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  • Bex McLaughlin

Desert Calling: My Solo Trip to Utah and Arizona

Updated: Jun 8, 2019

How it Happened: Series of Events


July 24, 2018. My dad died.


It was night time. The weather was humid and misty, and a warm breeze slipped through a cracked window to grace the space where I sat by my dad's side listening to soft and soothing jazz music that crackled through an old school radio alarm clock. Earlier that day, I got the call my father was actively dying and had an estimated week to live. So I had hurried immediately to see him. And that same very night, in a blink of an eye, he left.


As weeks progressed, and the distractions around planning his services were behind me, the hurt set in real good. At the same time, the man I was dating also betrayed me in a big way. I have absolutely no desire to rehash that (but spoiler alert: he gone!) What I am trying to get at is that I was broken. So, like I do, I ran away to Miami and Cuba. (I guess I will write about that adventure on this blog as I build out my content!)


When feeding my wanderlust didn't work, I turned to (1) exercise and (2) music: my go-to outlets in dire times (and the good times, too!) I stumbled across one album in particular that was all about self-reflection and self-care, and some time alone in the desert with the sun, dirt and cactus trees. The music subtly built up my long-standing desire to see the Grand Canyon and Bryce Canyon.


After some months passed--and my heart had already healed a great deal through the passing of time, God's grace and mercy, and a whole lot of work on myself--I found myself planning a solo trip to Utah and Arizona. A getaway. A time to free myself from the fast pace and enjoy simplicity and the natural beauty.


Well, holy heck. This is a long-winded explanation of why I ended up out West on a solo trip. But this is my story, and I am sticking to it.


The planning was on: I would start in Las Vegas, rent a car and drive to Kanab, Utah. I would stay in an AirBNB there and venture for day-trips to Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon, and Zion National Park. I'd move on to Lake Powell, Arizona and visit Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend. I'd move on to Sedona and spend two days there before continuing to Scottsdale to see friends. I was ready for a great adventure, but little did I know what I was in for.


Lessons Learned: You Can't Control the Weather


May 2019. The trip was here. I learned so many lessons and insights about myself during my solo travels. Lessons and insights I'll cover in a series of blog posts over time, five of which include:

  • You can't control the weather. The Grand Canyon has seen substantial snowfall 10 times in the last 200+ years. Guess who was there for? Yep, your's truly. I also saw, rain, crazy winds, hail, flash floods and a twister. Needless to say, I had to bend with the wind (figuratively, that is) and adjust my plans day-by-day and sometimes minute-by-minute.

  • Enjoy the present. I had a lot of time to think, and one of my biggest takeaways was that I hang out in the future way too often. It's good to plan for the future and have goals, but I really want to enjoy the here and now--while I'm healthy, vibrant and have all my senses...and sense.

  • I've been wrong. I am not afraid of heights; I am afraid of falling. And, I am more afraid of bees than I am of falling. I really had so much time to think and self-reflect--to look at things with a new perspective. Perspective is a funny thing...

  • Shared joy is multiplied. I l-o-v-e my independence. But in my solo travels, I learned in a big way that I capital L-O-V-E sharing time and energy with others. I cannot wait to tell you the stories about the people I met along the way.

  • Say yes to it all. Need I say more?


Start a Blog, They Said


As I was climbing (sometimes crawling) Camel Back Mountain in Scottsdale, I had a vivid vision of a blog series about the lessons I learned along my travels. Then along my travels later that day, a stranger who took the time to talk to me suggested I start a travel blog. It was the only validation I need to solidify my desire to do this.


I am a marketer by trade, and I have written and/or edited hundreds of business-related blog posts and e-newsletters over the years. Because writing is a part of my day job, I haven't spent much time writing for pleasure. However, now seems as good a time as any to start "pleasure writing" again. ... Start a blog, they said. So, yes, I said.


Now y'all come back and read the good stuff!


#Travel #TravelBlog #Journalist #YOLO

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