Tuesday, January 8, 2013

An Unexpected Vacation

When we last left our intrepid travelers, they had tired feet and sensory overload from Las Vegas. We needed a change of scene.

When we arrived in Vegas, we weren't too sure what the next leg of the trip would be. It was supposed to be Flagstaff, Arizona but a family medical emergency there caused the journey to be canceled. We contemplated returning home, but the flights were so expensive we realized we could vacation for less.

So, we headed to Springdale, Utah -- home of Zion National Park.


Rick found us a hotel that looked nice online -- and it didn't disappoint. If you are headed to Zion, I heartily recommend Flanigan's, which is also a day spa and less than a mile from the park entrance.

Charming greens were on each door and the rooms were nice.

The view was even nicer!

First thing we did was head to Zion and took a lovely two-mile walk along the river. It started with a (pretty chilly) picnic!

If you are ever going to feel small in the world, it will be in a place like this, where majestic rock walls surround you and it's only if you bend your face to the sky that you see that tiny patch of blue.

It seemed as though every corner on this paved trail brought a new vista, a new tree or foliage we hadn't seen before.


There were precious few people in Zion anytime during our visit. We managed to run into a family visiting from Australia and exchanged photo shooting duties.


Of course we stopped at the beautiful lodge. It was decorated for Christmas and we bought decorations to exchange for our trees.


On our first night, we headed downtown for Mexican food -- and to see the Christmas parade.

Pretty much everyone in Springdale participates and those who don't cheer them on from the sidewalk. These are the only passable photos, since they didn't stop much. I liked the Zion shield on the ambulance below.

The next day we decided to go to Bryce Canyon, about three hours away. The road cut through Zion and was a ribbon of switchbacks as we climbed higher and higher.

The price of admission to the canyon was steep and we'd already bought our park pass for Zion, but right next to the park was a spot called Fairyland Canyon.

It had all the look of Bryce, perhaps in slightly smaller scale -- if you can call stretching out for miles around you "small."

These red pinnacles are called hoodoos and they were first documented in 1868.


In 1872, geologist G.K. Gilbert traveled to the canyon and wrote of the hoodoos: "We caught a glimpse of a perfect wilderness of red pinnacles."


But for centuries before and to this day, American Indians (Southern Paiutes) have lived in this area.

We ate our picnic lunch and then Rick took a hike while I hung with my book in the car. It was too high up for this vertigo girl!

These next two are photos he shot while on his hike. The view was astounding.

Although I was a little worried that he might fall off the mountain!Actually, that's my fear for me, just projected!

That was fine by me -- it was a gorgeous view -- sometimes looking threatening with snow, sometimes sunny and just lovely.

The next day, Rick headed off to hike on Angel's Landing. It is called a challenging hike in the guide book. I chose to mellow out at the Day Spa at Flanigans. A great massage, mellow music -- it worked for me.

It seemed that all too soon we were headed back to catch our plane home from Las Vegas. And instead of sugarplums dancing in our heads, we saw red rocks...

beautiful vistas...


And a magical time!


Travel Tips

What happens if your trip plans change unexpectedly? You have to punt! We found out that we'd not be headed to Arizona at 11:30 the night before we left, so there was no time to come up with another plan.

1. The Internet is your friend. You already know this, but it bears repeating. We looked at the map to see what was in striking distance, then googled like crazy people. Our hotel was a great find, but then, so was the holiday.

2. The airline is not your friend. The fact that your plans changed means nothing to them in turns of rebooking you on an earlier flight home at the same price or even with a slight service fee. 

3. Rental cars -- When we were planning on Arizona, dropping off the car from Vegas in Phoenix, the cost for the time we would use it was over $400. For about $100 -- with a Vegas drop-off -- we had the car for the same amount of time. Between the hotel, car and a night in Vegas before our early flight, we spent the same or less than we had planned.

4. Off season rocks! You can't always plan your travel for off season, but if you can give it a try, especially if it is early enough that the weather won't factor in to affect your plans. The hotel was about half of in-season rates.

5. Packing -- We didn't get burned by packing for the weather report of where we expected to be -- but we could have. I was very glad to have brought my fleece vest and gloves. Just remember to bring flexible shoes -- or at least, comfy ones!

6.  BYOB -- Bring Your Own Book. Las Vegas is a big city but in the area where we were I couldn't find one general bookstore. (Though if you wanted to spend $30,000 for a rare book, there's a nice little shop in the Palazzo.) I nearly finished my travel book on the plane and brought only one, assuming we'd be headed off to family that a) had great books and b) we wouldn't be reading anyway. I ended up with a not-great paperback from Walgreens (a bad Walgreens -- only a limited book selection, mostly trash). I was glad I had it. I couldn't find a shop in Springdale, either!

7. Enjoy the Adventure. It's very easy to look at a major change in plans as a bad thing. We found this one to be the best part of the trip. Discovery is always fun and once we wrapped our brains around the fact that we were working outside the box, it became fun. Rick and I are very different -- I'm not a hiker and he's not into shopping or the spa. We found a spot where we could both enjoy the time.

