May 10, 2011
Leaving Las Vegas
This morning we reluctantly woke up and headed out of the city. There was a lot of road to cover before we made it to our next stop. We had breakfast at a Carl's Jr. restaurant, and I had to slap Mr. Lee on the arm for telling the lady behind the counter that they needed to get the food we have at Hardee's back at home. I swear, he's turning into Grandma. :)
We got back on the interstate, and it was like driving across the surface of Mars. Well, if Mars had scrubby bushes, that is. Don't get me wrong though, it's beautiful country. Long stretches of flat desert bordered by rocky hills and mountains. It looks like everything is close but Mr. Lee says that the clear air magnifies, so we were actually very far away from them. It was really pretty. There were a couple of places where my brain had trouble processing what I was seeing. It was just mountains, but my head kept expecting to see Alabama type scenery. I was instead looking at something completely unfamiliar and I couldn't quite wrap my brain around it. It was a weird sensation!
At one point, we were going along a long, flat road, and suddenly it seemed like mountains came out of nowhere and jumped in front of the car. Before I knew it, we were driving through a canyon inside the mountains. It literally took my breath away for a minute. I mean, you hear about that happening, but has it ever really happened to you? I almost had to grab my inhaler, but I managed to start breathing again. :) Good Lord... It was huge and deep and amazing. I wish I could have taken pictures, but we were moving too fast. Seriously, when you start feeling like you're important, I suggest you go to that canyon and be reminded how small you are in the scheme of things.
We made our way through the unbelievable scenery and into a small town called Hurricane, Utah, where we stopped for gas, ice cream, and jackets. Believe it or not, it was chilly outside. Neither Steve nor I had brought coats, because the last couple of times we had traveled out there, it was blazing hot. We were not prepared for the late spring weather! We couldn't really find what we were looking for, so we had to settle for some cheap Wal-Mart workout suit jackets. We figured they would be good enough. Heh.
Oh, and Hurricane had the most gorgeous roses I'd ever seen! Just FYI.
We made it into Springdale, Utah, where we would be spending the night at The Brambleberry Inn. We actually stayed there the last time we visited the west, so it was nice to be in a familiar place. It was a bit overcast and only a little chilly, which wasn't too bad. Since we had gotten to our hotel sooner than we had expected, we decided to take the tram into Zion National Park, which was just down the street. While we were waiting on the tram, I decided to run back to our room and grab Mr. Lee's and my jacket. Steve didn't want his (that part is important). It wasn't really cold, but I was a little chilly at the bus stop and figured it wouldn't hurt to bring it along. I'm very glad I did.
I haven't been everywhere in the world yet, but
Zion is easily the most beautiful place I've seen so far.
Zion National Park is in this gorgeous valley below high Navajo sandstone cliffs. It attracts all kinds of people, from the wheelchair bound to serious survivalist rock climbers and hikers. It's the kind of place where you might get shivved by a hippy if you "Take more than pictures" or "Leave more than footprints." When we got on the park bus to go to a place called "Weeping Rock", it was just starting to sprinkle, and we were joined on the bus by some of the hard core outdoorsmen. They were outfitted with Camelbacks, hiking gear, and heavy rain parkas. When they walked on, I had a moment of smugness when I saw their rain gear. I thought, "Huh, they're so tough, but they can't stand to get a little damp. Wimps." When we reached our stop, Mr. Lee must have been feeling the same smugness, because he called all the people not getting off of the bus "cowards."
That's when God punished us for our hubris.
The path up to Weeping Rock is very steep, but not impossible to climb. Steve, Mr. Lee and I began up the trail, and the rain got harder. No big deal, right? Steve didn't want to continue up the trail, but I shamed him into it. Lee had to stop and change a camera battery, so we went on without him. Just as Steve and I got to the top, the rain started coming down with a lot of force and it started to hurt. Of course, that's when it stopped being rain and started being hail. We ran up the steps and hid under the rock as the hail pelted down. I'd love to say that the rock provided a lot of protection from the water, but it's called "Weeping Rock" for a reason. It constantly drips underneath. Nice. Mr. Lee eventually struggled up the trail, wet and beaten with ice, to hide under the rock with us. We got a chance to take a few pictures, and when the hail stopped, we decided to walk back down to the tram stop. Before we were halfway down, the hail started up again with a vengeance. I've never stood out in a heavy hail storm before, and I don't think I ever want to do it again. The ice bits were like rock salt! I was already wet and cold, so the hail beating down stung like a mofo. We're lucky the hailstones didn't get any bigger! Poor Steve was wearing shorts and no hat, plus, he hadn't brought his jacket, so he was getting the worst of it. By the time we made it to the bus shelter, we were freezing cold and soaked through. The temperature had dropped, so instead of soldiering on to another stop, we hopped the bus and rode it back to the visitor's center. We were miserably wet and cold. We finally got back and had the chance to warm up a minute or two before the visitor's center closed, and then we caught the tram back to our inn.
The rest of the day was dull in comparison. We changed into dry clothes, had dinner, and we huddled user blankets for a long time after trying to get warm.
I'm never making fun of people in panchos again.