Virgin River

Growing up, my parents took my sister (Jennilee) and me all around the United States. We’d go hiking, canyoneering, kayaking, and camping. I remember these being the most amazingly awesome, fun times. (According to my mom, Jennilee and I complained of being tortured the whole time.) As a result, I thoroughly enjoy repeating the past by taking my family traveling so we can make memories while I sneak in some photos. So, I planned a trip I like to call “The Greatest Adventure Ever.”
I pack up my wife (Brittany), daughter (Azie), and dog (Emie), and we head towards Yellowstone National Park. My friend Allen meets us on the road, and Jennilee flies in from Chicago. We reach the campground in Yellowstone at night and assemble our tents, cots, and sleeping bags in the dark.

In the morning, we are woken up by elk who are kind enough to use their bugles as an alarm clock. A very early alarm clock.

We wake up Azie and Emie, who aren’t morning risers, pack up the tent and head back on the road. [Too early] We swim in the boiling river and stop at a few scenic lookouts.

We drive through Yellowstone, parallel the Tetons, past Jackson Wyoming and over to my uncle’s house in Idaho.

We get in at night, again, and enjoy the comfort of a bed this time around. Our alarm clock this morning is a great horned owl, perched outside the bedroom window. My aunt and uncle make us breakfast, we visit for a few hours, and then continue on our adventure.

As we head through Salt Lake City to visit my grandmother, I check my voicemail. Apparently, I have a federal arrest warrant out for me. I inform Brittany and figure I’ll deal with it when we get back home next week. She strongly insists I pull over so she can take over driving while I figure out why I’m wanted by the law. It turns out, if you get a ticket in a National Park and your payment doesn’t go through, the federal government gets a little grouchy and sends the Marshalls after you. So, after dozens of phone calls explaining how I didn’t realize my payment didn’t go through and that I am not fleeing the country, merely on a family road trip, I finally figure out how to make a payment over the phone. They inform me it could take a few days to process. So, it looks like I get to ride shotgun for a few days. I can’t tell if Brittany is more annoyed about the warrant or having to be the driver. Probably a tie.

We arrive just outside of Zion. We set up camp and hunker down for the night. Brittany provides the alarm clock, screaming as she sees the silhouette of a fairly large spider crawling on the outside of our tent.

We catch the park shuttle and then start hiking up the Narrows, taking some group photos along the trek.

The Narrows


After a few hours, we head back to camp and put food in our bellies. Everyone wants to stay and rest up for tomorrow’s canyoneering of Pine Creek, so I head back into the park on my own. I had scoped a few spots during the bus ride, so I pull over to the side of the road and start walking around.

I had shot an infrared photo of the Court of the Patriarchs in infrared when I was here years ago. This time around, I want to capture the stars over the misty river.

I’m not sure if one side of the river will be better than the other, so I wade across it without my gear and find my spot. I go back, grab camera gear, and carefully cross this time to avoid ruining my camera and getting “that look” from Brittany. I take my shot, and head back to the car. While crossing, I slip and make a split second decision to choose my gear over my sandal. When I reach the car, sans sandal, a police officer is waiting for me.

The officer asks me what I am doing here. I’m taking a photo. He informs me my license plates have expired. Whoops. My bad. I’ll take care of it as soon as I get back to Montana. He asks me for my license and registration. He walks back to his vehicle to verify my information, I remember I still have a “federal arrest warrant”, Potentially. I try to call Brittany. No cell service. I wait anxiously for the officer to return to my vehicle. I try not to make any sudden movements so he doesn’t shoot me. After all, I am a wanted man. Dead or alive, no doubt.

He returns to my driver’s side door, hand on pistol, hands me my driver’s license and wishes me a good night. No arrest. No shooting. I’m a free man.

We finish up the rest of our adventure by rappelling Pine Creek, driving to Las Vegas to visit my father-in-law, and then back home. When it’s time to name the image, I want to call it “The Greatest Adventure Ever.” Brittany wants to call it “That one time Nick almost got arrested.” We settle on “Virgin River.”