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View of Zion Valley in Zion National Park, UT.

Inspiration and Insights from My Trip to the Utah Desert

April 18, 2023

I love to travel. I know what you’re thinking: “Wow, really, Brittany? That’s so unique! I’ve never met anyone else who loves to travel!” 

But it’s true. I’ve lived a semi-nomadic life since 13, giving way to a natural wanderlust. However, the past few years haven’t held the usual vacations, road trips, and mini getaways my husband and I have grown used to in the last decade. 

First, there was COVID and its life-altering changes on travel. Then came the (much happier) arrival of our son in 2021, which altered our typical travel habits. We’ve flown a few places with him and even took an 8-day road trip through New England with our then 8-month-old (not exactly sure what we were thinking). 

But as anyone who’s traveled with small children knows, it’s not precisely “relaxing.” And as much as we love experiencing new adventures with our son in tow, my husband and I agreed that traveling together as a couple is still something we must prioritize. So, we made plans, packed our bags, and headed west.

For this first adults-only trip since becoming parents, we hopped back in time to finally experience some of the National Parks in Utah. We’d previously planned this trip in March 2020 but unfortunately had to cancel due to travel restrictions. This time, nothing was going to stop us. Our route included stops in Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, and Grand Staircase Escalante, a National Monment. We had several days of long hikes planned, most notably to Angel’s Landing in Zion and Cosmic Ashtray in Escalante. 

I’ll admit it: the decision to travel without my son was hard. I mean, losing sleep and crying the whole week leading up to our trip hard. I knew he would be loved and cared for by his grandparents while we were away, but leaving for the airport while I watched his little hand wave to me from the driveway was the most giant band-aid I’ve ever had to pull off. 

But I’m so glad we made the trip. It was invigorating to get away for a bit and reconnect with myself and my husband. I read three books over the course of a week. I woke up lazily on the days we weren’t bound for an early morning hike. I took care of myself and only myself. And we saw some incredible landscapes, sites, and natural wonders along the way. 

Over the week, a few themes were playing on repeat in my mind. Here are the key takeaways:

Appreciate the mundane

During quieter moments, especially in our hotel at night, I thought of home and missed the routine, redundant tasks of everyday life. Bathing my son, reading books with him, making dinner for my family. These are things I typically do on autopilot, glossing over the simple pleasures of taking care of my family after a busy day of work. Stepping away from my everyday life helped me realize how beautiful (and cherished) the mundane can be. It’s like an impressionist painting – you may need to step back a bit for the image to become apparent.

Find inspiration in new surroundings

National parks and monuments earn their designations for a reason. Over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to visit nearly 30 total National Parks and National Monuments, mostly on our regular cross-country moves to new military duty stations.

The natural beauty of these places is sometimes inconceivable, and it always leaves me feeling like Jodie Foster in Contact saying, “They should have sent a poet.”

Just being in new surroundings sharpens my perception of beauty and provides inspiration long after I’m back to my regular life.

Recognize how big (and small) the world really is

Standing in the shadow of a mountain, driving under an eons-old geological arch, looking over the edge of a cliff to the bottom of a canyon. These things have a way of making me feel small. And I mean itty-bitty-meaningless-ant-on-a-planet-spinning-around-in-an-ever-bigger-universe-small. But I don’t see this as a bad thing. It’s good to be humbled, reminded that we are just one tiny part of a very big world. 

On the flip side, the world can be tiny, especially regarding people. Case in point: While chatting up a couple during breakfast at our hotel, we realized we were from the same small town in West Virginia. We talked high school rivalries and reminisced on how much (and how little) has changed about that small town over the years. This coincidence helped me feel a little more connected to the world around me, despite the backdrop of looming mountains and silent desert canyons.


Got any travel stories to share? A revelation that came to you while exploring a new part of the world? I’d love to hear about it. Reach out any time and follow me on Instagram @driftwood.creative.co for more insights on branding, web design, life, and travel.

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