December 27, 2018
Since we didn’t get to fully experience Bryce we’re glad on our way out we at least were able to see some hoodos and arches. The drive to Zion was pretty snowy. I’m thankful the back entrance, from the 9, into Zion was still open despite the snow and government shutdown. Once we made it through the tunnel Zion’s landscape immediately shifted to a snow-less red rocked wonder.
We quickly realized Zion would be very busy, considering it’s closer to large populations and it’s the holiday period. Fortunately we drove in to Zion in the morning so we were able to nab a campsite in the park before the place filled up. We ate, paid for the campsite, checked out the visitor store (for stickers and to see what trails and things were open). We decided to do a short hike to Emerald Pools and got in line for Zion bus. We were really hoping to get to the upper pools but due to quite a large landslide in July the path had been completely destroyed at the lower pools. Since, Zion was pretty busy and the full fleet of buses weren’t running we decided to walk back most of the way to our campsite.
This decision it turned out was probably not the best, since a lot of the walk was along the road with no sidewalk. But, we did get up close and friendly with some deer. We ended up hiking about 5 miles back to our campsite.
The next day we took our bikes for a spin along the trail that connects the visitor center to the scenic route junction. Before we headed out we filled up the water jugs and emptied our grey water. Next stop was Vegas!
We attempted to find a possible cheap hotel there for New Years time, but even when we found a cheap hotel the budget ran out of control when we looked at parking fees and dog fees for the hotel. Instead we stayed at a KOA in town. It had a hot tub, which made for a very happy Eric.
The next morning, Dec 29, we hit up Red Rock Canyon for some rock climbing. Turns out half of Vegas did too. Bit of bummer not getting to do routes we would have liked but at least there were plenty of people around with climbing books that we could ask questions of. Climbed some slabs, found a nice chimney/canyon, and Eric did a small trad climb. By the time we finished it was dark, apparently the park closes at 5, unbeknownst to us, but they allow a grace period for climbers to drive the scenic route and leave the park.
We headed to the Red Rock Canyon Campground and quickly found out it was very much closed. Even, had a Ranger flash their lights at us while we were looking at the closed sign. So, we headed out of the park to a grocery store, which appeared to be the place every other Vanner went as well. This actually turned out to be a good thing since we could ask some other Van Lifers where they were staying. They suggested Lovell Campground, about 30 minutes away. It was perfect, and clearly where everyone else went too.
We went climbing again the next day, hoping to get some of the more busier but easier routes. Plenty of other people had the same idea. Wandered around for a bit trying to find some routes and finally decided to do some trad, since it seemed like everyone else was doing sport climbing. Eric lead a very run out route, which means the places to put pro were very far apart and limited. We called it a day after that climb.
Headed back on the road to make our way to California. Stopped in Primm for gas, which was a complete riot. Every gas station was packed and the prices were outrageous. We eventually stopped and spent the night at a rest area near Barstow. The next morning, Dec 31st, we got put fairly early and had breakfast at Peggy Sue’s 50’s Dinner in Yermo. It was amazing, I suggest anyone driving through that area should go visit. We made it to my parents pace in San Diego that morning and hung out. Celebrated the New Year with some Processco at 10pm and went to bed.
Since then we’ve been doing laundry, running errands, and installing some things in the van. Put in a new overhead shelf in the front seat area of the van. Installed the swivel for the passenger seat, so we can finally turn it around when parked. Sadly we don’t have a normal kitchen to do things in, since my parents are currently re-doing their kitchen. I was a bit bummed not to get a chance to bake while home, but at least we’re finally somewhere warm.
We’ll be back on the road again on Wednesday, making our way to Joshua Tree. Until then we’re hanging out, seeing friends and doing some day trips to go climbing and up to Big Bear for Skiing.
Resort skiing: 12