they held the prisoners awaiting trial is still there!
After breakfast we stopped into a couple shops and the visitor center. I asked them about the hike to Delicate Arch and they advised to wait until about 6pm to do it. On the way home we drove through Arches just to get a lay of the land. We stopped to see Balanced Rock since it was just off the road. Then we went home for a quick nap.
At about 5:30 we headed back over to Arches all geared up to do the 3 mile round trip hike. It was still hot, but really windy, so that helped. The hike up was very steep and I had to stop a couple times to rest, but Jimbo ran up most of the way!
We stopped to see the Petroglyphs. These were done by the Ute people around 1600 AD. Next, we came across a small “window” and climbed up to get a better look. To our surprise you could see Delicate Arch through it! It was so big and incredibly beautiful, especially in the afternoon sunlight. I know people say it was formed by millions of years of water & wind erosion, but the way those two base rocks are sitting on the earth look just like they were placed there on purpose to me! I can just picture God forming them like a child playing with sand. So amazing to behold God’s handiwork!
This morning we got up before the sun to drive out to Canyonlands, which is only about 30 minutes from Arches. We went to the “Islands in the Sky” district and drove all the way out to Grand Point Vista, which is where we thought Mesa Arch was. Turns out it was in a different location, but glad we got to see the view from Grand Point... it definitely was “grand” and reminded us of the Grand Canyon.
The hike to Mesa Arch was .25 miles, but pretty steep. Made for a good morning workout! When we first saw the arch from far off it looked like someone had lit a fire beneath it because of the way it was glowing orange. But, it was the glow of the sun shining through it... It was really spectacular!
After I snapped a few pictures I realized that it’s the same arch in the picture I found online to create the album cover for this trip (part 1). So cool!
Now we’ve officially done all five of the “Mighty 5” parks! This afternoon we’re heading back to Arches to do another hike, maybe two. Tomorrow we head out of Moab to Salt Lake City.
After a nap we drove into town to have lunch and then wandered into a store called “Moab Gear” which sold all kinds of new & used camping & climbing gear. Jimbo asked one of the guys working there where the locals went climbing, base jumping, wing-suiting, etc. He said there was a place called “Wall Street” just a few miles outside of town where a lot of people did “sport” (with ropes) & “trad” (short for traditional, without ropes, using the cracks in the rocks) climbing. So we headed over there to check it out!
Sure enough, there were several people there pulled off on the side of the road, climbing the face of this huge sheer wall! We parked our truck and jumped out to watch them. It was about 6:00pm and most of them were starting to pack up for the day (they had been there since about 3:00). But, they were super friendly and answered all our questions. They told us about a great place nearby to go “bouldering” (climbing big boulders without gear, except for a “crash pad”). So, we headed over there!
It was starting to get dark, but we (and by “we” I mean mostly Jimbo) managed to climb a few big boulders. There were a few kids visiting from Denver that did some bouldering, so I had fun watching Jimbo climb with them for a while.
We didn’t get back to Arches to do any hikes, but it was fun to discover these climbing spots. Hopefully we’ll be able to get back there and do some more hikes in Arches and some climbing on our way back to Panguitch for the balloon festival.
Drove another four hours from Moab to Salt Lake City. The mountains here are impressive! Different than the red rock mountains to the south. It feels like we’re in some kind of alpine village like Vail, Colorado or Switzerland.
After dropping the trailer we went to check out a place called Pretty Bird for dinner. A family from SLC that we met at Lone Rock recommended it. They only had one thing on the menu: a fried chicken sandwich with pickles, slaw, and a secret sauce. They had a couple sides: Mexican street corn salad (which is what I got) or crinkle cut fries. When you’ve only got one thing on the menu, you know it’s gotta be good! And it was. However, it was huge (Tump voice)! I could hardly get my mouth around it. The breading was really flavorful and the fusion of flavors with the sauce, pickles and slaw were excellent. The corn salad had some black eyed peas (I think) in it, which I wasn’t expecting. But, I liked that it was different. They didn’t have any seating (only a patio, but it was closed). So we had to eat on a street bench. The restaurant was located in downtown SLC so it was a ghost town at 8:00pm. There were several homeless people around, but the city was very clean.
Jimbo found an arcade that was only an 8 minute walk away, so we headed over there to check it out. They had mostly pinball machines and lots of more modern games, but only a couple retro games. So we only hung out there for a little while then jumped back in the truck and headed over to a place called “A bar named Sue.” (Which is a cute play on the Johnny Cash song, “A boy named Sue.” If you’ve never heard it, you should look it up! It’s one of my favorite Johnny Cash songs.) The place had a great vibe and great beer. I had a coffee cream ale that actually tasted like coffee (you can’t always trust the descriptions on some of these beers... they’ll sound amazing, but then they just taste like beer). We played a couple rounds of pool, tried to play ping-pong, and threw some darts, then called it a night!
Today was Dawn’s last day with us and we wanted to send her off with a bang, so we headed over to the Utah Olympic Park. It’s a winter sports park built for the 2002 Olympics. Now they use it as an Olympic training center and they have an “adventure park” that’s open to the public. A $75 gold pass gives you unlimited use of their alpine slide, zip lines, high ropes course, extreme tubing (tubing down their 60m and 90m ski jumps), and a bunch of other things.
