Our Utah trip was very successful, and a beautiful experience, if cut short. We started off with another overnight drive to Canyonlands National Park. Ryan and I are pretty good at it now. He dopes up on benedryl before leaving work, I start off driving and grab coffee when we stop for dinner while he tries to catch some shut-eye, and then a 5 hour energy gets me through until about midnight when Ryan takes over and I sleep until I take back over early morning for him to get a morning nap in, then we arrive at our destination. We arrived at the park safe and sound, posted our last picture before leaving reception and checked in at the ranger station to get our permit before hopping down to start the 100 mile White Rim Trail.
It was our plan to camp along the trail, take our time and spend 3 days getting all the right pictures of the breathtaking canyons. But after accomplishing about 16 miles on the first day and setting up camp in 105 degree weather, we were pretty miserable and rethinking it all. Added with the fact that our camp refrigerator was having trouble maintaining temperature - as were the girls- after much deliberation we decided we would just blow through the trail, seeing what we wanted to see in the comfort of our AC and then just head home early to have most of our weekend still free for a staycation in SD. So we left camp for the afternoon and took a side trail down to the Colorado River, packed up camp the next morning, finished the trail and headed home from there, arriving back in SD in the early morning hours less than 72 hours from when we had left. Ruby hit 30,000 miles while on our trip, and had a thick coating of sticky Utah mud on arrival that the car wash attendees never wanted to see in their lifetime.
We were very happy with our decision. Afterall, we always say - we aren't trying to be heros. We LOVE to get out and plan lots of outdoor adventures, but we don't have anything to prove to anyone by toughing through a situation when the best laid plans don't manifest as expected. Especially with toddlers in tow! So we escaped the heat but still saw all the wonder and beauty that the trail had to offer. And it really was incredible. Rare up-close and unrestricted access to the undeveloped landscapes. Being able to compare it with the larger more popular Grand Canyon (which we visited last year) it was just night and day. The Grand Canyon was developed, modernized and populated. Roads, walkways, fences and crowds all provided to be a great obstruction to what we were there to see; the vast and rustic wonder of the canyon. The White Rim Trail, on the other hand, gets right down into the canyon, up and over, right up to the edge of it. With no barriers, no paved roads, no swarms of people to get around. It was such a different experience, and even though the canyon is much smaller than the Grand Canyon, it felt so much more real, so much larger because we were right there. Ryan thinks in our lifetime it will slowly be developed, and if that is the case I'm glad we got to see and experience it as it is today.