Leaving Colorado we saw some epic scenery; I’m not using that word lightly, the scenes were EPIC – monumental in my 20 years of life.
We drove through jagged cliffs, mountains changing shapes and colors every turn we took, wildlife peeping at us in the brush, water melting, trickling down the mountainsides, small villages in the lower hills, ski towns and resorts, and long tunnels leading into new light. It was the journey of a lifetime and I will be telling it for years to come.
When we came out of the mountains the measure of open space was shocking. Dessert surrounded us in every direction. We were on our way to Zion National Park.
We made a stop in at Bryce Canyon to wonder at the cavernous ravines. “Hoodoos” (defined as: skinny spires of rock that protrude from the bottom of arid basins and “broken” lands) made of bright red rock filled the canyon, marvels that you don’t see everyday.
We drove in, climbed to a few viewing points, snapped some pics, and drove out. We needed to make our check in at the next park; we were not going to lose our reservation at the famous Zion campgrounds.
On our way, we stopped to take some photos of a Buffalo herd just outside the park. (Or were they Bison… I strongly encourage you to google “Buffalo vs. Bison”. It will be to your amusement, I am sure of it.) The pictures don’t quite capture the magnitude of the size of each animal or the herd as a whole - delightful creatures.
Driving into Zion was an instant shock of awe and grander. The road was a stark shade of dark brown; against the red mountains towering over us, it looked like a road leading to anything. Silence filled the car as our minds focused in on the beauty before us.
We got to our spot, set up camp, and strapped up the hammock on two tiny trees that didn’t look strong enough to hold. (That didn’t stop us.) We sunk in and down we went. Darn gravity.The skinny trunks were far too slim to keep the polyester straps from slipping downward when our weight was added. Second try. We strung the straps around and around until there wasn’t an inch of slack. Gently plopping in, we looked at each other, and realized we were still airborne. Success! We opened up a bottle of homemade cold brew and gazed up at the orange peaks standing against the crisp blue sky. We were at peace.
The plan was to keep this night mellow. Wandering out of the park, we entered into the little town of Zion, Springdale (population 547); bought some firewood, a pot to boil water, and mugs for coffee. We built a fire with the help of way too much lighter fluid (I still haven’t mastered the natural method) and cozied into the night.
The next morning, we awoke to the sun peaking over the hills beside us; absolutely magnificent.
Stories were told us of the most splendid hikes in this national park. Many of them would take a whole day and we didn’t have but a third of that. We chose an easy trail that led to an “emerald pool” in the lower peaks. It was still a magnificent hike. There wasn’t a cloud to be seen in the big, blue sky above us. Bright-colored rocks lined the trails and orange dust kicked up with each step we took, making the path look as though it were glowing.
The contrast of colors in this region of the country is astounding. Everything has a vibrancy, a brilliance that can’t be missed. The leaves look greener, the sky looks bluer, the waters look crisper, and the mountains pop out against the splendor of colors.
Many pictures were captured in every which-way; up, down, sideways, upside-down, panoramas, and self-timers of course. This was the last day on our week-long adventure and we were going to take it for all it was worth.
We had to leave the park much earlier than we wanted and after a hard goodbye, we made peace with it, and drove out westwards.It was Wednesday afternoon and we would be spending the rest of the day driving all the way back to our little hometown of Carpinteria, Ca. Lunch was made on the go – turkey sandwiches, crunchy Claussen pickles, and cheesy Doritos. This meal really never gets old on the road.
Before it got dark, we were enticed by road signs to visit “Peggy Sue’s Diner”. Isa was entranced with the idea of diner coffee and homemade pie and would not let it go until she had what she wanted. I let her stop, and it was worth it. (I learned a lesson that day: never miss an opportunity to enter a funky diner in the middle of nowhere.)
Utah quickly turned into Nevada and Nevada into California. Driving home is never fun but the longer we traveled through the desert, the flat dry heat rendered a desire for home that we could not displace. There was a minor car problem on Highway 40.
(Side Note: It stinks when you’re caught in the middle of “what I’ve always been told – don’t swerve to not hit something if you can avoid it” and the ever so daunting “quick wit”. I’m pretty good at following instruction; not the best with thinking on my toes.)
Anyway, my direction got the best of me, and I drove over a piece of busted tire that was far to large for our car to clear. It managed to detach the under-panel that protects the parts beneath the car. Nothing major, but of course, it was something. Isa and I changed seats. Dumb luck!
I will say though, the trip wouldn’t have been complete if it hadn’t ended with one more little bump in the road. Sorry Isa.
My advice to you all:
- Travel in the country you live.
- Travel through America.
- Travel to as many natural landmarks as you can.
- Travel in your car.
- Travel with a tent.
- Travel beside your best friend.