Monday, June 13, 2011

Attitude: Vacation Wrap-Up

Photo by Mike Eisenhard
Back from a refreshing break in three national parks, I'm diving in slowly, but I first want to give you a peek at our awesome trip.
Places To Go ~ Things We Saw
Starting with Zion National Park in Southwest Utah, the neat and upscale town of Springdale invites travelers to the entrance of this majestic, wow-factor, geologic wonder—my favorite park on the trip. A convenient shuttle runs through town and delivers you to the park entrance and visitor center. Boarding a double shuttle, we could disembark at any stop in the park.

Our first morning, we chose to hike the Watchman Trail. We made our way up a short canyon passing colorful displays of wildflowers to an overlook with a panoramic view of the valley below and the Watchman Peak standing at Zion's entrance.
Photo by Mike Eisenhard
From Zion, we drove to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. We took a walk out to Bright Angel Point, the Southern-most point of the Kaibab Plateau, a short walk from the lodge. As soon as I came along side the railing with a 3,000+ drop, my legs went wobbly, I started sweating, my gut began to churn and I could not look out at the expansive scene. Yes, I have a fear of heights.
Fear of heights did not keep me from hiking down the Kaibab Trail into the canyon one morning. Unfortunately, we hiked behind the morning mule train to the Supai Tunnel.
Yes... we skirted a river of mule pee. Sheesh... what a ghastly, strong smell. My husband remarked that it smelled like strong cat pee, except cats pee ounces and mules pee gallons. Of course, there was also the mounds of poop to avoid.
The views were all worth the bother of a bit of animal excrement.
Next stop, Antelope Canyon adjacent to Lake Powell in north Arizona in the Navajo Nation. This was my "had to see before I die" spot. It's the most photographed location in the Southwest. Can you see why?
This amazing slot canyon was discovered in the 70's by a Navajo girl tending her sheep. At many points in the canyon we had to walk toe-to-heel and maneuver our bodies to fit through.
Photo by Mike Eisenhard
It's the weirdest experience. The Navajo guide led us to a crack in the earth and started walking into it until he disappeared.
Photo by Mike Eisenhard
We encountered a series of metal stairs that led us deeper into the canyon. More stairs exist along the tour, some no wider than the width of my foot.
We visited Bryce Canyon National Park next. Unlike Zion, Bryce is not really a canyon, but rather a bowl containing eroded sandstone formations of reddish to white color.
Also, unlike Zion, the road through the park is outside the geologic area of interest. Park roads provide access to viewing spots where you can see the bowl or amphitheater of formations.
Sego Lily at Kodachrome Basin
We also visited Kodachrome Basin State Park, a short drive down the most scenic highway in the US—Highway 12. We drove as far as Boulder on Hwy 12 and discovered Hell's Backbone Grill. Boulder, population 180, is said to be one of the most remote towns in the US, so finding this gem in the middle of nowhere was kismet. They prepared a dish just for me to accommodate my diet. Check out the cookbook the proprietor/chefs authored, which highlights their creations.
"Kitchen" in our cabin at North Rim Grand Canyon
Food On The Trip
Speaking of my diet, we planned carefully for this trip to ensure I would have food to eat. We bought a Koolatron 26-quart electric cooler complete with plug for the car and added a 110AC adapter for power in the hotel/cabin. The cooler is very quiet and very effective. I packed a container with a pre-made veggie salad (it lasts three days). I brought beans and feta cheese to make my daily lunch salad—yum. Added the whole veggies stored in green bags (see Keep Your Vegetables and Fruit Fresher Longer) to the cooler and away we went.

I cut more veggies when needed and expected to add some from locations on the road (a risky assumption). Turns out the veggies lasted the whole trip. Used the last carrot on the last night during the return trip home.

We brought Trader Joe's Organic Instant Oatmeal for breakfast and added a handful of the organic/raw trail mix I made for the trip. Also brought along our Proctor Silex water boiler (it's awesome), coffee press and Mighty Leaf loose tea that Bob used to make green tea every morning.

Friends on the trip with us marveled at how self-contained we were.

We had healthy food options everywhere except at Bryce. In that location the Syrett family "own" the area outside the entrance to Bryce Canyon. It consists of lodging, campgrounds, services, one restaurant with huge buffet (gag me!) and one fast-food place. Everything is institutionalized. Order a pancake and you got butter and syrup in little sealed containers. They had almost nothing for me to eat, but I got by with a potato, carrot, zucchini, onion and sun-dried tomato stir fry they prepared for me. It was tasty, but overcooked for my liking. I also took my chances with a veggie burger they had. I used a piece of whole grain bread that we bought in Bishop at Schat's Bakkery to replace the white bun it came on.
We enjoyed every minute of the trip. Colorful wildflowers gracing the landscape, singing birds, rich colors of rock rising to the heavens and breathtaking scenery stretching to the horizon.

With my great power and outstretched arm I made the earth and its people and the 
animals that are on it, and I give it to anyone I please. ~Jeremiah 27:5

It's really hard to come back. I especially enjoyed being unplugged. For a serious recharge, I recommend a clean break from the noise of email, phone, blogs, twitter, etc. It feels great!

Did you miss me? ...I thought so.

When was the last time you unplugged? And for how long did you unplug? Scroll down and leave a comment below.


  1. Welcome home, my friend. I missed you, really! Loved the pictures. Thank you for the update. I don't like being unplugged. It happens sometimes when John and I go camping. Sometimes there is not cell or wi-fi. Wa-a-a. He doesn't understand. That's when I get out my Kindle and read a novel that's been waiting for me. :)

  2. Sue, do we need to do an intervention? :-0