It was super fun! I was a chicken, but Dawn & Jimbo went down the slides. I did the high ropes course. It was scary, but I’m so glad I pushed myself out of my comfort zone to do it. If you know me, you know I’m a scaredy cat. But, they say life happens on the other side of your comfort zone, so I’m really trying to push myself to do things I would never do before. I’m tired of sitting on the sidelines watching other people have fun. I pray God will give me courage!
For dinner we went to the Wasatch Brewery. The food was excellent. I tried a flight of their beers. They had a jalapeño beer and a strawberry blond ale that were super interesting. They also had a dark beer called “Polygamy Porter” (we are in Utah) that was very much like the Guinness you get in Ireland (the bottled Guinness you get here in the states is different).
After dinner we walked along the streets of the beautiful little town of Park City. They had a Bansky that they put behind plexiglass. It was cool to see one of his original works in person. I looked for them all over when we were in England and Paris, but wasn’t able to find one.
There was a Sotheby’s real estate office with some of their listings in the window and our minds were blown when we saw the prices of some of the homes in this area. One place was $10.5M! You could probably travel the whole world 100 times for that kind of money. As beautiful as that place was, I rather collect memories & experiences than things. “Travel is the one thing you buy that makes you richer.”
Spent the last few days resting & regrouping. Stayed at Mountain Shadows RV park for a week. It was a nice campground, a little crowded, but quiet and clean. Ww got our laundry done, spent some time planning the next leg of our trip over to California, and most importantly worked on getting a new generator. After a lot of going back & forth with Wen (the generator company), turns out the thing is no longer under warranty. So we went to Lowe’s and bought a Honda 2200i, but it wouldn’t run our A/C. Then, we ran over to Harbor Freight. Literally got there 5 minutes before they closed. But the nice guy there sold us an open box Predator 3500 generator for the price of one of their 2200’s and threw in a 20% discount on top of that! Which was a super blessing! Thank you, Jesus!
However, since it was a used generator we had to change out the oil, which took a lot of time. But, once everything was said & done it worked great! We “Wallydocked” (stayed in a Walmart parking lot) last night and it ran our A/C all night as well as our fridge, and we were even able to run the hairdryer all at the same time!
There are so many things we take for granted when we live in regular homes... water, electricity, the security of having a place to stay. All of these things are not a given when you live this lifestyle. Which may turn a lot of people away, but for me it’s a reminder that we depend on God’s blessings and provision every day for everything and it makes me more grateful for the little things. It’s definitely a learning curve! But, God is using it to help me learn to let go and trust Him more. If you know me, you know what a worry wart I can be. For a long time I have been praying for God to help me change that about myself and have my faith in Him be greater than all my fears. God has used a lot of things in these past few years to grow my faith and this is definitely one of them!
Lastly, got out IN-N-OUT burger fix! Jimbo had never tried it. I had a “double-double with cheese, protein style, animal style.” It was so messy and so good! But, I was in a food coma for the rest of the day. By the way, did you know that IN-N-OUT has Bible verses printed on the bottom of their cups and frenchfry trays? I learned that it was the founder’s brother & daughter that started it as a way to share their faith. On the bottom of the cups is John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son so that no one would perish, but have everlasting life.” And Nahum 1:7 is on the fry tray; “The Lord is good, a strong refuge when trouble comes. He is close to those who trust in him.”
A few blocks from the RV park where we staying when we first arrived in SLC we noticed a hang-glider parked in the grass out in front of a warehouse. Out of curiosity we stopped in to check it out. There we met the guys (and gals) from the Cloud 9 flight school. Turns out they not only teach hang-gliding, but paragliding and paramotoring too. Unfortunately their classes are all booked up until August, but they said we could come out and watch the classes while we were here.
The next morning we got up super early (class is from 6:30-9:30am) and drove up to the Flight Park State Recreation Area which was just a few minutes away from the school. When we first got there, I couldn’t believe my eyes! It was a whole hillside full of people with huge, colorful wings. Some people were on the ground working on getting their wings to stand. It was so cool to watch them try to catch the wind, like a cowboy trying to lasso a wild stallion. You could tell how powerful the wind was; something which was previously invisible, all of a sudden was visible in the way it inflated that wing and pulled the person up and across the ground. Then they steadily and forcefully walked their inflated wing towards the edge of the hill and after standing there for a moment or two, waiting for just the right moment, they took a step off the hill and instead of falling, they were swooped up by the wind and just glided away into the sky! It was mesmerizing... I just stood there for the whole 3 hours watching as each one went through the same ritual. I wanted to do it too!
As you know, I struggle with fear, so normally I would just shy away from doing something scary like that. But, thankfully I really feel like God is answering my prayers for courage because I immediately went and signed up for a tandem flight! I actually couldn’t believe I did it. However, it would be a few days before my flight would actually take place (I signed up on a Wednesday and my flight wasn’t until Saturday). I had plenty of time to talk myself out of it, but instead of giving into the fear, every time it tried to sneak up on me, I would just shift my focus onto God and His Word. “God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind.”
