The Trip of a New Lifetime: Utah and the Grand Canyon

It’s going to be fairly difficult for me to put my one year Whippleversary trip into words. But I’ll give it a go and try to keep it organized.

Bright Angel Trail, Grand Canyon

As I shared in my last post, after chemo treatment, a Whipple surgery, and more chemo, I finally began to feel like I was sort of prepared to send my broken body out into the world to see what would happen. Apparently I like a challenge and put together a trip that could make or break me. Or do both, simultaneously.

The Itinerary

  • Day 1: Fly from Orlando to Salt Lake City and drive to Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Day 2: Explore Bryce Canyon and attend the first rodeo of the season
  • Day 3: Hike Wilson Creek Slot Canyon and visit more of Bryce Canyon
  • Day 4: Drive from Bryce to the Southern Rim of the Grand Canyon via Lake Powell and Horseshoe Bend
  • Day 5: Hike Bright Angel Trail at the Grand Canyon
  • Day 6: More Grand Canyon
  • Day 7: Skydive over the Grand Canyon; Drive from the Grand Canyon to Monticello, UT via Monument Valley
  • Day 8: Glamping at Monticello and Arches National Park in Moab
  • Day 9: Drive in the Abajo Mountains and visit Moab
  • Day 10: Drive from Monticello to Sundance Mountain Resort to Salt Lake City
  • Day 11: Fly from Salt Lake back to Orlando


Since we were only a couple months out from departure, there weren’t a lot of hotel options in our price range. Oddly, that’s the fun part for me – looking for alternatives and making it work.

Bryce Canyon Lodging:

Grand Canyon Lodging:

Salt Lake City:

When planning the trip, I felt like I was leaving plenty of room for rest. But we made ourselves busy with sightseeing and coming across random things to do.

I think that helped me forget about how tired I was or how my stomach was feeling. Having something to see or do kept me moving forward. The day after hiking three miles of Bright Angel, I took a nice, long nap.


Many have asked what my favorite part of the trip was, and I just can’t decide! Each stop had it’s own unique aspect, so I’ll name a few things from each.

Bryce Canyon

  • Bryce Canyon is famous for the largest collection of hoodoos in the world. I told Nelson that this must be where Disney got the inspiration for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. I’ve never seen such vivid hues of red and orange.
  • Hiking the Willis Creek Slot Canyon was a good experience for our first slot! I am claustrophobic, but this was a wider slot and not too deep. There was only one portion that was a little hard to navigate.
  • I can’t leave out the rodeo! It was our first rodeo and it was so much fun to see the cowboys have their go at the bulls and broncos, while the little ones hung on to sheep for as long as they could. The barrel racing was also very impressive.

Grand Canyon

  • Just seeing the Grand Canyon with my own eyes was a check on my bucket list. It doesn’t even look real. You see it, but you can’t fathom it.
  • Hiking into the canyon was also special as it gives you another amazing perspective. You can’t help but look at your surroundings and comment on how HUGE it is. I hope to hike all the way down to Phantom Ranch and back one day!
  • Skydiving over the canyon. No further description needed. Just do it.


  • First, our glamping experience at Glamping Canyonlands was everything I had hoped it would be. I am by no means a camper. But I am now a life-long glamper. Our hosts included so many details and I settled right in. From breakfast in the mornings, the stars at night, the lovely breeze, posh toilet and shower facility . . . I can’t praise the experience enough.
  • I was surprised to see a cluster of mountains close by to our glamping tent. We drove 10-20 minutes to enjoy the cooler air, lakes, and alpine-like scenery.
  • Arches is a highlight and the rock formations are stunning. However, if for some reason we weren’t able to make it there, I don’t think I would feel like we missed out. The area surrounding Arches is also beautiful and there are also arches off the highway and in Canyonlands (which we didn’t make it to).

Sundance/Salt Lake City

I look at our photos and I just can’t believe that it’s me. My new normal is hanging in there. I’m learning to go with the flow, enjoy each moment, and allow God to show me his beautiful creation. It’s been a complete 180 from last year and I can’t get enough of it!

Let me know if you have any questions about our trip or need any recommendations!

2 responses to “The Trip of a New Lifetime: Utah and the Grand Canyon”

  1. Those pictures are amazing- I’m sure they must have been great experiences!

    1. I would definitely do it all over again!

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