My road trip to Canyonlands National Park evoked a rush of nostalgia and childhood memories of Southern Utah and the long hot drives: Chip crumbs smashed into the floor mat, rock music from the '60s and '70s and windblown hair and burned cheeks from unrolled windows due to a broken air conditioner.
For our most recent adventure, we left early in the morning to get a head start as we had little time off work. By 10 a.m. we arrived in Salina and ate breakfast at one of the many "world famous cafés" that nobody has heard of, this one called Mom's Café.
The food was basic breakfast standards, the prices reasonable and the waitress a small-town delight. After omelettes and French toast, we made our way down Highway 99 for the final three hours of the drive. Because we no longer felt in any hurry we stopped at the many overlooks along the way, already breath taken by the scenery. Vendors set up their jewelry and pottery and other items along the sidewalks.
By one in the afternoon we entered the park and desperately wanted to stretch our legs. We drove down the main paved road in Island in the Sky and stopped for a few short hikes and snapped some photographs. We filled our few days with short hikes and the longer, more challenging Murphy's Loop.
I am not sure I have ever experienced a camping trip with such dynamic weather. I must admit the mission of my trip was to drive as south as necessary until I could lie under the dangerous sun on a hot rock in my bikini.
While this mission was accomplished successfully it did not exclude me from the obvious consequences. It got so hot I actually felt more like a fried egg in a skillet, my skin blistering red.
On the second day, we spent the morning hiking and then experienced an afternoon full of rain. We spent most of that day bopping around Moab.
Since the campsite in the park was full, we made our camp outside the park at a site called Horsethief and prepared a dinner of warmed pita, feta cheese, roasted tomatoes and hummus. I cannot leave the food-lover side of me behind, even while camping; I suppose I don't mind a little dirt in my feta.
After the sun dropped, the sky filled with more glowing stars than I had seen in years. I was not sure if it was the burned skin that made me shiver or if it was the remarkable sight above me. Crispy night air, a loaded sky of lights, at this moment the road trip mission was complete despite burned skin and afternoon rains.