Lessons Learned

We’ve been home for almost a week now, and I’ve had some time to reflect. We travel well and had a great time. We also learned some things and thought about options not taken.

Hands down our best purchase were walking sticks. My old hips did not hurt one bit. I thought my arms would ache because they were sharing the burden, but they did not.

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Your hiking boots are your best friends on the trail. Make sure they fit well and will take a beating.

We got Montem Ultra Strong Trekking Poles, at the recommendation of many reviews, including Wirecutter. They were $50, half the price of others we saw, and well worth it. The only issue we had was the loss of a rubber tip in the rocks on The Narrows hike. No big deal.

Steven upgraded my CamelBak, since mine was circa 1998 (for reals), and it really helped to have the back of the pack arch away from my body. The new-to-me way to secure the bladder kept me from muttering under my breath every time I had to remove it from the pack and it has a handy, soft pouch to keep glasses safe.

We planned a couple of 4-day stays so we could unpack and catch our breath. Moving every day can get tiring. We also worked it out so that our AirB&B had laundry mid-trip–perfect timing. It helps to buy tons of T-shirts, too.

Flexibility within the structure is our M.O., but that leads to some extra driving. We could have stayed closer to any of the parks, but we didn’t want to hem ourselves in and were willing to drive. The other problem with that was we didn’t think far enough in advance to get a permit for the Fiery Furnace in Arches. Oh well. There’s so much to do, we certainly didn’t lack for options. If you’re more of a rigid itinerary-maker, you might have had a shorter drive to Zion, but that’s a trade-off we are willing to make. It also allowed us the flexibility not to return a second day to the Grand Canyon, mostly because the drive was a little too harrowing for Steven.

For all you yogis out there: Taking a class on vacation is not only a great way to shift from driving, hiking, or whatever is scrunching your muscles, but it also gives you a lovely snapshot of the community in which your temporarily residing.

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