I woke feeling like I had no sleep at all. And being the pull out bed from the couch in the cabin appeared to be lopsided, with a few of the braces looking bent and out of sort which made the mattress lean from left to right at about a 10 degree angle meant, as tired as I was, I still slept an uneasy rest.
We had a big day ahead of us though and as poorly as I slept, knew there was no time to lose in A)we had to check out at 11am to move to our newer, posher digs, and B)it was the first time my Parents were visiting Zion, which of course meant me being the expert with all of my one, count em', one previous visit meant either a glorious moment or one from the “what the hell was I thinking?” file.
As we began to pack I experienced the first benefit of Zion Ponderosa, and our cabin lodging meant I could walk over to the cafe/restaurant and fill up my big blue decades old coffee mug and the $2.50 price was well worth it, as was my breakfast of day old Costco sandwich, strawberry shortcake cups....minus strawberries and whipped cream, and a handful of baby swiss flavored Cheez It's which was rapidly becoming my favorite snack of all time, running neck and neck with Snyder's Buffalo Wing flavored pretzelsbits which I covered a couple of years ago when we camped at Lake Lopez.
We packed and headed out on the road and as I promised my family, I stopped at the first attractive looking turnout and made everyone get out and take a quick mini hike that I billed as “hiking preseason.” Truth be told, I kind of wanted to gauge my parents attitude and from this determine what trails we could walk and which we would avoid at all cost. And as luck would have it, we had a nice hike and every seemed content and happy.
We entered the main parking lot and were lucky enough to find a parking spot even though there were signs posted everywhere that lot of was full and cars must park in the city and take the Springdale UT shuttle to get back into the park. We filled our water containers and hit the first shuttle content to do the River Walk trail which is one of the easier trails in the camp.
And much to my surprise, my mother seemed to really enjoy it. As a matter of fact, even though she had knee replacement surgery a few years ago she was leading the charge. As we walked through the huge expanse of rock that accompanied us on both sides, she was was a merely a blip on the forward views as what I thought would originally was going to be “stop if you need to stop” turned into “is she ever going to stop.” Dad meanwhile was content to hang in a shady spot and enjoy the scenery, and quite frankly, my ill advised foray into Scout Leader, had made me a bit jealous he had the option that I didn't. And the walk on the river walk is always a bit bitter sweet as it is the trailhead to “the Narrows,” one of the most famous and picturesque parts of the park...but also can feature knee high water and some rough currents which sometime does not always go hand in hand with camping with the family.
The hike was also noted for the overaggressive squirrels in the park who not only jump on your lap to try and get a snack from you, but would also climb on your back pack and literally attempt to open it to get what every the could..I'm guessing the squirrels in the park were probably famliar with every flavor of power bar in existence. I also noted the signs that had graphic injuries from squirrel bites were gone which made me sad, nothing more I like the being out in the middle of nature with huge signs featuring a bleeding hand. It was Zion's version of the lady who smokes through her trachea.
We stopped for lunch at the Zion lodge, which was quite nice and not too shabby for food quality. I once had the worst meal of my life at the restaurant at the top of the Aerial Tramway in Palm Springs by which all other park restaurants are judged. And this was not too bad, I had a Utah microbrew lager, which was refreshing after the days activities. I later stopped by the one liquor store in town and drew a smile with the same Utah Microbrew offerings....the best name being “Polygamy Porter.”
We finished our lunch and refilled our water containers at one of the many parks Spring Water Taps. They basically take the parks own spring water, treat it, and then have various spigots around the park for hikers and campers to stay hydrated with. A very nice touch and sensible arrangement given the heat and the terrain. I cant help but think if Zion were California some dopey bureaucrat would be charging 2 bucks for a 10 oz bottle of water.
It was the midday and we made the walk up to weeping rock. The trail was not far but certainly was fairly steep. The wife was concerned it may be too step for my mother but fueled by her best day ever she made good time, made all the sweeter by 3 deer foraging by the trail roughly 15 yards from us. One was a young male, was just starting to sprout some antlers. They were nice enough to pose for us.
We made the final steps to weeping rock which is always a great experience. Not only is the view phenomenal, but the reason it is called “weeping rock” is because the moisture from the top of the mountain filters through the rock which gets released on this overlook which creates this amazing rain type effect. In the heat the drops felt great falling on the top of my head, and I wasn't the first as many of the hikers were using the raindrops to moisten their bandannas and hats. I even found a consistent trickle of water that I opened my mouth to and drank from...the water was cool and had a slightly miner-ally quality to it....not surprising there as it was filtering and falling from the rocky granite.
By this time my mother was in full Zion mode and wanted to tackle all of the trails, including the Angels landing, but my dad wasn't fairing so well and by this time the summers afternoon heat was in full effect which meant it was time to hit the grocery store and get back to the lodge. We were fortunate in that we settled for a cabin for the first night but the next two nights meant we were moving to a full vacation home.
Arriving to the home at Zion Ponderosa was a total 180 from the cabin- spacious, a strong wifi signal, a hot tub, bbq, enough real beds to sleep our party, and a beautiful view from the living room that made the drive and the toil completely worth while. And being a fully stocked vacation home, meant we had a real coffee maker, a full size fridge, laundry, wine glasses, and everything one could ever long from on a vacation including directv. I wasn't quite sure if this was the best vacation home ever or the cabin we stayed in the previous night just sucked.
I bought some chicken from the market along with some bbq sauce and some sausages, I was hoping the kitchen would have salt and pepper and some tongs-Ill be damned if they didn't have fajita seasoning, all purpose seasoning, and a full bbq kit with tongs and every other conceivable bbq tool one could every want. I was almost thinking a red apron would be packed in there somewhere as well to complete the BBQ supply 101. Hell, they even had a heavy duty metal cheese grater and a lemon zester as well.
To finish the blog entry, the rest of the night was enjoying our bbq with a bottle of Concannon Merlot, spending some time in the hot tub, a quick shower, and then a good nights rest on a mattress that was stable, level, and devoid of metal framework protruding into the lower vertebrae.