Sunday, November 22, 2020

Zion Side Trip

When I was planning for our trip to Zion National Park, I noticed that we would be just about 100 miles from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

I’ve been to the South Rim several times, but never made the trek around the canyon to see the North Rim. We decided to make it a day trip.

We started out in the morning by driving out the West gate of the park. It’s quite the drive, a steep climb with lots of hair pin turns.

After leaving the tunnel (which is quite the engineering feat), the drive is pretty easy. We stopped for lunch at the Jacob Lake in Arizona, about ½ way to the Grand Canyon.

We were amazed at how much of the forest has burned recently.

After a little more driving we arrived at the entrance to the North Rim.

We drove to several look-out points and wandered around. It was much like the South Rim, just less crowded and 1000 feet higher elevation (we wandered out to point Imperial, at 8800 feet the highest point in the park)

The roads are pretty narrow, and the jerks in SUV’s and large trucks speeding around corners using both lanes can make for some white knuckle moments, but it was worth the drive.

Saturday, November 14, 2020

The River Walk Trail

I made sure that for our second day we had a reservation for the shuttle bus in Zion National Park. To keep traffic down to a minimum, they don’t allow most visitors to drive into the park (the exception is visitors staying in the hotel in the park).

Making the reservation was easy, I made sure I was online the day before at 9 am sharp to get the tickets as soon as they went on sale. Each ticket cost $1.

When we got to the shuttle area, I overheard one person complaining that you had to get to the park at 6 am to get in line for a chance at a shuttle ticket. I’m not sure how she came up with that idea, but she was angry, and I wasn’t about to tell her she was wrong.

We planned on heading up to the Temple of Sinawava and taking the River Walk trail, and maybe trying part of the Narrows trail, which starts at the end of the River Walk. My nephew told me he had taken the Narrows trail a couple of years ago, and he suggested that we should give it a try.

Along the River Walk Trail

He also mentioned something about regretting not getting the boots before trying to walk in the river.

I had read, and the bus driver confirmed, that there was a toxic algae bloom in the rivers and that you should try to stay out of the water.

On the way up the canyon, we noticed that a lot of people had the same type of hiking boots. Turns out they had rented the hiking gear my nephew had mentioned.

The River Walk trail is mostly paved, but in several areas you can get off the cement trail and walk along the river.

Overall a nice hike, no real hills so it is a really easy trip.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Zion Day One

Zion National Park doesn’t allow automobiles in the park for most of the year. Visitors are required to ride on a park service shuttle bus or in one of the approved shuttles. Currently you must purchase a $1 ticket and make a reservation to board the bus.

The reservation can be made a few weeks in advance or after 9 a.m. the day before you want to go.

We missed the early reservation window, so I was up before 9 and on the computer at exactly 9 a.m. to secure our ride.

Since we didn’t have a reservation on the first day, so we went to the Northern Entrance of the park at the Kolob Canyons.

A stop along Kolob Canyon Road

We drove the Kolob Canyon Road to the scenic overlook at the end of the road. From there we hiked the Timber Creek Overlook trail.

The View from the Scenic Overlook

It’s not a long hike, but it was a great way to start our Zion adventure.

One of the rougher parts of the trail

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Arriving in Zion

As we left the Seven Magic Mountains, we had made it approximately half-way to our destination. The remainder of the drive was fairly uneventful, save for the credit card fraud we encountered just a few miles into Utah. Yep, my card got scanned and I got a fraud alert almost immediately.

A selection of merch at the gas station where my card got compromised. 

We arrived at the hotel about 7pm, checked in and then went to the front desk for suggestions on where to have dinner.

View of the hotel taken the next morning.

That’s when we found out that most of the restaurants in Springdale close at 9:30 pm. We headed to the steak house nearby, I figured that being the more expensive option, they may still have an opening.

We were told that we would need to wait, which we didn’t mind.

Turns out we made it just in time, the next couple got turned away.

The bacon wrapped meat loaf at the Switchback Grill.

It was a really good meal, we made up our minds to make a reservation and come back at least one more time.

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Seven Magic Mountains

A couple of years ago, I noticed some very colorful rock stacks just off Interstate 15 just outside of Los Vegas, NV.

Since we didn’t have any real plans for stops along the way, we decided to pull off the main road and take a look. 

Two of the Seven Magic Mountains

According to the interpretive signs, the “Seven Magic Mountains elicits continuities and solidarities between human and nature, artificial and natural, then and now. What centers this amalgam of contradictions is the spiritual aspiration, one the bruises, elevates and transcends.”

Now, I don't consider myself to be an expert on art. In fact, I think I was about to be asked to leave the MOCA in LA for making a comment about a large installation piece during a tour. It was a joke, but the docent didn't find it particularly funny (although my wife did, and she is the only audience that matters).

I tried to elicit "continuities and solidarities between human and nature," but was left instead with a strong desire to find some colorful marshmallows.