Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Spring Break 2008: Zion National Park

We actually scheduled a spring break vacation. Yup, in 18 years of marriage this was the first spring break that didn’t take us by surprise.

It’s always just “snuck” up on us…. A couple of weeks before spring break we’d suddenly realize that it was coming—then I’d frantically try to get some time off from work and invariably find that my coworkers had covered the week with their names…so guess who had to cover for them while they were gone? Then, even if I was lucky enough to get some time off…all the cool vacation destinations were booked.

So last January we booked a camping spot at Zion National Park—and we scheduled the whole week. And before my coworkers could even think of raising their pens to the calendar, I had scrawled DEREK OFF through the week of April 14th.

So with our Suburban covered in bikes, and our Coleman pop-up trailer covered in more bikes we headed south toward Zion. I had to wonder just how many times I’ve been hauling a heavy, awkward load with the most un-aerodynamic array of things sticking out above my vehicle…and heading directly into a determined headwind.

Jason was actually driving another car behind me—and he wondered why his ol’ man was going so slow. Of course being a fairly new driver he didn’t notice all the weeds were pointing north while we were pointing south. And being new to the peloton he didn’t realize that the reason his Corolla was getting, like, 75 miles to the gallon was because he was drafting behind my huge hindquarters.

But when we finally reached Zion, a cute, young Ranger lady (oxymoron I know) informed us that their computer had messed up our reservation and had assigned us a spot just big enough for a Volkswagen Beetle. And that was the last spot.

So we took it. And with the luxury of a few centimeters to spare, we transformed our Coleman into our Zion home-away-from-home.

Almost immediately Natalie and Emily were off hunting lizards.

And they’re good at it too.

We’ve been to Zion many times before and they’ve honed their lizard-grabbing skills to perfection. But this being a public blog I will not admit to letting them remove said wildlife from national parklands to be installed in a comfy terrarium in our home and kept fat on slow, domesticated crickets lest their elementary school teacher (ex-Ranger lady) tell them (again) that their daddy will go to jail. No, WE ALWAYS LEAVE WILDLIFE IN THE PARK FOR OTHERS TO ENJOY. EVEN IF THERE ARE TRILLIONS OF THEM AND THEY REPRODUCE LIKE RABBITS.

Soon after arriving, Jason wanted to cycle the canyon White-family-style. Hey, we don’t bring all those bikes for nothing! We’re serious cyclists! We ride those bikes all the way to the shuttle station, load them on the shuttle, ride the shuttle to the top of the canyon…and ride down! On the way down we always seem to see silly people in biking shorts and skin-tight jerseys riding up the canyon. Don’t they know they can get a free ride up?

After stopping at the lodge for ice-cream (serious cycling food) I noticed a young boy wearing a BYU Cougars t-shirt and was just about to shout, “GO COUGS” when I recognized his dad—my old high school buddy, Craig Dalley. So I rode behind Craig with my face shielded by my hat brim and said in my best nerdy voice, “Gee whiz, I’m trying to ride my bike here. Could you get outta the way?”

He wasn’t fooled. Instead, he laughed his big Craig Dalley laugh and instantly recognized me through the extra pounds of padding on my face. He was there with his wife, Lisa, and four of their five boys. He and his boys had hiked the Angels Landing trail that morning. They were planning on doing it again the next morning—and he invited us along.

So at dawn the next day Jason, Connor, and I met him at 6:45 sharp and began our ascent to Angels Landing.

It was a good thing that Lori didn’t come with us.

I’ve witnessed her paralyzed with height fright over a 15 foot jump into a river. There are times during the Angels Landing hike when the only thing that separates you from a 1200 foot drop on one side and a 900 foot drop on the other side is a ten foot wide ridgeline and a stout chain. Several times I had to remind myself and my boys, “Don’t look down and don’t take your hands off the chain.”

But the views when you get up there! Incredible! I’d do it again and again if I get the chance. I just won’t look down and I won’t take my hands off the chain.

Back at the campground later that day, Ryan, our four year-old, kept asking me to take him on a bike ride—and Daddy just couldn’t resist taking him any time he asked. His new Boot Scoot bike is a little two-wheeler with no pedals that he’s learned how to scoot and coast like a pro. He was the star attraction for all the retired grandmas and grandpas in our campground. They’d see him come zipping by and they’d laugh and stare and slap their knees and say, “Look at him go!”

After that we fell into the White family camping routine—throwing rocks into the river, taking naps, riding our bikes, taking more naps, touring the campground to find the weirdest camp trailers and motor homes, reading a few books, playing games, eating treats, watching movies late into the night—and topping it off with some midnight toad-catching. (AND NO, WE DO NOT REMOVE SAID TOADS FROM THE NATIONAL PARKLANDS BECAUSE EVERYONE KNOWS THAT CUTE LITTLE TOADS DO NOT MIX WELL WITH CUTE LITTLE GIRLS. AND BESIDES, THEY’RE HARD TO TAKE CARE OF—YOU HAVE TO BUY THEM LIVE CRICKETS, LIKE, ONCE EVERY TWO WEEKS AND KEEP THEIR LITTLE SWIMMING POOL FULL. AND FOR ALL THAT THEY LIVE LONG AND HEALTHY LIVES FAR AWAY FROM HUNGRY COYOTES.)

Spring break vacation. What a great idea.

So when we returned home at the end of the week I promptly bought a 2009, 2010 and 2011 calendar that I’ll post at work. And I’ve already marked out spring break with DEREK OFF.

1 comment:

John Knotwell said...

Love the travel stuff pal. Keep it coming!