The warmest, loveliest place on earth =)
at 1:30am, after many an alarm and snooze have gone off, we rise one by one to get ready to go watch meteor showers! Earlier in the evening Big and Nhi figure out that we're supposed to look over Orion's right shoulder. The only problem is that the moon is very bright tonight! But after a few minutes of packing, we head out to find a darker place to watch the meteor shower. We head back towards Zion National park and accidentily get in the way of two pairs of deers! Nancy knew the appropriate names of them but 2 of them had horns and were in the lead and their 2 female companions were along the road. We drive into the parking lot and put our heads together - Sal asks RJ - should we go back into the park? RJ says yes - that way we'll get higher up and have a clearer view of the stars.
So into the park we go at 2am!!
We drive up pretty far, the air is colder up here, and we pass through the INSANE mile long tunnel carved through the belly of a mountain. We stop at the first turnout which is about.. 7 miles or so up the mountain road. Sal considers climbing the fence next to the turnout and settling in the nice sand. But then we realize we don't know if there are more tarantulas or scorpions or whatnot. This is the second time we've needed an etymologist on our camping trips! Instead, RJ pulls his truck back to back with Sal's SUV. Blankets pile on the bottom of the truckbed. TBs pile on top of the blankets. More blankets pile on top of the TBs! And before we know it, 8 of us has snuggled into the back of RJ's pickup and Sal has blasted his AWESOME METEOR MIX through the open trunk.
Log cabin on the way!
It is absolutely the most amazing experience I've had and the soundtrack to tonight was totally instrumental in making it so. I am absolutely in love with the music of Ulrich Schnauss! His music actually SOUNDS like STARS - Sal that was the most perfect meteor mix ever!!
We snuggled up all together to keep warm as the altitude here made it really really chilly! I had forgotten about the temperature changes and totally did not pack well, so at this point I was wearing everything I had brought layered on top of each other and that was not a lot!! Even my blanket was super thin! But it did not matter because TBs are HOT STUFF =D
Sal used his new tripod and mounted his camera to the back of the open trunk to take pictures of us all huddled in the truck! Then he tried again and the camera FALLS TO THE GROUND while the flash goes off! It would've been so much cooler if it had captured a picture of all our open mouths and yells as it was falling to the ground but unfortunately all it got was a photo of itself hitting the asphalt.
There's someone sleeping in that thing!!
Sal's camera still works but some piece broke off which he better send back in or else it may no longer be waterproof! I take pictures of everyone and they complain that I am blinding them and that now they'll never be able to see any meteors. Hahaha!!! Bet you're thanking me now aren't ya - the pictures are ADORABLE, aren't they?? =)
Oh right - so back to the meteors. I think Nhi spotted like 15 but I think she is also delusional considering the rate at their peak is something like 8 an hour. I saw only one and it wasn't exactly what I expected =) What I saw was a not so dark sky (due to the moon) with stars... and then an extra star came into view, and then disappeared right away. THAT'S A METEOR?!? =) Hahaa, but not to ruin the idea for all of you, most of them do have tails and one meteor in particular that the ones who stayed up late to watch was worth the while.
We should go that way!
It was big and had a gorgeous tail. Ah well, I guess I will have to find better conditions for the next one.. perhaps at Jackson Lake?? ;) Sal, you know I'll be on it after things calm down here!
After seeing my one, I went to dance a little on the street under my blanket to this new genre of trance that I have not ever liked before I met Sal! He explained it in such an amazing way I find myself eager to go and check a rave out eventually! I was so tired, what am I doing dancing?! I climbed into Sal's car with the music blaring, covered myself head to toe with the blanket because it was so cold and thought to myself "man it would be hard to survive on one's own in the cold... It's so much better being huddled amongst TBers!" And before long the pulsing techno music combined with the warming air under my little blanket held me in a state of rest until Tracy came to check in on me! =) She was concerned I couldn't sleep due to the music and invited me to sleep inside RJ's truck instead so I shuffled over there to lie down.
We could sort of hear what was going on in the sky via the commentary from the truck bed. I knew I missed one amazing meteor and in the fuzzy sleep that was my head thought "oh no!" and imagined the most beautiful meteor ever and smiled, going back to sleep.
I learn so much from hanging out with my Travbuddies. One thing that I really admire is the amazing energy. Positive, supportive, adventurous and fun. And this group of TBs doesn't really drink at all so it's even BETTER than usual. Obviously we were all tired and weary after such an early morning and long hike. We could've easily skipped out on the meteor showers and gotten a good night's sleep. But the cool thing about TBs is that when we say we're going to do something - WE DO IT!!
