[Before the trip I kept saying it like "Zy-awn," (like how I'd pronounce it from the Bible). But after listening to enough locals say it, it seems to be more like "Zy-un."]
The next morning, we left for Zion National Park in Utah. From Vegas to Zion it's about 2.5 hours, and parts of the drive are fairly dull. Dania and I had prepared with a Mary Higgins Clark audiobook (a little road trip tradition).
Our hotel was in Springdale, just a half mile from the park's entrance. It's a tiny tourist town with some hotels, shops and restaurants. It's situated right at the base of the mountains, so our hotel room had a pretty view.
[It was very hard to take decent photos in Zion because it's so much darker down in the canyon than it is in the sky. Plus, I'm just not very good with landscapes at this point! So I'm not thrilled with most of my photos, but at least they show you what it's like.]
We checked in and then headed next door to have lunch and take the tram into the park. There were several stops, but we stayed on to the last one (Temple of Sinawava) for our first hike. From there you can hike to The Narrows, a popular spot to visit in Zion. To hike in The Narrows, you need to walk through the Virgin River (the little river that cut out canyons in Zion). It's not very deep (to about my thighs in some spots, but usually to about mid-calf), but it's cloudy and rocky, so it's hard to feel steady. Dania and I weren't prepared with walking sticks (and other supplies) and so it was difficult and we couldn't go very far. I was paranoid one of us might slip and fall. The water was cold, but not overly so. It felt kind of nice. I'd definitely like to go further in, but who knows if I'll ever be back in Zion? (This makes me more determined to go to to Oneonta Gorge.)
After this hike, we caught the shuttle (or tram? What's the diff?) again to take us back. Our driver this time was really cool. Super nice and happy, and he was great about pointing out and stopping for wildlife. We saw a deer family and several wild turkeys.
I should mention that this day I had a growing headache that started early and persisted for hours. I was able to tune it out sometimes, but toward the evening I was more complainy about it and probably not as cooperative as Dania would've preferred. :P Sorry, Dania. She was much more pumped to do another hike before the last shuttle, while I was resistant and doubted we'd have time. She asked the driver and he said we'd be okay, so we stopped at the Emerald Pools hike.
[See the tiny waterfall up there?]
The pools and waterfalls were shallow/thin, but the hike was pretty. I took the opportunity to take some waterfall photos while Dania hiked down close to the water. On our hike back, we saw several deer by the river. We then caught the shuttle that takes you to the park entrance.
We were going to wait for the final ride to our hotel, but decided to just walk the half mile. It was dark, but I had a flashlight (a gift from Dania!) and other people were out walking too. In the empty lot at the park we saw what we think was a fox! We could only see its silhouette, and it looked like a large cat, but walked slightly differently. Since gray foxes are common there, I'm pretty sure that's what it was. :D He kept looking at us with his glowing eyes, and he was actually pretty close.
When we finally got back, my head was killing me. We decided on a place to get dinner, and Dania sooooo sweetly went and picked it up for us so I could stay at the hotel. She also brought ice cream! My dinner was a pasta dish with a red meat sauce that appealed to me when we were looking through some menus. After loading up on headache medicine, resting and having dinner, I was feeling a lot better. The food was good, but I think I enjoyed it more than usual just because I associated the meal with being able to relax and recuperate. That's a happy memory. :)
Check out more photos in the the gallery and stay tuned for day 3 probably this weekend. Thanks for reading!