Two Mondays prior, I was awaiting my own morning flight to the southwest and our epic anniversary getaway. That one was supposed to leave at 9-something a.m.
Of course, it didn't.
I will spare you all the gory details about me and airline travel, airsickness, and airsickness compounded because flight delays lead to missed connections, which lead to further delays, which means I get all confused about when my last dose of Dramamine was and miss the last dose I needed to take.
The final upshot was this: we were supposed to arrive in Las Vegas at 1:18 p.m., but we arrived at 6:38 p.m. instead. I tried to keep a positive attitude... if our flights had all been on schedule, we would have had no time for lunch in Detroit, and since we had next to no breakfast either, that would would hardly have been preferable.
Once we landed in Vegas (my least favorite city in the world), things started to move a little faster. We got our luggage and our rental car, a Subaru Outback which we felt was suitably sporting for our canyon adventures.
I called the lodge to let them know that we would be arriving about 6.5 hours later than expected. We plugged the address into our GPS. And we were off. We had gained three hours flying to Vegas, but we were about to give one back driving three hours east to Springdale, Utah. I gave up trying to figure out what time it was and just settled back for the ride.
Shortly after leaving Vegas in the dust (pretty literally), we were in scrub desert, headed away from the sunset and into the land that was already dark. The temperature, 103 when we started, dropped to 98 as the light faded.
We drove until we were hungry. That is, we drove until Shawn was hungry. My stomach was too confused to register anything as normal as hunger by that point. When Shawn got hungry, we started to look for somewhere to eat, and we saw signs for a restaurant with prime rib for $9.99. That sounded good to Shawn, so we followed the signs until we came to an exit.
The exit shot us out onto a round-about which shot us out at a gargantuan casino. We tried to drive around this casino and find the restaurant, but all we found was the hotel, and the casino part, and then suddenly we were in valet parking, so we quickly backed up and got out of there.
Lights twinkled at the top of a hill, all we could see now in the black night. We drove up to the lights and came upon a gas station-convenience store. "Maybe it is like a Sheetz," I remarked hopefully. We parked the car and stepped into the heat blast of the night, air like a dark oven enveloping us.
It was not similar to a Sheetz. Just saying. The food part was closed, and the cellophane bags of snacks were not appealing. We used the restrooms, bought two bottles of chilled water and left.
A WalMart stood stalwartly next door; a Super WalMart, no less. We drove over and picked up a 36 pack of bottled water, a large submarine sandwich, a nice divided platter of vegetables and dip, and a similar divided platter of fruit and dip. Some patriotic flag napkins also found their way into our cart, providentially.
And then we were on twisting roads, hurtling through the dark night. I broke the sandwich into pieces and helped Shawn eat as he drove. At one point, while busily tucking small pieces of broccoli dipped in ranch dip into Shawn's waiting mouth, I felt huge, dark forms looming around us outside the car windows, and I said, "I think we are driving through mountains. I think this would really be something if we could see it." He agreed while refraining from talking with his mouth full, and continued to steer us up winding pathways.
Eventually, we arrived at Springdale, and then, at the end of Springdale, just next to the entrance to Zion National Park, we found our lodge. It was a little tricky finding the office; we parked and had to walk around amongst the buildings for a bit. But there was a nice lady waiting for us with our room keys and some complimentary tickets to the local IMAX theatre.
We stood in the parking lot for a minute or two, orienting ourselves, trying to believe that the transit part of this trip was winding to a merciful close. A mountain range arose on our left, and another on our right. In the center, straight up, were stars, brilliant stars. I've heard many times about people being in places where they felt close to the stars, but I had never experienced the sensation before in such a powerful way. The whole area was peaceful and completely quiet. Orion, the Bear and the Big Dipper shone down on us from a deep black backdrop. Juniper scented the warm, dry night air. I was so tired, and yet I didn't want to miss the moment.
Our rooms were beautiful. The staff even left towels folded like swans,
chocolates and a Happy Anniversary card on the bed for us...
In the morning, this was the view that greeted us from our bedroom window...
Here is our sitting area. (Mucked up a bit with our stuff...)
Outside the French doors, we had a private balcony with an Adirondack style loveseat. On our first morning, we sat out on our balcony watching the mountains (which stood quite still) and partook of coffee (Shawn), tea (me) and the fruit and dip platter left over from the previous night. We had a kitchenette, so eating in was easy and nice.
Breakfast on the balcony was completely lovely, from the strawberries in cream-cheese-vanilla-bean dip to the sound of the river running along the edge of the property.
What to do, but explore the park? Ah, but we have ventured into the events of day two and must stop now.