Thursday, July 21, 2011

Zion National Park - Yay!

Hi everyone,   

Countdown to vacation – 1 more day!  We’re all packed – I insisted we give each of the kids their own suitcase despite my earlier plan to have them share.  Why, you ask?  Because the only suitcase big enough for them, besides the biggest Dan and I were already using, had all of their clothes squished in together.  There was no way they’d both calmly and nicely go through this thing and gently find what they needed.  All of their things would be flying everywhere, they’d be fighting about whose underpants were touching whose shirts, and my son would be cringing each time he had to see my daughter’s bras.  It just wasn’t worth the $25 savings.

So on to Zion National Park.  We’ll break camp early and head up to Zion.  We’re stopping in Cameron. AZ for breakfast/lunch/brunch at the Cameron Trading Post.  They are known for their Navaho Tacos. 

If we make it before 11am we’ll get the taco with an egg on top.  Otherwise, just the taco.  Apparently Cameron Trading Post used to be a much smaller, homier place called…. Oh, crap, I can’t find the comments that explained about this place.  I believe the people who ran this place lost their lease or something so they opened up a much bigger, touristy spot at this current location.  Well, I’ve been reading that the giant Navaho tacos are TDF, so that’s where breakfast is going to be. BUT, we can’t eat too much because we have to stop a few hours later in Kanab, UT at Nedra’s Too for something called machacas (no clue what this is) and chicken chimichangas with white jalapeno sauce. It’s a day in foodie heaven – Dan will be pleased.

Remember what I said about not staying at any campground that doesn’t take reservations? Well, the campground at Zion National Park doesn’t take ‘em so we’re not staying “on site”.  Instead, we’re staying in the nearby town of Springdale.  Springdale is the big town just outside the park and it’s got plenty of hotels, campgrounds, restaurants, etc.  The Ferber Campground looked very reasonable and the hosts have been very friendly so far.

Once we’re done setting up camp – this is our second time and hopefully will go a bit faster – we’ll take the shuttle to the Visitor Center where I want to register for the Ranger-led tour for the next day. Since I did my homework and visited the National Park’s web site, I know there’s a shuttle that goes right from Springdale into the park.  The shuttle ends near the Visitor’s Center at which point there’s another shuttle system that goes through the park itself, stopping at many different trail heads and views spots.  We’re going to take the shuttle to the farthest spot and do the Riverside Walk for 1 ½ hours, hop the next shuttle and go to the Weeping Rock trail and hike that for ½ hour.  Why those trails? Both are considered easy, first of all. The Riverside Walk will take us to the beginning of the Narrows.  I’d love to do the Narrows but it’s a strenuous hike done nearly all in the water with swift currents - it’s too dangerous for my young son.  The Narrows path takes you through an amazing gorge cut out by the Virgin River.  The sites are supposed to be amazing. With the Riverside Walk, we’ll at least get to see a portion of it. The Weeping Rock Trail was recommended by other travelers.  It’s a short walk but you see these little “falls” of water.  It looks like the rocks are crying – hence the trail name.

We need the walking because I have yet another dining experience planned. Our dinner will be at The Whiptail Grill in Springdale. Nice and easy since we’re staying there. We’ll be sampling the goat cheese chili rellenos and the spaghetti squash enchiladas plus anything else that looks yummy. But wait, there’s more! Dessert! We’ll be rolling out of the Whiptail and heading over to the Bumbleberry Inn for their famous bumbleberry pie.  Bumbleberries are pretty much whatever berries the bakers have available to throw together.  I’ve heard it’s good but not worth the price so we’ll do what one fellow traveler suggested.  We’ll go to the gift shop and buy some there.  If it’s not too far, we’ll walk it back to the campsite and eat it in our tent, all snuggled in our sleeping bags on our cots. Ah, just like home. Okay, not really.  First, I’m not doing anything that might attract any more bugs than necessary.  Second, I hate crumbs in bed.

The next morning we’ll all be lamenting mommy’s wonderful idea to take a 2-hour Ranger led shuttle tour because we have to be at the Visitor Center by 8:45 am. Hopefully we’ll make it.  Our new-fangled cell phones have alarms on them, don’t they?

After our tour we’ll grab a quick lunch in the park – nothing fancy today – and hit a few more trails.  I found a cool combination of easy and moderate trails that form a loop – Grotto trail/Upper and Lower Emerald pool trails/Kayenta loop (see pages 6 & 7 of the park newspaper).  They should add up to a 2 ½ - 3 hour combined hike.

Once we’ve finished those trails, we’ll head back to the campsite and take in some tubing on the Virgin River.  There’s supposed to be a tubing company there whose take-off point into the river is adjacent to our campground.  I didn’t even realize our campground was near the river!  Anyway, it’ll be a nice cool break from the hiking.

I have a great place lined up for dinner but it’s an hour away.  The Gun Barrel Steak and GameHouse is in St. George’s Utah, headed back toward Las Vegas, believe it or not.  I’ve chosen this place because it’s supposed to have great meats and fish, including their mixed grill which offers an Elk chop, Buffalo BBQ rib and a choice of either beef or buffalo prime rib.  My carnivorous mouth is watering just thinking about it. But all of this will depend on how exhausted the driver (my husband) is after an afternoon of hiking in potentially very high heat. If he’s too pooped to party, we’ll ask around about another fine local establishment that serves great meaty fare.

That’s all for Zion.  The next day we’ll be off to Bryce Canyon.

Tomorrow – final farewells before we leave.  I’ll post our full itinerary so you can follow us along on our trip.  I’ll try to post each night so you can hear how it’s going and if we’re surviving without killing each other as my 12 year old insists will happen.