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Monday, April 29, 2013

Zion National Park!

Next stop on our Great American Roadtrip, as we like to callit, was Zion National Park in Southern Utah!  Luckily it was only a 2 hour drive from the Grand Canyon, but Beef Jerkywas still essential for the driver! J

Our goal is to get a photo next to EVERY state sign that wepass!   I’m pretty sure this set of picks will be my favorite of the whole trip! “I have to jump.  Their slogan is:Life Elevated!” – Aaron
(Aaron also swears he likes girls, in case there was any concern after viewing these photos! lol) The middle one is my absolute favorite... The stance of an 8 year old boy! I was dying!

Sitting about 20 feet from the Utah sign, was a smallelementary style desk with bowls full of petrified wood crafts and a donationbox, for anyone wanting to take one home. We always try to bring something home with us from everywhere we visitto throw on our future Christmas tree, so when Aaron saw the “petrifiedmashmallows” he convinced me that that’d be our Utah souvenir!  I’m not sure I really had a choice, butwhatever!  Now we’ll always remember ourUtah adventures when we adorn our petrified marshmallow on our tree!

We made it to Zion National Park around 3:00pm…

… and set up camp at Watchman Campground, # C29!

Aaron got right to cooking dinner for us…

…. while I shamelessly read about why Sean is no longer a virgin, Kim is lonely, and Reese got arrested… you know, all the important stuff that the United States has to offer! 

Yum, right?!  We couldn't just eat hot dogs for every meal now could we?!  I love when A offers to do the dinner for us! 

At around 2am, the wind was ROARING through the campsite andthe giant tree above our tent was making creaking noises that lead both of us to believe it was about to fallright on us!  So, we moved our sleepingbags to the car and slept sitting straight up! As luck would have it, we woke up to no wind and a perfectly standingtree!  Lol  We actually couldn’t stay at this sitebecause it was already booked for the night, so we drove over to SouthCampground and moved EVERYTHING to campsite # 83, right on the river with a flawlessview of The Watchman Mountain!  YESPLEASE!  (Camping in National Parks iseither first come first serve or reserve 6 months in advance, which can bekinda tricky for us, since we can only do the first come first serve sites…hence the moving camp this morning!)

Zion National Park has an awesome FREE shuttle system thattakes you to the base of a bunch of different hikes throughout the park!   

So, we jumped on it and headed to the horsecoral, which was on the way to the trail for the Emerald Pools.

Don’t be fooled by what looks to be a sweet horse!  The darn thing tried to bite me, twice!

There are 3 Emerald Pools, all at different levels of thecanyon!  We hiked to all three, and wereglad we did!  The hike from the bottompool to the upper Emerald Pool was rocky and sandy!  I never realize there could be that much sandup so high!  It was like taking a strollthrough Huntington Beach!

The water literally falls from the cliffs, over a cove inthe mountainside.

It was hot, hot, hot today and we were both starving by theend of the hike, so instead of going back to camp, we just walked over to theZion Lodge (the original accomodation in Zion!) and had lunch in the grass, under a giant shade tree, just outsidethe lodge.

We took the shuttle over to the stop between the Lodge and the campsite to the Museum, where we watched a really interesting 15 minute movie all about Zion, how it was formed over the years, all the different viewpoints, hikes, etc.  I was just happy to be in the air condition if I’m being completely honest!

We decided to skip the shuttle and take a mile walk back to camp along the Pa’rus Trail.  It was here, along the easiest walk we did all week, that I twisted my ankle and fell flat on my face down a set of stone stairs!  Aaron said it was like I did it in slow motion.  lol We both had a nice laugh about it, brushed my shins and hands off, picked up my pride and kept on trekking!  Lol 

We got back to camp around 5:00pm and the sun was STILL SHINNING and I was melting in the heat, so we walked over to the Virgin River to cool off and read under the shade trees! J

We had heard that the bridge next to Canyon Junction was a stunning site to watch the sunset, so we drove over there around 7pm and hung out with the other 5 or so photographers who were there to capture the same shot.  I, personally, am much more of a “photo journalist” than a “sunset/sunrise/landscape enthusiast”,  so I left capturing the PERFECT sunset shot up to Aaron and snapped this one before setting my camera down to chat about travel, photography and life with the other people around. 

I happened to think that looking in the opposite direction was almost just as stunning!

We got back to the campsite around 8:30, made dinner andwent straight to bed!  It’s funny howheat’ll suck all the energy from ya!

We were so excited to do an 8+ mile hike called The Narrows,where you literally tread through the Virgin River, through steep, gorgeous, canyonson either side!   It was the hike A and Iwere most excited about doing in Zion, but TODAY it was closed due to high andrushing waters.  So, instead, we did theRiverside Walk trail, which was way too easy, but beautiful none the less.

