I'm woefully behind on blogging again, and my travels have been jam packed with fun and adventure. Hopefully I can get caught up in the next few days. First up - my adventures across southern Utah.
On Mother's Day, I fittingly picked my lovely mother up from the Las Vegas airport. After grabbing some shuteye at a Vegas Airbnb, we took off across Utah. We couldn't help but stop at nearly every scenic viewpoint on the way, turning a 6-hour drive into a 9-hour one. We finally landed in Green River, Utah for the evening, and enjoyed a delicious meal at Tamarisk Restaurant along the river that evening.
The next morning, we were up and on the road bright and early again. We popped down to Moab, Utah, where we met up with my cousin Aaron and his wife Gina to tour Arches National Park. The park has over 2,000 natural arches slowly formed by the elements. It's a gorgeous landscape and it was also so nice to catch up with my cousin, who I hadn't seen in many years. After sharing lunch in downtown Moab, mom and I hit the back roads west.
I hadn't planned to stop in Goblin Valley State Park, but couldn't resist when I saw that we were somewhat close. This hoodoo-filled landscape is part of one of my favorite memories. As we walked to the edge of the depression that these formations call home, I hoped that I wouldn't be disappointed. Thankfully, this natural wonder was just as fantastic as I remembered it from when my father had brought my sister and me there over 25 years ago. I recall our 12 and 13-year-old selves filled with wonder, running around the valley with our imaginations going wild. I think it was an especially sweet experience because it was probably one of the last times my sister and I were more little girls than young women, free of all the pressures that inevitably descend upon one's teenage years.
Our travels continued through Utah's beautiful and formation-filled back roads to Capitol Reef National Park. I don't recall if I had ever been to this park before, but regardless, I gazed upon its beautiful formations in wonder and awe. I was also amazed that pioneers had the fortitude to establish the town of Fruita in the area. They planted orchards of fruit trees, built houses, and worked to make the harsh landscape a home. We spent the following day exploring the park, including adventuring down the bumpy and rugged Capitol Gorge Road.
After the morning at Capitol Reef, we went westward and upward to the town of Tropic, located just outside Bryce Canyon National Park. We dropped our stuff at the hotel and ascended further up to the park. The lodge was a perfect place to grab a filling dinner. I had intended for us to walk to the rim and peek at the canyon afterwards. Little did I know that we would be joined by a tiny snowstorm, not uncommon at 9,000 feet of elevation, even in mid-May. Not to be deterred, we adventured out anyway and enjoyed the canyon view in the waning light and drifting flurries.
Even though we had previewed Bryce Canyon in the snow the evening before, it was a completely different landscape the next morning. The salmon-covered hoodoos shone in the morning light, and my mother was as impressed as I had anticipated. I don't know how you could not be, as it's certainly one of the most spectacular places I've ever been. We rode the shuttle around the park's stops, ate lunch at the lodge, and then we were pleased to discover that the road leading to the highest points in the park had been opened so we explored those vistas, too.
The next morning, we were westward bound again. We made our way to Kanab, Utah, which is where many western films and television shows were filmed, including Gunsmoke, one of my mother's childhood favorites. Just outside Kanab, we spent the morning on a driving tour of Johnson Canyon Road. When we turned on the route, we found ourselves in the middle of a cattle drive, and had the interesting experience of driving through a mass of cows who weren't too happy to share the road. There were many interesting stops along the trail, including some pioneer billboards on the cliffs, the old Gunsmoke set, and lots of geological formations, including Johnson Canyon itself.
After we refueled the car and our bellies (mmm, Mexican food!), we decided that we would drive the highway through Zion National Park on our way to St. George, our next nightly stop. We wound our way through petrified sand dunes and my mother gasped in awe. I gasped in awe myself at the bighorn sheep that covered the landscape, as it was my first encounter with them and they were literally everywhere you looked. After taking more photos of them than I'd care to admit, we continued through the park. Unfortunately, we soon found ourselves stopped. Falling sand and rock had closed the route for an indefinite period of time!
We rerouted ourselves to St. George, instead traveling back through Kanab, then through Fredonia and Colorado City, Arizona. The Inn on the Cliff in St. George was a welcome oasis with a gorgeous view when we finally arrived, and we were more than happy to hop in the hot tub and relax. We enjoyed a peaceful dinner with a fantastic view at the inn's restaurant before turning in for the evening.
The next day, we closed the loop on our jaunt around southern Utah and returned to Las Vegas. I showed mom around Red Rock Canyon and we enjoyed one of our favorite cuisines - Indian food! As mom boarded her plane back to Indianapolis the following day, my car headed in a northwesterly direction...