Day 1 – Vegas to Zion

This was a short day.  And thank god for that.

Vegas had taken its toll on us, and the 7am wakeup call felt like a slap upside the head.  Ugh.  But we got our stuff together and headed out around 7:30.  The primary factor was the heat.  It was already in the mid-80’s as we got going, creeping up into the 90’s as we rolled through the desert East of Vegas.

There wasn’t much of note on the road, really.  Just more freeway and more desert.  Luckily, that’s the most interstate driving that we’re likely to do for several days.  The terrain got more and more interesting as we moved into the far eastern portion of Nevada and then through the canyon that lies at the border of Arizona.  A brief blast through that state, then on into Utah.  Pretty soon we turned off the 15 and began rolling through the canyonlands feeding into Zion National Park.

We made a quick stop for gas just outside the park gates and I uncovered my first new motorcycle defect. There’s a slick system that allows me to open my gas tank without a key, automatically unlocking it for a few seconds when I turn my bike off.  Well that’s the theory at least.  It’s worked reliably before now, but today…no worky.  Doh.  Luckily I had access to youtube and found a 3 minute video that explains how to bypass the mechanism with a specialized screwdriver and two screws.  Pain in the ass, but no biggie.  Thankfully I brought along a good set of tools and had the T25 torx bit needed.  Problem solved, we pushed on into the park around 11ish.

We made our way to the lodge and parked the bikes.  Confirming that the rooms weren’t ready yet, we went for a hike up the road towards The Narrows and other areas in this part of the park.  We quickly found out that many of the trails were closed, and the shuttles weren’t running much past the lodge due to flood damage and active search and rescue activity.  We were slowly coming to the realization that the massive storm that just missed us on the way into Vegas kept rolling east, dumping a huge amount of water into Zion.  The downpour caused flash floods throughout the valley, washing away some trails and one hiker in the Narrows.  Frankly, we weren’t in the mood for a long hike, anyway, but there were several very disappointed people in the area.

Ah, the crystal clear waters of Zion.

After exploring what we could we made our way back to the lodge and took up residence on the front porch rocking chairs, previewing our (increasingly imminent) dotage.  WiFi and cell service here is virtually non-existent, so we chatted, dozed, and people watched until we felt lunchy.  After a quick bite we found that the room was ready so off we went for a nap.  Ah, the exciting life of the world traveler!

The view from our balcony. That’s quite the impressive sandstone prominence you’ve got there, if you don’t mind me saying so.

Up and moderately refreshed we hung out on our own balcony in our own personal rocking chairs.  The excitement builds!  After we had relaxed ourselves into a stupor looking out at the imposing rock prominences surrounding the lodge, we wandered off to look for dinner.  I’ve found that national park food service is pretty hit and miss, with some wonderful meals countered with some pretty crappy fare.  This was more the former than the latter, with a nicely prepared trout as the star.  Pretty tasty.  At this point a flock of deer had taken up residence on the front lawn.  They looked pretty skinny and sickly, but I’m not a deer doctor so I can’t say for certain.  Wild speculation ensued:  Were they here because of the flooding?  The drought? Did they live here and we were trespassing on their ancestral land?  My head was aflame with the possibilities, but I found that I didn’t care enough to ask.  So I oohed and aahed with the foreigners, took some pictures, and went about my business.  Paul and I took one more hike up to some trailheads and admired the light of the setting sun on the rock walls before heading back to the room.

Not my proudest moment. Here I am, surrounded by the majesty of nature’s beauty. All I can think is, “can you please cut the tag off your hat?” The answer, by the way, is no. No he can’t. “It’s what the kids do these days.”
Oh deer!
(Yeah. I know. It’s a little low effort. Sue me.)
I missed the shot, but about 2 seconds later he was trying to eat the grass. “I’m just trying to get back to nature.” Sadly, nature rejected him, so I’m stuck for the next few weeks.

Paul turned on the TV and eventually the news came on, after I had suffered through The Equalizer and NCIS: Barstow or somesuch.  Jeez.  It actually made me miss Melissa’s terrible shows.  Turns out that the same storm blazed a path on to (and through) Moab, causing even more flooding last night.  Like, 100-year-flood flooding.  Cars floating down the street flooding.  I had two thoughts: 1) I hope they’re back to normal tomorrow and 2) I really nailed the timing so far (knock on wood).  Empathy isn’t really my strong suit, as you may have gathered.  I’m just hoping that this system stays ahead of us, as it seems to be on a similar track and it looks nightmarish.  Oddly, we also saw that there were more thunderstorms and even a tornado just this afternoon along our route from Vegas around Mesquite, NV.  I feel like I’m playing a cat and mouse game with the weather at this point.

On the whole, a good first day of vacation.  Starting to feel like I’m off on an adventure again.