Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Trips & Travel, Quatro

The drive from the Grand Canyon to Zion was about 5 hours long, which is a breeze on a trip in which you drove as much as we did. The drive took us through the scrubbier beige parts of the desert into my favorite, the red parts (Do these descriptions sound Kindergarten-ish?). It also took us through the Indian reservations, which are just... Oh man. I am not kidding at all when I say that the White Guilt was heavy upon me when we drove through those reservations. There were roadside stands with handpainted signs to attract tourists, one of which said, "NICE INDIANS." This was single-handedly, one of the most depressing things I have ever seen in my life. When I think of what our nation has done to those people, it just makes me want to cry and cry and cry. Even though the nice thing to do would have been to stop and buy something from them, we just couldn't deal with it at all and drove past.

We ate lunch at a pizza buffet in Kanab, UT, that was staffed only with children. (I would prefer to keep this as much a mystery to you guys as it was to us, and offer no explanation. We did not get one.) We ate a lot of pizza, and the bloat and the heat made me sleepy and unenthusiastic. When we arrived at the park, however, the FAB (fuckin awesome beauty) woke my ass up. Behold! Pictures! (Finally, can you believe it? Although these are repeats to my FB friends and readers of GST. Sorry 'bout that.)

This is probably indicative of the first sights I saw when we entered the park. Like I said, I was all full of pizza and slightly grumpy and groggy from the "road soda" I had consumed on the way in, and the sky, the huge fucking boulders, they were pretty cool, but I wasn't threatening to piss & shit myself like I was when I started seeing things like this:

The Virgin River runs right through Zion, and has formed the canyon. Learning how it has done so, and how many years it has taken, makes geology seems really, really fascinating.

Cliffs like the one above were formed from sand dunes that existed where Zion is today thousands of years ago. The sand dunes in Utah were 3,000 feet deep! Or tall! However you want to look at it. One bus driver told us that, in comparison, the dunes in the Sahara are 250 feet high. Doesn't all of this knowledge make you feel just crazy?

Above is the formation known as "The Great White Throne." All of the rock towers had similarly weirdish and/or forbidding names. (Although in Googling for some other names of landmarks at Zion, I am reminded that they were biblical, so maybe my heathen bias is showing... but seriously, "The Altar of Sacrifice"?)

We had all afternoon and most of the next day to explore Zion before heading to Vegas, where we'd catch our flight home Saturday morning. We didn't do anything major the first day, just a couple of short hikes to check things out. On the second day Brandon woke me up not long after the sun rose and we took off to hike the Narrows.

Like I mentioned earlier, the canyon was formed by the Virgin River, which runs right through the park. When you first drive into the park, the canyon is quite wide, but as you drive further into it, the canyon narrows until, at the end of the Riverside trail, it is only passable by foot, through the river itself. Since the high temp that day was 105 degrees, it turned out to be the perfect day to go for a hike up the narrows.

The river only got a little deep in a couple of places, and you can see how deep it got by the watermarks on our shorts. Those are my camp counselor shorts, by the way.

We didn't intend to spend as many hours as we did in the Narrows, but it was so, so gorgeous that we couldn't stop ourselves from going further and further. We hiked in 3 miles, which meant we hiked out 3 miles, and didn't leave the park until late afternoon.

And now for the conclusion of my travelogue.

Las Vegas, NV.

People love Las Vegas, it seems. Flights to the city are cheap, which indicates to me that it's a popular destination. There's a shit-ton of hotels, and gambling, and titties. When we arrived at our hotel, the Sahara (the cheapest on the strip that didn't seem really really manky), I hadn't bathed in 3 days or so, and had spent the same amount of time immersed in the natural grandeur of the American West. I got out of the car while Brandon navigated the valet parking abortion (even though it was free, we parked ourselves. I can walk, you know). It was hot as fuck in Vegas, all that concrete and defeat had sucked any kind of coolness out of the city. I went in the hotel, through the casino, and was greeted by this bizarre assortment of overly groomed girls in short summer dresses, grandmas on oxygen, skeezy dudes of all ages, and, oddly enough, a seemingly high concentration of disabled people. Every kind of disabled you can imagine, they were spending their SSI checks at the Sahara on August 21, 2009. It was so, so weird & depressing, and I started to feel like Hunter S. Thompson in the Fear & Loathing movie when everyone looked like weird dinosaur lizard people. So, after I had eaten my tuna melt in the 24 hour cafe at the Sahara, I said, "Thanks but no thanks, Las Vegas," and went to sleep. Vegas is not my kind of city. I can't understand how it's fun to go on a vacation where the purpose of the whole thing is to lose a bunch of money! I mean, you spend enough money travelling already!

So, all in all, it may have been one of the best trips we have ever taken together. I am not kidding when I say that we didn't have one fight the whole trip. Sure, we got annoyed with each other a few times, but there was never one of those shitty fights that can erupt when you're in a car together for so many hours. We logged more than 2500 miles in 11 days, drank approximately 6 bottles of $2 chuck, ate 6+ fish tacos, and married off our dear brother & got a sister. You can see a shit-ton of pictures on FB, if you're interested.

Personally, I'm just glad I can go back to blogging about real life again.


Leslie said...

This blog post pretty much recounts the exact same trip I had when we went to Zion. Except when I was served by children in a restaurant in Utah, it was on Easter Sunday, and I had a cheeseburger (not pizza). I am for real. A little boy and girl sat us and waited on us the entire time. I don't think either of them were even 10-years-old. Also, we stopped in Mexican Hat where I had my own sad encounter with Native Americans - went to a gas station where I ate breakfast and watched as one right after another walked in for a morning tall boy of Busch beer. It was like 8 a.m. on a Monday. You also brought me back to that stanky feeling of walking into a casino, having not showered for several days before. I hope the computers were up and running at the Saraha because that was not the case on my journey, and when I arrived in that gambling cesspool, I was told I'd have to wait in line for an hour just to confirm my reservation.. matted hair and all.

Anyway, I no longer feel crazy for taking the weird road-slash-camping trips that we take. It's a good feeling.. when you're not alone.

The red part is my favorite, too.

Jennifer D. said...

Fantastic pictures!

TennesseeDrew said...

I hate to sound completely sexist, but Vegas is pretty much a domain on men's ideas. If you're worried about spending too much money, you probably won't have a good time in Vegas. The only times I've had a real blast there (three times), I ended up owing thousands of dollars to my credit card company. I'm convinced it's almost impossible to have a really good time there unless you spend $10 on some acid, and then it's probably not going to be good, only interesting.


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