I’m still decompressing after the long drive home. It wasn’t an entirely easy one, either. A great deal of Interstate 70 (from Colorado to Ohio) is still dotted with orange cones, orange signs, and single lane traffic. Especially in Indiana and Illinois. Somebody in this country is making a great deal of money making orange paint. (Pardon me, but didn’t I complain about pretty much the same thing a year or so ago? How long does it take to rebuild the same road? And why is it that most of the time the work crews are standing around together in what looks like some kind of “staff meeting”?) Seriously, there were long sections in Illinois where an “End Construction” sign was followed by a “Construction Ahead” sign within a mile or two. Which was quickly followed by a “Lane Closure” sign in another mile or so. Not much fun……..
But what the hell. Stuff happens. You have to expect that part of any trip is going to be less than wonderful. Like the weather. Sometimes it just ain’t nice. Sometimes you just don’t get a Chamber of Commerce day. Or a series of days.
The day before we arrived in Springdale, Utah, for example, they had 5 inches of rain in about 6 hours. That’s roughly half of what they get – on average – in an entire year. And way more than they can handle in a single day. When they get downpours like that Zion NP turns into a giant waterfall. Water just runs over the cliffs and into the main canyon. The normally peaceful Virgin River becomes a muddy, dangerous, ugly, erosive force. When it’s all over things just might look a little different. Lots of stuff that used to be upstream is now downstream. The washes that used to be dry and sandy are now wet and muddy (and full of new debris). As the mud dries, you get areas that look like this picture. The mud sticks to the sand, the sun comes out, the water evaporates, and the surface of the wash starts to crack and curl. Interesting, but messy. If you try to walk on top of it – or in it – you wind up with something that has roughly the consistency of cement all over your hiking boots. When it dries, cleaning it off isn’t easy. It doesn’t do much for the floor of your car, either.
After the rain it got hot. Not just warm, hot. For Zion, it was uncomfortably hot (well, at least for me). If you didn’t go out early, you thought seriously about not going out at all. Partly because it was hot and partly because there must have been about a zillion people wandering around. We’ve visited Zion quite a few times and have never seen it this warm or this crowded. If and when I ever go back, it’ll be in February. Never again in the warm months. The place has just gotten too busy. And that’s a little sad – it’s my wife’s favorite spot on earth. Apparently, somebody let the cat out of the bag.