Thursday, October 18, 2012

Z is for Zion...

A day trip to nearby Zion National Park, about 40 miles away, was deemed an appropriate activity for Howard's birthday.  We had not been for years and were looking forward to re-visiting this geological wonder.  About half-way there the engine warning light came on in the jeep, so we pulled over and went through the check list: transmission fluid, coolant, oil levels, all OK.  Reluctantly we returned to St. George and found a very efficient service center.


Highly recommend!

The mechanic plugged a computer into the jeep's innards and within minutes diagnosed a faulty throttle control sensor.  Hmmm....yes, the engine had been idling at weird speeds.  So an hour later and $300 poorer, we're back on the road to Zion. 
Happy Birthday, Howard!


Z is for Zion...a sanctuary; a refuge; a sacred place considered perfect or ideal.

Zion National Park is all of that or more.  Everything in Zion takes life from the Virgin River's scarce desert waters.  Water flows, and solid rock melts into cliffs and towers.  Landscape changes as canyons deepen to create forested highlands and lowland deserts.


Driving in...

On our very first visit to Zion in April 1995, just starting our full-time RVing journey in our 1991 Dolphin, we were parked at the campground by the South entrance.  It had been an unusually warm day and we had the awning extended and lounge chairs out, barbecued our dinner and celebrated an amazing day of scenery and hiking. 


The man of the day..

In the wee hours of the morning there was loud banging on our door and a park ranger informed us there had been a landslide blocking the Virgin River and major flooding was imminent.  We must prepare to evacuate immediately and follow the ranger to higher ground!  In a darkened daze, we stowed our stuff, somehow managed to secure the awning, and followed the line of other campers up a steep backroad to continue our night at a very awkward incline.

All this is the music of waters...John Wesley Powell 1895


But now, back in the present, is a bit surreal (as if our previous experience wasn't!). The scenery is still breathtaking, though our late arrival imposed restrictions on time, and the sun was a bit beyond the yardarm.  The Zion Canyon Scenic Drive is now only open to shuttle buses so one must find parking at either the visitor center, the history museum, or Canyon Junction; no cars allowed beyond the junction.  And parking is limited, especially during this high international tourist season, and the buses crowded!

The ride..

We groaned and complained but gave in to the inevitable.  We listened to a canned presentation as the scenic stops were announced, and tried to snap shots from tinted window glass.  We did get off at the Zion Lodge to have a very late lunch, which helped the mood considerably.

The Riverwalk Trail

It was decided that with limited time we would take the shuttle all the way to road's end and do the Riverside walk.  This 2 mile round-trip hike begins at the farthest end of Zion Canyon, in a natural amphitheater named the Temple of Sinawava, and ends where Navajo sandstone walls close in and water is forced into the world renowned Zion Narrows.  

Virgin River Narrows

By day's end, after what seemed like a long drive back, we were ready for a celebratory steak.  We mulled over the changes we have witnessed on this return to Utah's national parks after all these years, and then gave thanks for this lifestyle and the beauty we've experienced.


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