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  • Donna

Trip Report: Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks

Updated: Aug 5, 2021

October 30 – November 10, 2017

Sometimes people ask what possessed us to set off on this journey. Most love the idea of seeing the country and many have daydreamed about spending some time going park-to-park in an RV. But as the details of our trip are revealed, the “I want to do what you’re doing” sentiment evolves into “no way in hell.” Seven months? Sounds great. Eighteen-foot trailer? Small, but it’d be alright. Three dogs? Mmmm, I dunno. Two toddlers? You’re crazy.

Maybe we are, in some ways—particularly the one where insane people often think their behavior is perfectly rational. We discussed what we’d consider an ideal life, worked out how to try to make it happen, and we’re going for it. If it doesn’t work, we’ll know we tried, and that’s preferable to taking the more traditional, secure route, with its omnipresent undercurrent of what if.

Our undertaking can basically be divided into three parts: The cross-country trip, spending time with our parents (first in Maryland, then in Spain), then buying a property in France. We have about five weeks left on the first leg of our journey and are starting to experience the emotions that accompany transitions. We’ve been “seven souls in a closet” for six months, working through the challenges of mobile tiny-home living while embracing the adventure of exploring North America’s national parks. It’s awesome, and it’s difficult, and we love it. I’ll be ready for it to end, but I’ll also miss it. I can feel the relief mixed with a little sadness already, creeping in bit by bit as we work our way down the last page of our itinerary.

We spent Halloween in Bryce Canyon National Park—carved a pumpkin and went trick-or-treating at the Visitors’ Center. Well, Wendy gave candy to the ranger and asked her to give it to the kids when they said “trick or treat.” Not exactly traditional, but our little Christmas tree and elf had a good time and elicited a lot of smiles.

We also went on a striking hike along the Navajo Loop Trail. Even though it was kind of a hard, I didn’t mind because the beauty distracted from its difficulty: Amazing views while walking down into the canyon, then through a surprising stretch of forest, and along “Wall Street,” a small hiker blob at the base of towering walls, traversing switchback after switchback before crouching through an arch and emerging into the sunlight above the top of hoodoos that had loomed above half an hour earlier.

Then we traveled to Zion, where we are now. My parents flew out to visit for a couple of days and left this morning. I think their presence and departure contributed to the overall sense of love and loss that we’re both feeling. We had an amazing time with them—the kids played, we all laughed, and after months of being the primary caretakers for five other beings, Wendy and I were cared for the way only parents can do, with their comforting, supportive, loving presence. A hotel room with a real shower, glass mugs filled with freshly-brewed coffee, and comfortable furniture didn’t hurt either.

We miss them already, and knowing we’ll see them in a few weeks makes us feel better. But it also punctuates the fact that our trip—our amazing, once-in-a-lifetime trip—is almost over.

Not yet though: first we need to see the Grand Canyon.

Read the next trip report: Arizona

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