One of the wonderful experiences of our trips is meeting people in the inns or B&B’s in which we stay or when we hike on the trails in the parks.    These interludes, brief as they may be offer glimpses of their lives that these people share with absolute strangers.   I remember one such meeting, where we stopped to talk with a couple from Tucson, Arizona….and after talking for a few moments and were getting ready to continue on our respective ways, she said to us …. “It was really great knowing you for five minutes”.    That sort of gives an interpretation of the brief but sometimes very interesting interactions that we do experience.  

On our second day in Arches, we stopped at the trailhead for the Park Avenue trail to see if we could interest someone to park a car at the other end of the trail so we could hike one way and then get a ride back.   So just straight out I asked this man who was just getting out of his car if he would agree to my proposal.   Fully expecting him to decline this offer from an absolute stranger, he surprisingly agreed.

So we began our hike with Jerry, after positioning our cars for an easy return to the trailhead.    The discussion with our new trail mate indicated his strong interest in gardening and his plan to take pictures of the wild flowers on the trail.   I had never really concentrated on this aspect of our hikes before, and it provided me with a new view of the parks that I have visited so many times before.   

As we walked the trail and I concentrated on the wild flowers that were just blossoming with the arrival of the new spring.   Our discussions with Jerry included not only the wild flowers, but other aspects of his life such as that we were both educated as engineers, that he would have been retired by this time except for the fact that the stock market collapse of 2002 delayed that from happening, that he lives alone in New England and many other facts about his life that enabled us to get to know and understand each other for a short, but intense period. 

We met the new owner of a restaurant in which we were eating in Moab, Utah…… Amy eventually sat down with us and we talked for over an hour.   On a return visit to that same restaurant we again had the opportunity to meet with Amy and learn more about each other.    I was impressed with this young women’s ability to overcome many of life’s problems to raise a family alone and to run a new business while still continuing in her chosen field.   

During our trip, we also met this most interesting couple, David and Michelle… David is a doctor and the family had lived in New Orleans when the Katrina hurricane came ashore.   The family survived the onslaught of the storm in the hospital where David was seeing those who were hurt.   They offered detailed glimpses of life during and after the storm…. They then moved to Houston for a year, but eventually chose to settle in Salt Lake City.   The problems of settling in a new place, with children after losing everything in New Orleans provided a fascinating picture of real life.

During our hike up to Delicate Arch, we met and hiked with a British couple who came to Las Vegas to get married.  They hired a helicopter and along with a minister, they flew to the Grand Canyon where the wedding ceremony was conducted.   And now we were with this couple on their honeymoon walking the trail in Arches National Park.  

Meeting and talking with someone during a strenuous hike takes your thoughts away from the physical demands of that trail.   In Bryce National Park I started talking to this couple who live in Miami, Florida.   He is a policeman who was born in Cuba and we had a lengthy and in-depth discussion concerning the U.S. policy toward his native land.   He felt strongly that we should not recognize nor provide any assistance for the people of that country until Castro and the current ruling organization is gone.

Interestingly, we met another woman from Cuba when we were staying in the Mesa Verde area of Colorado and she had the opposing view of the U.S. policy on Cuba.  She believed that we should ease the embargo, help the people and get ready for a normalization of relations after Castro is gone.  The various discussions are each very interesting as they are learning events, but they also make the hiking experiences ever more interesting and even easier.