I can’t even remember exactly where we were. After a while the parks started to blend together, but I remember that it was Father’s Day, so we must’ve been leaving Bryce and heading down to Zion.

We were starving and needed to find a spot to eat lunch from the traveling kitchen we were carrying around in our trunk. Dan remembered seeing a sign for a picnic rest stop and, sure enough, there it was and we had it to ourselves.

Like most of the ten days we spent in the Southwest, it was almost absurdly beautiful outside with a bright blue sky, and those puffy, white 3-D clouds. It was hot in the sun, but cool in the shade, so we picked a picnic table that offered a little of both.

I dug through the bags and cooler and put out a buffet of lunch choices from strawberries to carrots to chips to PBJ to pickles to last night’s pizza leftovers.

As we ate, we talked about where we’d already been and where we were going. We barely glanced at our phones  (Lauren had accidentally wrecked hers on the 2nd day of the trip and, honestly, that turned out to be a great thing even if it did cost me $100 later).

When we were done eating, I went to the restroom to wash up and rinse off the plates. When I came out, Dan and both kids were crouched on the ground near the table looking at something.

It was an ant, carrying a enormous piece of crust from Kelly’s PBJ. It would be a crumb to us, but it was easily four times the size of that ant. But, by God, he was going to muscle that thing home.


We had to see where he was going. So, we watched him struggle to carry his prize over the dirt and pebbles. Another ant approached. We assumed it was a buddy coming to help him, but turns out it was rival ant trying to steal his hard-won crumb. They battled. We watched, riveted by the drama playing out in miniature.

We cheered for the original ant. He won…and carried on, moving closer to the ant hill.

Until that asshole second ant came back again.

I’m not proud of this, but I couldn’t stand it and intervened. I used a twig to toss the bully ant and buy our first guy some time.

He made it to the anthill and we wondered how we was going to get that crust down the tiny entrance hole.

Undeterred, that badass ant push and shoved and pushed and shoved and then shimmied past it and pulled from below. Eventually, an ant from inside tugged on it, while our hero shoved it in from the top and then followed it down the hole.

We all cheered. 

Yay! He did it!

With the lunchtime entertainment over, we packed up and headed on down the highway to Zion where more incredible natural wonders awaited.

When we returned and friends asked me what was my favorite part of the trip, I said Bryce and the horseback ride we took into the canyon one morning.  But really, it was that 10 minutes we spent watching an ant at 2 p.m. in the afternoon at some random, desolate picnic area off the highway in Utah.

It’s not often that my entire family has that kind of time.  It’s not often that we can sit back and watch life play out. We’re always rushing through our days. Practices. Lessons. Work. Parties. Picnics. Workouts. Rushing here. Rushing there. Scurrying around like foraging ants.



About Just Write: Just Write is my adaptation of free writing, a technique in which a person writes continuously and quickly without little regard for spelling, grammar, or topic. It helps writers overcome blocks of apathy and explore everything from meaningful topics to mundane observations with the same effort and without the pressure of crafting perfect prose. I just start writing.