We went camping over the weekend to Boulder Mountain, which is in between Capitol Reef National Park and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. I’d say it’s some of the most beautiful country in Utah, with changes from red rock in Capitol Reef to high alpine meadows and pine forests, with immense views down from the Aquarius Plateau.

We planned the trip to coincide with a visit from the Buddhist monks of the Drepung Loseling monastery that a hippie/fancy restaurant in the tiny town of Boulder was hosting. They created a sand mandala (dedicated to protecting Grand Staircase-Escalante in its entirety) and we were able to watch the dispersal ceremony.

So, to sum up: Beautiful scenery, Buddhism, time in the wild with my love? Sounds perfect. Then why did I spend most of the first day there thinking, “This should be more fun”? Why was hiking a flat wash so difficult? Why did the driving seem like it took so long?

Turns out I was getting sick. By the second night, right after the mandala ceremony, I had a full on head cold starting, which turned into aches and sinus pain and everything else a cold entails on the drive back.

That explains it.