From California to the U.K. in 30 days - Day 12 (Zion National Park, Utah)

Published: July 27th 2017
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We spent much of Monday afternoon relaxing. After 10 active days on the road and an exciting ATV run we were all a bit wiped. We ate lunch in Kanab at the Peekaboo Kitchen which was very nice. The kids shared a wood fired pizza and Antonio and I each ate salads. After lunch, we napped and then spent the rest of the afternoon at the hotel pool. Dinner was at Houston’s End of the Trail and frankly I wouldn’t recommend it.

We woke on Tuesday feeling refreshed. The sky was dark with close grey clouds and the ground outside was wet. We filled up on hot breakfast and set out for Zion National Park, determined to make the best of the weather. As we turned left onto Highway 9, it began to rain; not the monsoon rain of summer thunderstorms, but a steady, persistent warm trickle. The clouds seemed close enough to touch and obscured the tops of the mountains. It made for a vaguely “Avatar” feeling to the landscape. Out of nowhere, the rounded, bare sandstone hills that mark the entrance to the park. As we enter the park proper, the road twists between the beige mountains. This is a remarkable landscape, bare rock with occasional shrubs and bushes, completely scored and lined with patterns running in every direction. Mini waterfalls cascade from all over the rocks as the water has nothing to do but run off. Gravity pulling it along all the contours until it cascades to the bottom of the valley. We were here a few years ago but in bright sunshine, and it is interesting to see the contrasting view that the weather creates. Highway 9 enters a tunnel, the longest in the National Park system as we will later learn at 1.1 miles. There are a couple of windows along its length and we glimpse small flashes of what is to come. As we exit the tunnel our collective breath is taken away. The view is magnificent, a true valley of the Gods hewn from sheer rust red cliff faces thousands of feet high. A blind arch, hundreds of feet across, made all the more spectacular by a waterfall cascading from the center of the arch. In fact, everywhere we look there are small waterfalls adding to the dizzying scene. The water tumbles in sheets falling hundreds of feet to the red rocky canyon below. If you have never been to Zion, please make the effort. It is truly one of the most spectacular places I have ever been. It rivals Yosemite, and today, despite the weather and in spite of it, the show is phenomenal.

By the time we get to the Visitor’s center, the rain is still streaming down in a steady fashion. Antonio drops us off and the kid’s and I run through the wet while Antonio parks and digs through the suitcases to find rainwear. Remember at the beginning when I told you that he was the glue that holds us to together? We hunker down in the center until he returns. Tourists dressed in what appear to be garbage bags mill about eyeing the clouds. Zion canyon is closed to cars, and they offer a very efficient bus service up and down canyon. We decide to ride the shuttle up-valley and see what happens with the weather. 20 minutes up and the rain begins to slow and the sky brightens a little. The Virgin River, responsible for the creation of the valley, churns thick and muddy, a distinct contrast from the crystal-clear waters we saw on our last visit. We get off at weeping rock and mercifully the rain abates. The path is a steep climb but only about a quarter mile or so. At the end is another blind arch which normally has water weeping out of it, creating wonderful hanging vertical gardens. Today the rocks are more than weeping. Water cascades over the arch and on either side are two spectacular waterfalls. This is the optimum time, the rain has stopped but the falls are still running strong. The view is remarkable and the sun almost peeks out from behind the clouds. We are beginning to feel that the weather is quite fortuitous as the waterfalls are an added touch that almost puts things over the top.

We take the bus further up-valley and walk the trail alongside the river. This heads to the narrows which are slot canyons. Not surprisingly a sign notates their closure due to flash-flooding hazard. We walk about a half-mile down the trail to yet another impromptu waterfall, but hunger is overtaking everyone so we decide to turn around. On the bus ride back down our driver confirms what we have begun to suspect, it is quite unusual to be able to view Zion with waterfalls. Even at this point after the rain has been stopped only an hour or so, they are beginning to recede. We count ourselves lucky and savor the view. It was well worth a little discomfort to be able to experience the park in a new light.

Lunch is the town of Springdale where we stayed last time we visited the park. We yelp ourselves a café called Meme’s and the food is good. Salads and a burger for Antonio. By the time we finish lunch it’s 3pm and we are happy to head back to the hotel. On our way back through the park, STOP! Bighorn sheep are traversing the road in front. One of them almost bounces over a car coming the opposite way. We are able to snap a couple of good pictures before they disappear.

When we get back to the hotel Antonio takes the kids to the pool allowing me some time to write. I’m still finding it difficult to fit it in with the busy schedule we have been setting ourselves. As I write this, it is the second episode written today, so I should be all caught up for tomorrow.

Dinner is in our hotel, the restaurant is named Sego. The theme is dishes to share, not Tapas exactly as these are bigger. We start with a beet salad, followed by a charcuterie plate, then roasted cauliflower, delicious scallops and some fish tacos. The food is excellent, but a little pricey. We finish with ice-cream for the kiddies and cherry pie for Antonio. I force down a little flourless chocolate cake not wanting anyone to feel uncomfortable! After dinner, we walk the kids to the local park as the sun sets and I enjoy a cigar along the way. As the light fades over Kanab, we walk back to the hotel and I feel a sense of peace that has eluded me while working. I could get used to being unemployed but alas, our finances won’t allow it indefinitely!

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