It's 7pm and I'm in the window seat of a small plane, taxiing toward the runway. The sun is falling from the sky, and golden light is spilling onto the wing. The landscape blurs as we pick up speed, and I feel the wheels lift. We're flying. To Atlanta. Then Paris. Then Cairo, Egypt. A new country, a new continent. A new home. Sort of.
There isn't any one place I call home. This will be my 32nd official address change, and it will change again when I relocate to Seattle this summer. A lot of people assume I grew up in a military family. The truth is, I was raised in a small midwest city, where life was pretty predictable. It wasn't for me, so I moved away when I turned 19. I became a restless transplant, and I guess I've been one ever since. In a way, home has become the road.
Some of us were meeting for the first time when we pulled into the parking lot at Whiptail Grill just outside Zion National Park. A few of us had traveled together before, and it was amazing to catch up on missed adventures with friends both old & new. We agreed to meet up that night and paired off to chase the sunset. There were six of us, and three SUVs. I was driving with Ravi, who I had just met that afternoon.
Road tripping is an art. The music, the vibe, the snacks. Windows down, a/c blast. Topics of conversation. We all have our preferences, and finding people you can road trip with is like finding gold. Luckily, we discovered right away that we had similar taste in music while testing out the premium sound system. Next, we opened the sunroof. Dropped the windows half-mast. Gummies for snacks. Most importantly, we both wanted to stop every 5 minutes to take photos. It was a match. We would be roadies for the next three days.
After winding through the high canyon walls of Zion National Park, we settled into our cabins at Zion Mountain Ranch. The sky was turning pink over the field outside my porch, and I could see the silhouettes of buffalo grazing in the distance. I grabbed a jacket and joined the group for a dizzying array of gourmet eats and a few hours of great conversation. Day one was legend. Day two would be even better.
"Go, go, go!"
The walkie came to life as sand flew past my driver's side window, propelled upwards from the spinning tires below. I already had the pedal to the metal. I couldn't give it any more gas. I could see the spot where I had previously gotten stuck just up ahead, and my tracks from having to reverse down the dune. After a brief moment of doubt, I felt the wheels gain traction and I flew upwards to join the rest of the Land Rover squad. We were learning to off-road on the Coral Dunes in Kanab, Utah. It was both awesome and terrifying, but mostly awesome. The Land Rover team coached us through turns and wildly steep descents, familiarizing us with the various built-in driving features. As we made our way through the park, I was amazed at how well the Discovery navigated such diverse and difficult terrain. After a delicious picnic on the dunes, one of the instructors took us out for a drive and showed us how it was really done. Basically, Land Rover is badass.
That afternoon we drove from Kanab, Utah to Amangiri Resort in Big Water. I wasn't prepared for Amangiri. It was next level luxury. The entire resort was a minimalist's dream of white stone, concrete walls, natural timbers and clean edges. My suite had it’s own outdoor lounge and fireplace with a stunning view of the desert landscape, and a koi pond at the front door. Wandering the open-air corridors of Amangiri was like strolling through a James Bond scene, and I never wanted to leave.
There is something about the desert that always lures me back. Maybe it's the golden light or all the wild, unobstructed space. The open roads and the rolling thunderstorms. Maybe it's the star smattered skies and the warm desert winds. Whatever it is, it draws me in. This time was no different. For two days, we explored the winding roads around Big Water, Utah. We kayaked to Lone Rock on Lake Powell and built a campfire together on Saddle Mountain. At sunrise, we rode a hot air balloon over the massive rock formations at Amangiri. At night, we met for dinner under the stars and stole glimpses of Saturn with a local astronomer. We got to know each other over post-sunrise breakfasts and poolside chats. I felt inspired on so many levels by the people in our group. As creatives, we shared different strengths and perspectives. As fellow adventure seekers, we found friendship and community.
The next morning, we woke up early to catch sunrise at Lake Powell before driving back to St. George, Utah. The sky was a beautiful pastel pink before turning to a rich crimson hue. It was the perfect ending to an incredible trip. As we drove back toward Amangiri with Lone Rock in the rear view mirror, I knew I'd be back. It's hard to stay away from a place that feels like pure magic. After four unforgettable days in the desert, it was time to find our way back home. Back on the road.