Hughes: Dad and daughter close in on life goal

Jun 26, 2024, 3:54 PM | Updated: Jun 27, 2024, 10:01 am

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This is an editorial piece. An editorial, like a news article, is based on fact but also shares opinions. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and are not associated with our newsroom.

SALT LAKE CITY — We all know that life “has its ups and downs,” but in the case of my friend Chris Dallin, those highs and lows have been quite a ride, literally, for him and his daughter Denali.

In today’s busy world, it can be a struggle for moms and dads to find the time and avenues to bond with their children. For fathers and sons that usually occurs through sports, fishing, or scouts. However, for dads and daughters that intentional connection can sometimes be tougher to identify. 

Dallin and his daughter, Nali, have a goal to ride a carousel in every U.S. state and to learn some history along the way. 

How this daddy-daughter adventure began

It started as a simple ride on King Arthur’s Carousel at Disneyland. Denali, or Nali, was only 6 months old at the time. 

(Dallin Family)

(Dallin Family)

Now, that 6-month-old girl is 16. She was recently crowned the 2023 Miss Teen Syracuse. 

Together they have conquered 48 states,  including a few rotations at the “Happiest Place On Earth.” Now, just two states remain, Delaware and Vermont. 

They are Dallin and Nali’s targets for next month. 

(Dallin Family)

They’re not just riding horses!

There hasn’t always been a “trusty steed” on this path.  The pair recalled riding a baseball bat in Missouri, a lobster in Massachusetts, and a St. Bernard in Colorado! 

Also on their “best of” list? A steam-propelled carousel in South Dakota and a likeness of George Washington’s horse in New Jersey. 

(Dallin Family)

“The goal has been a dream and not solely about the carousels but more about spending time together creating amazing memories,” said Dallin. “Isn’t that point of a carousel in the first place? 

If only for a few minutes and with a little imagination it becomes a magical creature destined for a better time. [It’s] a great adventure that allows you to go anywhere and then you realize at that very moment, there is no better time and no better place to be.”

While pursuing the goal with his daughter, Dallin has also taken notes. He’s recorded his feelings from each ride and the feelings evoked by the music. His goal is to give Nali a picture book of their adventure. 

The book’s final chapters will be written in a few short weeks. 

(Dallin Family)

Ask most 16-year-olds to ride with their parents on a carousel and you’ll probably get “that look.” But for this daddy and daughter, it will surely be a bittersweet moment when their life goal is completed. I’m certain that the memories from all those ups and downs will come streaming back.

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Hughes: Dad and daughter close in on life goal