Notes from the Southwest: Arrival and Zion

As some of you may know, I recently took a camping trip through the magnificent Southwest USA. Below are the journal entries I made along the way:

7 June 14, 1830

Off we go! I’m sitting in the Sacramento airport bubbling over in excitement! Though my flight is about an hour late, in a short time I will be flying into Las Vegas (a total pit if you ask me….) to begin my Southwest National Park tour extravaganza. Adventure, ladies and gentlemen, IS out there. I’ve got Samwise the Brave (AKA, my osprey) along for the ride and we are both bursting at the seams.

We didn't plan this...

We didn’t plan this…

Cassie will be joining me in Vegas and then the dynamic duo will be ready to hit the road! Stayed tuned for the desert adventure I’ve been dreaming up for years!

8 June 14, 0608

Well, it’s just about time to wake Cassie up, though I feel bad since she’s finally sleeping. I did not catch ANY sleep last night/this AM. Not that sleeping on the floor in the middle of Terminal 1 is terribly uncomfortable, but the ads never sleep in Vegas. Not only do they run all throughout the night, advertising to no one, but they’re blasted on the jumbo screens on loop. I now know, by memory, every show currently playing in Las Vegas, and will have Abba’s classic, “Mamma Mia,” in my head for longer than I care to imagine.


Waking up like this in Vegas definitely makes me feel like a vagrant, a tumbleweed, and maybe we are? The bounce in my step is not lessened by the up and coming crick in my back, and it looks like Starbucks is finally opening up! Coffee o’clock was about 3 hours ago, so excuse me while I fuel my addiction.


10 June 14, 1000

En route to Bryce Canyon National Park! I’m in the car, so there’s a bit of time for writing. I wanted to try to describe the amazing scene that we were privileged to witness yesterday.

Zion National Park GOPRO

Zion National Park is a land of contrasts. Massive red cliffs tower over the calm Virgin River that carved them. Looking at these sprawling vistas, and huge formations, the most shocking feature is the Great Silence that fills your ears and all of the empty spaces. The silence is profound because the presence of the canyon walls is so commanding. But when you try to let slip any sound from your mouth, or utter even a half silent, “Wow,” it leaves your body sounding shockingly grotesque. Any human sound falls short in it’s pursuit to accompany such an image. Your shout into the void of soundlessness is just that, a hallow soundlessness, and the silence is spectacularly beautiful and comforting.

Long Way Down Red Cliffs of Zion The Virgin River

I have never seen so many variations of red and orange. The cliffs are dotted with scraggly green brush, a testament to the tenacity of nature. The trickling river allows life, and that life supports other life. Everything is thus connected.

Cassie and I climbed the famous “Angel’s Landing” hike. Usually I tend to roll my eyes when a guidebook lists a path as “strenuous,” but this path continuously issued the friendly reminder that gravity exists and would love to become more intimate with those happy few who enjoy a solid uphill scramble now and then. 2.5 miles up to Scout’s Landing with some gnarly views made possible by the wicked elevation gain, we were crawling up the mountain huffing and puffing. We rested for a moment on the rock before gripping the .5 mile chain-lined assent to Angel’s Landing. The view was unreal!



With the wind beating my face  and an eerie silence engulfing my senses, I could have been flying! Surrounded by massive drop offs, whether the proximity to open sky or the high probability of death, I have never felt closer to heaven in my entire life.

DCIM101GOPRO The Virgin River

We bounced down the mountain with our new Australian friends and played in the river for a while. National Parks are great for meeting awesome people and hearing their incredible stories. I could have pitched a tent and stayed forever, but after an overnight at our riverside campsite it was time to tumble along. Nap time and then Bryce!

Xx, Lauren




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