Tag Archives: New Mexico

Adventures in Zion National Park, Part 1 – The Arrival


This is the first part of my adventures in Zion National Park – since I did a lot during my visit, I figured that it’d be simpler to cut it up into chunks.  First up – arrival, and driving in!


Sunday, 07-June-2015

  • I’ll start this section of the story when I saw my first sign for Zion National Park – it was after I’d crossed the border into Utah, but maybe only by a dozen miles or so. After a bit more driving I saw another sign – this one directing me to a specific AM radio station, that I could tune into to get more information… so I did. It didn’t have much; just some info about traffic patterns, and how to go through the tunnels on this side of the park. Meh. Good info to have.
  • So I pass the toll booth, buy a week pass, and start into the park itself…
  • And driving in through the national park… ohh my lord this is amazing. I have… I just…. yes. Yes please. I seriously can’t describe my emotions and thoughts while I saw taking the tight turns through the mountain pass.
    The rocks? Amazing. Awesome, in the original sense of the word. I was full of awe, at the sweeping and towering cliffs. Every single one of them climbable, and beautifully so.
    The road? Perfect. It actually was awarded a recognition as a historic feat of engineering prowess – cutting a path, that is both efficient and pleasant to drive, through a mountain landscape like this.
  • And speaking of the road – there’s a tunnel in it. Not a “ohh cute, a little cut in a thing” tunnel… this is a “barely wide enough for two cars, yet over a mile long, and winding constantly” tunnel. They actually have to cut traffic when an RV goes through, since it’s not tall enough or wide enough to allow two large vehicles to pass each other.
    And the skylights! Every so often, there’s a slice cut out of the side of the tunnel, where the light and fresh air stream in. It’s beautiful, and almost haunting… since you can see the sheer drop out the other side, down into the valley.
  • So I drive. I stop a lot, and I take a TON of pictures. Though I’m driving slowly, the road does finally end and spit me out into the main town outside the national park.
  • I find the campground that I’d reserved, set up camp, chat with some of the folks nearby and get a feel for where I’m off to the next day, finally let sleep take me.


Driving from Arizona into Utah – to the gates of Zion



Sunday, 07-Jun

The drive isn’t bad at all, actually – I Headed out from Arizona pretty early, so I got a good head start on the day…. I don’t remember the drive at all, really. Damn. I mean… there’s not that much to remember, I guess.

The drive was a simple one – it was a little over 400miles, though I didn’t plan on stopping much at all along the way. Just gas, really… advantage of leaving from my Step-mom was that she made sure I was well stocked before I even turned a key to the car.

I mean – I had sandwiches. And I don’t mean one or two. I had two ziplock bags of sliders – six ham and cheese mini-sandwiches in all. I had our leftovers too – a quarter of a turkey club, and a quarter of a bacon cheeseburger. I had a thermos full of extra-strong coffee, and a few snacks aside. Yep, I was ready for the drive.

So… I drove. Long and hard. I stopped for gas, then kept driving. I didn’t have to stop to repair the roof, thanks to the beautiful day and a hefty dose of sunscreen.

The only adventure came when I realized that I was on a desolate road. I mean… they’ve all been semi-desolate, but this one was serious business. 75 miles between gas stations. I had 100miles in the tank, but it was still one of those “man… I should have filled up earlier” situations.

It ended fine, obviously (since i’m here writing this), and so I kept moving along until I started seeing the first signs for Zion National Park…

D0riving from Oklahoma to Arizona, Via New Mexico and Ute Lake

D0riving from Oklahoma to Arizona, Via New Mexico and Ute Lake

Yet another full-day of driving… and by that, I mean two full days of driving.  It wasn’t bad though – by this point in the trip I’ve become jaded to long drives.  Or jaded enough that they’re not something super-serious anymore.  It’s just a chance to relax and enjoy the scenery.  Listen to some music, catch some sun, and just enjoy the freedom that I have.  I do have a schedule and a course, ones that I want to follow.  But I could definitely change them.  I could redirect, do something completely different.  I don’t, but having that option is amazing.


