By Kaye Olsson, I Start Wondering Contributor
I admit it, I am a travel junkie. As I have gotten older, I’ve become less interested in being a consumer and my focus has shifted from accumulating possessions to simply enjoying life. When I do choose to spend money now, I prefer to spend it on experiences that will create happy memories. The innate human craving for novelty often drives me to seek new places that are a bit out of the norm. That’s why the growing trend of “glamping,” which is a more glamorous twist on camping, seems especially appealing.
Hitching Her Wagon to Unique Opportunities
So when I read about a place where I could spend the night in a Conestoga wagon in the middle of the desert, I jumped at the chance. It sounded like such a quirky – and memorable – experience. I convinced a friend to take a short flight with me to Salt Lake City, Utah. We then drove to Torrey, Utah, a town so small that it’s not even on most maps. Here we discovered the Capitol Reef “Resort” (a term I use loosely), which backed up to the Capitol Reef National Park.
The red rocks of the desert provided a gorgeous backdrop with multiple hiking trails and sunny, blue skies each day. The resort had large wagons in groups of six arranged in circles around several fire pit areas. Each wagon was equipped with a king-sized bed, electric lamps, and a small air-conditioning unit. Since temperatures in the desert drop significantly at night, there was also an electric blanket to help me stay warm. Next to the wagon circle was a small building with six private bathrooms. I had a key to my own bathroom which had hot water, a toilet, a shower, and a safe.
Surprisingly Comfortable – and With an Interesting Experience
The Evening Fire Pit
Sleeping in the wagon was surprisingly comfortable. It was lovely to feel the cool breezes waft from the front opening through the canvas flap above my headboard. The wagon rocked gently in the wind and the views of millions of stars across the night skies were absolutely amazing. It made me wonder what the early western pioneers had thought as they gazed at those same stars so many years ago.
The fire pits were lit each evening from 7-11 PM, which encouraged guests to gather and interact with each other. We lounged in the Adirondack chairs and roasted marshmallows as we chatted about the day’s adventures. The best part was simply unplugging from technology and tuning in to the sounds and smells of the surrounding natural environment. It was the perfect combination of being close to nature while still enjoying a few creature comforts.
Calling on Creativity
Inside the Wagon
The Conestoga wagon experience was truly unique and definitely memorable. To me, it was so much more valuable, and provided longer-lasting happiness, than any concrete “thing” I could have purchased. I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to travel before restrictions were put in place during early 2020.
As the pandemic wears on it brings with it feelings of uncertainty, but that doesn’t mean we have to give up on adventures entirely. It simply means we’ll need to employ a bit more creativity in cultivating novel experiences while still safeguarding our health. Consider visiting outdoor spaces closer to home, participating in virtual tours online, or even trying new recipes from faraway places. The gift of technology allows us to share these things and interact with others we may not be able to see in person. Even given this new environment, I still believe investing our resources in experiences can be far more satisfying than accumulating more stuff.