What’s more important, the destination or the journey?
While solid arguments can be made on both side of the equation, I’ll let you decide as I share the journey of our weekend trip.
We left Thursday morning headed south for Flagstaff. Not for warmer weather, as Flagstaff sits at a chilly but beautiful elevation of 7000 feet, but for the college graduation of Daniella Bruyere, our son Clint’s fiancée. She received her bachelor’s degree in bio-medical science from Northern Arizona University.
Photo #1 – Clint and Daniella after her college graduation.
Daniella’s graduation was our destination, a great accomplishment, and we we’re excited to be with her. It was also our first opportunity to meet all of Daniella’s family prior to the springtime wedding.
We started our trip south picking up Rebecca in Ephraim. She’s coming home for the Christmas break after completing her first semester at Snow College. We took I-15 south to Nephi then cut east on Highway 132 following its entire length until it met up with Highway 89 eight miles north of Ephraim. That’s when I realized from that point our entire trip would be on Highway 89. Had I discovered this earlier, we could have traversed nearly the entire state of Utah on Highway 89.
Photo #2 – Highway 89 at the end of Utah 132, 8 miles north of Ephraim and just west of historic Spring City.
Highway 89 is known as the National Park Highway, linking seven national parks and providing access to fourteen additional national park areas. Highway 89 is also known as a Utah’s Heritage Highway and part of the Mormon Pioneer Heritage Areawhere you can “experience the charm of the communities, stroll down the Main Streets of towns that have been preserved as if you were walking into the 1800s… witness the appeal that many find in the charismatic towns… visit the many artisans, crafters, innkeepers, outfitters, historic landscape, customs, national parks, and unique architecture.”
We continued south on Highway 89 headed to Richfield for a brief visit with my Dad. On our way, just outside of Gunnison, we saw a man backpacking along the highway. I trust that feeling in my gut, in my soul, when it comes to offering rides to strangers, and my gut felt this was okay. When I caught a glimpse of the hand-written sign he was holding with Flagstaff printed in big black letters, I felt even better.
Our new friend Derek was on an early-winter adventure, backpacking from Washington to Flagstaff. He felt the weather was good enough to traverse the back roads, enjoy a connection with nature, and seek out a new area for alpine climbing.
We enjoyed getting to each other as we traveled along. We shared some of the history of the area with Derek, especially through our hometown area of Sevier County. We saw where I first lived as a baby, a tiny white house in Stringtown, so named for a string of houses on Highway 89 between Elsinore and Joseph. Rolling into Joseph, we saw the “in town” house where dad was raised and the farm house a mile south where he was born. Both are on Highway 89. The last memory trip icon was the Old Rock House where Dad and Mom lived when they first were married.
Photo #3 – Rock House my dad and mom lived in when they were first married, located just off Highway 89 between Joseph and Sevier.
Highway 89 has long been a draw for backpackers and bikers, particularly in the more scenic areas and especially during warmer months. A walking/biking trail has even been built along several stretches of Highway 89 to accommodate non-motorized activity. Especially beautiful is the stretch through Marysville Canyonparalleling the scenic Sevier River. In the early part of the canyon, on the Sevier county side, sits the iconic Big Rock Candy Mountain. Famous for its caramel-colored hills, the site received its name from the song of the same name written and sung by Harry ‘Haywire’ McClintock in the early 1900’s. Perhaps today’s most well-known version is by Burl Ives.
We continued our journey down Highway 89, gently gliding through the canyon curves as the green pines whisked by. Miles of farm land and sage brush passed by, and several small scenic towns, like Circleville (where Butch Cassidy grew up) and historic Panguitch at the gateway to Bryce Canyon.
It was pitch dark by the time we hit Kanab smack dab at the bottom of the state. And that’s where Derek decided to hop out. He was on an adventure and he wanted to enjoy in daylight the beautiful Kaibab Forest bordering the north rim of the Grand Canyon. So that’s where we parted ways, forever connected by our drive down Highway 89, and by a memento Derek inadvertently left behind… a small cardboard sign.
Photo #4 – A connection of our trip down Highway 89 with Derek.
Have a great Monday! Thanks for letting me share.
p.s. Take 15 minutes to enjoy just a little more wherever the journey of life takes you today.