Thursday, 04-Jun-2015

  • Today is going to be a very long drive, but I start out with the top up, since it’s wicked hot out. My standard rule is that if it’s hotter than 93 degrees, then I can leave the top up and crank the AC to keep me chill.
  • As I check the rear window, I’m pretty proud of my work… I can’t see out the back perfectly, but I can easily see when I pass people, and when someone’s behind me. But wait… what’s that up at the top? That’s the back of the tape, peeling back… So I assume it’s fine, and keep driving.
  • More of the backing keeps peeling off… fuck. Yep, the tape is definitely peeling off. Maybe it’ll last to a rest stop?
  • Official report: Tape is at critical peel levels. Structural integrity cannot be maintained. Fine. Fine. Whatever. I pull over onto the side of the road and deal with it. By crawling back into the packed rear seat – I literally just slide up on top of the crash pad… I’ve got room to spare. Like a good 4 inches from my face to the roof. And 18 wheelers are driving past at 75mph. It’s not terrifying at all.
  • Wait, yes it is. I’m terrified. But I fix it, and keep moving.
  • I have to pull over again, to deal with the tape peeling back some more. But it seems to be getting better… so this time, I think it’s good. But just to be safe, I put the top down for the next section of driving… and keep the AC on, but only directed at myself.
  • Damn the midwest is big. I drive for a long time.
  • I make a quick stop in at Big Texas steak ranch; the place that does the 72oz steak challenge.
    The challenge is to eat 72 oz of steak, plus three sides and a drink, or something. So it’s pretty cool… and free if you finish within an hour. But if you don’t, it gets super expenside… so I just go with a simple Ribeye.
    I get it, and… their steak isn’t bad, but it’s not as good as what I cook. The sides are amazing thought! Beefsteak tomatoes, seasoned perfectly. Mac and Cheese to die for. Rolls… rolls are pretty good.
  • Pay the bill, and head out to get back on the road feeling really good! I even find a $50 bill on the ground as I’m walking to the car… and no one nearby to check with. Pocket! Nice!
  • Back at the car, I check on the tape first; It’s ok, but not ideal. I fix it pretty easily with another layer of maritime tape.
  • Check the front… ohh. It’s gone. Completely gone. The whole air deflector assembly is torn and melted completely off, with almost nothing to show that it was ever there. I didn’t even notice while driving that a massive piece of plastic was ripped off the front and shredded under the wheels.
    You know what? Whatever. I don’t care anymore. I can’t do anything about it, so I won’t.
  • Keep driving… through a rainstorm, but one that isn’t too bad, thankfully. The patch job holds up!
  • Gonna be late… Sunset will have finished by the time I make camp. Which seems strange, since it’s still really bright out. Wait! I hit another time zone! WOO free hour!
  • Get there a good half hour before dark, and set up in the consistent, yet light, wind.
  • Rain storms all around… try to call Mom, but can’t get through. Says there’s signal, but there isn’t any. Drive to an inn, borrow the owners cell phone. It works well, actually.
  • Back, hang out, write, cover the car with a tarp, just to be safe against a storm, and sleep 🙂
  • Ohh.  And yes.  I did tie my tent to the shelter, just to make sure it didn’t blow away while I was going to make that phone call at the inn.  Yep.  ‘Cause ahmm smaaaht.



Friday, 05-Jun-2015

  • Rain. The night is rainy, but insanely windy. Like… so much wind, that the desert dust is sifting through the mesh of the tent, and I’m pretty sure that the poles are nearly bent in half.
  • Rain starts, heavy enough (and with the wind) that it can spray up under the rain fly… but I’ve got a good sleeping bag, and I’m fine. Though it’s still freaking hard to sleep with a damn sandstorm less than two feet from my face.
  • But I do finallysleep… restless though it may be.
  • But by the time I’m awake and moving, the rain’s already died off, and it’s nice out again. I wake up covered in a fine layer of dust… Thankfully, I planned ahead and left my contact lenses in the night before – it’s not good to do, long-term… but it’s a lot worse to get sand or dust in my eyes. And by the sheer amount of grit in the tent, I am very glad I didn’t take my contacts out!
  • The morning is slow, as almost all of my mornings have been… I eat breakfast, write a blog post, pack up the tent and then the car, and then leave for Arizona!
  • Again, it’s lots of long driving, but it’s not so bad. I’ve gotten pretty used to it by now, and can easily go a solid 250miles before stopping to stretch, refuel, and relieve myself. The terrain is really flat and lonely roads, so it’s interesting enough to keep me occupied. There’s lots of scenic “look at how long this road goes” pictures to be taken… so I take them. Good book covers, these shots.
  • My big stop for the day was breakfast, when I shopped in Santa Rosa… ehh. It wasn’t good. It wasn’t bad. Not the best though.
  • Move along, driving far. It’s not interesting, but it gets done, and the miles get eaten up by the tires. A bit outside of town I call my Dad to let them know and get final approach directions, and I make it Alpine a good two hours quicker than I thought. Woo!