“Dave, can you help me secure my tent?”
“I’ll try, Astrid. It’s super windy up here on the rim.”
“Dave can you help me with MY tent?”
“I’m doing my best, Johann. Ask Katrina to help you.”
“Dave, my suitcase just slid down into the valley!”
“Really Katrina?!!”

What a ridiculous situation I’ve put myself into! I’m 26 years old, newly trained as an adventure travel leader, leading my first group of young Europeans on a camping trip across the U.S.. As a child of the suburbs, my camping experiences growing up were few and far between. Oh, the travel company “trained me,” but let’s get serious here; I am not ready for setting up tents with a bunch of camping newbies, on a cold, windy night, on the rim of Monument Valley!

Eventually, somehow, we get all our tents set up; I’m not sure what happens to Katrina’s suitcase. But it’s all worth it when we wake up the next morning to the truly majestic sight of a Monument Valley sunrise.

A sacred area within the Navajo Nation Reservation, Monument Valley (meaning “valley of the rocks”) rests on the Utah-Arizona state line. Its sandstone buttes (including the famously-named “Mittens”) are positively iconic, in large part to all the Westerns that were filmed here, especially in the mid-1900s by director John Ford.

As we jeep down into the valley with our Navajo guide, I marvel out how vast this land is, how spare. Millions of years of rain and wind have carved out this stark, austere place, where you can literally see for miles and miles. It’s an awesome sight. I can tell that my camping passengers are having a similar experience. “We are actually in the American West!” It doesn’t get much better than that. Wow.

The world is a vast place; travel opens up for us a sense of our own possibilities. You CAN go anywhere and do anything. However, if the world is our oyster, then isn’t it logical to extrapolate that you can do anything with your life.

If you can secure your tent, that is.