Asher on Aspen: Unplugging in Moab
Asher on Aspen
When I was a kid, I remember roaming around outside for hours on end.
My only cue to go home was by way of the streetlamps. I had no agenda and no sense of time. I would wander through the neighborhood and delve into every inch of it. Living on a lake, there was always plenty of land to explore. I remember moseying around the streets with my friends and noticing all the little things.
I would lay on our trampoline and watch the birds hop from one power line to the next. I would sit on the dock and run my fingers across the paint chips flaking off. My sister and I would kick up the gravel as we raced each other to see the horses down the street. At dusk, I would sit wide-eyed on our front porch waiting for the first firefly to appear. These simple moments from my childhood brought me so much joy. No matter what the season was or who I was with, I was always happiest when I was outside in nature.
Traveling to the desert this past weekend made me feel nostalgic for my carefree childhood — for that innocent, untroubled spirit that didn’t hold any worries or anxieties. I felt like a kid again exploring the outdoors, with no cell service and no sense of time. Everything felt simple again.
The month of May in Aspen marks the time of year that that green Colorado license plates tend to take over the town of Moab, Utah. Locals flee to this desert oasis to escape the gloomy (and oftentimes rainy) offseason days in Aspen. I spontaneously decided just the night before that I was going to join my friends on this last-minute trip. Our getaway consisted of no concrete plans whatsoever — and I was fine with that. After a rainy week in Aspen, I was more than ready to jet and take refuge in the desert for a couple of days.
We left on a Friday after work at 5 p.m. Our car was stuffed with three humans, two dogs and all the necessary camping essentials. This included tents, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, pillows, headlamps, paddleboards, and our food for the weekend. We didn’t arrive at the campsite until well after dark. Setting up our tents by moonlight and a couple headlamps was harder than we anticipated, but we laughed our way through it and made it happen. After settling in, we stargazed for a bit while catching up with the Aspen friends who met us there.
We woke to the sounds of nature, rather than the alarms on our digital devices. Rubbing my eyes, I unzipped the tent and crawled out cautiously while scanning the ground for my sandals. It wasn’t even 7 a.m., and the sun was already fierce with heat. I shuffled over to the picnic table to meet the other early risers who had just started munching on their breakfast.
With no rush or desire to rush, we eventually decided that we should all go for a hike. We made our way to Mill Creek Canyon, a popular trail that winded through a beautiful canyon, eventually reaching a small waterfall with an open swimming area. The hike was stunning. We marveled at the surrounding natural landscapes — sandstone arches, majestic canyons and panoramic vistas as far as the eye could see. The layers of sediment produced a stunning, multi-layered landscape that resembled a magnificent painting. It didn’t look real. It almost felt like we were walking on Mars.
Having been to Moab many times, I was pleased that our group opted for a more leisurely than usual weekend where we enjoyed each other’s company and prioritized the camping and the bonding side of things rather than the usual excursions (renting ATVs, paddleboarding, Arches and Canyonland). Don’t get me wrong — those are all incredible things to experience in Moab, but sometimes it’s just nice to enjoy the beauty of doing nothing. To notice the little things — the crackle of the campfire, how bright and glorious the stars are at night, or the way everyone starts smiling when a good song gets played.
Sometimes, it’s comforting not to have an agenda and to just sit and embrace the company of the people you’re with. It also feels nice not to have service, and to have everyone fully present. For once, I wasn’t concerned with my responsibilities at work, or what anyone else was doing on social media. It felt refreshing to be off the grid, submerged in nature noticing the little things, without a care in the world like a kid waiting for the streetlamps to come on.
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