UTAH is our new JAM | Our Ten Year Anniversary Trip

Monday, May 31, 2021

Ten years ago, when we got married, Brian planned an epic surprise honeymoon. He did all of the legwork and I had no clue where we were going until we reached our layover in Miami. He presented me with a travel guide (my love language) and I got to open it up to reveal our destination. It was dreamy, and still one of our favorite memories. 

Our Honeymoon in Antigua | June 2011

We love traveling and are committed to travel together, without kids, every year for our anniversary. We've had to get creative and make some compromises over the years, but we've mostly made it happen - and it's been the best thing ever for our relationship. Getting away, adventuring together, having alone time to be just us - it's a game changer. And something we are ALWAYS indescribably grateful for. 

Antigua | Alaska | Colorado | San Francisco | Wisconsin | Ireland | Paris | Cayman Islands | Belgium

Fun Fact: In our ten years together, we've managed to adventure through 15 countries and 25 states! We travel both with and without the kids, and it's definitely a huge part of our lives together (and a major reason we love homeschooling).

We've been talking about our ten year anniversary for years. We knew we wanted it to be an epic new location, and Brian planned to keep this trip a surprise again! We were both stoked. He planned an international, multi-country trip all by himself.  

And then that pesky global pandemic shut everything down (again), and we had to go to Plan B. (womp womp)

One of our many life goals is to visit all fifty states, so he suggested we pick a state we hadn't visited yet and make it happen. Again, he planned the whole trip as a surprise and I had no clue where we were going. 

After all of the work of planning the previous trip, and it being cancelled, Brian was very concerned about this trip. He was a bit disappointed and worried that it wouldn't be magical enough. Turns out, he was hecka wrong. 


Day One | Busting Out

  • Early Morning Flight
  • Picked up the Jeep
  • Visit to the Capitol + Memorial Grove Park
  • Dinner at Lake Effect

It had been two and a half years since we traveled without kids, so we were BEYOND giddy as we loaded up and headed to the airport. The epic feeling of calm and freedom knowing you ONLY have to worry about fun and relaxing is the BEST in the world. It's worth all of the planning and preparation a good vacation requires. Seriously. Go do it. 

We picked up the Jeep (our vacation car of choice), dropped our stuff at the hotel, and headed straight out to take in the sights. First up was Capitol Hill. We walked around, took in the beautiful architecture, people watched, and swooned over the mountain views. 

From there, we walked down to the Memorial Grove Park. This is a super neat area, because the city's war memorials are incorporated right into a beautiful, lively park. Our tour guide later pointed out how other memorials (like in Washington DC) are somber and quiet, but how this one encourages life to be lived, which is exactly what our soldiers sacrificed their lives for. It was a neat way of looking at it.

We finished our night off at Lake Effect - a super duper adorable and swanky bar right by our hotel. Our car rental gal had raved about it, and we were stoked to find out it was next door. Turns out it was the place to be, and most people make reservations or wait a while. ALSO turns out most people get dressed up to go, so I was only SLIGHTLY (or a lot) out of place in my yogas and tennis shoes. 

But we had a blast anyway, and the drinks were so stinkin' yummy. It was a great first night of vacay!

Day Two | The Great Salt Lake

  • Antelope Island State Park
  • Red Rock Brewing Company
  • Salt Lake City Library

On our first full day, we slept in (duh) and then decided to head out to Antelope Island State Park. We had read it was the place to see The Great Salt Lake, and man, it did not disappoint. Today would be a lot of driving, so we took the top off the jeep (hey, vacay!), grabbed some coffee, and were OFF! 

Antelope Island is so beautiful. It was quiet and serene, and luckily we had perfect weather. We took a short hike, spent some time just taking in the views, saw some fun little critters and hundreds of bison! We read about the history and stories of the island, and were just in awe by all of our surroundings. We knew we were going to LOVE Utah, and any concerns about this trip being "less than" our big international trip were totally put to rest. 

