Trip to Utah’s Gems!
Our daughter Shoshana is in a therapeutic boarding school in Utah (near Zion National Park).
Family weekend was scheduled for November 20th, just a week before our other four kiddos had their Thanksgiving break. So long story short, our kids would be out of school for two weeks, this coming “naturally” after finally getting them back to school after the month-long Jewish holiday season!
While I was so excited to be able to visit Shoshana, I was not thrilled with the timing! I have been working on letting go of things that are out of my control, but the fact that I did not have any control over when Shoshana’s school has family weekend and how often my other children have vacation was really making me mad! But alas I eventually had to come to terms with it, and we decided to explore the Utah parks and create a fun family adventure. It’s an eleven-hour drive from Bozeman and we would be gone for ten days. Road tripping takes a lot of physical and mental organization, especially when you observe Kosher dietary laws and have a daughter, Zeesy, who has a medical diet and we need to pack her special meals for the entire trip. (Link for Zeesy’s story)
We started the drive on Wednesday and though I we normally like to split up the trip and overnight along the way so not to push the kids too much, this time we did the full eleven hours in one day, as we had to be at Shoshana’s school on Thursday morning. We always end up regretting when we are too ambitious, but again the kids were already missing so much school, we didn’t want to take off another day for just the drive. It was going pretty well, as good can be expected with a car full of young kids for hours on end. And…. we almost made it to our Air B&B in Hurricane, Utah, literally twenty minutes from our exit off the I-15, no jokes, twenty minutes and boom there was an accident where a few semi-trucks collided, one of them, loaded with tons of cheese, was now scattered all over the highway. The Interstate was totally blocked off and being that we are on a narrow mountain pass, there was nowhere to go, WE WERE STUCK! It was so beyond frustrating, we had made it the whole day, we were so close and yet so far.
It was dinner time and bedtime; they wanted out! My husband and I were also exhausted and frustrated, but we rallied and realized that there’s literally nothing we can do but try to make a crummy situation as bearable as possible. So, we sang songs, told jokes, listened to music and did the best we could to make a really tough situation a little more tolerable. I am really proud of ourselves for that 🙂
Two hours later we made it to our destination!
The Air B&B, close to Shoshana’s school, was perfect and we enjoyed a wonderful weekend, Jewish Sabbath, together. We took beautiful family photos in Zion with our dear friends and most wonderful photographer team Doug and Stana of Loneman photography (link). Took some nice family strolls in scenic Hurricane and had much needed quality time as a family of seven. We dropped Shoshana back off at school late Sunday morning, and started our trip back to Bozeman, which we were going to do through Utah’s beautiful parks.
We didn’t have an endless amount of time, so we really researched and planned for the best possible itinerary to fit our schedule.
Sunday: We drove through Zion (didn’t stop much because we’d been there before) and two hours later entered the incredible Bryce Canyon. Keep in mind, this was the beginning of winter, so it’s pretty cold and somewhat snowy, but us Montanans can handle it 🙂 . It’s hard to put words to the beauty we experienced at these majestic parks. We were just in a constant state of awe and so grateful to be able to expose our children to the wonders of G-d’s creation. It’s so important for me and my husband, that our kids respect and appreciate this beautiful world we live in. But I digress… Bryce is this vast canyon of these jagged and pointy orange rock formations, that’s the best way I can think of describing it. And when we were there, there was a dusting of snow on top. It was really breathtaking. We walked around enjoyed the fresh air and took it all in.
We then drove another couple of hours and arrived in Escalante National Park, at which point we drove twenty miles on a dirt road to see Devil’s Garden. We arrived there a bit before sunset. We didn’t know what to expect at all but that’s part of the adventure! We were greeted by these huge boulders that had the most awesome formations, a lot of them looking really cute and the kids couldn’t get enough of it…We would’ve stayed longer, but it was getting dark and we didn’t want to drive the dirt road in the dark. We ended the night in the town of Escalante, where we stayed in the coolest yurt, escelanteyurts.com! It was such a fun experience and just added more adventure and excitement to our trip.
Monday: Woke up in our cozy yurt, had breakfast and packed up for another adventure filled day. We took the most beautiful drive I’ve ever been on through Capitol Reef National Park. I mean, we didn’t want to take our eyes off the view for a minute; it was that good. Capitol Reef was another home run 🙂 it was a huge valley full of wild rock formations. Sound similar? We then entered Goblin Valley State Park, which isn’t national but what a treat it is…The kids would’ve spent the whole there, running up and down the rock formations, many that look like little Goblins, hence its name. Another reason why these Utah parks are so amazing is that it was so fun and engaging for the kids, literally nature’s playground. We then headed to Arches. So beautiful, everywhere we turned there was something amazing to see. We explored Sand Dune Arch which was so cool. Huge towering rocks and the ground was red sand, beyond cool. Being that we were there in the winter, sunset was pretty early, so we headed to our Air B&B in Moab for the night.
Tuesday: After breakfast we made our way towards Canyonlands. It was freezing and the whole road up to the “Island in the Sky” was a sheet of ice. My husband was freaking out about the road conditions and we debated whether we should drive all the way up, but we decided we are here now, not sure when we will come back and we should go for it. We drove, really slow and steady, but so glad we did. Canyonlands is so vast and huge and breathtaking. We got out a bunch of times and took these little walks on the icy paths to see and take-in these spectacular views. The park is so huge it’s divided into three parts and we did “Island in the Sky” but will be back sometime for the other sections, which are hours away. We then went back to Arches and climbed to the most amazing Windows Arch (in the ice again which makes everything more adventurous) and once again stayed out till the sun was setting and then headed back to Moab.
Wednesday and Thursday: We made our way back to Bozeman through Price, Salt Lake City, Pocatello and Island Park and through hours of snowy weather that was stressful big time, we arrived him Thursday afternoon.
It was a wonderful trip and I highly recommend it! We had children of all ages and everyone had fun! Of course it’s a road trip with a family and we had our moments 🙂 but worth every minute.