The trip to Zion began as a planned typically American family road trip. He looked at the route on the computer, searched for motels near the park, and reserved a room. But that’s where the normality ended. Her illness made all things ‘iffy’, by which I mean that all plans were subject to change, with the expectation that it really should be very typical, but if it weren’t — he had better be able to improvise, be flexible, adapt. And really the gates of Hell look quite different on a map, than as it were in real life.
The route began with a number, interstate fifteen. And with a complication that the route went through three states, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah. Would the edge of Arizona be a challenge, or would the Utah natives pose a danger with different language and customs? Rumors that strange cannibals haunt the northwest edge of Arizona, who eat unsuspecting tourists who stop at roadside restaurants. Of course, that was all complete nonsense.
It was really a long boring haul through absolute nothingness. The desert stretched for miles, flat and lifeless, the sun very bright, and the landcape hot. Finally, when they reached Mesquite on the Nevada / Arizona border did things start to change. The casinos in Mesquite were a pretty obvious Nevada attempt at picking gambling revenue off at the border. Really a poor idea to stop. But it did offer a respite from the desert vacuum. A Coca-Cola, a beer, a glance at the stream.
From there it really did become a gate. The road winded and steepened, and followed the streams deep course amid the mountains. The way became ever higher and more treacherous, until at once, they were through the gate, and the land became green and fertile. The Pacific moisture traveled east and became trapped by the mountains, and settled down into the rivers that ran down West. This was the secret of Zion. Jagged rock cut cliff faces with lush canyons fed by the rainwater rivers.
The BMW panel was three — speedometer, tachometer, and oil temperature. The car liked to cruise at 80 mph, with the tach near 3000 rpm, and the oil temperature squarely in the middle. The tires weren’t original, so the speedometer reading at 80, meant that the auto was really running five mph slow at 75. Always good to keep an eye on them, those three wise men.
She was entranced by the scenery. It was dynamic, it was changing, moving upward, from desert to canyons. And much cooler. The wind was hot and stinging in the desert, but here it became cool and moist. And she loved the trees. She could feel their struggle, they had made a place for themselves in these rugged canyons. They weren’t towering or crowded, but diminutive, even dwarf, and scattered by the harsh and meager allotment of water.
They found their way to the motel, and slept well that night. The next day at breakfast, he looked at the bright severe cliffs, and the shaded canyon valley. The touristed street was very nice, with nice coffee shops, and well thought curios, like wind chimes. She had her coffee with a good appetite. They ate early in the morning.
They reached the park entrance along a narrow canyon road. The park service ran a bus from the park entrance. They took the bus to the park lodge where they started their hike by crossing a bridge over the little stream that defined this canyon.