Adventures in Zion National Park, Part 1 – The Arrival

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This is the first part of my adventures in Zion National Park – since I did a lot during my visit, I figured that it’d be simpler to cut it up into chunks.  First up – arrival, and driving in!

 

Sunday, 07-June-2015

  • I’ll start this section of the story when I saw my first sign for Zion National Park – it was after I’d crossed the border into Utah, but maybe only by a dozen miles or so. After a bit more driving I saw another sign – this one directing me to a specific AM radio station, that I could tune into to get more information… so I did. It didn’t have much; just some info about traffic patterns, and how to go through the tunnels on this side of the park. Meh. Good info to have.
  • So I pass the toll booth, buy a week pass, and start into the park itself…
  • And driving in through the national park… ohh my lord this is amazing. I have… I just…. yes. Yes please. I seriously can’t describe my emotions and thoughts while I saw taking the tight turns through the mountain pass.
    The rocks? Amazing. Awesome, in the original sense of the word. I was full of awe, at the sweeping and towering cliffs. Every single one of them climbable, and beautifully so.
    The road? Perfect. It actually was awarded a recognition as a historic feat of engineering prowess – cutting a path, that is both efficient and pleasant to drive, through a mountain landscape like this.
  • And speaking of the road – there’s a tunnel in it. Not a “ohh cute, a little cut in a thing” tunnel… this is a “barely wide enough for two cars, yet over a mile long, and winding constantly” tunnel. They actually have to cut traffic when an RV goes through, since it’s not tall enough or wide enough to allow two large vehicles to pass each other.
    And the skylights! Every so often, there’s a slice cut out of the side of the tunnel, where the light and fresh air stream in. It’s beautiful, and almost haunting… since you can see the sheer drop out the other side, down into the valley.
  • So I drive. I stop a lot, and I take a TON of pictures. Though I’m driving slowly, the road does finally end and spit me out into the main town outside the national park.
  • I find the campground that I’d reserved, set up camp, chat with some of the folks nearby and get a feel for where I’m off to the next day, finally let sleep take me.

 

Driving from Arizona into Utah – to the gates of Zion

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Sunday, 07-Jun

The drive isn’t bad at all, actually – I Headed out from Arizona pretty early, so I got a good head start on the day…. I don’t remember the drive at all, really. Damn. I mean… there’s not that much to remember, I guess.

The drive was a simple one – it was a little over 400miles, though I didn’t plan on stopping much at all along the way. Just gas, really… advantage of leaving from my Step-mom was that she made sure I was well stocked before I even turned a key to the car.

I mean – I had sandwiches. And I don’t mean one or two. I had two ziplock bags of sliders – six ham and cheese mini-sandwiches in all. I had our leftovers too – a quarter of a turkey club, and a quarter of a bacon cheeseburger. I had a thermos full of extra-strong coffee, and a few snacks aside. Yep, I was ready for the drive.

So… I drove. Long and hard. I stopped for gas, then kept driving. I didn’t have to stop to repair the roof, thanks to the beautiful day and a hefty dose of sunscreen.

The only adventure came when I realized that I was on a desolate road. I mean… they’ve all been semi-desolate, but this one was serious business. 75 miles between gas stations. I had 100miles in the tank, but it was still one of those “man… I should have filled up earlier” situations.

It ended fine, obviously (since i’m here writing this), and so I kept moving along until I started seeing the first signs for Zion National Park…

A visit and an adventure in mid-state Arizona – Visiting My Dad, Step-mom, and Grandma in Alpine!

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A visit and an adventure in mid-state Arizona – Visiting My Dad, Step-mom, and Grandma in Alpine!

Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 05-Jun, 06-Jun & 07-Jun-2015

 

 

Friday, 05-Jun-2015

  • Well, this is a nice change… I make it to Alpine earlier than I expected… it’s still nice and light and lovely! Yay the joy of traversing time zones!
  • First order of business – hugs and greetings with Dad and Denise! We hang out for a bit, sitting and relaxing and having snacks. I take a few minutes to unpack a bit of the car; not much, but any chance that I get to decompress… I’ve learned to take them and be thankful!
  • Dinner? Dinner time? Dinner time! We jump in the truck and head into town, grabbing some worms along the way for fishing the next day. There’re a few nice restaurants in town, so we just semi-randomly pick a good cafe that we haven’t been to before. Denise and I split a cheeseburger and club sandwich, Dad has Fish and Chips.
  • Food consumed (mostly, we did keep some as doggie bags) we hack to the camp, set up the chairs and relax outside some more. When it gets too late, we move inside; I share some of the celebration-whiskey that Daniel gave me, spend some time spinning the staff, and end up crashing super early. Like… 9:30. Seriously early.

