And now, the much-awaited pictures of part two of our trip:
Zion National Park.
After enjoying our first few days at Arches, we packed up and headed to Southwestern Utah. Amazingly, the scenery changed quite a bit - out of the arches, through the rolling painted desert, in and out of a lush green national forest, back to the desert, into the mouth of a canyon that is Zion National Park.
A lazy green river winds through the bottom of the canyon: from the wide entrance of the park to the back, where the river finally squeezes between the sheets of rock to become the popular hikers destination "the Narrows". On each side, a sheer cliff of mountainside shoots straight up, as if to point to the heavens.
Apparently, a Methodist minister was the first to fully explore the area, and the statuesque landmarks still testify to his interpretations: "Angel's Landing", "The Great White Throne", "The Three Patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob".
Gary and I spend a day hiking as much of the park as possible. The landscape is reminiscent of California, and as a result we are slightly less impressed (what place on Earth can compare with Yosemite, really?). We do enjoy the challenge of the Angels Landing hike, and appreciate the dramatic views, but the more populated & commercialized nature of the park takes away from the experience.
One enjoyable moment was happening upon this squirrel, fearlessly pondering the incredible view from his unlikely perch. The tree was precariously wedged into the cliffside, with a thousand-foot drop below, but he didn't seem to mind.
I wish I could have the same peace of mind when my feet aren't planted on the ground: see the white speck behind my head? That's a bus... waaaayyy down there!
All in all, any chance to experience the great outdoors, summit a mountain, enjoy the fresh air and push one's self to the limit, while celebrating eight happy years with the love of your life, makes for a pretty good day...