We headed back into the city and made our first of TWO stops at Red Rock Brewery. Ya'll this place was HECKA delicious. I ordered the Sweet Potato Cannelloni with a Paardebloom Beer, and I knew I'd be back for more of both.

After dinner, we decided to make a stop at the Salt Lake City Library. I love ANY room or building full of books, but this place was definitely one of the most beautiful libraries I had ever seen. If we weren't exhausted, and if I had been allowed to actually take books home, we would have been in trouble in that place. 

Day Three | Tenth Anniversary Done Right
  • Hot Air Balloon
  • Breakfast at Five Seeds
  • Big Cottonwood Canyon
  • Lunch at Current Fish & Oyster
  • Nap
  • Salt Lake Bees Baseball Game

Brian kept today's main activity a surprise as his gift for our tenth anniversary. We got up way too early in the morning (hello, 4am) and I had no clue how to dress. He just said comfy but cute, and pretty cold, but no too cold, and possibly windy but he wasn't sure... 


Anyway, we made the drive out to Park City and I was THRILLED to find out we were headed to embark on a hot air balloon ride. (Side note: I had totally guessed this and he told me I was wrong, and I BELIEVED him. You'd think I would learn by now.)

We had a quick,  disappointing hang-up when our balloon guy CANCELLED our trip due to wind, but quickly recovered when Brian just asked another guy at the same launch site if he'd take us up with him. Only as I type this am I realizing we just hopped in Hot Air Balloon with a guy we knew nothing about. 

Don't worry. We survived. 

It was extremely interesting to learn how the balloon was prepped for flight. They literally just used a fan to get the balloon started. Brian got to help prep the balloon, while I just took it all in. How. completely. amazing. 

Fun Fact: Brian is terrified of heights. For me, the ride was surprisingly peaceful and totally gorgeous. Brian had a blast too, but describes his feet as clenching the floor for dear life. His stomach flipped out every time I reached over the edge for a picture, and I was totally entertained! 

After our epic adventure, we headed to a local place for the yummiest breakfast EVER. We had vegetarian Eggs Benedict, the prettiest and most delicious pancake you've ever seen in your life, and couple of hecka yummy chai lattes. 

We spent an hour or so walking the cute little downtown of Park City, bought some tees for a very necessary wardrobe change (it got hot quickly!) and then headed toward Big Cottonwood Canyon for more gorgeous driving. I cannot emphasize enough how perfect it was to have a Jeep on this trip. If you're planning to take in these sites, make sure you can take the top off! 

After the Canyon, we checked Trip Advisor (our travel app of choice) to see where we should eat next. Current was at the top of the list, so we made reservations and headed that way. We were thrilled to see that Open Table had notified the restaurant of our anniversary and they had special little menus for us! It's the little things that make the experience that much more special! 

I think we sat outside for every meal of the entire trip, but this was one of my favorite settings. It was cool and beautiful, and had a very swanky vibe (again, in my yogas!). We ordered a couple of very refreshing sour beers, crab cakes (our fave!), fish tacos, and the best freaking tuna melt you've ever had. You need one in your life. 

This is also where our waitress told us we looked too young to have been married ten years. That sweet girl made my day!

After a quick nap (cuz we're old and we got up at 4am), we donned our yellow and headed off to a Bees Baseball Game! I had read that the stadium was worth experiencing, and the reviews were not wrong. It's a small stadium, so there's not a bad seat in the house, and the mountains provide the most stunning background to the game. Our seat was shaded, the beers were delish, and it was the perfect relaxing end to a phenomenal day. Also: Bees were my high school mascot, so I was feeling extra giddy about donning my new Bees visor. They are officially my new (also first) favorite baseball team. 

Day Four | I'm Never Coming Home
  • History Tour via Segway
  • Red Rock Brewery (again)
  • Bonneville Salt Flats
  • A Little Off-Roading
  • Street Art Festival 

I used to think city tours would be lame. I'm not sure why I was so dumb, but we realized a while back how totally amazing it is to let someone who knows what they're talking about teach you the history and culture of the place you're visiting. If you haven't started looking for local tours when you travel, I highly recommend it. We chose a Segway tour because we didn't want to be inside on a bus (a waste of beautiful weather) and I worry about long bike tours and my butt hurting by the end (funny, but true!). Plus Segways are so fun!

