After a long and full day in the car, it was too tempting.
After a morning of rawkus diapers, the premonitions of the rest of today's drive were not...enthusiastic. Thankfully, that wore off and the day turned towards the epic.
There are only five factors in the Frasier's Scale of Road-Trip Epicness:
- Weather: Save the proverbial smog around the Mormon capital of Salt Lake - it was a blue-bird day with minimal wind.
- Wildlife: We saw, in this order: Whitetail, Mulee, Mountain Lion (near Bear Trap Canyon - watch out fishermen), herds of Elk, herds of Antelope, Pelicans, Sandhill Cranes, Ravens, and even got to follow Desert Bighorn tracks near sunset.
- Behavior of Children: They were practically angels, despite getting up at 6AM and not napping all day.
- Behavior of Road-Trip Buddy: Elyse is the world's greatest travel companion - and I'm saying that, coming from a place of experience. In total, I've traveled cross-state, cross-continent or cross-ocean in a "mutual-travel-companion" situation with over 30 people in the last 10 years. Of all of them, Elyse is queen. If the saying, "One of the greatest attributes a human being can discipline in to their lives is a steady calm." is true - then it is doubly true of a travel companion. And she embodies that. Even in rush-hour traffic, or rushing through an airport with two toddlers hanging off her. It also helps that she's a good kisser, but that's neither here nor there.
- Discovery: We, Elyse and I, are not adventurers. I don't know if I ever have been, and she claims that she never has. Even on some of the harryer trips, it's not been about a rush or sense of accomplishment. It's about the discovery of new things. Things that we didn't know about. Things that make us look twice, detour, or blow up our idea of the world. Or, at least that corner of the world that we are in. Though we traveled a familiar highway route today, discovery was there in a big way. Not in where we were, but in seeing our kids' minds blown by what they were seeing. We discovered new emotions today that will stick with us for the rest of our lives.
Now, that's enough fru-fru talk, so here's what happened.
Today was too good of a day to just drive past the exit for Moab and Arches when we found ourselves two hours ahead of schedule. I looked at the clock at 5:15, saw the exit coming on the map and said, "Hey sweetie...wanna take the kids to Arches?"
Arches was not in our plan for this trip. We just didn't see a way to fit it in with all the other things going on. For instance - I was on the phone or playing phone tag all day with vendors and folks from work...maybe while driving, depending on which state laws you're looking at. :/ Tomorrow, I'll be in the offices all day and then on Wednesday, we start making our sprint towards Phoenix for the graduation. There just wasn't time.
But today, after such an awesome day, we had time. And the kids needed it. We needed it.
So, we did it.
Arches is a very special place for us. It was the first major stop on our Honeymoon trip back in 2010. In fact, next month, it will be 5 years since that trip. We joked, that first time, that we would someday bring our kids to this weird and hellish place in the desert where the temps and flies could send you into a childlike tantrum. Right in the middle of the path. I have seen it at the North Windows section. It's called, "Ivemadeahugemistakeitus" and it can happen to the best of us. Like a stupid young couple on their honeymoon.
I've since been back a few more times since then (without Elyse) and it's presently the only National Park in which I have hiked every single trail at least once. That's not saying much in a park so small, but give me my moment in the hot sun.
I'm not saying that Elyse and I cried at different times throughout the evening, but to see our kids enjoy a place that means so much to us was particularly touching.
Watching them discover and explore and run and sing and splash in the fresh spring T-storm puddles and find rare desert bighorn tracks - that was more cool to me than practically any of the expeditions, through-hikes, or personal discoveries I've ever made.
Now I know why my dad loved having us catch fish and shoot deer instead of him. It's freakin' addicting watching your kids overcome with joy and wonder.
I'm sure there's a deeper lesson there, but it's late, so I'm just going to leave you all with some pictures:
Oh, and family/friends who asked for this blog - there's an easy way to stay current without social media. Just click that "subscribe" button above the comments section (below this text). You'll just need to put in your email, but then you'll get updated whenever a new post is up.