And one of the things I learned on this trip is that.
Fake rockclimbing! =)
. a little bit of pain and effort goes a long way. And your friends can be instrumental in pushing you enough to actually enjoy yourself. =) I never thought I'd make it up that first mountain but with the help of Nhi and Sheila, I was able to just keep moving my legs and before I knew it we had made it to even ground. I can't even count the number of times someone reached out to help me up or down a particularly difficult spot or how many times Sheila insisted on taking my bag while I crawled through a crevice or had to balance.
At 4:30am, we leave our little side of the road and head back down the mountain, through the tunnel, this time stopping INSIDE the tunnel for a quick peek at one of the windows in the tunnel. Apparently this tunnel was built with 6 starting points so there are some areas where while driving through you can see through these other openings and see a huge gaping half moon with views of mountains, etc.
Nancy resting on river rock!
So taking the chance on having a terrible car crash in the middle of a tunnel in the middle of the night with no cell phone reception whatsoever, both cars stopped, we got out and peered through the cavern window.. in the dark! So we obviously couldn't see anything but the outlines of mountains as the sun had not come up yet. After a quick peek, we were returning to the cars when someone yelled "a car is coming!!" My adrenaline went into overdrive and I RAN back into Sal's car, the others ran back to RJ's and we all slammed the doors and zoomed away giggling nervously! There was no car. But that was scary!!!
Just before 9am, we rose and showered and planned our last morning in Zion =( We had to choose between breakfast and hiking and we chose hiking.
We still had donuts from Saturday so some munched on those while others sustained themselves with trail mix and jerky. I am lucky, I can survive on gatorade and cigarettes although I'm not proud of this terrible combination. RJ and others decided we should do the riverwalk trail today, because it was only 1.3 miles. We checked out precisely at 11am and drove into the park this time. This trail was very beautiful. Not as dramatic as yesterday's Emerald Pools hike but definitely easier and the trail went along the water the entire time. I think it took us about an hour and 15 minutes to go one way due to more photo shenanigans and veering off to the water every now and again.
We were greeted by a particularly cool site when the bus dropped us off at this hike.
Sal and Nhi!
A big bag was hanging off the side of one of the taller mountains. 2 people in the group had the foresight to bring binoculars.. and sure enough RJ and Sal confirmed that this bag in fact held a rock-climber who was SLEEPING while hanging off the side of the mountain!! Are you SERIOUS?! I couldn't believe it!!! After a bit of gawking, we headed towards the Riverwalk Trail.
The trail was sooo beautiful. It was hard not to feel pleasant and appreciative and grounded on this particular hike - the energy here is AWESOME!. It ended at the river, which you could cross and then go in between some canyons. The group stopped at the end of the river except for Big and Nhi who crossed to the other side and wanted to explore, but the group was ready to go and I had a long drive back to LA in the middle of traffic time, so we asked them to come back.
. to no avail! They went ahead and after 20 minutes of waiting RJ and Tracy went after them, crossing the river in their hiking boots and Goretex socks. We waited another 20 minutes for RJ and Tracy to return and Big and Nhi were another 15 minutes behind them, delaying us about an hour. Poor Tracy and RJ had to walk the entire trail back barefoot because their socks and shoes were soaked from crossing the river. And for the first time in a long while, I lost my temper pretty badly and that was not a pretty sight. I can't stress the importance of communicating with at least one person in the group before making individual decisions when your actions can affect everyone else.
Sal helped me overcome my rising blood pressure on the 2 hour drive back to LV by sharing stories, talking about energy and character and providing insight and clarity on 1,001 diffferent subjects.
And for this I will always be grateful. We got back to LV at 4:30 and had a quick dinner with RJ, Sal and Big, leaving Las Vegas shortly after 6pm. The delay snowballed with traffic and an agriculture checkpoint and I asked Tracy to do the last hour drive. I got back after midnight after dropping off Nhi to find my parking spot was taken! I was too tired to tow the fucker because I would have had to wait another hour to wait for the tow truck, sign the paperwork, etc. So I parked somewhere more convenient and went to bed at 1:30am still wishing I were at Zion, or at least in LV with my amazing friends. The meteor shower was definitely very cool, but I have to say no fallin star could ever hold a candle to your amazing spirits - Sal, RJ, Nancy, Big, Sheila, Nhi & Tracy!