We learned about the Mormon pioneers of the city, how and why it was founded, and that the Mormon church still owns a large part of Salt Lake City. We learned about the Mormon religion, had lots of questions answered, and got to see some beautiful historic sites representing their history and culture. 

On the right: Brigham Young's House

After the tour, we hit up Red Rock Brewery... again. I can't help it, ya'll. It was just the most delish food ever. This time we ordered the same beer and sweet potato cannelloni, but also added sweet potato fries and avocado toast to the table. The avocado toast was so. freaking. amazing. that we ordered a second round of it and screenshot the menu to try and recreate it at home!

And then it was time. 

Even after several days of breathtaking experiences, I need you to know that this next one took the cake. And it almost didn't happen. Brian had written off the salt flats because he thought they were further away. But we mapped it and decided that the 3 hour round trip was totally worth making, especially since we both love the ride and we've got nothing better to do! So we created a makeshift cooler, loaded up some beer, and headed out!

Here's what you need to know about the salt flats: 

A salt crust ranging from a few inches to 5 feet thick forms a perfectly flat, uniform, blindingly white crust as far as the eye can see. The flats are about 12 miles long and five miles wide, covering about 46 square miles in total. Visitors from all around the world have traveled to see this pristine, otherworldly landscape about an hour and half west of Salt Lake City. 

Aside from the beautiful views, the salt flats are an international hub for car racing. Several speed records have been set at the flats, including the one-time land-speed record of 630 mph, established in 1970 and standing until 1983.

We drove out until there wasn't another person in sight. And then we just hung out. We talked, enjoyed the quiet, snapped a bunch of photos, and swooned over the beautiful salt and mountains. We sat on top of the jeep and just enjoyed the moment.

Once we were done sitting, it was time for some driving. This is the part Brian was most looking forward to, because you are allowed to drive as FAST as your car will take you while out on the flats. Our Jeep topped out at 110mph, which was plenty fast enough for me!

Once he finished doing that a couple of times, he entertained himself (ok, me too) by putting the Jeep on cruise control (at a safe 10mph) and surfing on top. He was giddy, ya'll. Living his BEST LIFE. Definitely one of my favorite moments with him, not only because it was hecka fun, but also because this guy DESERVES to let loose. And it's a treat to watch.


We didn't want to leave, but knew we'd be starving and burnt to a crisp if we didn't get out of there, so we finally decided to mosey on back toward the city. On the way back, we happened upon some off-road trails, and couldn't help but explore. 

That night, we finally got dressed in something other than outdoorsy clothes (I wore a dress!), and then we didn't take a single picture! We spent the evening on Main Street grabbing food, taking in street performers for a festival that was happening, and just enjoying our last night in Salt Lake City.

Day Five | Making the Most of It
  • Fly Fishing
  • Flights Home

Day five was our last day and we were not ready to give up on the adventures, so we decided to make it another early morning and book a fly fishing excursion before our afternoon flights. Neither of us fish much, nor had we ever been fly fishing, but someone we'd met had mentioned it and it just sounded like an experience worth having.

I am SO glad we chose to get up early and make this trip work. The photos don't even begin to do justice to the gorgeous surroundings, and the peace and calm of being in the river. It was just so quiet, and so stunningly beautiful. We each caught several fish, and were just giddy with the experience, minus the freezing cold toes. :) 

Even though this isn't the trip we were expecting for our ten year, it turned out to be everything we could have ever wanted in an anniversary adventure. What a treat to get away to such a gorgeous place and just enjoy each other and a new place. 

Here's to ten more years of adventuring together! 

1 comment :

  1. How fun! I have been to Utah many times (used to work for a company that was headquartered there).It is gorgeous and Salt Lake stinks! LOL! Happy anniversary guys!


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