Wild West Winter // with Tanner Burge
Hey explorers & discoverers, this is RMO Brand Developer, Tanner Burge. I’m breaking the norm here to share a story directly from my point of view, & I want to explain why. See, in addition to working with Rock Monkey Outfitters, I’m a full time teacher, so I take my holiday breaks VERY seriously. This last winter break I dove head first into the best road trip of my life. I took it as a vacation with the intention of being creatively refreshed, renewed, & inspired. I didn’t set up any photoshoots, I didn’t contact any models, & I didn’t actually intend on blogging about it, but while reflecting on my trip I quickly realized that my travel companions & I were embodying the very soul & purpose of RMO all along the way. So here’s how we got to live the dream in the Wild West Winter.
Tanner at Petrified Forest National Park, Blue Mesa
The Road Trip
This trip was originally set up between strangers with similar interest who came together on social media to make it happen. Sounds like a dream, right? Or nightmare? It definitely turned out to be the earlier. 4 people in a Subaru set off from Arkansas to the American Southwest over 7 days. We ended up splitting our trip almost evenly between AZ & UT, hitting 7 National Parks, a State Park, & countless delicious restaurants, coffee shops, & rest stops.
Our first leg of the trip started with a sunset at Petrified Forest National Park on our way to Flagstaff, AZ. That’s where the picture up top of me cheesing was taken. I was quickly enraptured in the ancient beauty of the Southwest. The idea that this land was so vastly different & has gone through so much change to create the amazing formations, shapes & colors we see today just blew me away.
After we woke up in Flagstaff & took our time checking out the town, we drove to the Grand Canyon for afternoon & sunset. Y’all, if sunset at the Grand Canyon is not on your bucket-list, you’re making the wrong kind of list! Go ahead & add Horseshoe Bend in Paige, AZ to that list too because that’s where we caught sunrise the next morning.
“Explore & Discover”
Explore & Discover has been a hashtag, catchphrase, & t-shirt slogan for this company several times, but starts to carry new weight once you get out of your comfort zone & see something for yourself for the first time.
Both the Grand Canyon & Horseshoe Bend are extremely typical, high trafficked, & well documented areas, but I think that’s where “Explore & Discover” begins to take on a deeper meaning than surface level. These are obviously not places that we, ourselves, discovered. In fact, millions of indigenous peoples, cowboys, & millennials alike have stood where I stood, but I think that’s the beauty of it. I got to take away my own moment from such a storied & epic place. This was my sunset, my memory, my photo keepsake, & I discovered it exactly the way I wanted to.
After crossing the state line into Utah, we really kicked up the National Park notches & headed straight for Zion NP for a drive through so we could make it to Bryce Canyon by sunset. Zion set a hook deep in me during that drive through the park & I know I’ll be pulled back before too long!
We made it in time for sunset at Bryce Canyon National Park, AKA a snowy alien-like planet that inspired every bone in my body. We drove 4 tough hours through the night to Moab, UT from there so we could do Arches NP for sunrise, hangout in Moab, then sunset at Canyonlands. This was an ambitious 2 days, but it ended up working out perfectly!
Moab seems like the place to be. There is SO much beauty surrounding that area & we have several sponsored athletes living the dream out there that I unfortunately didn’t get to meet up with (this time)!
On New Years Eve we planned to leave Moab for Santa Fe, NM then start the drive home. I convinced a few of our crew to catch one last sunrise at a National Park & I’m glad I did. We returned to Canyonlands NP & made the little trek up to the Mesa Arch. It was a cloudy morning & the sun wasn’t quite peeking through, so we made a decision to head back down the road & see Dead Horse Point State Park too before brunch. Another amazing decision. We were blessed over & over on this trip with nothing less than ideal weather & the colorful landscapes all around.
Living the Dream
Truly, in every sense of the phrase, this trip felt like I was living in a dream. I’ve grown up with this idea in my head of what the Southwest, the desert, & the canyons looked like, but I was so so pleasantly wrong. The landscape is deeper, taller, more vast, & more dramatic than I could have put together in my imagination without the experience.
At a glance, people who don’t know me could see my social media & easily assume I am always on the road, traveling, photographing, & on unreal adventures, but this is where I strive to be transparent – especially with the message behind RMO. I’m just like anyone else. I have a full time job that I love & could not imagine giving up. I wake up every weekday, commute, & spend too much money on coffee, but I save where I can to feed these other passions too. I have a deep desire to get out & see things for myself, to document & share how amazing this planet is, & to feel that rush when I happen upon something unexpected. That’s what this brand is about. “Living the Dream” doesn’t mean you never have to wake up. It means to take your dreams, your passions, & that ever-present desire for adventure in the back of your mind & go make it happen!