Up And Up The Grand Staircase


Why did we do this?

It will be fine.

It won't be fine!  The car can't take this and we are in middle of nowhere!  We don't have enough water, there's no cell service, and we can't afford to have another breakdown!  This was a stupid idea.

Back in town, the man at the grocery assured me the road was a breeze.

Don't worry . . . It's unpaved, but you won't have any issues.  They just fixed it last month!

The man back in town is a LIAR!  Or, at the very least, his definitions of the words 'breeze', 'road', and 'fixed' differ greatly from mine.

The road we are on now is by far the worst road we have ever been on in our lives.  40 miles of deeply-grooved gravel and stone, loaded with pot-holes, and covered in red dirt and dust.  Not a second goes by without a jolt from the tires or a knock from the engine.  And as the wind kicks up, we're lucky if we can see 10 feet in front of us.

The kids yell out over the defining rumble from the road.

It's like we're in a car wash!

Yes  . . . but THIS car wash is not doing a very good job today!



Is that a cow?

I hit the brakes and the car crumbles to a stop.

All is quiet except for the groans and bells from a herd of cattle that has decided to take over the "road".

We wait.

Why are we out here in the middle of Utah?  What are we doing? 

Sometimes we ask these questions as we wander off on these crazy journeys.  It doesn't seem worth it at times, but that is precisely when we have to push on through.  Turn around?  What's the point in turning around?  If we turn around all we get is a busted up car, a crappy experience, and a sarcastic wink from that guy back at the store.  No one is turning around.  Might as well see what's at the end of this nasty road.

As the cows make way, we press on to our destination.  We are on our way to the slot canyons of central Utah; just a small part of the massive Grand Staircase at Escalanate National Monument.  These canyons - like everything else in the American Southwest - were formed by water millions of years ago.  At one point, everything from Kansas to California was covered by a deep ocean.  Over time, the ocean receded, the lands shifted, and what we have left are thousands of otherworldly rock structures, covered in red-rusted iron, just waiting to be explored . . . and we are explorers.

We pull up to the trailhead of our destination and we all breathe a collective sigh of relief.

Now all we have to do is get back. 

We stumble out of the car, gather our dust-covered belongings, and head out to the canyons.  It's windy, hot, and we're all still vibrating a bit from the drive out.  The land is empty; nothing for miles.

Off We Go!






















A few weeks back I met a man from Germany.  He had shipped his van from Europe to the southern tip of Argentina and then driven it all the way up to its present home in Utah.

Must have been a bumpy ride getting up here?

Oh, Yes!

Some rough roads I bet?

Yes . . . but the best things lie at the end of the rough roads.


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'Up And Up The Grand Staircase' have 10 comments

  1. April 25, 2013 @ 3:14 pm Aly

    I really enjoy reading about your adventures. You are an inspiration for all of us following our dreams. Thanks for sharing your perspective on this wonderful life. I had to chuckle reading this post, it reminded me of a video that I was just shown last night. So many similarities. It's always great to push through the stumbles for the amazing rewards that follow. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nczw6xHJ0I


    • April 26, 2013 @ 12:57 am Justin Mussler

      Thats pretty good, and similar! Although I will say, the road we drove on was WAY worse! We did have a much better car though! :)


  2. April 25, 2013 @ 4:39 pm OCDemon

    I recall climbing on things like this to the absolute horror of worried onlooking parents. Luckily scuffed knees tend to the be the worst of the damage when you let little kids run free.
    OCDemon recently posted..How my poor Russian language skills got me out of paying a bribe


    • April 26, 2013 @ 12:46 am Justin Mussler

      I totally get what you're saying! In fact, we get way more banged up than the kids do! They are built for this!

      In places far off the main road, you rarely come across the who worry over nothing. The hardcore "worriers" wouldn't have made it over RT 12 in Utah! We always say, if we speak to people in a campground about travel and adventure - they get it! If we speak to people in Walmart about travel and adventure - they generally think we are nuts! Surround yourself with like-minded people!



  3. April 26, 2013 @ 2:08 pm Eddy Baez

    Ok, I swear these pictures are straight from the movie 'The hills have eyes too' Anyone that has seen this movie knows what i'm talking about. I just saw it for the first time last week.

    THE HILLS HAVE EYES TOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    You guys are in it!!


    • April 27, 2013 @ 9:57 am Justin Mussler

      Near as I can tell it was filmed in Morocco. When Chelso gets bit older, you have a road trip to take! This place is awesome!


  4. April 26, 2013 @ 7:28 pm Tracey - Life Changing Year

    No one is turning around. LOVE IT!!
    Tracey - Life Changing Year recently posted..Travel Planning Tips & Tricks #3 – Use Up All Your Pretty Stuff!


    • April 27, 2013 @ 9:54 am Justin Mussler

      That's it, right! Same for you guys. Once you're in, you can never leave!


  5. April 29, 2013 @ 1:19 pm Curtis


    The pictures are amazing! I bet your children had a great time. I know our boys would have been all over the place climbing.

    I have to give one word of unsolicited advice please... I was a deputy sheriff on the wilderness search and rescue team along with seven years of military survival training and a life long Boy Scout. I have, unfortunately, rescued people (families too) who got themselves over-extended. Some were not happy endings. Please be careful and safe.

    My wife teases me for being uber-prepared, but she acknowledges that she feels completely safe with me along. Hope for the best, plan for the worst.

    Take care,


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