Christening the Matriarch
Taking My Mother-in-Law on Her First UTV Adventure!
Words and Photos: Chris Honeychurch
When we bought our house in southern Utah, we wanted to share the beauty of the area with our friends and family. We figured if they had the time of their life while visiting us, they might come back all the time. That’s why we bought a four-seater UTV – to give everybody the chance for adventure!
When Victoria’s twin sister Elizabeth and their mom came to visit, we planned a special adventure. Elizabeth had been out to our neck of the woods before, but it was Fae’s first time seeing the house. What better way to familiarize herself with the area than a tour aboard our newly-acquired Can-Am X3 Max? On the surface, Fae is an unassuming little lady, and you might be surprised by her adventurous spirit—but she was excited to go. We weren’t sure how she’d react to the noise and dust, or if the rocky ride and whoops would be unsettling to her, so we started slowly to see how things went.
We set off in still, crisp morning air, without a cloud in the sky. We pointed our wheels to the east entrance at Warner Valley and took the Sand Hollow trail toward East Rim Trail, which leads upward along the cliffs behind the park. It’s my number one spot to bring people when I want to blow their minds. The terrain seems other-worldly, with beehive-shaped coral-colored rock structures offering impressive views of the ridges and canyons into Warner Valley. It has some of the best rock crawling you can find, with beautiful pink sand dunes as a bonus.
We kept the pace very mellow as we started the trail—it’s often good to begin a ride at a calm, even pace, building trust among your passengers, especially when those passengers are family (I think you’re allowed to scare your friends a little more). We went through sections of sandy whoops, floating and compressing seamlessly, and I knew things were going well when I caught a smile on Fae’s face.
Our first rest stop on the East Rim trail called for a celebration; we posted up at a rock structure called the Lunch Bowl, and we climbed all over it like kids in a playground. Fae and I talked about the fun we had in the sandy whoops, and I complimented her on her fearlessness. To my relief, she said I seemed to know what I was doing and she trusted my ability. That was good to hear, because we were about to step it up a level with some rock crawling. I kept looking for an expression of concern on her face, but she was solid, smiling as we crawled and bounced and see-sawed through each new challenge.
I was impressed; until then, she’d never been on a trail ride in her life. It proves that no matter your age or experience level, you can enjoy riding in a UTV, exploring places you could never reach otherwise. The cars are straight-forward to drive, providing a comforting element of safety for even the most timid riders. Each time I start my Can-Am’s engine, the sound signals the start of another adventure, or the next trail leading to more good times.
So, on to more good times! Our next run took us up to Hoodoo Hill, with a rock crawl to the Flintstone House! This cool structure is made of red sandstone, with naturally-formed windows and a door. There’s even a seat, and room for 3-4 people inside. It was the perfect place to relax and talk about the interesting things we’d seen. Fae said she was comfortable in the rig and enjoying herself. At the start, I thought maybe the ride would be too much for her, but I had nothing to worry about.
After that we headed down to the dunes for a little more speed and fun. I asked Fae if she was ready for more thrills and without hesitation she said yes! We sped mid-throttle towards the first dune. As we neared the top, I heard Fae yelling with excitement, hollering as we went back down the dune. I had a huge smile on my face; Mom was having a great time, and the girls were in the back laughing. Everyone was happy. We even went with a full-throttle launch on the big dune, and still no fear, just screaming and laughing. Fae described it like being on a rollercoaster. I would agree with her, but this was a rollercoaster I could drive!
By that point, everyone was hungry, so we drove to the Sand Hollow resort and ate some lunch on the back patio, enjoying the view of Hurricane Valley. I don’t think things could have gone any better. Victoria’s mother had so much fun talking about the beautiful, diverse terrain. The desert offered her what felt like a once in a lifetime experience. We exchanged thanks and congratulations— she was thanking us for such an awesome experience, and we were congratulating her on her great inaugural expedition. She was truly a great passenger, and we had a lot of fun trying something new as a family.
It makes me really happy to bring adventure into someone’s life because the joy lasts long after the immediate adrenaline rush. It can put a smile on your face for a lifetime when those great memories pop into your head out of the blue. This family ride showed me it’s never too late to get out there, to explore and find thrilling experiences.
No matter what your age, a UTV (and surely many other types of vehicles) offers the chance to explore the outdoors and push your limits at a lesser risk – with the right guidance, of course. So there’s really no excuse to wait. And for those who are hesitant, maybe it’s up to us, as their friends and loved ones, to show them the way to an exciting journey.
To share your passions with a person you love – like teaching them about nature or engines or going balls-out fast – offers a laundry list of benefits. And who knows? You might actually learn something yourself. (Like how cool your mother-in-law really is!)