Utah is incredible. I didn’t really know anything about the state before driving across it, and now all I want to do is plan another trip where I toodle around the state taking pictures. In fact, I think I’d like to do this trip all over again—just not in four days! I’d love to come through and do an extended photo-journal trip where I stop frequently just to get out of the car and take pictures.
I left Wyoming and headed south through the Rockies. I’m really glad I didn’t attempt to make it to Salt Lake City in the middle of the night; it took me several hours of windy roads, and I enjoyed the journey much more when I was awake and there was light to see by.
The route down towards Salt Lake City wound back and forth, and I flirted between the borders of Wyoming, Idaho, and Utah. I was driving down a country road, and the next thing I knew there was a sign in front of me welcoming me to Idaho. Okay, I thought, I’m in Idaho now. But then five minutes later, another sign welcomed me to Wyoming. So I stayed in Wyoming for a little bit, but then it appeared I was in Utah. So I kept driving, and then I was back in Wyoming, and at this point I completely lost track of what state I was in (except, perhaps, a state of confusion).
Just outside of Salt Lake City (around the time when I began to feel confident that I was, in fact, in Utah and would be staying there for quite some time), the clouds began to close in. It was the first cloud cover I’d seen since leaving Minnesota three days ago. But these clouds were thick and dark and moving in fast. Ahead of me, I saw lightning strike the mountaintop directly in front of me. Twice. So I pulled over to fill up my tank with gas and refresh myself before heading into the storm.
As I got closer, I approached two things: on my right, a reservoir with people swimming, boating, and jet-skiing; on my left, the mountain that was still being struck by lightning. As I drove around the reservoir, I watched lightning strike the ground within walking distance of my car. I could point to the patch of ground that had just gotten hit. The lightning was touching down about every sixty seconds. And yet on my right, the vacationers were very determined to keep enjoying themselves.
Then I moved deeper into the mountains to the south of Salt Lake City, and the rain hit. It rained off and on all day, letting up for a few minutes, sometimes sprinkling, sometimes pouring. In the distance, I could see the rain descending from the clouds like gossamer curtains, gently brushing the ground below. Mary Oliver came to mind: “Meanwhile, the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers.”
I got several good pictures, some of which I posted on Facebook.
Towards the evening, the sun began to break through here and there. I saw an occasional rainbow, and there were some delightful rays beaming down on the distant hills. I saw blue sky to my left and to my right. Go figure, the only place that was still obscured by thick rain was directly in front of me, hanging over my destination.
I pulled in to Kolbos Canyons in Zion National Park around 8pm. It was still raining, but the sun was occasionally lighting the place up. I had time to wind through and take some pictures before it got too dark. I decided to make a try for the main entrance to the park (which I discovered you cannot get to from the Canyons). At the exit, I pulled over and calculated a few things.
It would take me 45 minutes to get to the main entrance to Zion. It would take me a little over 2 hours to get to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. And it would take me almost 7 hours to get to Phoenix. If I tried to hit all three—not including the time I took to actually stop and look around—I would be driving for about 11 hours.
By this point it was getting dark, so I decided to aim for Zion. However, as soon as I turned onto the road, a sign indicated that on this particular day of the week, the road to Zion closed half an hour ago.
If I hadn’t stopped at the Canyons, I would have made it. Le sigh.
Also, it was still raining. For all that Zion is reputed to be one of the “desert” parks, it sure was wet! I figured it was probably for the best that the road was closed, because by the time I found a campsite (assuming one was even available) it would be not only wet, but also dark.
So I kept driving toward the Grand Canyon, but soon found a hotel that offered a bed, a pool, air conditioning (by this point it was getting both hot and muggy), WiFi, and breakfast for only $39. How could I refuse?
The irony, as I see it, is that the hotel is in Hurricane, Utah.
And so now, dear reader, I am heading to Phoenix. I was advised to drive at night to get there, as it would be cooler, but I will be staying with a hostess who is offering me a place to stay in her home, and I don’t want to meet this delightful lady at the crack of dawn, exhausted and looking haggard. So instead I will meet her in the evening, exhausted and sweaty from driving across the desert in the middle of the day. Choices, choices….
And tomorrow, my justice work begins!