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Jennifer Richardson said...

i love your heart
for adventure!
and would love to visit
that magical-looking place.
peace in the journeys
to come,

Maggie said...

Stunning scenery, thanks for taking me along on a trip that I will probably never make in real life!
I know what you mean about taking enough books to read, but now with the iPad that is one less thing to be bothered about!

Joanne Huffman said...

How nice that you had a happy bonus trip. Your photos are amazing. I stayed at a day spa in Santa Fe once and would do it again in a heartbeat.

Mae Travels said...

Sounds so wonderful to be there in winter! I have been in Zion twice in summer when you are required to take a shuttle bus into and around the park -- you can drive only to get to the lodge IF you are staying there (we were). The advantage: we had bikes, put them on the shuttle to go up, only rode downhill!

Happy New Year -- looking forward to hearing about your travels in 2013.

Quiltmoose - Dagmar said...

Your beautiful photos and descriptions bring back fond memories of our family vacations. I cannot imagine more beautiful sceneries than you can find in western USA. I really have to come back one of these days.

Glad your trip turned out wonderful in the end :-)


Janet said...

Bryce and Zion are both beautiful places to visit. The red rock formations are stunningly beautiful. I would love to go back again. Your photos and post brought it right back to me and I felt like I was there.

Barb said...

Jeanie - you and Rick visited two of my favorites, Zion and Bryce (or Fairyland). My friend Mary and I were there in the spring. we hiked Angel's Landing, and it was challenging! (As in holding onto chains to make it to the top!) We stayed in the park motel right in Zion - newly renovated and very nice. You guys have to get old enough for a Senior Pass which is good at all the National parks!

Marilyn Miller said...

Oh I like this! The scenery was gorgeous, places I would love to see in person and staying at a spa would be a treat. What lovely punting.

Sally Wessely said...

Your photos are just beautiful. I hope to get back to Zions and Bryce again. We went this spring when I just was not feeling very well. I'm afraid I was a real downer on that trip, but we managed a few little hikes, took some good photos, and I was greatly uplifted by those magnificent views. Isn't it an amazing place.

We stayed in Springdale too. We were at a resort near the one you stayed in. It was a great place, but you are right, Springdale doesn't have places to buy much of anything, and what they have is very expensive.

We also went off season. That made things much cheaper. We went at the end of March. This also meant we could drive right into the park instead of being bused. As Barb said, the senior park pass is a real bargain. You are just too young. ;)

Arti said...

These photos are amazing and awesome! What kind of a camera did you use? I was in LV last Feb., drove there from San Diego, then from LV continued driving to the Grand Canyon. Your photos here remind me of the GC, albeit these are even more unique rock formation. Also, I had the same feeling as you did, BYOB. Not a bookstore (or even book in public places) in sight.

Tracy said...

Wonderful experience shared, Jeanie--your tips at the end were great! Love the BYOB! ;o) I love how you both switched gears to take unexpected turns in your vacation and still made into a very memorable experience. Even the best planned travel can yield the unexpected. I think travel is a good practice in patience, flexibility, resourcefulness, and being willing to let things go. Zion and areas look AMAZING! WOW...such views... I think I'd take those over the bright lights and no books of Vegas! ;o) ((HUGS))

shoreacres said...

I loved living in Utah, and have loved traveling through Utah since. Your photos pretty much tell the story on why it's such a marvelous place. The next time, add in northern New Mexico. I know everyone thinks Santa Fe and Taos are the cool places, but to my taste the ruins, canyons and mountains are far more enjoyable.

Reading your post, I realized something I've never really considered. When I travel, I almost never take books. I might take a non-fiction that has something specific to do with the area, but I don't read it as much as use it for reference. With no i-gadget, the internet's not an option, either. I do carry a map, though. I've always managed to get home - at least, so far! ;)

Introverted Art said...

wow Jeanie, the 7th photo is breath taking.

~*~Patty S said...

WOW Jeanie!

Breathtaking hardly describes your photos and travels...I must share this link with my Mr Magpie ... this looks like a place we must visit some day

Thank you for sharing not only your photos but your narrative and travel tips are always priceless too!

paris parfait said...

So beautiful! Sometimes the best holidays are the most unexpected!

Icy BC said...

Looked like you had a wonderful trip! All the photos are just stunning to see.

Annie Jeffries said...

love all these pictures but it is the fence and snow picture that really blows me away.

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

Wow! Those photos are SO gorgeous! You make me want to visit this area. I am glad you got to take a little getaway. And I am really glad you treated yourself to some time at the spa. You definitely needed and deserved that TLC!!!

Joanne said...

That sounds like such a wonderful unexpected vacation. I've been wanting to visit Bryce Canyon for a good 10+ years now; Zion looks beautiful too.

Amy Johnson said...

What a difference a month makes! We were at Zion and Bryce in September and the weather was over 100!

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