May 22, 2008

A Series of Eventful Misfortunes (Pt. 2)

The bizarre heatwave that had nixed my trip to Death Valley was still thoroughly settled on Monday; when I left my hotel around ten in the morning, it was already 98F outside. Nevertheless, after a quick stop at the (overpriced but impressive) Hoover Dam, I charged east into the Nevada desert. (Potential t-shirt slogan: “There’s nada in Nevada!”)

I-15 going east from Vegas is an interesting drive. It starts off scattered with mesas in a vivid Trivial Pursuit palette: History, Literature, and Sports all glow in rich strata across the landscape, one on top of the other. Then things pretty quickly flatten out, and all of a sudden you’re in Arizona, driving across this huge stretch of flatness on a suicidal collision course with a full-on mountain range. If I hadn’t already been sweating buckets from the 107F heat outside, I would have been sweating nervously — because the way the road is angled against the mountain, it literally looks like it just ends, and there you are, stuck in the middle of the freaking desert with nowhere to go.

As it happens, there’s a narrow pass through which the road winds, emerging on the other side in Utah. (Potential t-shirt slogans: “Utah man!”; “Whatch Utah-lking About, Foo?”) From there I-15 continues north, but I exited and got onto a smaller road towards Zion National Park. (Actual t-shirt slogan: “Our ‘rock’ stars never get old!”)

Zion is pretty heavenly, as you might imagine. Other than the fact that I got a giant nosebleed (yeah, I’m that kid), it has easily been the highlight of the trip so far, and even the nosebleed had its upside — the park ranger felt so sorry for me that he only charged me half admission. Zion Canyon (the main attraction) is pretty spectacular on its own, but the road, at one point, goes into a tiny tunnel blown into the mountain, so small that it can only accommodate one, single-file RV (of which I have seen many this week). It’s pitch black and you make your way through with only the glow of your headlights and the hum of your A/C for company, and it's marvellous.

Unfortunately I had completely misjudged how long the driving for the day would take, and wound up on the other side of Zion at five-thirty with two hundred miles between me and my planned stop for the evening. Except, actually, it was sort of only four-thirty, because my planned stop was in Arizona, which doesn’t observe Daylight Saving Time (thank you very much 1968 state legislature) — but I didn’t realise that until much later. Anyway, the upside was that I arrived at Glen Canyon exactly at sunset, then ditched the idea of going all the way to my planned stop, and took a room in a small town just over the border, in the Arizona desert. (Potential t-shirt slogan: “Ari-zone out!”)

And that’s where I’ll stop for now. Yet more photos added on Facebook.

Next: The Grand Canyon!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if you know this because I fail to mention it very often, but "nada" doesn't actually rhyme with "Nevada" unless you are pronouncing the name of the state incorrectly. Just throwing that out there.

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