Zion National Park – Part deux

(Disclaimer same as yesterday…)

Tuesday morning after waking up, eating breakfast, and a bit of cartoons on Nick (my kids are so deprived with no cable), we headed out for the drive through the mile-long tunnel up Hwy 89.  It was a beautiful drive.  I keep saying that, because well, it was, and I’m a sucker for mother nature, always have been in awe of her beauty.  One of the brochures mentioned a state park called Coral Pink Sand Dunes.  With three girls I figured that was a trip that needed to be made.  It took about an hour to get there as we made our way around the winding canyon roads and then out Zion’s east entrance. 

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The girls were greatly disappointed to not find princess pink sand.  But here is what we did find

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The girls were so amazed they could actually see TRACKS of REAL, LIVE ANIMALS.  MOM! LOOK, THERE ARE MORE OVER HERE!!! 

Then I convinced them to head to the big dunes.  I’m a horrible judge of distance, but I would say the biggest one was a couple stories high.  Before I convinced them the sand in their shoes was not to be discussed, because really, they were just going to fill back up with sand 2 seconds later, I told them to go to the top of one of smaller dunes and wave at me.  I knew Sweet Pea wouldn’t go to the top of the biggest dune without me and even if she would my little camera only zooms so far.  Off they ran.

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When they got to the top I wanted them to not just be odd blobs of color, so I asked them to wave their arms around.  I don’t think you’d see them from a plane on a deserted island. 

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It was windy that morning and only about 40 degrees, so before I insisted they do something they weren’t keen on, I asked if they wanted to make the trek to the top of big one.  They enthusiastically answered YES!!  Sass and SmartyPants took off together at first racing to see who got there first and then coming to the realization that running in soft, fine sand is actually not as easy as they thought. 

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Sweet Pea and I followed behind, but Sweet Pea decided making it to the top was not as important as sitting down and just letting the smooth, cool sand fall through her fingers. 

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And I just had to add this second one.  I love the angle.  I love the contrast of the blue sky, the pink jacket, and the almost orange sand.  It was so peaceful out there with no one around.

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Before they were ready to head back to the truck, I broke the news that it was time to go.  T was going to be free for the afternoon, so I wanted to be back to the hotel so we could do a quick lunch and head out for some 5-family-member fun.  This was the one day I didn’t plan very well.  I had only brought a few snacks and I was hearing about the lack of nourishment.  Before entering back into the park, there was a little shop that was gas station-esque but with more trinkets native to the southwest.  The girls chose cereal bars for their snack.  Not my ideal late morning snack, but whatever.  As we are wandering through, all the pretty shiny things were just calling out to the girls.  I had told them on our first day there that they would be able to pick one thing as a souvenir and to keep their eyes open but not to decide too soon, otherwise there might be something better.  I figured since we had hit a handful of the little stores in Springdale and the options in the price range I was willing to spend were fairly similar between places, that I would let them pick something if they wanted.  Sass picked a cute little leather and bead necklace.  SmartyPants picked out a seashell-shaped fossil.  Sweet Pea was quite tired and not yet fed, so she was touching lots of breakables; and there was a lot of Navajo pottery neatly displayed at the level of a 3yo’s eyesight.  Fantastic for me.  She picked up a piece of rose quartz that was cut into the shape you would think of quartz is formed in.  Mind you the price tag on this piece was $6.99.  I promptly asked *politely* to please.put.it.down.  She complied by dropping it on the tile floor of the store where it broke neatly into 2 pieces.  Here is the part of parenthood and adult responsibility that I hate.  Honestly, what I wanted to do was put it back into the basket from which it was taken and walk away quickly.  But with all three girls watching, I had the short and sweet talk about why we now have to buy this broken, $7 piece of quartz.  I had not planned on dropping $7 on a piece of rock for my child, especially not that child.  (Sass is my rock hound – I mightdo it for her.)  So I ruined Sweet Pea’s morning by telling her that she was going to have a broken piece of quartz as her souvenir.  Which sent her into fits of whines and turning of the back defiance.  When I brought the treasures up to the counter to pay, the man behind the counter asked me if I knew that the quartz was broken.  I was honest and replied that my daughter had broken it on accident.  He politely wrapped it up, rang it up, and put it in the bag.  I was hoping he was going to say not to worry about it, but he didn’t. 

