Entry #9. The Best Surprise Ever

Dear Travel Mates,

What a week it’s been. It’s Sunday and I’m still exhaling. I realize now that I’ve been holding my breath for the last 4 years. Sigh.

So while we absorb the political news, here’s our personal update:

Last we spoke we had arrived in Page, Arizona. Although the town had a strangeness to it, with small nondescript lookalike houses and a ghost townish feel, the desert surrounding it was spectacular. Lake Powell is a winding, bright blue, man-made reservoir that sits in the middle of a white rock canyon. The combination of colors and textures is beautiful and meditative.

Lake Powell

We found a house on the edge of town which looked out onto a farm. Along with the pastoral view of hills, horses and chickens, also came flies in the house! Who knew that was a package deal with farm living? But the house was very comfortable and going Mr. Miyagi on the flies was sometimes a welcome distraction from helping a kid with one more math problem.

Our farm desert view from the Airbnb.

From there we returned to Utah. Something about this state has kept us here for much longer than we thought. With all it’s distinct and hidden national parks, it’s like a playground for explorers.

In St. George we landed in our favorite house yet. In fact, the minute we arrived I contacted the host to extend our stay for another week.

Why is it so good? First of all, the view. The deck looks out onto the mountains of Zion National Park so we get to see it unobstructed from sunrise to sunset.

The view from our place with some Halloween action.
Zion up close on horseback
The Emerald Pools hike in Zion

Second, the layout! Living in so many houses has been a good way to figure out what I’d like my dream to house to have. Allow me to geek out on this a bit: This place has a big kitchen that’s open to the dining room, which is open to a large living room. The master bedroom is large enough to do exercises on the floor and even has cushy wall-to-wall carpet to make my planks more simpatico. It also has a door opening to the deck. And the best part  – the master bathroom has a smaller room inside it with the toilet. Genius. 

St. George got even better when a surprise visitor arrived. November 3rd was not only the most important day for our country’s future, it was also my daughter’s 6th birthday. And oh what a birthday it was.

For the last month I’ve been scheming with her most favorite person in the world – our former nanny from NY who moved to LA. When Maggie told me that she wanted to drive over with her boyfriend on Alona’s birthday I was giddy. We had to decide – do we keep it a secret and have an explosive surprise moment? Or do we tell the kids and let them enjoy the anticipation of it, which can be just as exciting?

I chose the first option mostly because I’ve never been able to orchestrate an ACTUAL surprise for other people (or to receive one for that matter,) and this time I was determined.

The first half of the birthday proceeded normally, with balloons and signs hanging around the house, a special breakfast, presents, and all the highs and lows that come with a kid who has been waiting 364 days for her birthday and couldn’t sleep the night before. 

Cupcake making on Zoom with friends and family.
Thank goodness for Zoom.

Maggie called to wish Alona a happy birthday, and as Alona was speaking to her on Facetime we opened the door to the ACTUAL Maggie!! What a moment! What a day!

(To see a video of the actual moment go to my Instagram page)

The child is ecstatic.
Thank god someone else was there to go in the pool with them,
Maggie got her this adorable dress so they were twinsies.
Basketball with Maggie and Justin

It made me realize how much we’ve been missing other people. 

This trip would have been isolating even without COVID. But as you know, Covid makes human interaction with strangers non existent and even terrifying. In normal times I imagine the kids might have found other kids to play basketball with, splash around with in the pool, etc. But these days we see strangers and walk the other way.

So laughing with Maggie and her boyfriend by the pool, having new people at our dinner table and marveling over the beautiful nature around us together was a dose of social that we needed BADLY.

Snow Canyon State Park. Who’s even heard of it? Utah has endless hidden gems.
Endless climbing fun. We didn’t even follow a trail.
Hobbit Hole trail in Zion
The foliage along with the colored rocks was gorgeous.
A tree that grew right into a rock.

And speaking of craving social interaction, yesterday I ached for Brooklyn. Watching the parties outside, the musicians blaring their trumpets and friends dancing in the streets was bittersweet. Unfortunately, my Biden celebration was not as convivial.

We went to town to get a feel for the vibe. In one of the stores I asked the woman behind the counter how she felt about the news. She hadn’t heard, and when we told her she said – Oh Shit! and buried her head in her hands. We ran out.

Luckily, the kale-banana smoothie place had a few liberal baristas who quietly celebrated with me. They were afraid to be too loud so as not to alienate their customers…

So there you have it. We are grateful for all of Utah’s mountains and canyons. But if we want to dance in the streets over a democratic president elect we’ll have to ship them in special.



P.S. You made it this far? Thanks for coming along on our journey. Don’t be shy, sign up to get the next update in the yellow bar at the top. It’s encouraging for me that you actually want to hear these 🙂

4 thoughts on “Entry #9. The Best Surprise Ever

  1. Donna Greenfield

    Vered: thank you for sharing this wonderful story with us. Your adventure with your family during these times has provided such sweet and often humorous relief to those of us sticking close to home. Your children will surely grow up with a well-developed sense of hope and of what it is possible to achieve if you can dream.

    1. VERED BENHORIN Post author

      Thanks Donna! I hope so…although I know at least one of them who often dreams of returning to NY 🙂


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