The global pandemic has left me altered. I once sped through excursions, booking trips within trips with an aim to tick as many items as possible off my bucket list. After two years marked by devastating personal losses, closures, and cancellations, I’m achingly aware of the fragility of life, and how salient time and shared memories are. I have discovered that the best of life happens in the in-between…the quiet spaces between the big moments and great adventures.
My quaranteam, as I call them, consists of my husband, two children (a 7-and 4-year-old), mother and I. We spent the bulk of the pandemic holed up, at home, together.
We were aching for an adventure, so when restrictions started to ease, we tip-toed back into travel. We chose Southern Utah. Although this destination is known as a playground for outdoors enthusiasts, we chose it for its fresh air and wide-open spaces.
Since my husband had to work, this trip out West was for my mother, two children, and I. During the planning phase, I wanted to ensure that we included activities that the entire family would enjoy. My mother loves tiny homes. She’s never actually lived or stayed in one; this love affair was purely theoretical – based partly on her desire to live a minimalist life and her consumption of tiny home television shows.
I knew we had to add a special activity to our Utah itinerary just for her. My research led me to Zion’s Tiny Oasis, a family-owned tiny house rental company, nestled on the west side of Zion National Park. Although we already had a vacation rental in St. George’s for our stay, I knew the tiny house would be a hit. I promptly booked a one-night stay and kept it as a surprise.
When we arrived in Southern Utah we oohed and ahhed at the landscape as we drove from St. George airport to our vacation home. We spent a few days hiking, canyoneering, and lazing about the poolside. When it was time for us to check in to our tiny home, we informed my mother that we had a surprise for her. I packed one day’s worth of clothes and food and set out for our tiny house adventure.
We arrived just after lunch, my mother quietly taking in the landscape as I drove up a steep dusty road to reach the property.
A cluster of four tiny houses was spread out atop a hill overlooking one of the entrances to Zion. We pulled up to the Guardian Angel and parked. When I explained to my mother that the 289-square-foot house would serve as our home for the night, she squealed with delight.
We quickly discovered that we had the whole compound to ourselves, and we decided to explore our new home and the surrounding area. We toured the tiny house together, opening hutches and discovering the multiple uses of single items.
On one side of the house, there were 180 degrees of tall windows providing knockout views of the surrounding striated mesas. On the other side was a kitchen/laundry room and full bathroom. Above that, was a set of removable stairs that led to a loft. I watched as my mom and kids clambered to the top and called dibs on the king-sized bed and loft.
Although our tiny house was equipped with WIFI and streaming TV services, we opted to forgo them. We sat on the porch drinking beer while our senses were immersed in the beauty of our natural surroundings instead. The sun dipping below the horizon and a praying mantis catching and enjoying its dinner served as entertainment that night. We went to bed sated and happy.
In the wee hours of the next morning, I climbed out of bed, made coffee, and woke my slumbering mother to join me outside. As the children slept, we waited for another installment of one of nature’s best shows. We sat shoulder to shoulder, sipping coffee and watching as glints of pinky purples, and deep yellows peeked between the mountains and eventually streaked across the sky.
In that moment, I realized that although we had spent the better part of two years together, we were often encumbered by so many other things. Our stay in this tiny house, set in a tranquil perch overlooking a national park, was a much-needed respite from our overstimulated lives. Since then, I’ve endeavored to savor the quiet, in-between moments with my family in our everyday lives and travels.