Road Trip, Part 2

After visiting the Grand Canyon, we drove to Zion National Park, where Todd’s Uncle Jim Chris lives and works. Unfortunately, Jim Chris was out of town, but his girlfriend Susan arranged for us to stay in a suite at the hotel where she works. We felt like royalty! And it was great to meet Susan.

On our first full day, we did the short Weeping Rocks hike and the Emerald Pools hike. Koiya did a great job hiking, despite the heat. She enjoyed all the squirrels, lizards, tadpoles, and flowers along the trail. And when she got overheated, we poured some of the icy cold stream water over her.

The second day, we hiked up to Angels’ Landing. This is a very popular trail, even though people slip and fall to their deaths from time to time. Koiya joined us for most of the hike but decided to stay behind while Toro and I did the last bit, as that part of the trail looks pretty intimidating. At one point, the trail is about 4 feet wide, with 2000 foot drops on either side! The scenery at the top is amazing! We were glad she was such a good sport about waiting for us. She knows that Toro loves adventure with a small bit of danger mixed in!

See all of our Zion photos here:

20080531Zion

We spent one night in St. George, Utah, had our standard road trip breakfast (waffles at the hotel buffet), then it was off to Las Vegas. Koiya was very excited, as she had heard so much about Vegas. We checked in to the Monte Carlo, then headed downstairs for a quick snack. The food court taqueria had “street tacos” that were a fair approximation of the real thing; but they were $1.89 each! “19 pesos?!” exclaimed Koiya, “That’s really expensive!”

Next stop was the swimming pools. Koiya and I headed to the “Easy River”, so named for the current that pushes you around it. Koiya had the bright idea for one of us to go downstream and the other to go upstream, and to see where we’d meet. I sent her off with the current and turned to walk back against it. Within seconds a whistle blew, and I looked up to find I was being scolded by the lifeguard. “You can’t go against the current, ma’am!” Well, Koiya was long gone, so I thought I should just jump out and wait for her to come around again. I pulled myself up on the “island” in the middle of the pool. Again the whistle sounded; “Ma’am, you can’t be there!” Sheesh! “Captain Ron is right,” I told Toro, “there are too many rules in this country!”

After the pools we took Koiya for a stroll along the strip, to see the lions at the MGM and the water show at the Bellagio. Though she thought both were cool, overall she was underwhelmed. “Everyone’s always saying how Vegas is so great,” she mused. Another childhood illusion- dashed by reality!

The highlight of our Vegas stay was our trip to the sushi buffet (Toro’s treat!). All the rolls, noodles, and desserts, and Koiya’s dream come true: a chocolate fountain! Maybe Vegas is the city of dreams after all!

We put Koiya on a plane home that night, and were so sad to see her go! After all the places we’d been together, it just didn’t feel right not having her with us. We debated which route we should take, and decided to go through Death Valley, maybe because it matched our mood!

We were still getting used to the great distances you can cover in a car.
Toro (looking at map dubiously): “I don’t know… it looks like that’s over 200 miles away!”
Me (sighing): “Honey, that’s like, a three hour drive.”
Toro (not hearing me because he’s doing calculations in his head): “I guess if I take the first watch, and you take the second…”

Even though we hadn’t climbed in 8 months, we were excited to go bouldering near Bishop, CA, one of the premiere bouldering areas in the country. We rented a crash pad for the day and spent the morning at the Happy Boulders (where we struggled) and the afternoon at the Buttermilks (where we got our asses kicked). Well, it was still fun, and the scenery was great!

See the Bishop photos here:

20080603Bishop

When we left Bishop, it was 85 degrees F. In less than an hour, we were at Mammoth Lakes. It was 51 degrees, and the wind was howling over the snow covered mountain! We stayed at the quaint Austria Hof lodge, where we enjoyed the hot tub and the fireplace in our room. The next day, we hiked around Convict Lake, where we had a brief snowball fight! The Eastern Sierra sure is gorgeous.

After our hike, we drove over the Sonora Pass and dropped down into the valley. The rolling brown hills and sturdy oaks made us feel like we were really home. When we arrived at my mom’s house, we saw the sign she’d hung from her balcony: “Welcome Home Sailors!” I bet that got the neighbors wondering about her; last summer she hosted three strapping Italian boys, and now she’s welcoming sailors?!

See our Mammoth Lakes photos here:

20080604MammothLakes

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