Day 2 – Zion National Park

After a restless night of sleep adjusting to the jet lag and new environment, we got up the next morning and headed for Zion National Park.

Not understanding how the shuttle system worked, we ended up driving almost all the way through the park before turning back to park and take the shuttle to the various hikes and sightseeing opportunities. We saw some beautiful sights along the way though!

(Photo courtesy of my Grandma)

My father and I wanted to do some more serious hiking, while my mother and grandmother preferred to spend more time relaxing and taking in the sights, so we split up after taking the shuttle to Weeping Rock trailhead. The path was paved, and after a short easy climb we reached the top, where there were hanging plants and water filtering through the cracks in the rock.


We stopped beneath a walkway to investigate a small creek, then set off to our next destination.

We were a bit disappointed because we really wanted to do some incredible hikes, in particular Angel’s Landing, but we just didn’t have enough time before the shuttles stopped running for the day. So instead, we decided to do the Emerald Pools loop. The trail was very flat and sandy, and very easy to follow.

Despite how simple the trail was, my knee was already starting to bother me. It’s all the more frustrating because I walk a lot at home, I exercise a lot with squats and lunges and knee intensive moves, but GOD FOBID I walk on a trail. A trail, mind you, that VERY out of shape people are walking on in flip-flops. Despite the persistent pain, I was determined to do all of the hikes that we had planned for this trip. So I hobbled my way along the Emerald pools trail until we got to THE emerald pools, which were honestly a bit lackluster, but cool all the same.

We made our way back to the Zion Lodge, where my mother and grandmother were perusing a gift shop and some friendly deer were hanging out on the lawn.

At this point we really didn’t have time to do any more trails before the shuttles stopped running (unbeknownst to us, we were all an hour behind because we didn’t realize we crossed a time zone on the way from Vegas! So we were REALLY close to the shuttles stopping!). So we hopped on the shuttle back to the car, and made our way out of the park.

We made our way out of the park just as the sun was beginning to set and drove the 45 minutes to our hotel in Kanab. I was getting so excited because I could tell that the stars out there would be AMAZING. The sky in UT and AZ is just enormous; you can see for hundreds of miles in every direction.

Day 3 – Kanab UT and Bryce Canyon National Park

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Day 1 – Las Vegas

 

After being up at 5am for a 7am flight, we arrived after 7 hours of travel in Las Vegas at noon (time zones are so weird). We took some time to become human again (ie. a much needed shower), ate a super delicious home cooked meal, and headed out on the town. I never realized how ubiquitous gambling is in Vegas. That may seem like a stupid revelation, but I mean come on, WHY do you need a slot machine in the grocery store? In every gas station? They’re even at the airport, which is somewhat less surprising, but still.

Our first stop was to see the Welcome to Las Vegas sign, and pay our respects to the memorial for the recent shooting.

The Welcome sign, with the memorial and Mandalay Bay visible in the background

The memorial was incredibly humbling. Seeing the names and faces of all of the innocent victims of a senseless murder spree, the majority of whom weren’t even native to Las Vegas, hit home with a lot of the people visiting, especially when seeing mourning family members placing flowers on the crosses.

The memorial with the light from the Luxor shining vertically in the background

After that uplifting trip, we headed to the Bellagio to see their gardens.

Ceiling of the entrance to the Bellagio

The gardens were incredible! I can’t imagine how much work they put into building and upkeeping the displays. Next, we went outside to the fountains in the front to watch the show, synced with classical music.

We went on our way, heading downtown to explore the nightlife there. We entered a casino, where my family enjoyed playing the poker machines, and I lost $5 to a slot machine. I really don’t understand the appeal of gambling; I work very hard for my money, and don’t want to just feed it to a hungry machine! I’d much rather have something to show for it….so, naturally, my grandmother and I went to a little souvenir shop across the way and spent our hard-earned money on candy 😀 We spent a good deal of time hanging out in that casino, but the omnipresent smoke was really starting to get to all of us, and we took our leave and headed back. Finally, after being awake for ~21 hours, we passed out in our beds.

Day 2 – Zion National Park