Travel Log: Discovering America’s Beauty & Overall Westernization [Day6]

This entry is part 6 of 7 in the series Las Vegas to Zion & Bryce Canyons

While I had hoped to visit Bryce, Zion, and the Grand Canyon National Parks during our trip, because Kanab, Utah is nearly central to all three, our short travel time did not allow it. Our hosts suggested that we could see some of Zion if we took the road through the park during our return drive to Las Vegas. Sunday morning dawned just as sunny as the rest of our trip, so we decided to do just that. After saying goodbye to our housemates and hosts in Kanab, we hit the road early in an attempt to give ourselves as much time as possible to enjoy our drive. It was a good thing we did too. As we approached the Zion Park Entrance we slowed to a halt. Despite it being early on a Sunday in October, we joined a long queue of cars attempting to do the same thing we were. I wondered if the number of cars for this time of year was usual. It seemed surprisingly busy to me.

I noticed that the road turned a striking shade of dark red. It was obvious from the red rock plateaus around us that local rock had been used in paving the park road.

Having paid our entrance fee, we continued in the parade of cars along the red curvy and narrow road through the canyon. As we were hoping to fit in a little time at the end of our drive for outlet mall shopping before returning the car, we did not have time to stop for a hike in the park, so we pulled over at a few of the more empty pull outs along the way to take some photos and scramble up rocks. I like Zion because here we were at the bottom of the canyon rather than looking over a terrifying precipice as we had at Bryce Canyon. This meant that it was easier to climb on rocks and up small outcrops without fear of falling over an edge.

By the time we reached the other side of the park, I felt we had only seen the park superficially. Next time I would like to see more of the park’s nature trails and Native American remnants. In the hopes of at least learning something about the area, we decided to stop at the parks’ Visitor Center before continuing our drive. When we reached the Visitor Center, located just inside the park gates we would be exiting from, a temporary sign posted at the parking lot read, “Parking Full, Park Outside Park.” So we drove out of the park gates where we found a second sign reading, “Parking Full, Park in Springdale.” We kept driving. The next sign read, “Springdale Full. Keep Driving Losers.” Ok, maybe not those exact words, but here we decided to turn around, re-enter the park, and try our luck in the first parking lot. There had to be people leaving. We slowly circled through the enormous lot…four times. Although it was noon, most people seemed to be unloading gear from their cars and taking off for a hike in the heat of the day! (I have to admit that the number of tourists flocking to nature was refreshing after the sight of all the obese gamblers camped in the Las Vegas casinos.) As we continued to circle slowly I spotted several deer munching on trees, totally undisturbed by the people and cars surrounding them! (If only more of humanity could coexist just as peacefully!) Just as we were about to give up and press onwards, we spotted an older couple, lacking hiking gear, walking towards the cars. We stalked them to their car and took their spot!
Left with only enough time to run to the restroom and take a spin around the gift shop, I noticed that the shop promoted the natural beauty of the area’s geography, but made little mention of any cultures that had used this land previously. I found many promotional items to encourage families to see all of America’s National Parks. The posters showed the lush green valleys and beautiful waterways of Zion, all of which are unapparent from the road.

Next time I hope I have more time to go in search of these breathtaking vistas. The items nearest the entrance included water bottles and accessories one might want during a hike in the park. What I had been hoping to find was any sort of Native American crafts. Coming from a place where the original Native inhabitants have a large influence on the community, I was interested to compare how this climate and its materials had influenced the art and crafts of the region. I guess the gift shop wasn’t the place to do that.
Too soon it was time to press on. Reluctantly I returned to the car, sighing goodbye to the beauty of the park.

 

We left the red rock plateaus behind us as the geography turned to plains. We chugged slowly onwards, stuck in a line of cars following a Winnebago from the park that insisted on driving 40mph, despite the 65mph signs, all the way to the next town. Amusingly, occasionally cars would attempt to pass the front of the line, but would ultimately end up back in the line, unable to pass the Winnebago before the passing dashed line ended and cars going in the opposite direction got too close. This was just another example of a Westernized ideal for seeing America. Unlike those heading out into nature in the parks, some like to putter along our country’s highways in a camper, but seriously, F*** that Winnebago. By the time the amusement wore off we had spotted another institution of America’s western culture, Taco Bell! We pulled in for lunch.
After lunch we zoomed on towards the South Las Vegas Outlet Mall where we now had limited time before the car had to be returned. At home our clothes come from the supermarket, so while traveling, we generally delight in some light consumerism. All the stores were advertising massive deals. They were practically throwing their wares out the doors! So I grabbed clothes off the racks and hurriedly tried once piece after another. I quickly determined that either I just don’t fit clothes, or the styles people are wearing these days. I simply can’t get these skinny jeans over my- what I assume are massive- thighs! I guess I’ll stick to the classic A-line dresses and comfortable athletic clothes until the style shifts again. I was liking America’s current form of westernization less and less as the day wore on.
We returned the rental car just in time, taxied to the Luxor hotel, and again attempted “the $20 trick” upon check in (explained in an earlier post here). Again we were offered a complementary room upgrade. I had my heart set on a suite with a Jacuzzi size tub, so we inquired whether there were any of these available. After some computer searching, our registrar countered his offer with a Pyramid suite with a large tub and living room, not complementary, but for a heavily discounted rate, only $20 extra a night! We took it! After dinner we scoured the hotel shops for bubble bath solution. Finding none at the Luxor we went next door to the Tropicana. We found none there either. Micah then sized up the women at the store register and decided they were the type to enjoy bubble baths. Despite my admonishment at his judgment, they were in fact able to direct us to the nearest CVS where we could find bubble bath soap. We then returned to the hotel and indulged in a wonderful soak before bed. I recognize that Las Vegas as a whole has become synonymous with America’s westernized culture and is definitely all about consumerism. Sitting in the bath, I decided some aspects were not so bad.

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