For those still following along at home…
We left Las Vegas this morning and headed north towards Zion national park. The area around Vegas really isn’t very attractive and it’s made even less so by the pollution. We’re caravanning with my brother and his family, and today my nephew Truman is riding with Cynthia and me. We’ve been playing 20 questions and he managed to stump me right out of the gate. Oh, to be 10 again…
On the way to Zion we hit our first big traffic jam, courtesy of a truck driver who took a sudden right off the highway where there was no sudden right to make. And later some road work slowed us down again.
We retraced some of our steps as we drove through beautiful red rock cliffs, ledges, canyons, and such. To me the rocks looked like muscle fibers exposed by the the removal of skin. I suppose for many, we’ve seen enough rocks to last a lifetime, but I continue to find them interesting.
By lunchtime we made it to Utah and Zion National Park and after a quick bite, took a shuttle into the park. So many visitors come to Zion that most cars are barred from the park and visitors much hitch a ride on free shuttles, which stop at designated hiking points. After Yellowstone, I was prepared for this to take a long time, but Zion is relatively small, so a round trip on the shuttle takes only about 45 minutes.
We stopped several times, once to hike up a small hill to a pretty lookout. At second stop, we hiked several miles into the backcountry (such as it is with trails) and admired some beautiful water-carved rocks, sprinkling waterfalls, and drying pools. The hike was tiring and most of the crew turned back about halfway through. As it happened, they saw most of the best stuff anyway.
We came across some deer, lots of little lizards, and several other animals as we drained our bottles of water. It was so hot and so dry, we had to work to keep from getting dehydrated.
Following that hike, I took one more brief walk to a swampy area hidden under a rock face while the others pushed on. It gave me a chance to really take in Zion, which boasts massive canyon walls that shoot straight up hundreds of feet. One of the shuttle drivers said that Zion is the second most popular place for rock climbers (after Yosemite) and it’s easy to see why. I have a real appreciation for rock climbers… it takes on average 2 days to scale Zion’s canyon walls, meaning the climbers sleep, eat, and do other business halfway up the rock face. I couldn’t do it.
One of the neat things about Zion, and all of the parks we’ve been to, is that they are working hard to be environmentally friendly. For example, at Zion, the buildings are naturally heated and cooled using different architectural techniques, and they work quite well. The shuttle buses run on clean-burning propane gas, waste is limited, recycling promoted, and so on. It reminded me of Vegas, although in a different way. Vegas of course is nothing but consumption. One day we were walking down the strip and I was noticing all of the lights, moving objects, escalators, air conditioning, and everything else that uses energy. Then we passed through the Bellagio’s doors, which boasted a sticker saying, “this is a low-energy automatic door.”
Anyway, back to Zion. Reunited, we pushed on through massive tunnels that lead us through Zion’s walls. My nephew Truman played The Sims in the back seat and after a short drive, we arrived in Hatch, Utah. Being 7 Hatches, we hopped out of the cars and took photos. While trying to get the timer function to work on the camera, a friendly Utahn agreed to help us out and took our photos for us.
Right across the street from the sign was a small motel and restaurant and so we decided to make it easy on ourselves and ate there. For half the price, it was better food than nearly any we had in Vegas. Good ol’ small towns.
The kids stayed entertained by reading books on the table, such as “How to Live with Idiots,” “Outhouse Humor,” and other such titles.
As the sun set, we made way for Bryce National Park. All along the way we kept seeing a familiar site: hills with letters on them. For some reason, a number of towns put a big white letter on a nearby hill, usually the first letter of the town’s name. I don’t understand it.
By the time we got to Bryce, it was dark and the sky was amazing. It looked like millions of diamonds scattered on black velvet fabric… simply stunning.
After staring the skies for a few minutes, we all hit the sack and as soon as our heads hit the pillows, we were out.