Andy and I had a fun spending three weeks in Eugene, Oregon visiting with both of our families and celebrating Thanksgiving with everyone. As much fun as we were having in Eugene at the end of November it was time to pack up the car and head out to Utah for the winter season jobs waiting for us in Alta at the Rustler Lodge. We did the usual last minute packing and with Andy’s brother in tow we started heading east at three in the morning. We took turns driving and pushed straight on through to Utah stopping only for fast food, fountain drinks, and the Sierra Trading Post. All of the sudden it was eight o’ clock in the evening and we were unloading all of our things into our new dorm rooms.
Two days later at the all employee meeting we found out that everyone would be working only for food and lodging, not an actual paycheck, until there were more guests staying in the lodge. The general manager suggested that anyone with a car could take this opportunity to leave for a few days and go exploring. Of course we decided to do just that. It was a little depressing to have to load up the car again, but definitely worth it to see a new area of Utah.
On the first day we drove to Monroe, Utah where we camped at Mystic Hot Springs. The place was run by a hippie who had designed graphics for the Grateful Dead and our first impressions of the hot springs was that it was a little dumpy and run down. Once we had changed into our swimsuits and made our way around to the upper bath tubs and soaked in the travertine pool with the little waterfall our minds were quickly changed. We soaked for quite a while before dragging ourselves away to set up camp and cook dinner. This night will forever live on as the coldest night I have ever spent outdoors, it was so painful! I was in a negative fifteen degree bag wearing a down jacket and Wind Stopper jacket with Andy’s down jacket and a blanket on top of me, not to mention two hats! We were both glad to wake up the next morning and get back in those hot springs, first we just had to brave our frozen swimsuits which had never dried from the night before.
We warmed up for a while in the springs and threw the frosty tent in the car before heading farther south to Zion National Park. We pulled off of Interstate 15 into the more northern entrance to the park and drove the Kolob Canyons Road taking in all of the amazing views. It was sunny and beautiful out, but the thought never crossed our minds to take off our down jackets and Windstoppers on the short hike we did to a pretty overlook point. We only had time for a quick visit since we wanted to get to our campsite at the Watchman campground in the southern part of Zion before dark. We saw a lot of fat and happy deer as well as a few rafters of wild turkeys. Andy had gone chucker hunting while we were in Oregon so all he had on his mind was how good they would taste with that night’s Annie’s mac and cheese dinner. We decided to sleep in the back of the car to try and keep ourselves slightly more warm than the hellish night before.
We did sleep a little more comfortably squeezed into the back of the Escort, and that morning we decided to take off the remaining chill at a local coffee shop in Springdale. After the sun got a little higher and we were fully caffeinated we hiked the Riverside Walk near the Temple of Sinawava and then we walked up to the Weeping Rock which was completely frozen. We kept our distance when icicles started dropping off of the rock at regular intervals as the sun hit it and would shatter all over the pathway. Our time in Zion ended after we explored the Emerald Pools and stopped for another coffee in Springdale. The drive back to Alta felt like it went by quickly compared to all of the other driving we had done in the past month and even though we had a wonderful time, we were so glad to be sleeping in a warm bed with the heater blasting.