Zion National Park – Part 1

(Disclaimer: This is going to be at least a 2-parter and is mainly a detailed account of the past week.  I swear my memory is going, and if I don’t get this down outside of my head, I will forget.  Feel free to not read the daily minutia of our trip.  And if there are typos, sorry.  I’m sure I’ll find them and fix them because they will drive me crazy.)

Traveler got his name because since we moved back home to Nevada he has been on more trips than ever before, including his 4+ years active duty.  This has to due with his not being fully qualified to have the job he has with the state, so he has a ton of training to accomplish.  (I believe he has 1 more week of training some time this year to complete all the MUSTS and then he can move on to the SHOULDS.)  To add to the complexities of this he is still in the Guard in Idaho based out of Boise, so once a month he flies up for the weekend for drill and then flies home.  In October 2007 he received his commission in the Air Force (finally – whew).  Which meant that he had to go through training for his official position as an officer.  He officially starts the last bit of that training next Monday…in Texas.  So.  When the final segment of a 4-part (I believe) CE course was butted up against a week in Houston for training on one side and a 4-week absence for the Guard on the other side, he extended the invitation that we all join him for a little mini-vacation.  At least we would see him in the evenings – which for SmartyPants is very important.  This girl is attached to her daddy something fierce.  She usually will sleep in one of his shirts the whole time he is gone. 

So last Friday I loaded the car, and we hit the road Saturday morning caravan style with our sites set on Vegas.  (We caravaned because T was going to be leaving directly for Texas from Utah, so he took a different kid on each leg of the journey.  This helped immensely with the normal boredom arguing of a road trip.)  The trip between N. Nevada and Vegas is not an exciting one.  Miles and miles of 2-lane highways and not much else.  We decided to spend the night in Vegas and show the girls a little of the glamour of the Vegas Strip.  Can I just tell you that I don’t know how people live in big cities… or at least how they manage to not kill people on the roads while driving?  Makes me love my small town even more.  We checked into our hotel and grabbed some cheese-laden Mexican food for dinner, went for a swim, and set our sites of Caesar’s Palace, which was probably a half-mile down the road.  The girls did fantastic especially given the fact that we set out at 7:30, and they are usually in bed NLT 8:30.  We wandered through the casino in search of the mall, which includes such a grand variety – from FAO Schwartz to Coach to Apple to Nike to a 7/8-foot tall semi-circle of an aquarium with huge fish and rays swimming around inside.  I don’t even remember all that was there.   We were in search of something for dessert, so we ended up at the Cheesecake Factory where we ordered these

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(See SmartyPant’s hands on the way to grabbing above yummy desserts?)

Strawberry shortcake and key lime cheesecake.  I think all this healthy eating and exercising stuff is actually good for me.  Know what my favorite thing was?  The shortcake.  Seriously, that was the best part.  Sweet Pea, on the other hand, thought differently.

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After dessert we headed back to the hotel where I ended up sharing a full size bed squished between Sweet Pea and Traveler.  The huge couch Sweet Pea was supposed to be sleeping on obviously didn’t meet her strict requirements.  She’s a little spoiled at home with a queen-sized bed all to herself.

In the morning we headed out for a fantastic, healthy breakfast at Jack-in-the-Box and then on to Utah.  I haven’t had reason to drive through Arizona or southern Utah in quite a while; it really is amazing how the topography changes so drastically so quickly.  The girls were a little tickled that we had to drive through Arizona to get to Utah. 

When finally arriving in Springdale, which is literally a mile outside of the Zion National Park west entrance, we checked into our massive 2-room suite which had 2 queen beds in one room and a pull out futon in the other.  Yahoo for me!!  I hate falling asleep without background noise, so I got to put the TV on “sleep mode” and fall asleep at a reasonable time to Letterman.  (You really have got to love the middle 2 time zones and their earlier showing times.)  Monday morning T was up and off to his conference by 7:30.  The girls and I had found the local market and bought cereal, milk, and sandwich fixings the day before.  We had a leisurely morning and loaded up to see what hikes we could find.  The first stop was at Weeping Rock.  It’s a perfect example of where the porous limestone rock, which allows water and snow-melt to penetrate, meets a nonporous hard rock and the water literally runs out of the side of the mountain.  It was a short walk, only about a half mile round trip.  I figured it was a good place to start. 

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It was a might bit cold in the mid 30s and the girls were complaining a bit, so after seeing this

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I decided it was a bit cold, so we headed back to the truck.  (This is a plant with its leaves standing straight up encased in ice…on the ground.  It was the oddest looking thing.)

After a snack, I decided that we couldn’t be done and we needed to explore some more, so we drove up to the Riverside Walk which is a paved trail that winds around the edge of the Virgin River through the canyon.  We ate lunch before heading out on this trek.

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It was beautiful even though I’m sure in the summer the canyon is just glowing of green growth everywhere.  This “hike” is about 2 miles round trip and not even a quarter-mile in, in the matter of a minute both Sweet Pea and Sass fell and decided they were done.  I, on the other hand, had not just driven 800 miles to sit in a hotel room and watch myself go crazy.  So I prodded them on and soon all was well.  (That and I was bribing them with the bag of Cheetos I had back in the truck, but only if we made it the whole way.)  The canyon was spectacular.  (Though looking at the towering vertical walls of rock  made my vertigo want to kick in, so I didn’t get any pictures of the magnitude of the canyon walls.)

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We made it to the end of the trail, and had it been summer I would have taken the girls into the river.  You can follow the river into the part of the canyon called The Narrows, which gets it name from the width of the canyon.  I have vague memories as a child (maybe 10ish) walking into the canyon with my family.  But with the air temperature only in the mid 40s without the wind gusts, I figured it wise not to venture out.  Although the girls “threatened” to get wet.

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On our way back down the path I had an offer from a gentleman to take our picture together.  I’m glad he did.  I’m rarely in pictures.  I feel like the phantom photographer most times.

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On the way back down we spotted a couple of deer grazing amongst the trees and grasses. 

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At the end of the Riverside Walk and after the bag of Cheetos had been dispersed, we headed back to the hotel to take a breather, get cleaned up, and figure out what we were going to do for dinner. 

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We ended up eating at The Spotted Dog Cafe.  Now when I think cafe, I think cozy booths, yummy homestyle cooking (or the opposite and quaint local cuisine), and coffee and soda.  Well, this was a tablecloth restaurant, and we brought in the kids.  It was good food, but I don’t think it was worth the price we paid.  After dinner we went back to the hotel.  Traveler had some work to do on his presentation and the girls were exhausted. 

And this ends the first full day of our stay in Utah.  Stay tuned (if you care).  Day 2 will include a trip to the Pink Coral Sand Dunes and hikes to the Emerald Pools.  Day 3 has an mommy meltdown followed by a second trip with T to the Weeping Rock (when icicles weren’t hanging) and an attempted hike up to Hidden Canyon and dinner at a diner for buffalo burgers and fries.  Day 4 is not at all exciting.  It is the 10-hour drive with 3 girls by myself back home.  (And we all made it alive and with no meltdowns.  It’s a miracle!!)

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One response to this post.

  1. So good to see pics of the girls. I miss you guys!

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