Scenes from a Road Trip

So for the first weekend of January, we decided to go on a hiking trip through the national parks in Utah.
 We started in Zion and hiked the first two days. Being January and all, the hikes were far different than what most Summer vacationers experience. Here’s Cliff walking on the frozen over Emerald Pool. Notice the giant icicles hanging from the canyon wall?
Our first big hike was Angel’s Landing. We tried the first day, but couldn’t get far due to ice.
 After renting shoe spikes, we tried again the second day, only to have me freak out on the last ridge. What can I say, I am afraid of heights! This hike is not for the faint of heart; the part where I freaked out has sheer 1000 ft drops on either side. Here’s a pic looking up from the ground; as you can see, that’s a long fall…

That’s me at the point where I chickened out. You can kind of see how high up we are…
Thinking about it gives me anxiety, so here’s a sweet deer grazing in the woods that I saw that day…
So after 3 days, we packed up and move on to Bryce Canyon, where we came down with nasty colds. The hiking trip then turned into just a plain ol’, fun road trip. Maybe not as healthy as a week of intense hiking, but we still had some amazing adventures.
This is Bryce:

The picture quality isn’t so good because it was effing cold, and taking off my glove to touch my phone’s screen took a lot of effort. 
So we drove along Utah State Roads 24 and 95, pulling over often to take in the views. That route also closely follows the route that John Wesley Powell, the explorer, took, which was pretty cool. We were pretty much the only people on the road. At one point, we drove just under 100 miles without seeing a single soul on the road!
We drove down to Capital Reef National Park, which we had never heard of. 
We got the park pretty much to ourselves; really, we passed 3 guys leaving and never saw anyone else. 
It was awesome.

These parts of Utah really are desolate. We learned from road side information stands that this was the last part of the continental U.S. to be mapped. I can only imagine explorers looking down into what appears to be a vast wasteland and saying “Oh HELL no!”
But only to discover all sorts of canyons and rock formations that are unlike any other place on Earth.

This view from inside the car, coming up on Monument Valley, made me want to indulge in a marathon of old Westerns.
 We finally made our way down to Sedona, AZ, just in time for sunset and margaritas.
From Sedona we made our way back home, stopping in the small town of Salome to see Cliff’s dad. The drive from Sedona to L.A. wasn’t as picturesque, at least not after what we’d taken in all week.
Noted:
Desert Air in the winter is not pleasant for the respiratory system. I hope I never take for granted the soothing, humid air of a beach climate.
Hanksville, UT is not really a town, more of a wide spot in the road. Don’t ever stay the night there. Worse, don’t bother trying to find food.
Germans really dig our national parks. Most people we came across in any of the parks were foreigners, and most were German.

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