Our plan for day six was to sit beside the pool at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, sip drinks, and eat real meals (not over-peppered potatoes and butter-less corn) before heading to Zion National Park in Utah. We woke up in our luxurious motel, complete with a private sink, toilet and enough space to lay out our outfits and beach bags. Luxury is being able to walk to the bathroom in your underwear. We left the motel and hunted for coffee to take on the last stretch of Nevada desert.
Parking was free and easy on a Thursday afternoon. Caesar's Palace was a fancier than anything I'd ever seen. Blinking lights, giant slot machines, unique restaurants and bars. There was really no expenses spared there. It looked so expensive. And immediately, It was so expensive. But this was our one day to splurge and pretend that we weren't threatening our bank accounts with $30 alcoholic beverages. A piece. We sat on blue chairs and roasted in the Nevada sun, trying to quickly but still fancily sip our drinks before they melted into Kool-Aid. We rotated from soaking up the sun until we felt on the verge of a heat stroke, dipping in the pools, and people watching. It was so hot. I barely pulled my camera out of the camera bag, it might as well have been stowed away in an oven. Laying out in the sun, I silently planned a return visit to Vegas. To me, Vegas felt like a place for normal people to live the Hollywood life. Or in my dream scenario, the Drake life. For a price. A really big price. We had spent $50 a piece just laying by the pool. It went completely against our travel philosophy: Eat cheap Sleep cheap Play cheap. But let's be honest, If we had thousands to spare we probably wouldn't be sleeping in a tent and eating bananas and granola bars. Vegas was a dreamland, a place I'd like to dabble but not stay too long. Before we left we grabbed burgers at In-N-Out. 2016 is the year of trying all the infamous fast food burgers. My ranking (so far) goes as follows: 3. In-N-Out 2. Whattaburger 1. Five Guys. White Castle asap. To be continued.
Returning to the red desert from the empty flat hot desert was a surprising relief. From all of the places and scenery we have seen on these road trips, the red rocks and blue skies have my heart completely. Northern Arizona could truly tempt me to leave the city that I love. This is the first trip we have driven deep into Utah, Lone Rock was our first and only experience. When we drove into Zion it finally hit me how huge these red rock mountains actually are. The road through the park wound around tight curves and carved around the environment in a way that completely emerges you into the mountains. Literally even, a couple of times we drove through tunnels carved through the mountains. After pitching the tent in a campground at the foot of Zion, we chased the sunset through the entire park. We stopped here and there to take photos and touch the stone. I caught the last bits of light shining onto the walls just before it was replaced with a see of stars. We had less than twenty-four hours to explore Zion and we needed so many more, It was absolutely stunning.
We watched two families play soccer together near our tent as we heated soup on the stove and sipped on warm beer. The plan was to hike the Narrows in the morning, so we packed our hiking gear and cleaned up the camp site so we could head out early to catch the shuttle. We washed our pots and pans in the community sink and spoke to a man about our hike. He was visiting with his family, a wife and two kids who he explained, "Love this place. It's like Disneyland for them". We talked about the Narrows and how we were camping it alone the next morning, and he told us about a group that died the previous year- mostly from negligence and going on the hike when advised not to. He gave us some information on which way to hike, how long it would take, and wished us luck before we went back to our campsite. As we walked away he said something in our direction that made me smile, something like "You two have a great hike, and keep each other safe." Keep each other safe.
Photographer on the road