Studies have been done that say people who mix up their daily routine tend to lead happier lives. It would seem that change and mixing it up is really an “X” factor in a path to a happy life. I am a self proclaimed planner, I have endless to-do lists, love routines, and enjoy planning things. My partner on the other hand, he likes to be impulsive, come up with an idea and jump 100% into it. (He built a greenhouse attached to our house in 10 days last winter). As we sat down to our normal evening routine, he asked me about going to Southern Utah. I hadn’t been there since moving here over a year ago and only once in passing in my life.
This was a Saturday or Sunday night in our house. Monday afternoon he said let’s go tomorrow! We quickly headed to the grocery store, picked up some food, pulled out the camping gear, packed bags, and by 10am Tuesday morning were driving out of the city off towards Moab. No planning, no special occasion and no real destination, this all had me a little on edge. As we drove I let go, let go of trying to control the situation and decided I would make no decisions for the next few days and ride the wave of my boyfriends version of a trip.
As we got further south before Green River, Utah he said there were a few dirt roads off the main road he wanted to check out. Being from the east coast just seeing a dirt road and driving down it is liable to have you race to race with an unhappy farmer or old time new england hermit. Driving down a random dirt road in Utah is much different I am finding out. A lot of land in Utah is BLM land – Bureau of Land Management and basically is open to the public to do whatever on it seems at least to me. First we drove down a questionable at times dirt road and ended up at the abandoned Smith Ranch seeing another truck there Forest was quick to turn around in search of a good place to sleep. We drove down another direction passing some abandoned mines, but wasn’t finding the camping spot he wanted.
Instead a quick trip into Green River had us refueling my Element and driving down I-70 where we again turned off onto a random dirt road and drove through a gate. As major red flags were going off in my mind. Forest assured me it was BLM land and we had every right to be there. We drove around and quickly came across a perfect campsite high enough to be out of a flood zone with trees in the area for shade. Trees in the desert are like gold. We set up camp, I grilled steaks on a rock (who needs a grill). There is something very primal about cooking meat on a rock over an open fire. While eating we decided to check out an area we stumbled upon the day before in search of a camp site.
The next day we got up and hiked down the path we had seen the day before, and unknowningly we had stumbled upon some of the best pictographs in the San Rafael Swell. After a short hike in we were greeted by soaring canyon walls and an array of pictographs possibly three to five thousand years old. As we left only foot prints and took pictures of the figures and possibly a calendar system or astrological record, we hiked on and then reached the end of the swell and ventured back to the camp site. Rustic camping at it’s best cooking up bacon on a rock, sitting around reading a full book in less than a day, and exploring more around us, with not a soul around.
Thursday morning we climbed up the slick rock to the top of the canyon and looked back down. It was tough to get out of a comfy warm sleeping bag into the chilly morning desert air as temps dropped into the high 30’s at night. But after some camp coffee you are ready for anything. The whole time however I was fighting my urge to want to plan and want to be on a schedule. As we finished our trip and was heading home, it wasn’t until the way back I appreciated it all.
Escaping from the daily routine is a luxury that we both have in our lives. Being spontaneous is not a strong point, but something needed in life. If anything can be learned from this trip is sometimes it’s ok to wander, ok to have no real destination, and ok to let yourself just go with the program. I greatly encourage everyone to take a trip like this every once in a while, whether it be picking up on a weekday or a random Friday afternoon jumping in the car and seeing a new place. Oh yeah and we never did make it to Moab, that will be next trip. Jasmine (our dog) said it was ok and she liked where we were better anyways, and if she’s happy we are happy.