The Great Oblication: From Miami to Moab, Utah and Arches National Park

How do you manage to go from this …

to this …

in the same trip? I guess, the same way your 9-year-old can cram all of this into her “what I did on my summer vacation” illustration below.

It’s called the “oblication,” as in taking a trip you are obligated to take and turning some aspect of it into a vacation.

And if this family is good at anything, it’s taking a trip and turning it into an adventure. One that I should get to telling, though it will take me the next few months to do. It seems like just yesterday, though, I was crammed in a car with my Brady Bunch family driving from the tip of Colorado to the desert, winding up in Las Vegas for my first time—well, all of our first times, sans Jorge—for a work trip. And the in between, well, that was the best part.

It all started when Jorge and I got invited to Project, the be-all, end-all in contemporary fashion. It’s where you go to find out what will be in stores for the coming seasons. Not only would it be my first trip to Vegas, it would be my first time in a convention center with thousands of designers I love. And since we were headed West, why not take the kids along and tag a family aspect to the fun? And there you have it, oblication.

But where? Where would we go? And then it hit us: On our last Hampton by Hilton family outing to Colorado to spring ski, we saw stunning photos of the canyons and arches in Utah’s parks as we made our way through the airport. The way the sun’s ray captured the brilliant reds in the enormous rocks. We needed to go there, to see that in person. To share that with the kids. To share that together.

Then we saw this video and it solidified everything.

{Balancing rock.}

The Plan: We’d land in the corner of Colorado, hop a rental car and drive from Colorado to Utah’s Mighty Five, the five national parks that descended like a staircase across the state. Once our mighty five met their Mighty Five, we’d then drive right into Vegas and finish up our business. And all along the way we’d make Hampton by Hilton our home away from home.

With “the plan” in tact, we loaded up our crew, boarded the plane and touched down far from home. Sure, maybe we stuffed the kids in coach while we had a cocktail or two in another class, but hey, there was plenty of time for family time. We were taking in grown-up time before family car feuds, “I have to go to the bathrooms,” “are we there yets” and “I’m hungries” set in.

All of which did set in as we made our way from the Colorado airport our first stop, Moab, Utah. Driving to the hotel, we found ourselves surrounded by a typography foreign to the flat lands back home. That red rock hue was everywhere. It followed us all the way to our Hampton by Hilton as we rolled in. After flying, flying again, then driving with cranky kids and no wifi in tow), it was glorious to see two beds covered in fresh white covers waiting for us in the room. Jorge and I dove in headfirst, while the kids connected to the wifi with whichever device was their vice. Ah, relaxation.

{The best time to see Arches National Park is at sunrise.}

Come 5 a.m. the next morning, Jorge and I flipped on the lights and drug the kids out of bed. “Let’s go look at some rocks,” we yelled with enthusiasm. Our joy was met with groans and kids pulling those clean white sheets over their heads. Today was the day we’d see Arches National Park. The park I was fired up to see. And, according to everything we read, it was best to be there for sunrise, to catch the sun’s rays as they rose through these natural architectural masterpieces. But if these kids didn’t get up, it wasn’t going to happen. So full force we went, rallying the troops into their clothes and out of the door.

We were up long before breakfast, so we snagged a few Hampton’s On the Run™ Breakfast Bags from the front desk to hold us over until the end of our first hike. And off we went into the not-yet-daylight of the Utah morning.

The park was just a short drive from our hotel. But, due to construction, it didn’t open until well after sunrise. This caused a chorus of “oh mans” from everyone in tow. It also sent us delving into our snack bags earlier than anticipated. Lesson learned: check the Website of the park prior to visiting for any little hiccups along the way.

But soon enough the gates opened and the caravan of cars patiently waiting drove into the park. And as we did, we saw exactly what we came to see. Big, amazing, spectacular rocks. Rocks on top of rocks. Rocks beside rocks. Rocks. Rocks. Rocks. And they were fascinating. But there was one particular rock we were headed toward: Delicate Arch. And in order to get there, we’d have to hike. For two of the three kids, that was fine. But for the littlest one in tow, well, the conversation went like this:

Me: “Milly, you’re going to have to hike. And it’s going to be hot and you need to drink water and no complaining, OK?”

Milly: “OK.”

Me: (to myself in my head) Aaannnnd, let’s see how long that lasts.

{The kiddo keepin’ up.}

But the reality is, Milly didn’t complain once. Sure, we had to tell her 999 times to not walk so close the the edge of the canyons, sometimes louder than others. But she genuinely enjoyed it so much she didn’t make one negative peep. This may have been the highlight of the trip, had we not made it to Delicate Arch to see just how absolutely stunning it is. Along the way, we’d read these arches don’t last forever. Eventually time and life wear them down and they fall, becoming fallen arches. Someday, one of the kids may be able to say they saw this way back when. And isn’t that what these trips are all about?

Well, that and watching your boyfriend pose your daughter’s Barbie doll just so to make her look like she’s rock climbing so your kiddo can take a pic and put it on her Instagram. Swoon.

{Milly’s Arches moment.}

After posing for a million pictures, which yielding plenty of moans and groans from the kids, (Don’t they realize how thankful they will be to have those 20 years from now? Of course not—yet anyway.) we climbed down the path we’d climbed up and headed back to town to check out the local fare, eventually heading back to our Hampton By Hilton, where we hit the refreshing pool to cool down from our adventure under the hot, hot Utah summer sun.

One park down, four more to go. Could we do it? After a good night’s sleep in our cozy beds, I’m pretty sure we could.




{Jorge’s Arches moment.}

{Julien’s Arches moment.}

 {Jorgie’s Arches moment.}

 As an ambassador for Hampton By Hilton and it’s #RealTravel campaign, I’ve found Hampton By Hilton is an excellent place to park the fam when you’re on a road trip. If you’re thinking about taking an extended weekend trip, consider calling them your home away from home. There are fresh baked cookies in the lobby and no one looks at you funny if you go back for thirds, JSYK. Oh, and then there’s this: Book a three-day weekend and get half off Sunday. You can find more deets here. 

And here is a look at how our trip went down thus far: