This is the part of the trip when we are supposed to be maniacally focused on just getting-the-freak-home. The grip on the wheel becomes white-knuckled. Bladders are tested as the driver shuns any stops. Any last destinations, when you visit a place for a day or two are barely endured; you count the hours until you can get back to the road to home.
This did not happen. It might be our attitude, but the credit for this savor-every-moment experience is also shared by the Springs, Southwestern Colorado, the desert and plateau, and Zion. As eager as we are to get home, these places (along with the people) help slow the clock.
Crossing Nevada might give us white knuckles, but that’s the next blog post. Stay tuned.
Zion in particular was a delight, accentuated by our son, John, camping with us. This was a clue, if any was needed, that our route had come further west since it was only a 6 hour drive for him from LA. His familiarity with Zion was a plus, and his company around the campfire for two nights was a treat.
The road to Zion is one of wonder. If the east is full of charm, forest, history and consistency, these western lands are by contrast stark and vast, full of gargantuan forms, severe angles and elevations. Snow in the Front Range gives way to crisp air and a mix of
sun/clouds in the interior parks of the Rockies. Over one range, into an intermountain “park” (a rangeland between ridges), winding up a canyon speckled with aspen autumn colors and then dropping to a desert.
Even the desert charms us, and maybe we are allowed that cheery assessment because we are there in October, and not August. After our coldest overnight of the trip, in the 27 degrees of Mancos, CO, our road left the pines quickly. Oceans of sand is an over-used metaphor, but it’s hard to resist when the rock spires resemble sea craft (as in Shiprock, NM).
Then the land rises again for us and we scale the Colorado Plateau in Utah, that high landform which, as it eroded, gave us the wonders of Grand Canyon, Bryce, Canyonlands, Zion and others. Scrub pine and sandstone bordered our route as we entered Zion. And, as if to add to the drama, we emerged into the canyon via a 1-mile tunnel on the east side of the park.
Meeting up with John on our first night in Zion, plus some hikes and a museum the next day, gave us the good kind of tired. Aching muscles do not even feel like a price paid, but are more like a memento. The place names are mysterious and spiritual: Great White Throne, Altar of Sacrifice, Court of the Patriarchs; others are descriptive: The Narrows, Emerald Pools.
Our visit was too brief here, as in all the places on this cross-country trip. When it’s time to pack up for the last leg home, however, we look westward … and anticipate being in our own bed again after our 7 weeks away.