When the day came for my tandem flight, I was a little nervous, but mostly excited. There is a campground at the Flight Park so we stayed there the night before. It was pretty cool to sit and watch the paragliders outside my window while I drank my coffee. Once I had breakfast and got dressed I made my way out there and met my instructor Brian. Thankfully he was a really cool, laidback guy and his relaxed demeanor helped me to stay relaxed. After chatting for a few minutes, he strapped me up in a harness and before I knew it, he had the wing up and we were running towards the cliff’s edge. I didn’t even have time to think about it (which was probably a good thing). Before I knew it we were taking a step off the cliff and in the air!
It was a surreal feeling to be soaring through the air like a bird. At one point we were actually flying alongside a beautiful bright orange and brown falcon. He must have been wondering what kind of bird we were? Haha! Then Brian asked me if I wanted to take the reigns and fly the kite for a few minutes so I could get a feel for what it was like. So I reached up and grabbed hold of the control leads. With his hands over mine, I pulled the chord on the right to go right, left to go left. It was terrifying and thrilling all at the same time! I quickly let him take back over because I realized how hard it is to control that thing. When I was watching them from the ground they made it look so easy. Once I realized all that went into it, I had a whole new level of respect for the sport. I originally thought it was something I might enjoy taking up as a hobby, but quickly realized it wasn’t for me. It’s not as relaxing as it looks, you have to have very heightened senses to pilot one of those things. Nonetheless, I was very happy I did it. Most of all because it was a big step towards overcoming my fears. Who knows, I may just jump out of a plane one day!
After my tandem flight, we headed an hour northwest to the Utah Motorsports Complex. Once we got there we set up camp and took a nap. Later that evening we were going to an event there called “Night Lights.” I had seen a video on social media of thousands of lanterns floating off into the sky and when I looked into it, it turned out they were doing it right here in Utah (that was such a blessing.. thank you, Jesus)!
When we got up from our nap it was about 6:00pm and there were hundreds of people all arriving to attend the event. The traffic was backed up as far as the eye could see. It was so nice that we were able to camp there and just walk over to the area where they were holding the event!
Once we were inside, we picked up our lanterns and found a spot to lay out our blanket and set up our chairs. Then we walked around to check out the food trucks and got some dinner. We enjoyed some live music while we ate, then we decorated our lanterns and waited for the sun to set. To our surprise, we saw some skydivers jump out of a plane while we were sitting there!
As soon as the sun set, the MC got on the mic and told us to light our lanterns. Then, they did a countdown and all at the same time thousands of us lifted our lanterns and watched them float away... it was magical!
After they all had floated away, we laid on our blanket and looked up at the stars for a while. The band kept playing and we did a little silly dancing too. It was a beautiful night... The perfect ending to an amazing day! Thank you, Father God, for your blessings.
In the morning we got up and went to watch some of the different races that were going on at the different tracks around the Utah Motorsports Complex. Right outside our door there was a speed bike race. It was crazy to see how fast they were going and how they would graze the floor around the corners!
Next, we saw a go kart race. Little kids (looked like 10 and under) driving these fast little karts. Future race car drivers for sure! Then, we went over to the car race track. First, we saw a super car race (Lamborghinis, Porsches, etc.). The lambo won. The next race was sports cars (Camaros, Corvettes, Mustangs, and even a Mini Cooper). I think the Camaro won that race. Finally, it was the Miatas. But, there was a Lotus (a car I had never heard of) and two BMW’s racing along with them for some reason. The Lotus won and a BMW came in 2nd.
After all that excitement, it was time to leave. We would have never visited the Motorsports complex if it wasn’t for the Night Lights event. But, I’m so glad we did! It ended up being a super cool place. You can even rent go karts when they’re not having races. Maybe we’ll get to come back and do it sometime.
On the way back to Salt Lake City we stopped to take a look at the Great Salt Lake. I had heard that it is the 2nd saltiest lake in the world, behind the Dead Sea in Israel. It was quite a long walk in the heat to get to the shore. Along the way we saw lots of dead birds and once we got to the waters edge the smell of death was unbearable! We could only stand there for a second and then we started making our way back. Nothing like the Dead Sea in Israel!
Once we got back into town we stopped in at the gym and worked out. Then I took a good, long, hot shower (something I haven’t had in a long time since the hot water heater in the RV is only 6 gallons and we’ve been dry camping, so we’re having to conserve water as much as possible).
Afterwards we had dinner at a sushi place nearby. Jimbo doesn’t eat sushi which means I don’t get to eat it that often, so this was definitely a treat! To my surprise, this place had my favorite sushi roll on the menu (spicy tuna on crispy rice)! It was Father's Day and at the table next to us was a father having dinner with his son. I hadn’t really thought much about Father’s Day since my dad is in heaven (I pray). But, then I got the sense that I was on a Father’s Day dinner date with my Heavenly Father and the fact that they had my favorite sushi roll was His way of saying “I love you!”