After lunch at the hotel, the whole family headed back out to the park to go on the Emerald Pools hike.  This was about a 2-mile hike round trip.  Towards the beginning of the hike there was a small area that was begging the girls to be climbed on.

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At the lower Emerald pool there is also a waterfall pouring off the top of rocks.  Here, see for yourself.

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And I have to add in the picture of a rock that obviously is wet constantly. 

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Doesn’t it just glow?  I love how you can actually see the water falling in the picture.  It just makes me happy.  Anyway, we kept hiking.  Sweet Pea was still holding her own despite no nap.  It’s amazing what an attitude change can happen when the daddy, who is sometimes not around as much as everyone would like (including him), joins us on adventures.  Have I mentioned that I love my husband and like when he is around? 

Anyway, we make it to the Middle Emerald Pools as evidenced here

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and I took this picture

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(cue “Can You Feel The Love Tonight”, because these girls? They love their daddy.)

We decided that we would not head up to the Upper Emerald Pools.  We weren’t sure how steep the trail was and Sweet Pea was slowing down some.  So we headed back down and ended up taking a different trail out.  At the turning point, there were these 2 huge boulders which a rock staircase built between them.  I wanted to take a picture of the girls sitting on the steps.  While I was organizing this endeavor, a group of Oriental tourists with very little English skills (to go along with my non-existent knowledge of any Asian language) asked if we all wanted to be in the picture.  So, get this, I went on vacation with my family, and there are TWO pictures with me in them! 

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On our way down I kept stopping to try and capture some plant life that resembled spring using the macro setting on my camera.   This cactus caught my eye.  I couldn’t decide if it looked like a a snake head or a sperm. 

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And if there are any geologists or rock hounds or someone with more knowledge than me, could you explain why the rocks have a bad case of the chicken pox?  (Or as the girls were calling it “rock pox”).  It is really perplexing.

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After our hike, it was time to get cleaned up for a dinner with T’s peers.  There was a small graduation ceremony after dinner, and then I took the girls back to the room to get ready for bed while the speakers spoke.   Wednesday came, and since we brought some school work with us, I figured Wednesday morning was a good time to do it.  In looking at T’s conference schedule I saw that he was supposed to be done by 12:30.  I figured we would all do lunch together and then head out for another hike.   After finishing their school work with more complaining than I would have liked, the girls were starting to get a little stir crazy, but it was already 11:15, so I didn’t really want to go anywhere because I didn’t think there was enough time to head into Zion before we would need to come back for T.  I had seen a walking path behind the hotel, so I decided that we needed fresh air.  The path followed the river and wasn’t really that long, but I had my fearless leaders in charge.

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I took this next one trying to show the new leaves on the branch, but I really like that you can see all three girls in the background.

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(I swear this novel is almost done…I can’t really say TOO much more with only a half a day left to our stay in Zion and then 10 hours on the road back home? )

After our little adventure, we went back to the room.  I was expecting T to be showing up any time…when he didn’t show up by 12:40 I checked his schedule again.  Ahh, he is being provided lunch at 12:30 with the conference ended officially at 1 pm.   So now I have 3 hungry kids, no real food left in the fridge, and now accepting the fact that they need to eat but T will have already eaten.  Mmm.  And on top of it I have a bit of low blood sugar too.  *Deep breath*  I decide to just wait.  We can swing by the market and pick up something on the way into the park.  During this last 30-40 minutes the girls are escalating their torment of each other.  MythBusters isn’t cutting it anymore and they are all out for each other’s blood.  At 1:05 I texted T and asked when he was going to be done because I was getting ready to kill the kids.  (Great Moments In Motherhood – you saw it here first.)  Needless to say T showed up within 5 minutes carrying leftover boxed lunches.  By this time my spiking blood pressure had suppressed my need to eat.  I just needed to get out of the hotel.

