A Monument to Her Wins: My First Time in Utah

My sister is a powerhouse!

She goes on runs as often as she can and signs herself up for these exhausting 10Ks and half-marathons and actually follows through on them. For some of my more athletic readers, this is no reason to call her a powerhouse. Plenty of people are runners.

But Alya is absolutely deserving of the word. She’s the most awesome person in the world, and I think she’s the best at everything.

Side note: I am not an athletic person. I am a pudgy person who likes to hunker down and remain sedentary.

My sister signed herself up for a half-marathon taking place near Moab, Utah. The run boasted a steady decline for a road and a fantastic vista of the Canyonlands National Park in the distance.

Alya invited me and my boyfriend to go along with her and her husband, and thus our adventure into Utah began! The San Francisco Team was back! (See here for the SF Trip.)

Accompanying my sister to Utah was my first time visiting that state. All I knew about it came from movies, TV shows, and comedy sketches. The sum total of my knowledge about Utah kind of boiled down to the fact that it was filled with Mormons.

I learned it is also filled with epic mountains.

We decided to drive into Utah instead of flying. This gave us an opportunity to witness the transformation of desert landscapes, from California to Arizona to Utah. People might think that after seeing one desert you’ve seen them all. Not so. They are all wildly different.

Utah’s landscape definitely stood out from the blending desert scenes we drove past. We traveled through Monument Valley on our way to Moab, and our trip would have been the poorer if we hadn’t made that choice. The ground is mostly flat except for these massive buttes. I had never seen a butte in my life until that day. They were like a herd of monoliths reaching for the sky. The only way they go is up. Verticality is king. Mountains in general can make you feel small. Those buttes in Monument Valley make you feel inconsequential.

Moab was a nice town, oriented for out-of-towners. It does have a touch of “Utah” about it though. Public places close extremely early by California standards, with most restaurants calling it quits around 8 PM. And bars seemed few and far between, i.e. there were only two real bars that we saw while there.

Not that we did much drinking. Alya had a run to prepare for. I couldn’t accompany her for the half-marathon, but she told me all about it.

The view was fantastic. While jogging forward, the road swept away from her like a ribbon. Drums beat along the way, a new experience for Alya during a run. But since she forgot to download some songs on her phone ahead of time, they were a pleasant replacement. The pounding rhythm gave her a burst of adrenaline.

I waited for her by the finish line, and together we walked back to the hotel while drinking some chocolate milk. The boys had stayed asleep in the room. We joined them and then went out for lunch.

Our stay in Utah was only for three days. However, since she wanted to thank us for coming with her for the drive, Alya got us a plane tour of the Arches National Park right before we left. That was the second time I had ever flown in an airplane. The first time was ages ago.

I’m not going to lie, I was kind of nervous. It was a small plane, so the ride up was not as smooth as a large commercial flight. But the view was totally worth it.

The tour guide kept telling us stories of all the horrible accidents that had occurred in the park, accidents that required him to fly in and rescue people while working there. That was hilarious. He told a real good story. I hope that I can learn to tell stories that engaging in the future.

Going to Utah made me realize how much there is to explore in my own country. My sister might dream of traveling to Europe, but there is so much I’m still missing out on this continent alone.