THE GREAT ESCAPE…
Okay, the escape to Vail was an easy and quick decision…..it’s normally about 15 degrees cooler than the city and we were looking forward to a little sun and golf (without sweating in 98 degree weather). The reality of the situation……we enjoyed a couple of partly-cloudy days in Vail and then woke up on Monday morning to SNOW!!!
Now, anyone who follows me knows that snow is another of my favorite things……just not “after” season and especially not after “early closure of Vail” 6 weeks early due to COVID! Over coffee watching snow fall we quickly talked about escape……….notice a pattern here???!!!
When we planned our escape (a grand total of 10 minutes…) from a May Vail snowstorm and quarantine, the only thing definitively known was that we would head to Utah – Interstate 70 West – with no specific plans. Our Clubs were in the car and a massive amount of junk food was loaded (refer to “How to Pair Wine with Breakfast or Snacks during Quarantine….”). HRH Dolce was in her usual spot on the back seat and off we went. Before we hit the Utah line we had agreed upon Southwest Utah and specifically the St George area. We knew there were 20+ golf courses open that we would also find some open restaurants along with the addictive and super necessary In-N-Out. We also decided to get to St George by going through Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks. Bryce Canyon is a favorite park for us and we’d missed Zion during our last Summer trip with Missy K.
After a quick run through Bryce, we headed down Route 89 towards Mount Carmel Junction and Utah Route 9 towards Springdale. The drive on the 9 into Springdale takes you along the spectacular Zion – Mount Carmel Highway and through the Mount Carmel Tunnel carved out of Zion’s incredible rock formations in 1929. The drive is only 25 miles but the scenery is breathtaking. On the way down from Bryce, we had reserved a room at the Spring Hills Suites (our first experience with this hotel…the staff was AMAZING and the service FLAWLESS. Let’s not forget that the “campus” was beautiful) in Springdale and about 5 miles from the entrance to the Zion Canyon entrance. Entering this area was like being on the Twilight Zone…..everything was open, people were NOT talking about COVID and, they had a gym just waiting for me!)
We knew the Park was open but hadn’t realized that the number of cars allowed up the Canyon would be so limited plus, the normal Zion Shuttle Bus service was not operating. The Canyon entrance was filled to a socially distanced capacity by 6:30am on weekend days! A little research on my part while the Good Doctor navigated the twists and turns of the Highway and I had come up with a Tour operator – ZionGuru – who had a permit allowing access into the Canyon at any time and would give us a private tour which we scheduled for the next day. We are huge fans of this type of option….a way in that also assures you hit only the stunning spots!
A very reasonable 9am pick-up was arranged and we were off with the incredibly knowledgeable owner Jonathon. He was an encyclopedia – or Wikpedia – fountain of geologic information. The Park was established in 1919 making one of our older National Parks. It was formed by multiple geologic upheavals with the Virgin River helping to carve out Zion Canyon. Interestingly, per Jonathon, Zion is the base of the Bryce Canyon hoodoos. Suffice it to say, we learned more about geology in our 5 hour tour than in any “Rocks for Jocks” college course. Thankfully, there was no pop quiz!
After 2 days of visiting Zion we continued west on the 9 to St George. Of, course there was an obligatory stop or two at our favorite burger place – In-N- Out – which, by the way is coming to Denver (F-I-N-A-L-L-Y!). The escape finished off with a couple of rounds of golf at Sand Hollow and a return to Vail via Moab where we discovered an incredible Resort which we will cover LATER…..stay tuned. In the meantime, photo below is a little hint.
Sending healthy thoughts to you and your family during this challenge. And, as usual…keep escaping.
WANDER UNTIL FOUND,