We checked in to the Cliffrose Lodge at about 4:00, where we had a nice room with a small patio with a lovely garden in the back with mountains towering overhead and a stream with walking trail as well. The motel was right outside the gates of the park. Then we went to buy supplies at an old-fashioned market. Once we got everything stashed back in the room we drove into the national park and watched the rock formations glow as the shadows grew. It was a shame we couldn't see more of the park that first day but we were really hungry and needed some non-plane food. On a whim, we tried to eat at the "reservations only" Zion Lodge. A classic log cabin type place with a beautiful view of the surrounding cliffs and mountains. We lucked out, and were seated immediately right along the outside windows. We had an excellent quesadilla as an appetizer. Craig had a peppered steak with gravy and red potatoes, and I had a veggie lasagna. The lasagna defeated me; for once I didn't even have room for dessert. We bought souvinirs and went back to the hotel room at 8:30. Early to bed...hiking tomorrow!
We got lunch from the burger joint across the street (burgers, fries, and chicken fingers) and ate them in the hotel room.
We then went back to the park and hiked the Emerald Pools trail. The upper pool was very serene until a family with four kids arrived. After that we went to the Bit and Spur for Mexican food. We had Cuervo Gold margaritas and calamari to start. Craig got a burrito and I got a deep dish enchilada. For dessert I had a heavenly brownie with creme broulee.
After dinner we went to the Zion Cinemax Theater to see Zion Canyon: Treasure of the Gods IMAX movie. It had great footage, but the message was a bit hokey and too politically correct. There were some small shops there, and we did a bit of gift shopping before the movie began.
We then checked in to Ruby's Inn. What a place! It had a restaurant, general store, art gallery, liquor store, Fotomat, and campground. Our room was gorgeous. It had a king -sized bed, a recliner, a sleep sofa, and a jacuzzi!
We ate lunch on premises at around 3 pm. We had the Cowboy Buffet. For $8.50/person, the following was included: beverages (Craig got beer and I got an Italian vanilla soda) and all we could eat of sweet and sour pork, meatloaf, brisket, chicken pot pie, soup bar, salad bar, mashed potatoes, rice, ice cream, pastries, etc. Wow...it was delicious!
We went back to the park to Inspiration Point (we felt like we were Joanie and Chachi or something) to look at hoodoos in the waning sun. It was windy and 53 degrees. Brrrr! We went back to Ruby's Inn and did some shopping and the spent an hour in the jacuzzi.
Once back at the car, we drove to the visitor's center to buy gifts and look at the exhibits. Then it was back to Ruby's Inn for a dip in their pool and hot tub. We had to make another trip to the Cowboy Buffet. Yum! Then we did some more hgift shopping at Ruby's Inn, and then more swimming and hot tubbing. Then we went back to the room for TV and jacuzzi.
We arrived at Moab at 11:30 and went to Arches National Park. We did some small "hikes" to Double Arch, Landscape Arch, and the Windows, whih were all very close to the road and full of people. Then we did a real hike to Delicate Arch. It was hot and sunny. We were very exposed to the sun on the hike, which included a long stretch of slickrock. Delicate Arch was very peaceful and other-worldly. There was a bowl-shaped canyon in the slickrock next to it. You had to skirt around the edges of the bowl to get to the arch. We stayed there for quite a while before hiking back down.
We ate dinner at the Moab Brewery. We shared a quesadilla. Craig had a cajun chicken sandwich, and I got a Jack Daniels burger. Craig got to keep his beer glass. We learned a bit about Utah liquor laws from the waitress: Craig couldn't order another beer until the waitress removed the glass from his current beer. Also, you can only order hard liquor in the restaurant portion, as opposed to the bar (which seemed counter-intuitive to me). I had rocky road pie for dessert. We did some gift shopping in Moab (lots of galleries and interesting shops) and then went back to the hotel, the Best Western Greenwell Inn.
We got some groceries and then went to Canyonlands by Night. They feed you a barbecue dinner (beef, pork, chicken, salad, potatoes, corn, and biscuits) and then take you on a boat on the Colorado. There is a truck which drove parallel to the river, and the guys in the truck shone a spotlight onto the rock formations while we were told thehistory of Canyonlands. It was a lot of fun, and the stars were gorgeous!
Dave was our guide for the Westwater Canyon trip. Small world...he's originally from North Reading! He was very entertaining, playing the harmonica, quoting poetry, and telling un-PC jokes. As I had never white-watered before, we opted for a row trip, during which Dave rowed with oars, and we and another couple held on. SOme of the rafts on our trip were paddle rafts, in which all of the passengers paddles. We stopped for a picnic lunch on a beach before the rapids. It was sunny and warm, but the water was chilly. It wasn't so cold that we needed to wear wet suits, though. Craig wore shorts and a T-shirt. I wore polypropelene long underwear bottoms under my shorts. The rapids were Class III and IV. Craig lost his hat in Surprise Rapids, but miraculously caught it again. I found Skull Rapids to be very scary! On the bus ride back to Moab, we saw a FedEx truck stopping in Cisco. We joked that the next time we drive by, the FedEx truck will be among the vehicles in that guys yard,
Back in Moab, we showered at the hotel and then we ate another dinner at the Moab Brewery. We had a chicken quesadilla, a chicken burrito, and rocky road pie. We ran into some mountain bikers whom we had seen at Ruby's Inn at Bryce. They had ridden their bikes all the way to Moab! We then did some grocery shopping and returned to the hotel.
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