April 05, 2010
Our 2002 Suburban had just over 94,000 miles on it when we pulled out of our driveway on March 27th. When we pulled back in on April 3rd, it had almost 97,000 miles. Thankfully, I can still say it is the best vehicle I've ever owned, and she definitely took care of us on our recent trip to southern Utah.
We planned our Spring Break 2010 trip with my wife's parents, who spend their winters in Tucson, AZ. We rented two condos in Mesquite, NV and planned our days based on how long a drive a particular attraction was from 'home base'. Although flying to Las Vegas would have allowed us much more time to explore the beauty of the southwest, we elected to drive so we could visit my wife's grandmother in Boise, Idaho on our way down and on our return trip, as it turned out.
Days One and Two were spent in Zion National Park, located approximately an hour and a half northeast of our lodging. We took some fantastic hikes, highlighted by a hike to the top of Angel's Landing, one of the premier hikes in America. Considering the ascent is via a narrow trail with 1,500 foot vertical drops on one or both sides most of the way, the final 1/2 mile of the hike is not for the faint of heart. (I would throw in the group that includes "sane" people as well, but I would thereby be excluded.)
My 13-year-old son Kyle and I were the only ones that ventured all the way to the top. I have my own fear of heights, but amplifying it was the concern for my son and the guilt I would feel if anything happened to him on the hike. (It should be noted that several people have fallen to their deaths on this particular trial in recent years.) What caused me to take the calculated risk to conquer that hike? I guess you could say I'm driven to do things that most people won't do. Why did Kyle do it? He's my son - that should explain it well enough.
Day Three was spent in Las Vegas, touring the casinos and attractions. Nothing of special note was accomplished in Vegas, although I highly recommend taking a trip out north toward Nellis Air Force Base and eating at the Memphis Championship BBQ Restaurant. Excellent barbecue and some of the best bread pudding I've ever tasted.
We visited Snow Canyon State Park on Day Four, located just west of St. George, Utah and about an hour's drive from the condos. We hiked around the red rocks, and snapped some photos for our family Christmas card this winter. As we drove past a petrified sand dune about 200 feet high, my 11-year-old son Nicolas asked me to stop the car; he wanted to hike to the top. Since everyone else in the car was hungry and ready for lunch, I was the only one willing to tackle the challenge with him.
He and I headed up the dune, seeing how fast we could get to the top. It took us just a few short minutes, but we arrived out of breath and doubled over. The view was incredible, and the Suburban and our traveling companions looked tiny from up there. Why did Nic want to go up there? Why did I join him? I guess you could say we were driven to do it.
As the week drew to a close, The Weather Channel predicted some nasty weather throughout the west - areas we had to drive through to get back home. Reluctant, but wanting to be safe rather than sorry, we headed home a day early. After nine hours on the road battling snow, sleet, rain, wind, and really slow motor homes, we reached I-84 just west of Twin Falls, Idaho. The snow had been falling for hours, and the roadways were slushy and slick. There were a total of six slide-offs and/or rollovers in the span of about ten miles. I read later of at least one fatality from the wrecks we passed, and several critical injuries.
We made it to Boise unscathed, and headed home for Spokane the following morning. Again, we had some icy roads, but nothing too worrisome. Our Suburban safely rolled into our driveway in the middle of the afternoon on Saturday. The only thing it asked in return for the entire trip was gasoline - no breakdowns, no maintenance issues, nothing.
Considering we were in a two-wheel-drive Suburban and made it through the entire trip with no problems, I like to think angels were watching over us. As a matter of fact, that's probably what drove me to the top of Angel's Landing in the first place - it must be where all our guardian angels hang out.
Make it a great week,
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