Saturday, July 10, 2010

Out West

Steve and I just returned from a trip out west. We were in Las Vegas, then drove over to Springdale, Utah, for a couple of days. We visited both Zion and Bryce National Parks, then swung by Hoover Dam before catching a flight home from Vegas.

This was my second visit to Las Vegas, and I say with confidence that Vegas is not my kind of town. Too many people, too fake, too shallow. To be fair, I've really only been on the Strip, but that is the big draw for the city. Since I don't gamble, visit strip clubs, or drink in excess, that leaves attending shows and eating excessive amounts of food. That's fine for a night or two, but there's still a whole lot of empty during the day. I think in the future my visits to Vegas will be largely limited to using it as a the starting point for visits to other nearby areas.

Springdale, Utah, sits right at the southern entrance to Zion National Park. I doubt there are more than 700 residents living there year round. It might take 15 minutes to walk from one end of downtown to the next at a leisurely pace. Springdale is a quirky place, with good restaurants and art galleries. You can easily camp in the park and have a great meal every night in town using the free shuttle. I have never seen the stars and the Milky Way so clearly at night, thanks to the limited number of lights in and around the town limits. I would much rather live there than in Las Vegas.

But on to the pictures!

Springdale had their Fourth of July parade on Saturday, July third. It was definitely a small town parade with a couple of police cars and fire engines, some people on bikes, and a few carloads of kids enthusiastically flinging candy at any bystanders they could possibly hit. Then this guy brought up the rear on his mule.


Here is the obligatory "I'm in a clearly dangerous place, Mom!" shot. This is somewhat of a tradition ever since Mom and I visited the Grand Canyon and Mom's fear of heights went supernova. Whenever I tell her I'm going someplace outdoors, it's rare that I don't hear her tell me "Don't get too close to the edge." I do my evil best to encourage her by showing her pictures like this.


Ironically the bottom half of the sign was a warning against feeding the ground squirrels and chipmunks. Mom has a delightful little story about doing just that with some cheese doodles on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The Great Arch of Zion.


Under a waterfall on the Emerald Pools trail at Zion.


Also along the Emerald Pools trail at Zion, looking up the rock face in the canyon.


Zion is simply
massive. The rocks are huge monoliths with large boulders scattered everywhere. It's very hard to get a sense of scale from the pictures. It's also very hard to take a good picture due to the high contrast of light above the canyon and shade inside the canyon. I took many, many photos but they'll need a fair bit of processing to correct the light and contrast on them before I post them. It was a frustrating experience as I had been looking forward to photographing Zion but quickly realized that I had neither the filters or a suitable camera lens to truly capture it.

A few more of my favorite shots from Zion....




Pictures from Bryce National Park to come later.

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