One thing on which we all can agree: it has been a very strange year. On the one hand, we’ve really wanted to stay safe at home. On the other, we’ve really wished we could get away. BoomerCafé’s co-founder and executive editor Greg Dobbs just fulfilled that second wish.
Politics? Pandemic? For 10 days off the grid last month in southern Utah, they weren’t quite a distant memory but they were certainly a distant reality.
Take a look at what replaced the drumbeat of White House briefings and Congressional hearings and virus variants and supermarket shootings.
This is Bryce National Park, one of five national parks in Utah, and that’s on top of seven national monuments in this stunning state. Every time I’ve gone to this part of America— usually on mountain-biking expeditions— it all has felt like Grand Canyon country. Because it is. This trip was more hiking than cycling, but the rewards were the same: splendor, for 360 degrees.
Like hiking from the rim of Bryce down to the canyon floor.
You are dwarfed by magnificent limestone monoliths. The deeper you go, the taller they seem, spires that eroded over 60 million years into a symphony of spectral shapes.
But formations of rock that inspire the imagination aren’t only in Bryce.
This is a highway winding through Capitol Reef National Park. It is the epitome of the phrase, Getting there is half the fun.
Look right, look left, you begin to see figures in the faces of the cliffs.
See Abe Lincoln?
This is Butch Cassidy country (although his boyhood home is about a hundred miles to the west). He is said to have holed up around here.
Hard to chase an outlaw though when you’re dealing with roads like this: the “Burr Trail Switchbacks”— seven sharp (and sometimes spine-tingling) switchbacks from the rim to the valley floor. More than 600 feet down through a mile of stone.
Then, there are the slot canyons in Escalante National Monument.
These are another of nature’s wonders, narrow sandstone gorges carved by ice and rain and seeping sediment over millions of years. As one description puts it, “Rain, flood, repeat.” Southern Utah has more than anyplace else on earth.
Here’s part of my family heading down in one of the three we negotiated in Escalante, called Spooky Gulch. I’m the last one in. Momma didn’t raise no fool.
Or maybe she did. Sometimes we’d have to turn sideways and suck in the tummies to get through splinter-wide passages.
And it’s not always dry. In fact sudden storms and flash floods have been known to come out of nowhere and kill people in these slots.
At times to get through, you have to climb.
Or wind your way to the next opening.
Or to get out, drop. No ropes, no ladders, no pitons pounded into rock to make it easy.
The thrill of it all is though, every turn brings new shapes, new colors, new adventures.
So unless you’re claustrophobic, it’s a buzz going into a slot canyon… but also kind of nice to get out.
Finally, not to be missed, Zion National Park. It is a synonym for grandeur.
So all in all, if you’re an active baby boomer and you want to get off the grid, I can’t think of a better way than this. You will see special scenery that defines the American West.
Sometimes in its majesty you will feel small…
But sometimes, small is good.