Wandering Wednesday: Sam’s Playground Discovers Utah
For our Wandering Wednesday guest posts we ask a fellow travel blogger to highlight one place (city or entire country) that has been one of the most memorable for them. It can be a fond type of memorable, or “my hair caught on fire, I contracted rabies, and my luggage was stolen”- type of memorable. The good, the bad, and the ugly. We’re taking it all.
For today’s Wandering Wednesday, we’re featuring Sam from Sam’s Playground. Sam is a Kiwi who spend the first five years of his early schooling not at school, but travelling the world with his parents and younger sister. Skip forward ten years and he decided to travel again; with a backpack and no particular time frame he set off to see the world. Since May 2010, Sam has been travelling in Thailand, all over Europe, and North America. Most recently, Sam and his girlfriend Renee completed a three month road trip across the United States in their Chevy camper van.
Where to find Sam’s Playground:
First things first, Why do you travel?
I travel because there is so much in this world to see and do, and unless you go to different places you’re only ever going to experience a small fraction of what’s out there. Personally, I want to see and do everything. Impossible of course, but I’ve always liked the various sayings which encourage you to aim high; “Shoot for the stars and you’ll land on the moon”, and so forth.
What brought you to Utah?
Renee and I recently embarked on a road trip across the United States and parts of Canada. We wanted to experience the geography and natural wonders of North America. Before our trip I’d done a Google image search for photographs from various national parks to get an idea of what to expect; there were so many amazing photos from Utah, particularly Arches National Park that it became one of our most anticipated destinations.
What was your most memorable experience (good or bad) from your time in Utah?
This question is really difficult because my Utah experience really is the culmination of great experiences from all over the state of Utah. From hiking up to Angels landing in Zion National Park to going on a 4WD adventure with couchsurfers in Moab, it was all very memorable. However, I’m going to say my most memorable experience, what I really look back on during our time in Utah and think, “that was awesome”, was our various camping experiences. Utah has a lot of uninhabited, unfarmed land under the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) control. BLM land is found all over Utah and my understanding is that it’s not actively managed like a national park is, but it’s there for the people- meaning you can camp so long as you’re not disturbing the land. Many times after visiting a national park we would drive off down some dirt road, find a “previously disturbed” spot and camp for the night. This may not sound that exciting but I really loved it for two reasons, firstly public land where you can do as you like for free is not easily found in the U.S. (or any other country that I’m aware of). Secondly, the land and our camp sites were so amazing; red earth, perfectly clear starry skies, amazing rock formations, canyons…
Any advice for travelers headed to Utah?
Be prepared for some serious heat if you go in the summer like we did; the heat was the only major drawback. Roads can be closed in the winter, but spring and autumn should be really enjoyable.
Destination wise, my most memorable national park would be Zion National Park; however the town of Moab has both Canyonlands and Arches National Parks really close so it offers lots in the general area, more than Zion does.
Lastly, give yourself time. Lots of time. If you’re into the outdoors, you could spend months in Utah. You could explore for years and still be finding new canyons.
How did your experiences in Utah change you as a person and how you feel about travel?
The raw, unspoilt land of Utah reminded me that developed countries such at the United States are still worth exploring for their natural beauty. Also the peace and tranquility I found in so many of our campsites in BLM lands really made me want to slow down my pace of travel; seeing lots became less important and I felt deeply content relaxing in the environment and enjoying the moments.
Okay, last question. Where are you headed next and why?
Renee and I have booked hostel accommodation in Quebec city for the Winter Carnival. I hear there are dogsled races and all manner of events to celebrate winter. I also hear that it’s actually a big drinking festival so I’m looking forward to both aspects.
Do you or someone you know have a memorable experience from your travels? Want to be featured on one of our Wandering Wednesday posts? Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org