The visit was long overdue.  Since moving to Utah almost six years ago I’ve hosted a number of friends and family, most came to pillage the infamous Utah powder while twice my parents came out to explore the Colorado Plateau’s famed scenery.  Yup, mom, dad, and my little brother had all come out multiple times… who was missing?  My sister!  Though I tried my best to tempt her out with promises of natural splendor and no religious freaks, she hadn’t made the trip until last week.  It was a long time in the making but it was an amazing time.

I picked her up at the airport and was happy to hear her say the weather was much nicer in Utah than back east.  An early season heat wave had her relaxing in the 70 degree temps of SLC.  We relaxed and did a little catching up; we plotted what the rest of the week might shape up to be.  The next day we headed downtown- our first stop was Temple Square.  We toured the gorgeous grounds and stopped in at the Brigham Young house for a tour.  It was my first time in the building and rather than being bombarded by missionaries selling their faith we were simply given a nice tour of the premises.  Some interesting history in there.

After the Square it was off to Caputo’s- a true taste of the east coast.  I love eating at Tony C’s because it instantly takes me back to the Italian Market in Philly.  The outdoor produce stands and insanely good sandwiches are something I still miss to this day.  She approved of the lunch and from there it was off to the city library.  I suppose I wanted to show her that the Beehive State does indeed have some pretty cool buildings and we’re not that far out of the loop.  We took a drive up Big Cottonwood Canyon and Megan was pumped to spot some climbers near the S-turn.  She had planned ahead and sent a box of Omaha Steaks, so we ate well that night (tenderloins and caesar salad…mmmm!).

Me and my sis at 8,300'

We woke up and jumped back into the truck.  Our goal was to climb Grandeur Peak in Millcreek canyon- it was my sister’s first time hiking in Utah.  The weather held out and the trail was empty… just me, my sis and my dog, Janna pup.  We made the summit and soaked up the sun.  Even though it was June 2nd it was still quite chilly at the top.  In fact, the last 500 feet or so were mostly snowpacked.  Back in the valley it was another tasty meal on the grill, this time chicken breasts and twice baked potatoes.  We went to bed with visions of Moab in our head… it was time to show her the desert!

We pulled into the visitor center at Canyonlands NP around 2 o’clock.  Sandwiches at the picnic table with a friendly couple who were touring the west in their fifth wheel trailer.  From there we took the driving tour of Island in the Sky.  Upheaval Dome, the Grand View Point and a few other sights were on the list.  Megs even dangled her feet over a 1,000 foot cliff near one of the lookouts… gutsy!  I pointed the X down Dubinky Well Road.  8 miles later we arrived at the top secret “snowman site.”  Jeff and I discovered this great car camping spot a couple years prior.  My sis was a tad worried about our distance from, well, anything.  We had seen a couple of cowboys in their trailer a few miles back, but that wasn’t enough to calm her nerves.  No worries, as soon as we had a fire built and a few beers in our bellies she was right at home.  We gazed at the stars and reconnected.  We talked about old friends, old parties and what became of those faces.  Then we shifted to our current lives:  new and old loves, family, and even some talk of careers.  It was a special moment, one that I’m happy I’ll be able to hold on to forever.  Me and my sister, deep in the open space of America, simply enjoying a long talk by a campfire.

The next day we made the short drive to Arches NP.  The Three Gossips, Park Avenue and Balanced Rock all provided exciting views before we arrived at Devil’s Garden.  We lathered up on sunscreen and headed out on the Primitive Loop Trail.  Megan was impressed with the amazing array of arches along the way.  She was also a bit concerned when we hiked right up a sandstone fin; she thought it seemed a bit dangerous but I assured her it was all a part of the fun.  The trail wore on and the sun was beating down on us (perhaps high noon was a bad time to head out into the slickrock).  We were both pretty worn down by the time we arrived back at the parking lot, and the water spigot was welcomed relief.  We ate a nice lunch at one of the picnic tables.  Chipmunks, pinyon jays and ravens played just feet away from our spot.

one of the views during our hike through Arches National Park

I was happy that Megan insisted on a hotel room in Moab for our second night.  There is something to be said for a shower and a beer at the Brewery after a big hike.  Ice cream was brought back to the hotel and eaten as we lounged on the comfy beds.  The next morning we stopped by the Colorado River to check out some rock art and then it was back to the city.  Three hours later we arrived and  fired up a kick-ass BBQ.  Burgers with all the fixins and tons of sides were devoured by everyone at the house… another great meal with great company.

For her final full day in town I brought her up to Park City.  We took a lazy stroll up Main Street and stopped in a local photographer’s gallery.  Impressive work within those walls.  Lunch at the deli and the storm clouds rolled in as we headed back to SLC.  A relaxing afternoon gave way to evening and dinner at the Red Iguana.  A nice way to end things.

The next morning we embraced before she made her way into the airport.  No tears, just big smiles and a warm hug.  The doors closed behind her and it was all over… within four hours or so she would be back on the east coast and I would be back to the norm.  The week we spent together was a long time coming, but was worth the wait.  Looks like it’s my turn to head out east for a visit, but hopefully she’ll be back in Utah before too long.

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