“On the micro, it’s all about self. Self-awareness, self-improvement, self-mastery. On the macro, it’s so, so much more. It’s about helping every single person live their dreams.”-abk
I had two things I personally wanted to do: golf at Sand Hollow, Utah’s number one ranked and insanely beautiful course, and explore Santa Fe and its artistic weirdness. Otherwise, this wasn’t my trip. I was just along for the ride.
10 days. 3 guys. 4,000 miles. 8 states. No real plans. That essentially summed it up. The boys had some things they wanted to do. I had the two above. Otherwise, there was no roadmap for the journey. So we literally made one for ourselves and embarked on The Great Southwestern Adventure of 2019.
Five years ago, I never would have done this. I would have been too scared. Way too scared. If you read last week, you know I was afraid of everything.
But after proactively facing all of my fears over the past couple of years (and some 150,000+ miles of extensive adventure), I was ready. To my knowledge, I had never been proper camping in the great outdoors, so it was time.
Within the first five seconds of walking into our first campsite, we almost stepped on a tarantula. Not five seconds later, we saw a scorpion. (I killed it, James Bond style.)
“Ok, ok. Overcoming fear is one thing, dudes, but just remember to respect nature.”
Cousin Kris loves his big truck. He loves to drive it, and he loves to show it off. Brian, Kris’ friend, knows camping. He loves hiking and the great outdoors. Me? Per usual, I add very little other than the abk mindset. Help maximize these boys’ experience, push limits, learn something, and make sure this trip will never be forgotten. That meant extreme off-roading for Kris and gorgeous hiking for Brian, amongst others. But more importantly, it meant limited rules, plans, or rigidity. (I call them trip killers.) We’re just not going to do that nonsense. I’ve seen many a trip die a very quick death that way.
Miraculously, we did everything, and I mean everything, with no schedule and without feeling rushed. I’m certainly not going to list it all, but here are my top ten excursions from the trip, in no particular order.
1. Golf at Sand Hollow in Hurricane, Utah. Especially the back 9.
2. The buffalo in Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge outside of Lawton, Oklahoma.
3. The handmade jewelry and delicious food in New Mexico.
4. Sunset with the European and Asian crowds at Horseshoe Bend in Page, Arizona.
5. Sunset drive through Zion National Park.
6. Hiking Rainbow Point in Bryce National Park at 9115 feet, 55 degrees, and 40 mph winds.
7. The teamwork at Fins-n-Things extreme off-road course in Moab, Utah to ensure an adventurous, yet safe experience.
8. Being a passenger on Shaffer Trail in Canyonlands National Park. Honestly, this was terrifying.
9. Hiking to and then chilling at Grand View Point in Canyonlands National Park.
10. Hiking to the Delicate Arch in Arches National Park.
These were the biggies, and please notice, the Grand Canyon didn’t even make my top ten. But what about the small stuff? The challenges? The nuisances? The camaraderie? The journey?
For over 50% of the trip, cell phones had no use. Primitive to semi-primitive tent camping for six nights is quite uncomfortable. If you want to get into the windmill business, head to Texas and Oklahoma. Santa Fe tamales and Tucumcari red chiles are spicy, and we finally got Kris to In-N-Out Burger. We visited seven national parks. Most of Arizona has its own time zone part of the year due to its refusal to acknowledge daylight saving time. You can easily do this trip in under $1,000 per person (way less if you don’t buy Santa Fe jewelry lol). We booked every place we stayed day of, on-site. Get the $80 national park annual pass. I showered once in eight days. There are lots of hot air balloons in Albuquerque. We ate black hot dogs. Nights in Moab can get cold and super windy. Brushing my teeth with no water was a new experience. So was going to the bathroom in a hole with flies circling everywhere. There are more foreigners than Americans at these national parks. And eating dinner on Friday night on the old Route 66 is legendary.
As we sat at our campsite the last three nights in Moab, we were just about as one with nature as humanly possible. We saw Saturn and Jupiter looming large. My neck and back hurt from all of the off-roading, but my soul was on fire. I was uncomfortable as hell, but fully at peace with myself.
Do I all of a sudden love camping? Nah. Do I all of a sudden love hiking? Nah. Do I all of a sudden love eating with no utensils, sleeping on hard dirt and rocks, not bathing, and using the bathroom in a hole? Nah. But before you yell “gross”, I was you five years ago.
Would I do it again? Certainly. I had a wonderful time with the boys. It’s important to feel and beat discomfort. It’s the path to understanding.
Well, alright. Excellent journey, friends. I need to make an unscheduled trip to NC now, and then it’s 3rd Annual Golf Week next week. BL, please have a bed and bathroom ready.
Have a great week.- Benj
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