The solid path was roughly three feet wide, narrower in certain spots as my sister, our friend, and I made our way up the side of a ginormous rock to Observation Point at Zion National Park. Other hikers would pause their stride to let another pass. If you looked at the side of the rock face from a distance, you could see the trail that’s been carved out into a zigzag shape like someone had swiped their finger in the frosting of a cake. I would stop as if to hold the door open for people as we passed each other. An instant trust was formed between me and the stranger. I did’t know what language he spoke, his fears and joys, or what his favorite food may be. What God he believes in, or what his political views are, will not be known. In that moment we locked trusting eyes with respect for the situation we found ourselves in, not saying a word. On the edge of a prehistoric formation rising high above the valley and both of us knowing, as we held our breath without realizing it, that one wrong move and we would be reminded of gravity for the last time. Instead we smiled and nodded because we both wanted to live to see another day.
This happened over and over again as we passed people from around the world who were there to experience a true wonder of this great earth. I sparked a conversation with a beautiful couple from Canada that could be on the magazine cover of ‘Fit & Buff Canuck Eye Candy’ as Monica caught up with me to join in, our friend having cruised contentedly ahead of us. After moving on from the little chat, our thoughts wondered in hopes that the friendly Canucks were brother and sister as well, exploring the earth and would possibly like to meet up for chips and salsa later, eh?
We were blessed to visit the park in autumn and it’s now one of my favorite places in the fall. I’m not one to soak up desert heat, even though my home in the foothills can feel like the Sahara at times. Luckily for us, the air was warm at most in the sun and perfectly cool in the shade. The oranges and yellow, greens, ripe peach, and golds blended nicely with the multicolored sandstone that we strolled around on. We shared the space with deer grazing, chipmunks scurrying about, along with ravens and a couple of condors the size of small glider planes taking flight. Monica pointed out the two small air crafts with feathers soaring around as their shadows mirrored along the tall cliff faces. They had splashes of white on a black base and bald ass heads. An amazing sight to see in person.
At one point, my feet were toasty from all the walking. I took my shoes off when we were hiking through shaded areas as the rock formations curved up, down, through, and around wherever the rushing water from storms had previously carved a path. The soft sand was like walking on baking flour that came out of the freezer and was refreshingly cool on the bottom of my feet.
We made our way to Zion the second day from La Verken, Utah, where we rented an AirBnB in a neighborhood filled with farm animals including a singing-all-hours-of-the-day-and-night rooster. (Apparently some roosters have personality disorders and have lost touch with their ancestors’ roots for crowing at dawn.) We stopped on the side of the road to snap a couple of pics of the sun breaking over the Colorado Plateau. Our destination on this day was the Narrows, a stretch of the Virgin River that has carved out a snaky path through the sedimentary rocks. We were hiking in the water the majority of the time with rented boots made for gripping wet slippery rocks, neoprene socks, and a walking stick in hand as the water touched both sides of the canyon walls in most places. Beautiful trees and brush spotted the rocky landscape throughout creating awe inspiring memories.
I paused a few times to feel the water flowing past my legs and the caress of the smoothest cold rock wall that I may have ever touched. Every time I looked up from the focus of the water path, my breath was stolen by the sheer beauty of the place. On our way back down the river, I could hear water falling, but couldn’t see the place of descent. I had to look under an overhang of rock to see the water coming out from a place from within the stone like a gutter spout from the roof of a building. We learned that water from above the canyon would seep into the rock and find a path out somewhere down the face of the wall. This was evident as you could see tear stained walls along the way.
We had finished hiking and were hungry for some chips and salsa, although the sexy Canadians were nowhere to be found. We searched in the little town of Springdale and found plenty of Mexican restaurants to choose from. We parked at one and didn’t feel the vibe, so walked directly across the street to another which seemed vacant. The waitress sat us outside as we had our choice since we were the only ones wanting to be fed. Spanish music was playing from a cheap speaker placed in the window of the restaurant. We could barely hear each other and were getting anxious from the music that seemed to be at war with itself. The waitress was taking quite a while to bring our water and chips, and the menu wasn’t impressive, so we left.
We made our way to another Mexican restaurant that wasn’t quite finished being built yet and had to back track to Oscar’s Cafe which turned out to be a nice place to dine. The waiter quickly served us blue corn chips with fresh salsa and guacamole. I had a sticky maple glazed salmon on top of rice and black beans. Corn and twice baked cheese were mixed into the mashed potatoes that were stuffed into a poblano pepper, brilliant! The plate was hot as the waiter had warned me. I was reminded as I was eating with a fork in hand when the edge of my palm touched the surface of the plate and black beans went flying across the table! The food stayed hot until the last bite.
After hiking in the Narrows, we stopped in at MeMe’s Cafe for a snack, which turned into a full course meal. I had the best crepes I think I’ve ever tasted. And I’m sure it wasn’t just from the hunger of hiking all day. The crepe itself was light, soft and flavorful, perfectly cooked. The inside was filled with chicken, grilled onions, spinach, mushrooms, basil, roasted bell pepper, and cheese. The crepe had an aioli sauce drizzled on the top making it appealing to the eye and drool-forming to my lips. The flavors blended delightfully together as I savored every last bite, hence the name ‘Savory Crepes’. A fresh fruit plate and iced coffee complemented the dish nicely. The setting was great as we relaxed outside on the patio with the Grand Staircase in the distance.
Our last day was spent driving back to the Las Vegas airport, stopping along the way to walk along the top of the Hoover dam and to have a break at a park in Boulder City, Nevada filled with wild mountain sheep and a view of Lake Mead in the distance. Monica broke the silence of a mellow drive with a shout when she first spotted one of the big horned rams. Our friend and I shared a heart attack as we tried to figure out what Monica had seen, which turned into one of the many laughing spells of the trip.
The day before, Monica had also witnessed a baby rattlesnake finding shelter and a great horned owl blending in with the solid landscape at sunset looking around with his head on a swivel. We were lucky to witness so much wildlife.
What a contrast we felt from being connected to one of the great natural wonders of earth in Zion, to one of the great psychological wonders on earth in Vegas. I was amazed to see slot machines next to baggage claim at the airport. You’re there to get your bags for crying out loud! Can you imagine someone losing all of their money while waiting for their luggage to circle around the carousel? Or even stranger… to hit a jackpot?
I’m glad to have a sister who invites me to join her crew for another life changing experience. Nothing but gratitude for saying yes to tag along, and for now having a craving for chips and salsa in Toronto.