Southwest Trip 2021

Zion Day 1: Time to Hit the Old Dusty Trail

*Dusts off laptop, cracks knuckles*

Okay, we’re back. 

It’s been a while since I’ve written one of these. Probably because the world shut down or something. And while I did do a little low key traveling during Covid (mostly to visit family), this is my first real adventurous trip since January 2020!


For the record, we’re vaccinated, AND we took a Covid test a couple days ago. So yeah. Here’s a quick plug for everyone to get vaccinated and stay safe!


It’s time for “Christina’s Wild West Jamboree!” Sarsaparilla for everyone, watch out for tumbleweeds, yee haw.

The itinerary is:

3 nights in Zion National Park

2 nights in Arches National Park

A scenic drive past Monument Valley

3 nights in the Grand Canyon

2 nights in Las Vegas

One tired, sweaty, social studies teacher. 

Worth it. 

I have a companion on this journey, my amazing boyfriend Daniel. We’ve survived a pandemic together. Let’s see if we can survive hundred-degree heat and multiple trips through airport security. 

Yesterday we squared away all our belongings, packed up enough warm-weather clothing and camera equipment our baggage allowance would tolerate, and settled in for an early bedtime. Our flight out of Manchester would leave at 6am the following morning to Las Vegas, where we’d snag our rental car and make our way to Zion. 

Or so we thought. 

I was awoken at 3:45 by the harmonized din of an iPhone and an Android’s respective alarm clocks. After a round of snoozing I woke again, this time to a series of expletives from Daniel, about how our flight had been canceled. Not delayed, but canceled. 

Panic ensued. 

Apparently American Airlines had canceled a series of flights due to “weather and operational issues.” So, we spent the next half hour panic-searching the internet for another flight that would get us in today. American had rebooked us for a flight tomorrow, but that would have knocked all of our plans askew, so we bit the bullet and rebooked with JetBlue for a small fortune. The catch: the flight would now be out of Boston, instead of our convenient, 5-minutes-away MHT. 

The real MVP of the morning was my mom, who, after already having agreed to drive us to the Manchester airport, agreed again to get us to Boston, and in record time. We arrived with just enough time to check in, get our luggage settled, run through security, and hop on the plane. 

So, while I’m not super happy I had to spend more money on the new flight, it was definitely an upgrade. The only seats available were the “extra leg-room” option, so we uncharged for those. We also got free WiFi on the flight, and also had a 3-seat row to ourselves. The five hour flight jumped right by without any issues. And we even got a preview of Moab from the sky! 

We deplaned with little drama and made our way to the rental car place, which is actually a shuttle bus drive away from the airport. We picked up our rental car, a Chevy Trailblazer, and began to blaze our trail. 

Our rental car doesn’t have a real license plate, it just has a DMV certificate taped to the dashboard. I feel like we’re doomed to get pulled over at some point, but the rental car lady assured me that “it’s fine.” To be continued.

Before we hit the road too hard, we stopped off at what I’m deeming, “Fast Food We Can’t Get Back Home-A-Palooza,” in which we’re trying to hit up as many unattainable west-coast food options. Today we opted for Sonic, which isn’t a west coast exclusive, but there are no locations near us. So it counts.

It was about two and a half hours to Zion from Las Vegas. On our ride, we caught an early glimpse of the Vegas Strip; a little preview of future stomping grounds. Then the drive got a little flat and dusty for a bit. After about an hour we found ourselves crossing into Arizona, where we got to drive through a really beautiful gorge. We kept seeing all kinds of really pretty red rock formations and craggy cliffs that made us wonder just how awesome the places deemed “national parks” are going to be. Please appreciate these pictures I took on my iPhone from the car.

After a short hop through Arizona, we crossed into Utah. We made a quick stop at Target in St. George, a little town near the border, for some road trip necessities. I think the entire state of Utah decided to visit that Target today, as both the store and the parking lot were insane.

We had about another hour of driving after our pit stop, but after passing even more quintessentially “western” ranches, desert plains, canyons, and even a really kitschy “old western town” roadside attraction, we found ourselves in Springdale, Utah, the gateway to Zion National Park, and the location of our hotel for the next three nights. Not a bad view from the parking lot.

We checked in and unloaded the car, locking our hotel key in the room as we did so. We’ll go ahead and blame sleep deprivation for that one. After settling in and unpacking to the barest minimum, we passed out in the relaxation of the air conditioning. 

After a cat nap of about an hour or so, we decided to drag ourselves to downtown Springdale for dinner. It was a long, strenuous walk of five minutes to the restaurant. Hey, in my defense it was a hundred degrees outside—no joke. 

We settled on Zion Pizza and Noodle Company for a relaxing, easy dinner. They sat us in their beer-garden patio area which was decorated with advertisements from a lot of local beers. Of course, we decided to partake in said local beers. I went with the Apricot Hefeweizen from Wasatch and Daniel got the Uinta “Golden Spike” Hefeweizen. 

For dinner we split the “Cholesterol Hiker” pizza and also tried their appetizer, “Angel Fire Sticks,” which were cheesy breadsticks drizzled with honey and Buffalo sauce. They were heavenly. 

Once we were sufficiently stuffed, we made our way back to our hotel to call it an early night. We have many more adventures to come, so for tonight, we’ll settle for air conditioning and Olympic Gymnastics.

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