Eventually, the Riverwalk trail leads to the beginning of The Narrows! 

This is what "roughin' it" looks like!!! lol
Next stop was Weeping Rock a short steep hike that ends at arock alcove with 1,000+ year old water, dripping through the rock (sorry you can't really tell)!  

It’s pretty amazing to think that that waterhas been traveling through the mountain for all those years!

… even flowers are blooming from within the stone!  It’s such a beautiful place!

We were kinda feeling like losers for doing such easy hikesin a place where people are doing hikes like Angel’s Landing, which has 1,400ft drops on either side of a narrow 3 foot pathway and a single chain to hangonto for dear life, so we knew we needed to up the ante (sp?) a bit and headedfor Canyon Overlook, which overlooks part of the Zion Valley!  The hike ends at the top of the arch in themountain in the background, which doesn’t look THAT high in this picture, but a5,300 foot drop is high ENOUGH for me!

Yep, this was more like it!

I had to keep reminding Aaron that no picture was worth dying for when he was setting his tripod right on the ledge!  The guy gets so darn close to the edge and it was so windy, I thought he might blow off the side of the cliff and down that 5,300 foot drop!!!   I know he’s being careful, but I can’t help but tense up and freak out a little.  I think he secretly kinda liked that I was so worried about him.

I mean look at this view!!!

I much preferred being about 15 feet from the edge, on thislittle rock. J

But, I did brave up a bit and get 5 feet or so from the edgeto enjoy the view with A!

And for that, I was pretty proud of myself!  ... and every proud moment deserves a jump, right?!

We were feeling great about our stay in Zion, but were readyand eager to move on to our next stop, Bryce Canyon National Park!  You’ll just have to wait to hear all aboutthat till later! J 
Ciao from Utah!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Grand Canyon!

Saturday morning came and it was time to say goodbye to Sedona, so we packed up camp and jumped on the road to Flagstaff, which happened to be on the way to our next stop: The Grand Canyon.  I found La Bellavia, a cute little restaurant with great breakfast reviews, on yelp, so we stopped there for pancakes and an omelet!

Within 2 hours, we were at The Grand Canyon!  I can not believe I lived in Arizona for 6 years and only came to Sedona and the Grand Canyon for 24 hours each, and only once!   They’re sooo close and so amazing!

We checked into our $16 a night campground, set up camp and headed out!

We had heard about the “free shuttles” that take you to lots of different look out spots around the Canyon, so we went to the westernmost shuttle route and saw it leaving just as we were walking up, so we headed over to the Rim Trail and did a little hiking instead.

When we got back up to the top, we jumped on the shuttle to “Hermit’s Rest”, where we grabbed some ice cream - like the true fatties we are, and then hopped back on the shuttle and got off at Mohave Point and walked a mile or so on the trail past Hopi Point to Powell Point, all along the edge of the cliffs!  There’s one point that’s almost 3,000 feet STRAIGHT DOWN people!  

I had to beg Aaron to come back from the edge so many times… and he in turn had to tell me to chill out!  lol 

We got back to the village around 5 or so and drove back to camp, waving to all the wildlife along the way. J

… Then we both went out into the forest and gathered some firewood to make our little campfire.   We could have just bought wood for $7, but $7 adds up fast and why buy wood when you can just gather it yourself?  That’s part of the fun of roughing it, right?!

After dinner, we jumped in the 4runner and drove a couple miles to the general store to pick up something we can hang on our Christmas tree (We like to have little memoires of each place we go) and to get some jiffy pop, campfire style, popcorn!   We spent the rest of the night by the campfire, then popped the popcorn and huddle in the tent to watch another Modern Family episode!

We were up early with a 4:30am alarm!  Ugh, I hate alarms!  But this time it was worth it… We bundled up with all the layers we could find and drove over to Mather’s Point to watch the beautiful sunrise!

I had wanted to show Aaron El Tavor, an old historic hotel, built in the early 1900’s that I had had lunch at with my parents, 7 years ago for my mom’s 60th birthday.  

  I was hoping they had a coffee shop, but got even luckier when the concierge invited us to go ahead and help ourselves to some coffee upstairs in the mezzanine!  SCORE!

We had a couple more last looks at the canyon after coffee...

... did a load of laundry at the campgrounds, tore down camp and jumped back on the road!  We’re getting pretty good at this whole putting up and tearing down of camp!  We’ve got it under 45 minutes!  We’re also getting really good at killing bugs with our 4 runner!  Poor guy looked so nice when we bought him last week and now this!  

After seeing all those elk at the Grand Canyon and signs for mountain lions, I’m just hoping bugs are all that meet the hood! :) Off to Zion National Park!