SW National Parks Trip: The Beginning


When: April 22, 2014 – April 23, 2014 (morning)
Where: Seattle, WA to Long Beach, CA to Barstow, CA to Zion National Park, Springdale, UT

Our first day on vacation was largely one of travel and logistics. Jon had to work and we weren’t flying out of Seattle until 5:15 that afternoon, so I considered working a half day, but in the end, I decided I was burned out and didn’t want to work. I spent the morning clearing my camera memory cards because I decided not to bring the laptop.

We drove down to Seattle in the early afternoon and met Jon’s friend Tyler, who had graciously agreed to take us to the airport. Once there we bought an airport dinner of Wolfgang Puck’s deli sandwiches to take on the plane with us. I had the Turkey Club with avocado – it was decent but the avocado spread was a bit too spicy for me. Jon didn’t like his veggie sandwich at all. It had eggplant, which would have been good but he hated the pesto spread on it. He did eat some of my sandwich instead. I guess that leaves us still looking for the perfect SeaTac airport “to-go” food. If you have any suggestions, let me know.

On the plane, Alaska Airlines was serving complimentary local beer and wine, so we had a Pyramid India Pale Lager. It was very good, tasting more like a Pale Ale than your typical lager. After an uneventful, smooth flight, we landed in Long Beach, picked up our wonder car for the trip – a teal blue Nissan Versa – got some coffee and tea, and began the last leg of the day’s travel.  It was about 8:30 pm when we headed away from the airport.

Just an FYI – if you have the opportunity to fly into Long Beach (LGB), I would choose it over Los Angeles (LAX) in a heartbeat.  It is way smaller, with only about 10 gates in the main terminal, and has a beautiful outdoorsy layout.  To pick up your rental car, you just walk across the street to the car rental building.

Two hours of boring, freeway driving later, we found our palace for the night – the Super 8 in Barstow, California. No frills, but a clean, warm place to sleep and shower. And best of all, cheap. We would only be there for 8 hours – the luxury would come later in the trip. It was very cold and windy that night, but the skies were clear.

On the plus side – I fell asleep right away and slept really well… until 3:30 am… Jon got really restless then because he was still hungry from dinner the night before, because he didn’t really like his sandwich, and we didn’t get any snacks for the road on our way to Barstow. So, we were both tossing and turning until we finally got up at 5. Which is fortunate, because at 5:15 am, as I was in the shower, I heard a noise. It was the smoke detector chirping! Good thing we hadn’t wanted to sleep in!

We had a Super 8 breakfast of cereal, oatmeal and yogurt, and took some coffee and tea and apples for the road. We were back on the road at 5:50 am, to continue the long drive to Zion National Park. We drove through Las Vegas right about 8 am, and felt very thankful that we were driving in the opposite direction as the morning rush hour.

We stopped for gas and snacks in Primm, Nevada, and discovered that they carried scorpion suckers – lollipops with an actual scorpion inside. You could have apple or banana flavor. I’m sure you’ll be surprised that we didn’t buy them. They also carried gusanos (the same worm they put in the mezcal bottles) and crickets as treats. We didn’t buy those either.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen treats like that in Washington!

Don't you want to suck on this and reveal the delicious treat inside?  To be honest, I feel bad for the scorpion.

Don’t you want to suck on this and reveal the delicious treat inside? To be honest, I feel bad for the scorpion.

The route also took us through a small corner of Arizona, before we drove through the Virgin River Gorge, and this was when we first began to appreciate that we were getting into some beautiful country. The Gorge had some wonderful scenery and amazing rock formations. We were getting excited to see the Park!

Not bad for Car Photography – the Virgin River Gorge in Utah

Not bad for Car Photography – the Virgin River Gorge in Utah

We got there a little before noon – the drive was almost 5 hours from Barstow, and there was an hour time change as we moved to the Mountain Time Zone from the Pacific Standard Time Zone.  Plus, by the time we reached Zion that morning, we had already been in four states!

I’ll be posting about Zion next!

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