We spent a good portion of yesterday in much better spirits driving from Grand Junction, CO to our next stop. We had the Rockies in our rear view mirror, the Sierra Nevadas in front of our windshield, and we were driving through everything in between. It’s a beautiful drive! As we drove through the vast areas of bare land, we were able to get a sense of what our country might have been like before it sprouted huge housing developments that led to the perceived need for Walmart, strip malls, and Starbucks.
We landed in St. George, Utah for a couple days which is in the SW Corner of the state not far from Arizona or Nevada. We chose this spot so we could spend some time wandering around Zion National Park but as we were driving around running some quick errands we couldn’t help but notice this magnificent, white, structure that could be seen from pretty much everywhere in town. We were pretty sure that this was a Mormon temple so we drove over for a closer look. This thing was huge! We saw a sign that said “Free Tours” so we went in to the Visitor Center to see what this was all about. We were greeted by a very nice man who gave us a tour through the center and told us about the history of the Mormon settlers who were sent to St. George to grow cotton, grapes and harvest silk (which have since been replaced by more prosperous business) We were pretty amazed when he talked about how the temple was built. It’s crazy what the early settlers were able to do without the modern tools we have today. I love to hear about the history of places and how they got their start. We had the dogs in the car so we couldn’t stay long so we took our Book of Mormon and headed to the park.
If you’re in the area this park is a must see! One of the little challenges that we deal with from time to time is traveling with our dogs. Although we are finding the places are becoming much more accommodating, most of the national parks will not allow dogs on the trails at all. At Zion, there is one very nice trail that will allow leashed dogs so we were able to get in a nice 3 1/2 mile hike. Its difficult to describe the absolute awe of this place. It’s a combination of mountains, streams, little pine tree forests, meadows, and wildlife. Once deep into the park, we were surrounded by the red and white massive rock formations that almost gave us a feeling of being inside a building. At times it was incredibly disorienting and we couldn’t get a sense of just how big these things are so we lost all perspective of size and distance and it eventually made us a little dizzy. We found ourselves about 20 feet from a female mule deer and her baby. In Iowa the deer would have just run away but this mama decided she wanted to have a little stare-down with us as if to see which one would back away first. As soon as she took one step toward us, she scared the hell out of me and we were perfectly happy to back up and leave her and the baby to continue munching on the vegetation below them. I’ve apparently watched “When Animals Attack” one too many times.
Overall, it was a really good day. St. George is a really nice place and the people are very welcoming. It would be nice to come back here and explore Zion National Park a little more and hike to some of those areas that we couldn’t go with the dogs but tomorrow we head out and will be spending the evening in Las Vegas. The way our luck has gone lately, we aren’t staying anywhere near the strip and we aren’t going to put one cent in a slot machine!