 

Saturday, 06-Jun-2015

  • Aha! Today is a good day! I wake up on time for once! And with puppies snuggled up to me!  It’s nice and early, though of course everyone else is already up and moving. So I haul myself up, and we chow down on some bacon and eggs and biscuits!
  • After cleaning up the dishes, we quickly grab the fishing gear and pack everything up into the truck, and head down into town. Then we’re outbound toward a spot called Big Lake (surprise, it’s actually a mountain! Not really. It’s a lake. It’s big) where we’ll meet my Grandma Marlon!
  • We cast some lines, do some fishing… but nothings biting. The problem is that there’s too many people… literally half a dozen boats in the same cove at the same time. Like… I don’t have to rotate my head/body at all to see them all. So we roll out. No point in staying, right?
  • For the next stop, we hit up the East Fork of the Black River – the same place that we camped last time I was up in Alpine. The area was actually part of the huge burn that tore through the area a few years back, so it’s scattered with charred trunks. Kind of scary, but really awesome to see all the regrowth that’s happening.
  • Starting in… No luck at the good spot… well, except for crawdads. We get tons of those. Little mini-lobsters who love trying to steal the bait. They’re an invasive species, so we either toss them to the puppies (they do actually eat them, if you’ll believe it) or throw them far enough out into the woods that they can’t get back in.
  • Dad gets one fish, but it’s a tiny one… so it gets thrown back in. Man.
  • Well, nothing to do here… so we keep moving upriver, ’till we run out of river and it starts raining. Dad breaks his pole too… boo! But we fix it… yay! Mechanical and Electrical engineering powers, combine!
  • After making a quick stop into town, we head back to home-base and relax for a bit. Just a mid-day chill, good for the bones.
  • Let’s see… we’ve tried Big Lake, and the Black River… so that leaves Luna Lake left; We drive down and start off on a rocky little peninsula, but we’ve got no luck there either… so keep edging closer and closer to the dock, until the people on it leave and we get dibs.
  • Lures are cool – I’ve never fished with lures instead of bait (for the uninitiated, bait is something like synthetic salmon eggs that attracts fish. Lures are shiny bobbins that look like smaller fish, or flies, or something interesting. The fish gobble them up, and regret it later). So this is the first time I’ve tried a lure, and they’re a hell of a lot more interesting than bait. You have to reel them in constantly, but managing the speed is key. So it’s more motion, less waiting. My kinda thing.
  • Dad catches something, woo!
  • Sunset / dusk is the best time to be out – fish are constantly jumping up out of the water, trying to catch the flies and gnats hovering above the water. It’s beautiful to watch, and the sunset is nothing to shirk at either. But the light fades fast, and the bugs get pretty thick pretty quick…
  • So back home it is, then to the Bear Wallow diner for dinner – it’s the place that we’d always go the last time, and it’s pretty awesome… but they’re closed by the time we get there. But we’re cool kids, and they remember my Dad and Denise. So they stay open for us, even pull some steak specials out for us.
  • We eat, make merry, and then head back home. Relaxing around the camp and having a little more whiskey, then sleep.

 

Sunday, 07-Jun-2015

  • I wake up early again…. but this time it’s not up to the smells of delicious breakfast. It’s up early to the sounds of consternation and trouble
  • During the night, a water pipe broke. Nothing major, just a drain from the sink… but it’s still a situation and so Denise is cleaning it up and fixing the pipe. She’s basically got it set, but it’s triggered another problem where the water filter line quick-release was triggered. I try to help by rotating the quick release away from the door…, and my fix ends up breaking another part – the rotation cuff. And that’s a part that we can’t fix. And it’s a critical leak; kind of huge. Worse than the initial problem. Damnation.
  • Well, screw that thing – I’ve got gorilla glue in the car! So we glue it up. While it’s curing, we hang out and do breakfast. Then we test it… and it doesn’t hold. Damnation.
  • Well, there’s nothing to be gained by me staying, and unfortunately I have a long drive into Utah still ahead of me. So once I know that they’ve got a plumber on the way (the campsite owner) I make my goodbyes, and head back onto the road.