Yesterday we added about five hours to our drive because we took a detour through Zion National Park which is my favorite National Park in the United States. And I can say that pretty definitively, because I've been to (almost) all of them.
Whenever I hold one of our children close and give them a deep hug, I feel like I'm cloaked in warmth, like my very soul is being touched by God. Whenever I've been to Zion and look up at the majestic sandstone cliffs, I feel the same way. Zion is a beautiful, magical and spiritual experience for me. It is what I imagine heaven to both look and feel like.
Even before we had children, I was excited to share the Zion experience with them.
As we drove up the switch backs and I pointed out all the beauty that surrounded us in the massive sandstone...
I like to think that they were so overwhelmed by the sheer power of the Park that they were knocked unconscious.
We made a quick stop along Highway 9 to have William take our picture. He is quite the budding photographer.
In the background is the Checkerboard Mesa.
It has the appearance of looking like a checkerboard because of cross-bedding and fracture patters in the sandstone. I just deleted a whole paragraph about why the fracture patterns have occurred and how tunnels are made in this formation, but I don't want any of you to be so overwhelmed by the sheer power of the geologic forces at work that you are knocked in to unconsciousness.
We then continued on Highway 89, which runs parallel to Interstate 15. Every two hours, we would stop to change drivers and let the children get out to stretch their legs and play.
Soon after we got on to Interstate 70, about 15 minutes after we last switched drivers, we noticed that we were passing a gas station. Charlie asked if we should stop, but seeing as we had 3/4 of a tank - and we had just spent 30 minutes stopped a few minutes earlier - I suggested that we keep driving because SURELY we'd see another gas station before we arrived in Green River, Utah.
A bit later, when I noticed that our dashboard computer indicated 102 miles to empty and we had 101 miles to Green River I started to sweat. Especially when the road before us was pitch black without another town in sight .... AT ALL.
When we saw an exit sign that read Gas/Lodging, we immediately pulled off. And then, almost choked when we saw an arrow that pointed 25 miles to the north >> which seeing as we were heading east, this was COMPLETELY out of our way. And it was 10:00 PM. And there was no cell phone coverage. Or internet access. So, we couldn't even see if we were to keeping heading east on I-70 whether or not we'd find another town.
After getting off the Interstate and driving on pitch black country roads, we started to wonder if the gas station would even be open, after all, it is Utah. And then we started to tell ourselves not to FREAK out because even if the gas station in the middle of
BFE nowhere Utah was closed, we had an ample amount of water ... and food ... and we could sleep in the car. And I had my reflective survival blanket and know how to make a fire and am not afraid to eat crickets should we run out of Graham Crackers, so we would not perish.
When we saw the gas station Charlie and I cheered. We embraced. We agreed that getting off the freeway and driving to the middle of nowhere was worth it, considering if we stayed on the road, we very well might have run out of gas - especially since we were driving through the mountains and the gas mileage varies depending upon topography. We apologized to each other for the blame that IT WAS THEIR fault our family was going to vanish.
Then we panicked again when we saw that the gas station was closed - as was every thing else in the town with a population of 10. But then we rejoiced when we saw that even though the station was closed, the pumps were open. And then we both wondered what would ever happen if there was an emergency?? Or a drive-off when a motorist forgot to remove the dispenser hose from their car?? And there was a release?? Or a fire??
Then we agreed that people like us that work in the petroleum business worry about those types of things - but for now - we aren't going to think about it and just get back on the road and drive the 25 miles back to I-70 ... and find a hotel.
So that's what we did.
Today, we just left Utah and are driving through western Colorado.
In the distance - from the passenger seat - I see the beautiful Rocky Mountains in front of us. I feel positively tingly. I've never been here before but if feels like I'm home.
(The pictures of this will have to follow tomorrow. Uploading pictures on Charlie's PC laptop is a lot more challenging than on my speedy Mac desktop at home. As in, I'm ready to THROW THIS COMPUTER OUT THE CAR WINDOW).
Cue up John Denver.
"Rocky Mountain high, Colorado."