Our second morning in Zion, we awoke, got into our car, and drove into the park.
Once inside of Zion, we turned right, taking the road that led to the East rim of the main canyon.
Another gift that Robbi has given me on this trip is driving every mile. And so I have been free to crane my neck skyward.
The road took us through switchbacks as we climbed, and then through a tunnel carved into the heart of the valley wall. We parked at the trailhead just past the mouth of the tunnel and started to climb.
Alden was our trailblazer. We had to keep reminding her not to get too far ahead.
The temperature was in the low 40s. The sun was still rising.
It was the most challenging trail we’d been on so far, but the kids were undaunted.
Unlike Mojave and Valley of Fire, Zion was lush and wooded.
We were hiking in a side canyon, the bottom of which was just a narrow crevice in the rock.
There were precipitous drops and staggering views.
And towers of rock that seemed made to soak in the sun.
No matter how high we climbed, there was always more above us, distant summits, golden and unreachable.
Eventually, we reached the lip of the canyon.
The view was worth every step.
The kids wanted to scamper a bit on the top.
And then we turned around and headed back down.
It’s funny how different the very same path can look when headed in the opposite direction.
We got back into our car and drove through the tunnel…
…and back down into the valley.
Later that afternoon, we hiked the Emerald Pools trail, passing underneath a waterfall.
And up some tricky steps.
And through gaps in the rock.
To a beautiful pool that fed the waterfall below.
Weary of burgers, we found a nice little Thai restaurant that night.
The morning of our third day in Zion, we rose early.
Our destination was the Kolob Canyon in the northwest corner of Zion. We stopped along the way at a shop selling crystals and gorgeous blue glass.
Robbi bought a piece of green calcite.
The Kolob was much higher—and much colder—than the rest of Zion.
And, apparently, much more full of mountain lions.
We decided not to get explicit about the mountain lions with the kids, but advised them to stay close, so that we “didn’t scare the animals.”
The views were expansive and startling. No camera could capture how it looked and felt to be up there.
I took a panorama. Click on the thumbnail below if you want to get a better sense of the Timber Creek Canyon.
We felt as if we owned the world for a moment or two.
But then we came back down. Because the world belongs to someone else.
Inspired and weary, we headed onward, out of Zion, into the great beyond. I still did not know where we were headed. Only that we were heading there rather quickly.
We entered Arizona.
And then, presumably, Nevada, because suddenly I looked up, and there was a telltale skyline.
I had never been to Las Vegas. I had never spent the night in a hotel shaped like a castle. All of this was about to change. And quickly.
Casinos are baffling to me.
Colorful and loud and inexplicable.
I had no money I cared to lose, and so we went outside, taking a tour of New York City.
While trying not to irritate the large gold lion.
As we walked along the Strip, comparisons to Time Square came to mind. It’s far too much, but presented in a captivating way, like a dessert you only need a bite of but are glad you tried at least once.
Alden, a huge fan of Hello Kitty, was delighted to make her acquaintance.
August, weary from the road, was delighted to ride on my shoulders.
We settled in for lunch at Fatburger.
But only one of us took full advantage of the opportunity.
As we walked off our lunch, August contemplated the possibilities.
Everything in Vegas is gilded, if slightly. It’s an unsubtle reminder of why the place is there. It’s a city designed to separate people from their money. In this way, I suppose, it is much like any other city.
But it goes about its business with such spectacular effort.
And such architectural flourish.
Emboldened by his recent feats at Zion, August attempted to woo various Showgirls.
And then we found ourselves in front of the Bellagio, where we watched the fountain show as Frank Sinatra belted My Way.
The fountains are really quite something.
I may never go back to Vegas, but I’m glad I got to see it once.
Because where else would I get to meet the Minions?
Or fulfill my lifelong dream to shoot a machine gun?
Or refuse to buy Robbi a $2,500 handbag?
Or spend time admiring this wonderful sculpture by Claes Oldenburg?
The kids were getting tired, so we headed back to New York City.
Across the Brooklyn Bridge.
We bade goodnight to Lady Liberty.
And returned to Wonderland.
I tried to buy Robbi a ticket to a show, but she claimed to be too tired.
And so we turned in for the night, entirely spent at 5:35pm. I don’t know if they give out awards for lackluster Vegas showings, but I’m pretty sure we’d be eligible. No gambling, no shows. I’m afraid that nothing we did in Vegas will stay there.
I did eat a really big burger, at least.