“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”-
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Why, I believe that sign has my name written all over it. After a rough night, tent leaking again, crappy campground, etc, at the first sign of rain stoppage, I threw everything in the Jeep without even rolling up my tent. I folded it, wet and sandy in to a garbage bag, said a few choice words and left camp. It was dawn and I was anxious to do some exploring – to get away from all these tourists. The first sign on the road (not pictured) read “Impassable when wet due to deep sand washouts.” I thought about how much it had rained the night before, but then I remembered – screw that, I’m in a modified Jeep. What’s the worst that could happen? I have to dig myself out. I have a shovel. Onward!
Despite the storm and the crowded campground, this little excursion made up for it. Not just the off-roading, but the ability to get out and see some of these rock formations that 95% of the tourists don’t (can’t) get to. That was the best part, for me.
The trails are slow going for the most part so that ate up my morning. It was time to say goodbye to Arches and head toward the main event; Zion and Bryce. That meant I get to sleep in a warm, comfortable bed. I refer to my cabin at Zion Mountain Ranch as base camp. I have it for the next 9 days but that doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll be sleeping there all 9 of them. I know at least some of those nights will be at the Grand Canyon. But I like the idea of having a fall back place where I can get a hot shower and perhaps shave if I’m so inclined.
Rolling toward southwest Utah, I start taking note of which towns have gas stations. I’ve been on the road four and a half days now and stopped for gas 12 times already. Now, not all of those have been full tanks, but a good majority are 3/4 fill-ups. This is precisely why I’m noting where the gas stations are. In just under 5 hours, I pull up to Zion Mountain Ranch and check in. The young girl working at the desk looks at my reservation and says, “wow, did you drive here?” I’ve been getting that a lot, especially when people either see my plates or remark about my Penn State hat.
ZMR is exactly what I expected. Quiet, serene, and picturesque. My cabin bay window opens to a buffalo-filled meadow and the sun sets in front of it each evening. There’s a TV which I immediately unplug and won’t use the entire stay, but there is a gas fire-place which I fire right up. I’ll post pictures later in the week after I’ve had a good chance to walk around the grounds.
Ah, my little slice of heaven. Tomorrow is Zion National Park. A dream fulfilled.