utah part 1

We were eager to leave the shorelines of Orange County and jump into a whole new state. Brian and I are born and raised Southern California kids. Brian lived within a 20 mile radius of where he was born his entire life (except for a year long stint in San Diego working at a mega church) in Orange County. I grew up in Los Angeles, went to college in Orange County, lived in San Diego as well and ended up living in Orange County for 10 years. Needless to say, we were desperate for those “wide open spaces, room to make mistakes, she needs new places….” thank you Dixie Chicks for putting to words what my heart yearned for back in those high school days.

It was thrilling driving away from California and entering Nevada then into Utah. It felt like the night we got married, driving away from our friends and family knowing we were starting something epic. We were giddy leaving California pinching ourselves that we were actually living out our dream!

Our first campsite outside of California was Willow Winds RV Park in Hurricane, Utah. First off, people in Hurricane don’t say Hurricane like you would expect. They pronounce it like: HER-kin. HER-kin is about 30 minutes from the entrance to Zion National Park. HER-kin (ok, ok, Hurricane) is in southern Utah and its claim to fame is Joseph Smith’s winter home was in this area. So in other words: Hurricane=Utah’s version of snow birding. Since this was our first campsite that was booked sight unseen, I didn’t know what to expect. I had hoped there would be a pool, super fun neighbors, campfires all over with kids running around everywhere.  There was none of this. What I’m realizing now being on the road for 104 days, is that it’s hard to find {at least for me} campgrounds that are kid friendly. Willow Winds was very clean and well maintained, but it had many long term campers and a whole lot of retirees. The campsites all had paved spots and grass, but they ran the sprinklers every day {guess Utah isn’t in a drought?} which became a total drag for us since we wanted to use the grass.

You know what made it all worth it? The moment we entered Zion National Park. I didn’t do any research on this park, but we were instantly wowed. We drove the only road that is allowed to vehicles which goes through a portion of the park.

 

The rock formations surprised me with their beauty. The way they stood contrast to the bright blue sky you instantly realized why this became a national park. The best way to see the park, is to do the shuttle that runs from the Visitor Center all the way up to Temple of Sinawava. Temple of Sinawava is best known for the Narrows hike. We decided we HAD to do this as a family. After watching Zion’s instagram feed we knew we would want to go as early as possible to avoid the crowds. So, we woke up super early {5am!} and arrived onto one of the first shuttles up to the Narrows. Before getting to the entrance to the Narrows, you have to walk thru the hanging gardens which was something I had never seen before. This was a spiritual experience for me {hiking the Narrows, not the shuttle ride}. Walking thru water at some points knee deep with canyon walls on either side with the morning sun slowly creeping onto the canyon walls with clear freezing water underfoot gave all my senses such a rush.

When it was time to turn around {i.e. children were beginning to meltdown}, we were dazzled with the sun hitting the canyon walls just right to make it seem as if they were made of gold.

 

If hiking the Narrows sounds challenging, it is. Definitely not strenuous {we didn’t go too far in, maybe a mile?} and in my opinion worth it. Yes, flash floods are a thing to be concerned about, but we don’t want to live in constant fear. Our oldest was the most paranoid that he was hearing/seeing the beginnings of a flash flood many times while on the hike, but we assured him he was ok. We kept saying, look up! There isn’t a cloud in the sky!

 

Another hike we did while visiting Zion was the Lower Emerald Pools. This was allllll uphill and we thought the 3 year old would be able to handle it, but there was a lot of crying/screaming/dirty looks given while we did this hike. But we were rewarded with dinner while sitting outside at Zion Lodge watching the cottonwood trees release their seeds of cotton and we pretended that it was snowing.

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We might have been completely underwhelmed by our campground, but what it lacked Zion National Park completely made up for it.

 

On our last full day in Hurricane, we went to a ghost town that is just outside of Zion. This was a place Brian’s best friends mom would go to as a child since her grandfather helped build the town. She had just passed away and Brian’s friend had asked if we could check it out for him.

 

It was a small ghost town, really not much to it, but we felt her there. Although Zion left an impression on us, we were ready to leave the heat of southern Utah and move on to northern Utah.

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And so, the adventure continues!

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