Greetings From: Moab, Utah

Taking a break from the trail in Moab, Utah.

by Michael Boyink/ mike@douglascountyherald.com

What if we break down?

What if the weather turns nasty?

What if we run out of money?

What if CPS knocks on our door?

What if we can’t stand living with each other in a 30’ RV?

What if.

The what if questions came fast and furious when we were trying to decide if we wanted to travel full-time as a family. 

Questions from friends. Questions from relatives. Questions from the dark recesses in our own psyches.

What if questions can be pragmatic. Logical. Reasonable. 

What if questions can help you plan and be prepared for different situations.

But often, what if questions are something else in disguise.

Fear.

Fear is skinny. It doesn’t need you to crack the door open very far to get in.

Fear has slipped into a lot of our doors these days. We’re afraid of disease. Afraid of demonstrations and riots. Of the police. Of terrorists acts. 

We’re afraid of each other.

COVID-19 has us calculating risks each time we need to venture out into public. Am I six feet away from that person? Is their mask on properly? Did I just hear her cough?

Looking back through our travel photos, Moab caught my eye. Yes, the scenery is stunning. Yes, Moab is Mecca for anyone who knows what the “Jeep wave” is.

But it was more than that.

It was the people.

We didn’t make arrangements to meet anyone in Moab. We didn’t know anyone who lived there. 

I just knew we were in the area and I wanted to go Jeeping. We found a campground to park the RV at, and I went out and rented a Jeep. 

I asked the rental agent for trail recommendations based on my experience and comfort level.

The next day we packed up and headed out early. 

And the what-ifs started.

What if we get stuck? What if the Jeep breaks down? What if I total a rental?

We never did this alone. We always went off-roading with other people. Having other people and rigs around was always a comfort in case something went awry.

But the Jeep rental was paid for. The cooler was packed. The camera was at hand. I figured if the trail looked too intense, we’d turn tail and go find something easier.

We were only alone until we arrived at the trailhead. There was already a pool of Jeeps queuing up to begin the trail. It was obvious that some of them were there as a group or club. 

We found a spot in line between two of the groups.

What happens on most Jeep runs is the group moves along until an obstacle comes along. The group leader is usually a more experienced driver who can get through the obstacle on his or her own. They then park and walk back to the obstacle to “spot” the lesser-experienced drivers through the tough spot. 

Using a combination of hand signals they communicate to the driver which way to point their tires, which line to take through the obstacle, when to use a bit more throttle, etc. 

These spotters didn’t quit when the last of their club went through. They saw us coming, saw that we were alone on the trail, and kept right up with the finger pointing and arm waving.

Like anywhere else in life, having an experienced guide helping a novice through a tricky place makes all the difference in the world. People are safer. Vehicle damage is minimized.

And fear is diminished.

We stayed with the group the rest of the day. Took breaks with them. Ate lunch with them. They took pictures of us. We took pictures of them.

Years later, I have no clue who they were. I remember they were a club out of Colorado, but that’s about it.

But looking at the photos, I remember their actions. I remember how welcoming they were. I remember they helped us enjoy the day more by being less stressed.

They give me hope. Hope that no matter what flavor of crisis we find ourselves in, no matter what fears are gripping us, no matter what obstacle is before us, there are people who have gotten through it. 

And one of them will be willing to turn around and spot others through that obstacle as well.

We just can’t be afraid to let them guide us.

National Parks, Jeeping, mountain biking, whitewater rafting and more are available in Moab, UT. Learn more at discovermoab.com. 

A volunteer spotter (right) helps me negotiate an off-camber downhill turn in Moab, Utah.
Another volunteer spotter helps me do a controlled slide down a steep trail section in Moab, Utah.
This Jeep club from Colorado welcomed us in and let us ride with them in Moab, Utah.