Over the past 14 days we have visited 5 national parks, 6 state parks and multiple little towns in Utah, Arizona and Nevada. Flying into and out of Las Vegas was quite an experience. It has changed so much since we were stationed here in the mid-70’s. Wouldn’t want to live here now!

We had seen some of the beauty of the Southwest 2 years ago when we visited Arizona. Caitlin’s uncle, who lives in a Flagstaff, was gracious enough to suggest an itinerary of “must-see” places and also the “if you have time” places. His suggestions were appreciated so much and our trip was amazing.

Fast forward to March 26, 2019. Once again Stewart provided us with some excellent suggestions for our trip to the 5 national parks in Utah. In addition to his many talents, he is a wonderful resource for visits in the southwest and if time permits, is an excellent personal tour guide.😉 We missed you this year, Stewart.

I always like to check the projected weather predictions when we are planning a trip. It just helps to know what to pack. Well, Accuweather let me down this time. We had plenty of warm weather clothes; it was going to be great. In the past 2 weeks, however, we saw more snow than we have seen in our lifetimes. We woke up to freshly fallen snow and although beautiful, it was not on our agenda. The mornings were the worst but thank goodness the temperatures would be friendlier by the afternoons. Thank goodness for snow plows that had prepared roads for us before our arrival because as everyone knows, southerners do not know how to drive in snow.

Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands and Arches National Park(s) should be experienced by everyone. There is a reason they are identified as national parks. The beauty that surrounds those areas is magnificent, breathtaking, spectacular…not enough adjectives to describe the beauty of this part of our country. If you haven’t visited these wonderful parks, I hope that one day you will be able to do so. A greater sense of appreciation for nature and the environment is achieved through experiences like this. It made me proud to see that people were really wanting to protect these areas. There was almost a sense of reverence around us. That is the way it should be. Protect it. Do not destroy it.

I have always been more of the adventurer. You never know until you try it, right? Glamping. Sleeping out in the middle of nowhere to see the night sky…put it on your list. Quite the experience. We met nice people that night. Lots of interesting conversations. Some things can’t be made up…🙂 Was on our (my) bucket list…✔️. So was sleeping in a teepee or in a Conestoga wagon but it wasn’t “the season” for that…two weeks too early.😔. Reasons to return, I would say; not sure about Rob.

Bumbleberry ice cream. If you haven’t had an opportunity to be in a place where it can be bought, find a place. We had bumbleberry pie in Nova Scotia and it was delicious, so I was excited to see bumbleberry ice cream in Springdale, Utah. Bumbleberry bushes are not native to South Carolina. Apparently the bumbleberry seeds have to be planted at a depth of 50 feet and it takes 40 years for the giggle bush to grow. I actually had a packet of seeds in my hand to buy until I looked more closely and realized that the seeds looked like purple and pink nerds. She had me hook, line and sinker. I really thought there was a berry called a bumbleberry. Actually bumbleberry is a mixture of apple, raspberry, blackberry, blueberry and/or rhubarb or a combination of whatever the cook desires. Dang. I would have loved to have shared this with Wesley and Britton! Maybe I will make a southern bumbleberry concoction one day but what should I call it? We will have to think about that.

State parks should not be ovelooked. We visited several state parks during our 2,012 miles trek. All of these visits were very impromptu visits. Saw a sign, peaked our interest and so we stopped. Again, we were not disappointed. From little “goblins” to a “valley of fire”, each state park had something very unique and magical to appreciate. I wonder why these state parks have not been designated as national parks. I’m sure that funding is an issue.

I take pictures of signs throughout the parks so I can better remember the details. So much to see in a short amount of time and so much to absorb makes it difficult to retain all of the details. So grateful that we came across a sign that explains the “probable “ meaning of some of the petroglyphs. Some of the symbols are pretty self-explanatory but it helped to have explanations of those that were questionable. It amazes me how well the ancient civilizations communicated with one another by simple drawings. Perhaps we all could learn from them.

When we planned our trip we were not sure of timeframes, distances between the “must-see” places, etc. The majority of our trips around the country and even abroad have mostly been with two certainties in mind; when we arrive and when we depart. We hesitate to make advance reservations because we don’t want to be committed to being somewhere by a certain day/time. As Jennifer and Robert so often heard, “you just never know what is around the next corner”. That practice continues to this day. We did plan for our night of glamping, though, because there are only so many glamping tents…🙂 With that being said, we had no problems finding acceptable accommodations each night and, once again, thank you, SWT, for your suggestions. They were great. As it gets busier this spring/summer, though, I would hesitate to be so carefree especially around the national parks. Moab was especially busy.

Our most cherished times were the 2 days we spent with Karen and Jim who live in Sandy, Utah. Karen is my second cousin and I have always loved her dearly. Her dad and my 2 brothers were very close and we all felt like one big family especially during holidays. Unfortunately time and life in general got in the way and over the years we grew apart; not in caring for each other, but in seeing each other. Rob and I had discussed visiting with Karen and Jim when we began planning our trip but again, we were unsure of plans and didn’t want to mention it to Karen until we were sure. Thank goodness that plans worked out and that hopeful visit became a reality. We had such a wonderful time with Karen and Jim and their daughter, Tracie and her family. Sorry that we were not able to see their other daughter, Krissie and her family…next time for sure🙂. Karen took us on a tour of Salt Lake City which was great and much appreciated but again, the most special time was spent at their house with them. We love you, Karen and Jim. By the way, never again will we hear “that’s nice” and interpret it as we used to. 😉 Bless your heart….❤️

There is so much about this trip that I would like to write about but time and space will not permit. Just know that national parks are to be experienced, not just read about. State parks are amazing and need to be visited, not just thought about. To those who, like me, have recently retired, don’t procrastinate. There is a huge world just waiting to be experienced so you better get busy. Lastly, live life to the fullest and it will be particularly sweet when experienced with someone you love…❤️❤️ Just don’t tell that person to “make it quick” when they are wanting to get out of the car to take a picture. 😉😘. That does not make for a pleasant afternoon. Love you, Rob, even after that comment. 😍😍