I travel a lot, mostly all under the context of work.. but sometimes there's an event or a location that changes the game completely. I felt this when visiting California for the first time last year, when I saw the sunrise on the red rocks of the desert, when I stood at Vance Creek and watched the fog dance with the mountains, doing morning yoga on the Hubbard Glacier in Alaska and when I ventured to NYC for the first time. I was starstruck with this familiar feeling once more when visiting the West the past two weeks. This is the story. These are the moments.
WALKING WITH GIANTS
When the guys you're traveling with get bitten by the urge to rent motorcycles and explore the desert and canyon lands, you delightfully agree to lead the way in a red minivan packed full of camera gear and snacks - and that's exactly what happened to me.
First stop was an old favorite, The Valley of Fire. Every time I visit Las Vegas for work (and trust me, it's a lot) I make a point of visiting my favorite hidden gems inside this beautiful park. The only difference this time was my entourage of leather wearing bikers. They were champs and let me lead them around the winding roads and down questionable paths that resulted in awesome photo opportunities.
From the familiar rocks in Nevada, we drove our respective vehicles to a new landscape - that of Zion National Park. This marked my first time visiting Utah which would have been exciting enough, but the sights I saw while cruising the twisted paths of Zion sent my heart soaring. We finally got into Utah once the sun had set, so the sights were left to be a surprise the next morning. We found a couple cheap hotel rooms in the area and proceeded to inhale Mexican food until the only options were hot-tub or bed. I chose bed. The next morning I woke to my alarm, set to accompany the sunrise. I threw the curtains open and saw the surrounding landscape and made those biker boys grab their helmets and a cuppa - Zion was calling.
Gabe teaches his night workshops at Zion on occasion and took the wheel of the minivan to drive everyone through the park. From a distance, you could see snow capped mountains beckoning to you, and the lower part of the canyon was thick with morning fog. After driving every paved road on ground level, we took that gorgeous minivan on an uphill adventure through the mountains and around steep curves. We entered a dark tunnel with natural light surprising you as it poured through randomly placed windows and overlooks that broke through the mountain side. The views were getting more incredible as we made our way up and through the tunnel system. When daylight finally took over, we found ourselves in a wintery paradox that seemed foreign to such a warm color palate. It made the views that much more special, knowing most visitors to Zion never see this calm demeanor of the park. Some of our party decided to stay in the car and shield their eyes from the reminiscent New York-like scene. We were in the desert and this was not what we imagined finding when coming to Zion... but Gabe and I knew better than to let a moment like that go to waste, so we hiked and we slipped and we played in the snow and it was totally worth it.