Costa Rica – Day 32 – Having a Flashback

The journey has to feel like you want the destination to feel

The only thing getting me through this day is the knowledge that Rachel is coming to Costa Rica for her birthday, one week from today.  Last year, at this time we were just about to embark on our epic road trip out west to Utah, and then Alaska.

Allow me to reminisce…

We land in Salt Lake City, get upgraded to a HUGE SUV (we were supposed to get an eco hybrid), and go meet with up my friend Jeff and his wife Naomi.  Thanks to the magic of Facebook, he and I have reconnected after 20 years and he graciously invites us to stay in his home.

We hit a brew pub for dinner and stay up for hours back at their place, talking about the good old days of AYSO Soccer and mutual friends from high school.

From there, Rachel and I take our big, black SUV on our adventure.  Sundance.

We take the tram to the top of the mountain.

Sundance Tram

The view is spectacular.


After a brief stay here, we jam on to Arches.  It was like driving to a different planet.  The landscape is otherworldly, like nothing I’ve ever seen.  I got a tip from a fellow yogini (thanks Lisa!) to stay in the Bureau of Land Management campgrounds.  We got there right at sunset.  With no daylight to spare, we surprisingly got a great spot, with a view of the Colorado river.

BLM Campground

The next day we set out to explore.  We didn’t even get into the park yet, we were still on BLM land, and found some amazing sites

BLM Land

If it wasn’t for Costa Rica, my plan was to hit a skydiving boogie in Moab.  I would love to see this landscape from 10,000 feet.

We spent the morning hiking, climbing all over rocks, and photographing everything in site.  I’m lucky to travel with my own personal photographer.  First of all because she doesn’t mind that I stop every 3 minutes to take a picture, and secondly because she’s a damn good photographer.  It’s like traveling with your own personal paparazzi.

Photo Credit, Rachel K. Muich

Photo Credit, Rachel K. Muich

After hiking all day, we finally decided to head into the park to get some sunset shots.  Delicate arch.  It’s what all the cool kids are doing.

Almost There, Delicate Arch

By the time we are not even halfway, I want to die.  I have a pounding heat-induced headache, and there is no relief to be found.  No shade.  And it’s all uphill.

Every step feels like agony, and I consider turning around.  If I give up now Rachel would follow, and we’ve come all this way.  There are young and old, as well as clearly out of shape people passing us by.  Then, I remember, I live as a flatlander at nearly sea level.  I’m fighting some altitude here, and cut myself some slack.

The 1.5 mile ascent takes us 2 hours.  The clearly out of shape man sitting next to me on the rocks while drinking his two liter of Coke is doing just fine.  I am not.  My palms are sweating.  My legs are sweating.  I begin to look around to see if anyone looks like they might be a medical professional.  I wonder if they’ve ever had to airlift people from this particular location in the park, or if I be the first.  I even make note of an area where the helicopter could land.  I sip (warm) water and focus on my breath.

Everyone is lining up to get a photo under the arch.  I’m afraid to stand up.

Delicate Arch

We descend at twilight and reach the bottom at dark.  A family with two reluctant teenagers in flip flops was just starting their journey.  In the dark.  Without flashlights.  We warned them of the rocky terrain, and they proceeded on, seemingly un-phased by the possibility of death.

Rachel drives us out of the park and directly to a gas station where she buys me coconut water and something salty.  I hate coconut water but she makes me drink it anyway.  My head is pounding and I feel nauseous.  I may have just experienced my first heat stroke.

The following day I am back to ‘normal’.  We drive the 8 mile loop, and try to hit all of the sites that we have yet to explore.

Balance Rock

The Windows

Reluctantly, we leave the park having barely scraped the surface of all this land has to offer.  I have arranged to photograph 2 women in Little Cottonwood Canyon for the Art of Intention project.  We have a schedule to keep.

Once we arrive Stacy leads the way and takes us to her ‘spot’.  My intention behind the Intentions project is to photograph yogis where they are inspired to come to their practice in nature.

The woods are beautiful and it is cool here, compared to hot, dry air of the desert.  We cross a creek, and Rachel impales herself with a stick.  On top of that, she hasn’t been feeling well all morning.   We continue to bound over sharp boulders with steep drop-offs until we finally hit the spot.  The view is spectacular.


As the sun sets, the lighting is perfect


The next morning is a sunrise photo shoot on the salt flats of Salt Lake with Arwa Jundi.

To learn more about this project check out my website here


I could spend days here exploring the landscape and the way the light changes but we have a rather tight schedule.  After the photo shoot, we are off to the airport to drop off the car and take a bus to see a friend and fellow yogini in Twin Falls, Idaho.

What is normally a 2 hours drive takes 6 hours.  Throughout this entire trip, Rachel has been in agony with low back pain.  The bus trip makes it worse.  By the time we arrive at Deb’s, Rachel is barely holding it together.  Within 5 minutes she’s in the hot tub with a glass of wine in hand.  One hour later Deb, who is a healer by nature, is giving her a massage with China gel.  This is the first time they have met and totally hit it off.  I love my friends.

Angela drives all the way from Seattle that night to spend the weekend with us.  We’ll drive back with her through Idaho and Montana and fly out of Seattle to Anchorage.  Deb grills the most amazing meals for us, makes the best margaritas, and sets us up in a sweet little spare room in her new home. We hit the farmer’s market, check out the quaint little downtown area, hike in the high desert heat through rocky sage, and take in the view of this incredible waterfall.

Twin Falls

A&J at Twin Falls 2013


On the last morning of our stay, Deb and I have a date for a long awaited sunrise photo shoot.  She was the original inspiration behind the Art of Intention photo project.  It feels particularly rewarding to be here, finally making this happen.  We’ve only been talking about it for 2 years.

It’s an arduous hike up the mountain, but Deb is in great shape and leads the way.  I’m huffing and puffing and grateful that the morning is cool and quiet.  No one is out.  We have the place to ourselves.

Despite my reluctance to be an early riser, there’s nothing quite like the quality of light at this time of day.

Deb Sunrise

That night we are camping in Montana, and the next day, we bid Angela a fond farewell.  Our Alaska Adventure awaits!

The mountains are calling and I must go.  ~ John Muir

I’ll finish my reminiscing of Alaska for another time.  That particular state deserves an entire blog entry and requires more energy than I have at the moment.

Thursday was a rough day, perhaps the most emotionally taxing since my arrival here.  The journey through time has been a good reminder of the love in my life, in myself.  I am grateful.