Coast to Coast Adventure, days 44-53

My husband Rob and I have quit our jobs and are moving from Dayton, OH to Medford, OR with our two dogs Moose and Schuyler. Before we settle there, we are embarking on a 2.5 month adventure across the US. I’ll be working as a hospitalist when we get to Oregon in September.

This last section has been in one of our favorites- Utah. Utah is probably my favorite overall state. It has so many amazing parks. There is ample world class skiing. Even the areas that aren’t designated public lands or parks are beautiful. I could do without all the Mormons, as they do influence state policies, but thankfully in the modern age their significance in Utah seems to be dwindling.

We spent our time at a nice house we rented through VRBO just off highway 89 and 14. 45 minutes to Bryce and an hour to Zion, the perfect location!! Because we travel with our dogs, a lot of research goes into where we stay and how close it is to dog friendly hikes. We try everyday to either do one long hike that takes most of the day with the dogs, or do a morning hike with them and then go to a national park in the afternoon.

There are two gems for hiking with dogs both within 30 minutes drive from our house. The first is the Virgin River Rim Trail. It is a 30 mile long trail, but the best section is from mile 6.5 to 11.5, and we hiked this as two separate day hikes from the Cascade Falls trailhead. The views from the rim are amazing!!!! It is a bit of a workout to get up to the rim, it had me huffing wind, but once up there it meanders at elevation flat along the rim. A perfect hike with our babies.

The other amazing area for hiking with our dogs is at Red Canyon. Most people drive right through this on their way to Bryce or only stop for pictures on the side of the road. It isn’t a huge park, but there are miles of amazing trails. It was August so we had to go early in the day to make sure it didn’t get too hot. Plenty of water needed- for all these hikes, no water sources in most trails in Utah. Definitely hit this area up and don’t just drive through it!

We had plenty of afternoon, evening time to hit up Bryce and Zion. At Bryce, we hiked down into the canyon near sunset. We were totally alone down there. It was silent. It was mystical and beautiful and special.

We did two hikes in Zion, one up to the canyon overlook and one in the canyon up to the Watchman. It was hot as balls! 100 degrees both days when we set out. We passed so many people without water, what idiots. Bring water people!!!! The bonus of hiking in the hot late afternoon early evening is that it’s always less crowded. We are always able to find many moments of quiet and solitude. That is soooo important to me. It’s why I won’t do hikes like Angels Landing- I do not want my experience with nature to be crowded, loud, and regulated. I want to be able to hear the silence and appreciate the sights without a gaggle of people around me. This is possible even in the most crowded parks, it just requires a little extra effort and planning.

Next we were off to Moab. I love Moab so much. We’ve been here 5 times in as many years. It is a little oasis. So much beauty to be found. The desert, canyons, red rocks, mountains, Moab has it all. Now it was August, and it was over 100 degrees everyday. To get around this, the first day we went up to the La Sal Mountains and hiked up to the top of one. The temp was max 75 degrees up there. It was a tough hike, up and up and up, but well worth the 360 degree views. There was also beautiful aspens and wildflowers everywhere!

We didn’t go up to our favorite park, Deadhorse State Park, this time. We elected to do some dawn hikes to arches in the canyon instead and then went into Arches in the evening. I love scrambling and climbing on slickrock. It’s so fun and makes me feel like a kid again.

The end of this trip is rapidly approaching. It makes me really sad. I often wonder if I would be better off in life if I never went to college and med school. Would I be happy living in a van, traveling the country with my dogs? I think I would be. In my reality though, I love being a doctor, and I have to continue being one- there are hundreds of thousands of dollars of loans to pay off after all.

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