Really the only thing linking Las Vegas and Zion National Park is the I-15; other than that very physical connection, the two places could not be more dissimilar. And that fact was brought into sharp focus on our short road trip from California after Christmas.
Dom, Alex, my mom, and I set off first thing Sunday morning for the five-hour drive to Sin City. After thoroughly enjoying the fact that I was not the sole driver on one of Dom’s and my road trips (thank you, Mom and Alex!), we met up with Aunt Stacy and Uncle Jeff for lunch near Red Rock Casino. Uncle Jeff then treated Dom and me to a VIP car tour of the Strip, which Dom and I then augmented with some wandering on foot. The fountains at the Bellagio are still one of my favorite sights along the Strip, and I will always find the canals at the Venetian spectacular (albeit in a rather absurd way).
And then it was nap time–er, I mean, Britney Spears time. Yes, Dom actively wanted to see Piece of Me, Britney Spears’ standing show at the Planet Hollywood. So we went and saw Britney Spears. Before the show started, we managed to appear on the jumbo screens thanks to my clever (and directionally confused) tweet, which was pretty great. And I did enjoy the part of the show I stayed awake for; the production quality really was amazing- the set, the dancers, and even Britney. I felt slightly embarrassed dozing off during some of the songs I was less familiar with, but I needed my sleep. We had a new state to explore the next day!
So we made the odd transition from the Las Vegas Strip, one of the only places in the US with legal public consumption of alcohol, to Utah, a state where you cannot purchase beer with an ABV greater than 4.0%. And we drove away from the Strip, a concrete monstrosity, towards Zion National Park, the most beautiful nature preserve.
Although the ice along the trails scared me away from joining Alex on Angel’s Landing, all four of us hiked the Canyon Overlook Trail right after arriving, and the views were absolutely stunning. Gazing through red rock canyons down to rivers nearly a thousand feet below is a sight I never want to fade. The following day, while Alex successfully braved the ice and cliffs and summitted Angel’s Landing, Mom, Dom, and I explored the lower elevations in an attempt to avoid slipping and sliding.
We were mostly successful…
…but then there were falling icicles at the Emerald Pools, so we shuffled back to the lodge for tea and lunch.
To finish off our final day at Zion, we decided to find the life of the party – Grafton, Utah, a 19th century Mormon ghost town. After a 10 minute drive along dirt roads just outside of the national park, we descended on an old cemetery and a few defunct homes. While the town may not have lasted long, the views from there are still amazing. Perhaps some resettling is in our future…?
We made it back to California in time to celebrate New Years back at my parents’ home. And by “celebrate”, I mean falling asleep before 10pm and leaving a full bottle of wine on the kitchen table. But we made sure to drink the wine with our lunch the next day before flying back to Chicago, so surely 2016 is off to a great start!