Rented van stocked with supplies, parents, and kids and my big blue coffee filled with some of 7/11's finest; I could not have been happier. I love a long road trip. I really do. Probably the reason I enjoy Kerouac's “On the Road” and the final chapters of “Farewell to Arms” where the main characters set out for some epic journey. And there is something about being on the road when the sun rises that I find exhilerating, and this morning was no different.
We were on the road for a 3 night, 4 day trip to Zion National Park. For me it was the second time I was fortunate to visit which I covered in my previous blog entry about Zion National Park, but was extra excited for my folks; for whom it was all new. My mother had mentioned it was always something she wanted to do, along with zip lining, and as chance would have it the Utah Camping Resort we were staying at happened to have that as well which meant dear old mom would be able to scratch two items off of her bucket list.
And unlike last time we visited, we were driving straight through without any one night stay overs in Vegas or State Line....which I loved and energized me. And apart from a few snafu with the roof top luggage rack, and the loose flap that slapped the roof of the van any time I went over 80 mph's, we had some fun stopping by the Del Taco in Barstow, a truck stop in Mesquite, and the Costco in St George which oddly enough, featured no Mormon women in bouffant hairdo's wearing pastel colored dresses.
We spoke about how St George was very, very close to the town in Nebraska and then I posed a real brain teaser to my wife if she would rather live in St George by Zion, or by 29 Palms near Joshua Tree.
We finally settled on it was better to be in California, close to the things we hold near and dear although quite frankly I was leaning towards Utah, probably moreso out of the adage of “familiarity breeds contempt” then anything else.
We made the drive through Springdale and I always love the hipster vibe it gives off and the generally amicable demeanor of the locals, of which this afternoon was a grand total of one. We stopped by the SOL market to pick up additional staples as well as to just see what they offered as we would be back in town the next day, but more importantly, staying the next night in a mountain lodge that had a gas grill which of course meant I had to BBQ something. Not a bad selection either, it was almost like Whole Foods mixed with Stater Bros as seen in Sedona Arizona. We bought a couple of Mexican Pepsi's which paired well with the Baby Swiss Cheez Its I brought along with us for road snacks.
We entered the park and had though originally maybe hiking a quick, short trail, but given that I woke up at 4:30AM and after an 8-9 hour drive and the hour added through the time change, and also given we were still 45 minutes from the lodge was probably a no go for the hike. And I always am jealous of those lucky enough to get campsites right within the Park. I figure there surley can not be any better place to camp as A)there are hundreds of trails and every one sure to have a great view and B)the Virgin river runs right through the park which means you take a quick dip if it gets too hot. This time my feelings were a bit adjusted however as there were signs posted everywhere about fire warning meaning no campers were allowed to have a campfire. For me, camping with a campfire is life decaf coffee or nonalcoholic beer. Especially with the fire in Colorado Springs recently, it made sense I understood-and actually this one time made me happy I was not camping there.
My folks were really enjoying the majestic views and the scenery. After we passed through the tunnel that takes you into Mt Carmel, we pulled off of a couple of the view points to get some fresh air and take it all in. The weather was perfect, while it was 90 degrees in Springdale(according to weather.com anyhow), inside the park was perfect with a nice breeze and a comforting sun, as opposed to the blistering, searing sun we faced at Joshua Tree a few weeks previous.
We pulled off at one random turnout and were taking some pictures when a car pulled behind us, and stepping out was a woman with a huge professional grade camera. She gestured to the hill across from us and as we looked a huge bighorn sheep was making its way across the bluff. It was fairly good size and I did my best to take a few pictures from all of the camera devices we carried. They are not uncommon by any stretch for the area, but it was the first time I saw one in the wild. And soon, the 2 cars on the turnout turned into 4 cars and a van with everyone busting out cameras to take pictures of new big horned friend.
We got back into the car and finally made out way to our temporary home that was the Zion Ponderosa. We had a cabin for the first night and a luxury home for the next two. It was nice to unpack, crack a cold beer, and take a stroll of the grounds. Later, took a quick jaunt to the pool and while the conditions may have been excellent for those guest from colder climates, for us it seemed pretty chilly so were content to sit in the hot tub and relax for a bit before heading back to the cabin for our Costco dinner we bought previously.
For some reason, camping food always tastes better and while we in a cabin as opposed to sleeping in an actual tent, the principle held with the Costco Ceaser Salad and Turkey Swiss wrap seeming like Filet Mignon washed down Silver Oak. It was comforting and after a quick shower I was ready for some sleep yet still excited for tomorrows adventure. And once again my california blood was not use to the time change in conjunction with geography meant the sun not even starting to set well after 8:15pm. I was kind of hoping the kids may have been tired and gone to bed early but alas the late sunset and the wife's decision to give the kids some instant hot cocoa mix meant it was not to be. 9:45pm never felt as much like midnight at it did on this occasion. I still awaited the next couple of days with eagerness and what awaited for us. With the views offered up at Zion and a few days to hike some new trails for views not seen by those merely taking the tram tour, I could not wait to get started.
|My attempt at a panarama show...and the pesky sun ruining brilliance.|
|Big Horn Sheep.....others said the sheep in the area were undersized, I am pretty sure this one was 'roiding.|