Our next destination was Zion National Park. The morning after Bryce Canyon Ultras race day we ate a great breakfast with Dwight’s parents before packing up camp and parting ways. We have a pretty good routine for packing up camp. I focus on packing our “camp kitchen” and beginning to pack the car and Dwight pulls down the tent and roll our sleeping mats and pack away everything else we had in the tent. It usually takes us about 30-45 minutes depending on how focused we are and how much we had prepped the night before. Usually, when I get to the point where I need Dwight’s help to lift something, I go and help him by pulling off the fly and pulling all of the tent stakes. Our Kelty Discovery 4 tent has served us well the last couple of years. It is a perfect size for the two of us and all of our gear.
We headed toward Zion National Park hitting 1000 miles during this trip. We stopped at a German Bakery along the way and Dwight enjoyed some post-race indulgences including a chocolate crodoot – their version of a cronut. He’s always hungry the day after a race and today was no exception. About every two hours, he wanted a full meal. Largely, I watch him eat because no one can keep up with the appetite of someone who managed to lose a belt hole the day before from sheer physical effort!
We drove through Zion National park from the east entrance to the southern entrance via the Zion-Mt Carmel road.
This road, built in 1930 has one of the longest tunnels in north America. After visiting the Human History museum in Zion Canyon, we went had lunch at a themed place in Springdale before checking into a Lodge. After 3 nights of camping, a shower and a nap sounded like the kindest things we could do for ourselves.
Around 6 pm we headed back into the park – it was still almost oppressively hot, but much cooler than earlier in the day. Sunset is almost 9 pm at this time of the year, and the last bus out of the park isn’t until 9:15 so there was plenty of time to take the park shuttle all the way through the park to the Temple of Sinawava and then back to the stop for weeping rock.
It wasn’t far – less than a mile each way, but it was very steep. Completely worth every step though, the views of the canyon from Weeping rock were beautiful as was the rock itself. There’s something lovely about approaching nature with awe and wonder. Hearing the scientific background for a phenomenon only adds to the marvel for me.
After hiking back down we walked across to the Virgin River side of the canyon road and stood quietly in the fading daylight holding hands and soaking in the sounds of the rushing river and the red cliff faces in front of us, including Angels Landing.
We caught another shuttle back toward the visitor center.
This one was much more crowded than the first one had been. We stopped at the Zion Lodge stop for more water and to scope out the Lodge area. This was the time (around 8:30) when everyone who was left in the park also wanted to catch a shuttle back. We just managed to get the last seats on a shuttle and ended up sitting next to a set of sisters from New York. They had managed to visit Bryce Canyon, Zion and were heading to Capital Reef in the space of three days. That’s a packed trip….
While I admire their decision to see as much as they could – it’s not my philosophy of travel. Is that surprising? Maybe it’s time to talk about it a little, because my approach to our trips is a little different to Dwight’s even!
So here it is – Make the most of where you are going, but it isn’t a wasted trip if you don’t see it all, and it isn’t somehow a more successful trip if I finish it exhausted and unwell! Maybe this is a feature of dealing with chronic pain and now celiac that my approach is about quality and being grateful for my experiences for what they are. To understand how this works in practice – I don’t beat myself if I don’t see all of an art gallery or museum – some like the Louvre or the British National Museum this would be difficult anyway. I focus on one or two floors and work through those, allowing myself to reflect and soak in what I am seeing and experiencing. I find that I do have a point of overwhelm and that’s the best time to go and find a café or restaurant to refuel and reflect. After all, this is also part of the cultural fabric of a place. I am also really big on taking tangents, and detours. Sometimes these are the greatest gifts of a trip. I never mind getting lost if I am alone.
We finished the day with a very light dinner for me and another large meal for Dwight at MeMe’s café in Springdale. They have some delicious crepes (including a gluten-free version for others like me) which we enjoyed outside under their pergola which was hung with net lighting. It was an atmospheric way to end a hot but lovely day.
Listening. Observing. Participating. Writing. Photographing. Reflecting.
Traveler. Scholar. Photographer. Writer. Dreamer. Teacher.
Anna Rabe is a speaker, writer, and social entrepreneur. She is proudly Team Rabe. The American Identity Tour is a crazy adventure marked with photos and word and inspired by the incredible women in Anna’s family, especially her late grandmother, whom she knew as Nan-Nan. Anna is currently finishing her book, “Not a Pedestrian Life.”