When you end up on a business trip in a place like Moab, the only option is to plan on some early mornings. You can’t be expected to stay in meeting mode and call it a good trip—not a chance. There are only so many hours in the day, and when the desert calls, you must go.

So, what does that mean, exactly?

It means bringing business clothes in the car to change into after the morning’s adventures are over—no time to get back to the hotel—the river will do just fine. It means getting first light at the usual tourist bottlenecks, but being the only one there. It means quiet sunrises as far away from the Free Continental Breakfast as possible. It means shaking sand from the back of your head for the rest of the day because you just had to lay down on that rock to take it all in. It means knowing that your time there is short and the only way to really, honestly, truly make the trip a bonafide success is to walk into that afternoon meeting room with cactus spines in your socks and memories of pre-dawn shooting stars still in your head.