My husband and I recently took a much-needed vacation. We covered over 4700 miles and swept through eight different states on our two week journey. Originally, I thought we were just going to visit the Grand Canyon, but as with potato chips, one canyon is never enough. We began binging on canyon viewing. Our eyes soaked up thousands of spectacular scenes of
which I took backup pictures with my trusty camera. Because you know how the memory slips away after fifty… what was I saying?
Neither of us had been to Utah, Arizona or Nevada, so it was like research for retirement. The weather was mild and beautiful, unlike the horridly hot temperatures I’ve heard can fry your skin off later in the summer.
We quickly drove across the flat plains of Nebraska and into Colorado. The Colorado Monument was our first taste of canyon-like scenes. From there we traveled on to Utah. We stayed in Moab and took an ATV tour of awesome rocky terrain where only lizards dare live. Utah is full of beautiful mountains, canyons, and desert flowers. We saw much of Arches Ntl Park and Canyonland.
We moved on to Arizona and the Grand Canyon and hiked around the south rim. They wouldn’t let us go through to the North rim where the glass overhang thing is. The roads were still closed from winter.
Not far from La Vegas is the Hoover Dam. It’s not a canyon but it was definitely an amazing place to tour and hear the history behind why it was built and the huge numbers of men and equipment it took to achieve such an amazing piece of workmanship.
By then we were so close to Beatty and the ghost town of Rhyolite that we had to visit and make sure I got all the details correct in a scene I wrote for CHOSEN. (Jael slays her first vampire in that historic ghost town at the beginning of the Amish Bloodsucker Trilogy.)
We drove down into Death Valley from there and marveled that 104º really didn’t feel so bad. Especially since Minnesota was having another snowstorm about that time. We learned that somebody introduced Burros to the valley many years ago and apparently they’ve been breeding like rabbits ever since. So, if you want a little pet Burro, they have free “adopt a Burro Day,” or something like that.
On our return route we swept through Zion National Park, then decided to do some off-roading in Grand Staircase Escalante National Park. Okay, there were actually roads but they were dirt and unmarked. We had no maps, but we managed to find something pointy along the way that slit our tire.
Leon is always ready for any occasion, so of course he was carrying a full tool-box with tire plugs and an electric pump. We got our tire patched and pumped up again and went on our way feeling very grateful that we didn’t have to resort to cannibalism like the Donner’s, cause a tow truck would never have found us out there and it was getting close to dinner time.
We feasted our eyes upon so many beautiful and awe-inspiring sights on our vacation that once when we stopped to pick something up at a store along the way and I saw a creature get out of the car beside us, I was flabbergasted. The ugliness of everyday life at Walmart can be quite devastating if you’ve been beholding the glory of God’s creation all week.
This creature – we’ll call him a man for argument’s sake – was wearing a dingy white, sleeveless undershirt, commonly known as a “wife beater shirt.” I will give him the benefit of the doubt and call it a tank top, but it was most definitely NOT his best choice. This man had beards growing from his shoulders. I’ve seen lots of hairy men in my time, but I’m talking full, thick, Duck Dynasty beards! Sadly, I failed to come out of my shocked state quickly enough to snap a photo of this strange phenomenon. Otherwise, I would probably have been able to sell it to National Inquirer, or at the very least to a group of scientists still looking for the missing link.
Right before dusk there were deer, elk, and pronghorns everywhere and hardly any other people around because it had started to rain.
You certainly can’t beat the spectacular icy blue view of the Grand Tetons. We traveled into Wyoming and through some of the Bridger -Teton National Park where we were surrounded by snow-capped mountains and rolling desert hills.
We soon exchanged those peaks for the Big Horn Mountains and before long we ended up in Custer, South Dakota.
We stopped to do a little nature hike in the Black Hills on our way through. We only planned to hike a short way and then turn around and go back to the car, but Leon decided to choose the path less traveled.
After two hours or so, we finally found our way out of the forest. (He insisted he was never lost.) Our water bottle had been depleted, sweat soaked through our clothes, and it was well past lunchtime. We could have died out there! It really makes you think… Next time I’m bringing sandwiches along.