America the Beautiful

This is the first in a series of posts about my LA to Chicago road trip, Aug 20-29. 

Thursday was a whirlwind. We packed the TV at 3am (one of the bigger moving related projects), then continued shoving things into boxes until the movers showed up around 10am. After the movers left, we did errands, cleaned the apartment, and packed the rest of our stuff into our car before our landlord came by at 3pm to pick up the keys.

We didn’t really have a chance to stop and think until we were sitting in our car, outside of our apartment complex, realizing that this place, this street, this city was no longer our home.

And then we drove to Vegas.

After AYCE sushi dinner in Vegas, we stopped for the night in St. George, UT.

The following morning, we drove to Capitol Reef National Park – the first national park on our tour. Capitol Reef is beautiful and we loved that it was a smaller, more intimate park. There weren’t that many cars on the scenic drive along the reef. I did a short, fast, and fun trail run along the Old Wagon Trail near the end of the scenic drive while Jay hiked the same trail. We both agreed it was one of the coolest trails we had ever done because it was so different from anything we’d seen before.

There wasn’t much of a path to follow on the hard-packed earth, so you had to find and follow the cairns. There was no one else on the trail at dusk, and it was easy to feel like you were the only person for miles, like you’d just dropped into a different universe populated only with rocks, shrubs, and the occasional snake or lizard. It started to drizzle while we were out on the trail and it felt amazing after the midday heat.

The view of the Reef from Gifford House

The view of the Reef from Gifford House

After our short run/hike, we checked in at the Capitol Reef Resort for the night, and then went to find dinner in Torrey, a small town along the highway near the park. We ended up at a ridiculous little cowboy themed restaurant called The Saddlery because it was the only thing open late in a small town like Torrey. The bar stools were saddles. It was silly and adorable.

The next morning we drove from Torrey to Arches National Park. We arrived at Arches around noon and it was getting very hot. We decided to stick to the scenic drive and take the shorter route to Double Arch, Turret Arch, and the North and South Windows, forgoing the more famous Delicate Arch. After we saw the major sites on the scenic drive, I wanted to get in a quick trail run and test my stamina against the 100 degree heat and 4500+ feet elevation, so I tried to sprint the 1 mile Park Avenue trail in the uphill direction, from Courthouse Towers to the Park Avenue viewpoint. It was equal parts brutal and awesome, and I’m really glad I tested myself. I hope I get a chance to try it again after actually training for trails and elevation.

Double Arch. Tiny person for scale.

Double Arch. Tiny person for scale.

After Arches National Park, we stopped over in Moab for lunch at a New York style pizzeria – very satisfying. And then we drove to Salt Lake City for a night, where we crashed with a friend of a friend. We didn’t have much time to explore SLC (we’ll definitely have to come back soon) – we did a quick loop around the downtown Temple Square area on a quiet Sunday afternoon. The best part of SLC for me was slipping away to Red Butte Garden early in the morning to test my new Nikon D3300 on flower photos (because who doesn’t love flower photos?). The featured photo above is also from the Garden.

Dat detail though

Dat detail though


Working on that bokeh.

After SLC, we were ready to head north, to the next stage of our adventure.


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