Does Father know best, or is Mom always right? Hmm. Do I have to choose one? Dad prefers to rough-it without paying the small fee to enter a national park, and he still swears that Zion National Park is in Arizona; but when it comes to hitting the national parks, Mom was definitely right. She taught me well, that life’s too short not to experience a national park, especially Zion of Southern Utah. Here’s why she was right.
I had limited my recreation to swimming laps at the community pool (though the water was kept at a toasty 89 degrees for the older folks who would complain if they had to bounce their water aerobics in the cooler waters of lap swimming—83. Spineless pool boy. I think he took “Respect your elders” a bit too far.) Swimming, eating, working, and enjoying time at home with the family seemed enough for me until Mom convinced me to take a week off work to visit Utah’s national parks.
We had to find a nice hotel which was close to Zion National Park. There were several, but one met our needs for the independence of having a kitchen to cook whatever we wanted—the Watchman Villas. Competitively priced for vacation rentals and classy as can be, Watchman Villas was definitely a good start to the week. We were treated like VIPs, and the villas were very nice. Once settled in the rental, I stepped out to the deck and gazed at the spectacular scenery of Zion Canyon with its rust-colored sandstone cliffs, buttes, and trees and flowers of greens, yellows, purples, and pinks. It was a first for me, and it gave me goosebumps.
In the morning, we took the free shuttle to the Park’s Visitors Center (just minutes away) where rangers and guides answered questions about the national park’s history, geology, and popular hiking trails. Mom and I compromised about the intensity of the hikes, deciding if I went with her on a short, easy one, she would tackle an aggressive one. She was brave and agreed to the iconic Angel’s Landing, which is not to be taken lightly. Five miles round trip, and Angel’s Landing ends on a rocky ridge with death falls over either side. The chain railing was comforting. At the top, Mom and I stood in awe at the vista of magnificent mountains, valleys, and colors. We even saw some mountain sheep in the distance.
I was glad to have my camera with me because while taking a photo of the sheep, a mountain lion rushed up, scaring the sheep into a dead run. The cougar is a little blurred in the picture, but it still looks cool! “This is much better swimming,” I thought.
On the hike through the Narrows, we waded in the Virgin River for a while and stopped for a snack. The Gatorade and water tasted great, and the trail mix provided the energy to resume the trek. While sitting, Mom told me things I’d never heard—stories of her childhood, heartbreaks and joys, which meant a lot to me. I mused, “If it takes a national park to bring this out of her, it’s well worth it!”
Diversion To Ranch Resort
After two days of feeling and seeing the majesty of Zion, we headed up the highway 40 minutes to a ranch resort: the Zion Ponderosa. There we slept in cowboy cabins, flew down the zip-line, rode horses, and had a blast with paint-balling. I accidentally shot Mom in the face, and boy was I glad the face shield was in the right place.
Back To Watchman Villas
Returning to our home base of Watchman Villas, we saw that surrounding the property were other cool places to visit. The Bit and Spur restaurant was a delicious change from our own cooking, and a few delightful gift shops nearby welcomed us and displayed some of the finest art, photography, and souvenirs I’ve ever seen!
Life Changing Experiences
Sure, the sights, sounds, and exercise of Southern Utah were exhilarating, but the talks with Mom made the trip more valuable than anything we did at home. National Parks might just be the right ticket for you, too.
Why Mom Was Right About National Parks
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