My grandpa passed away recently so Jason and I traveled to a remote section of the South for his funeral. This experience made me contemplate the power of such rituals. Perhaps it is because the death of a loved one provides a somber, and often crushing, reminder of life’s fleeting treasures that these occurrences are able to unite families in a way that few other occasions can.
If I had lived a couple hundred years ago, I would have made a great professional mourner. Why, you ask? Because at funerals I am almost always that person who loses it. You know, the one sobbing so hard their chin twitches and their eyes swell up like caterpillars. My closeness to the deceased is irrelevant… it’s a little awkward when I’m crying more than the kids, spouse, or parents. My dad has always said it’s because I have a tender heart but you might say I’m a wimp, and rightly so. Nonetheless, even for those that don’t dehydrate as much as me at these services, funerals are never fun. Yet, they have a unique might.
Funerals bring families together. You will connect with relatives you never knew you had and reunite with ones you haven’t seen in decades. Since we live so far away, we met a lot of new faces at my grandpa’s service.
Funerals are a great time to snap a few family photos.
Another incredible thing about funerals is the support network they spontaneously create. A common purpose is suddenly formed that spans generations and locations. Work, school, and social responsibilities instantly become comparatively insignificant. My master’s program made attending my grandpa’s funeral quite difficult but there was no way I was going to miss it. It wasn’t a question of if Jason and I could make it work but of how we would make it work. My parents and a few of my siblings assembled despite the distance and the difference it made to my grandma was remarkable. The moment my parents walked through her door her entire demeanor changed; it was as if their strength literally began holding her up.
The last notable thing about funerals is the goodbyes they afford. Although these services may seem small compared to the people they honor, they often provide a solid sense of closure.
Goodbye, Grandpa. I am so grateful for the countless ways your jolly spirit positively impacted my life. I’ll love you forever!
Last month, some friends invited us to join them for a two-day “company retreat” at Daniels Summit. We did this very thing a couple of years ago with this very group and it was very amusing. So we kindly accepted the invitation again. We are, after all, the embodiment of kindness.
What a bunch of liars!
The first evening, I cooked homemade chili and cornbread for everyone’s dinner. After eating, we played games, or one game rather, until the wee hours. Avalon, which involves a lot of social manipulation (AKA lying), was that game. Some members of our group were rotten, no-good liars. Really, they couldn’t lie to save their lives… or Merlin’s.
This trick jolted Jason; he only did it once.
Cindy dared to fly.
We spent most of the next day snowmobiling. The snow was plentiful but the temperatures were a bit too toasty for winter layers and the surface oscillated from slush to ice as the day progressed. Still, all things considered, it was first rate, meaning I didn’t hit a tree this time.
Just off the trail, many tempting meadows awaited.
Cam also rocked the two-legger.
Our snowmobiling destination was a peak that bestowed a 10,000-foot view of the Wasatch Range and its lowly valleys. We made it there despite endless sidetracking. Elevating!
What a range!
I used to be a wild snowmobiler but a tree talked some sense into me.
That night, after socializing around a raclette dinner, we played Avalon again until we were too tired and slaphappy to keep our deceits straight. Of course, some of our group couldn’t do that even if they’d just been rejuvenated by a six-month coma.
I started to transform into a unicorn after snowmobiling all day thanks to my helmet confronting my vast forehead without the mediation of a skullcap, which it was too hot to wear.
Daniels Summit may not have provided ample snoozing opportunities but it did offer chances to practice good life skills like story fabricating and slush sailing. Many thanks to the knife clan for allowing us to join the fun. We were more than happy to keep you company even though we aren’t part of your company… did I mention that Jason and I are the embodiment of kindness?
Our next two days in Moab, we focused on the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park. We have been to Island in the Sky many times. Its sandstone cliffs, which hover 1,000 feet above the adjacent landscape, are a spectacular spot from which to appreciate the immensity of the wild sea of chasms that envelops the Colorado and Green Rivers, a sea that has been carved out by water and wind over eons.
You can’t appreciate the 1000-foot plunge Jason jumped over to get to this rock but I sure can.
At Island in the Sky, you are almost always near one sheer drop or another.
Speaking of water and wind, our first day in Canyonlands that disorderly duo was eager to carve what it could out of us. But we didn’t let the 20-25 MPH drafts and downpour gambles stop us from exploring and enjoying.
The magnitude of the White Rim was humbling, especially considering the thousands of years represented by each etch.
The scenery at the White Rim Overlook just didn’t quit.
We first trekked out to the White Rim Overlook, just a 1.8-mile ramble on pretty level ground. The payoff for that small bit of effort was huge. This viewpoint looked down on nearly 360 degrees of canyon splendor topped with a radiant crown of salty white, the White Rim. Salt is quite flavorsome but not usually enthralling.
Murphy Point, as you can see, offered amazing views.
With storm clouds like that overhead, we tested whether Murphy’s law has greater sway at Murphy Point.
Next, we made the 3.6-mile journey out to Murphy Point and back. Murphy Point, which faces Candlestick Tower and sections of the Green River and White Rim Road, had a remarkable backdrop of its own but both Jason and I agree that the White Rim Overlook overlooked better scenery.
Ascending Aztec Butte required some creative climbing.
Our last hike of the day was a 2-mile jaunt to the top of Aztec Butte with a detour to an adjacent butte to see two Anasazi granaries. Aztec Butte, from its base, looks like an insurmountable wall of warped stone but we, like many before us, successfully scrambled up its sharp 200-foot slope in order to partake of the uninterrupted panorama at its flat top. The other points of interest on this route, the Anasazi granaries, have been preserved in the alcoves of a sandstone rim for almost a thousand years, tangible echoes of a voice that has been silent a millennium. Great hike!
Aztec Butte provided diversions galore in the form of vibrant colors, unusual shapes, and twisted textures.
When you catch the sky doing this, you just thank the gods of photography and start shooting.
The next day, we stopped at a new dinosaur tracks museum, Moab Giants, before heading to Canyonlands again. The area around Moab is covered with an unusual amount of dinosaur tracks so it is a very fitting place for the only tracks museum in the world. We spent a couple hours learning about tracks and wandering among 100 life-size ancient beasts on Giants’ half-mile trail. Who wouldn’t fancy running from a T. rex? (Dang it, why didn’t I remember to bring my high heels?) It was awesome.
That was some pretty delicious pretend corn.
Jason found some new friends at a meet and eat.
The last trail we hit in Canyonlands before returning home was Neck Spring, a 5.8-mile loop that curled through ever-changing terrain and cattle ranching remnants. We didn’t see a single soul while we were on this path. Most excellent! Plus, the mix of extreme drops, decaying troughs, and meandering springs made the journey pleasantly distracting.
I too discovered a few buddies at Moab Giants.
There comes a time in every man’s life when he needs to run from a T. rex.
We had a great time in Moab but we always do. If we didn’t, it would be our own dumb fault.