Sass had been wanting to go to Lava Point.  I think she had it in her mind that there was a volcano somewhere even though I told her that wasn’t likely.  She liked the name and therefore wanted to go.  This is where we headed first.  You get to it from the more northwestern side of Zion.  It was about a half-hour drive into the mountains.  Again, I’m being repetitive, but it was a beautiful drive.  I knew there was the possibility of the road being closed for winter, but figured we would give it a shot anyway.  As we passed the unlocked, open gate that gets closed for winter, I was thinking we might just make it after all.  Then I turned the corner, saw snow, put the truck into 4WD, and promptly got stuck.  Heh.  T and I get out and survey the situation.  The snow wasn’t deep at all, but it was soft on top and icy underneath, hence the lack of traction.  We dug a little and T stick some small branches under the back tires and I put her in reverse and turned around.  Sass was disappointed, but then we got to have a nice talk about why it wouldn’t be a good idea to continue on and the importance of hiking safety (i.e. leave a note on the windshield of your car at the trail head stating when you left and when you are coming back, no one would really miss us for a day or 2 if something bad happened, we really weren’t prepared for the snow with our clothes).  So we took a leisurely drive back down the mountain.  We got to “visit” with some young cows walking down the middle of the road near a ranch that was down in the canyon right next to the river. 

So the girls decided that since Lava Point was out of the question, they wanted to take T up to Weeping Rock, so we headed there first.  It was so different when icicles weren’t hanging off from all plant life in contact with the weeping.  On Monday when we had been at the Weeping Rock, there was a trail head labeled as 1-mile trek taking you to Hidden Canyon.  I figured, what’s a mile, but they were cold and so we did the Riverside Walk instead.  But today with T here and it being the middle of the afternoon, we decided to make the journey.  This was a hike.  It was a dirt trail, lots of switchbacks, fairly steep in some areas and even some snow.  I’m not exactly sure how far we made it, but when Sass and I went down a portion of the trail that was smooth, angled sandstone and a chain in place to hold onto so you didn’t slip over the edge, (along with the fact that a different family with a just 4yo on their way back down due to the difficult nature of the trail) we decided just to turn around and head back down.  But before we did, I had to take Sass’s picture in the little canyon we were in, even if it wasn’t “Hidden Canyon”.

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After our hike, we were quite hungry.  There was consensus that we should go to the pizza place in Springdale.  Unfortunately they only accepted cash or check…none of which we had on us.  So we drove down the road a bit further and had buffalo burgers at a little place called Blondie’s Diner.  Yum.  I really enjoy buffalo burgers.  Then it was back to the hotel for packing and a date with the swimming pools.  We were up and out the door by 8:15 Thursday morning.  T heading east and the girls and I heading west.  It was bittersweet.  We were glad to be heading home but sad that T wouldn’t be joining us.  The drive home was pretty uneventful.  No one really wanted to get back in the car after lunching at McDonald’s in Tonopah, but we did, and 3-1/2 hours later we pulled into my parents’ driveway where a nice pot roast dinner was waiting for us. 

Overall it was a great little vacation.  I would love to go back and spend a week there when the girls a bit older during the summer.  Then we can go into the Narrows and maybe take some of the longer hikes…and we can do it together as a family of 5. 

If you have made it to the end of my tale, thanks.  I’m sure I won’t be this long-winded very often.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. So, if you make it there again, let us know. I’ve been dying to go! 🙂 And M is getting so BIG! When did that happen?

  2. Those photos ARE lovely! Love the one of the girls on top of that huge dune.

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