Thomas and I squeezed in a quick lil trip to Zion and Bryce Canyon over Labor Day weekend. We flew in and out of Las Vegas and managed to check just one under-40-pound suitcase for the trip (#SpiritAirlines) in which we brought some hiking clothes, a tent, and our sleeping pads, in the hopes the weather would be warm enough for us to substitute a bedsheet for our heavy and too-puffy-to-fit-in-a-suitcase sleeping bags. We spent the nights camping (fo’ free!) on the side of the road just outside the park boundary — which apparently is entirely legal in Utah (I’m so used to “no camping” California) — and the days driving and hiking and eating baguettes and chugging water because it was a zillion degrees outside and we were living in a state of perpetual sweat. Both places were prettttyyyy magical, but based on what I knew about the parks and myself going into the trip, I expected to feel that way.
Highlights from the trip included:
- Buying a bunch of bananas at the supermarket upon arrival that we hoped would last us the next few days, only to find that after a few hours in a hot car they’d all turned black and melted in the backseat
- Substituting river swims for showers
- Gaming the Zion National Park shuttle bus system by jogging two miles to the third stop on the Canyon route, thus avoiding a three hour wait in the line from the Visitor’s Center to get to the start of the popular hiking trails
- Eating multiple baguettes accompanied by avocados, peanut butter, canned tuna, and nutella, because baguettes are objectively the best camping and hiking food and can be a vessel for almost anything
- Ice cream, which is a highlight of life in general but also does taste better when you’re living in a sauna
- Sunrises and sunsets — again, highlights of life in general, but arguably more impressive when they’re lightning up a canyon
I brought a notebook and jotted down some poems that you can read below, after which you can decide which is worse: my prose or my poetry.
Heat, sweat, dirt, mouth dry as the desert we drove through —
and then the foreign feel of cold,
hair heavy on my shoulders,
the evening sun painting orange ripples on the water
and the sky glowing softly, a humble mother.
The days are long, a golden road fading into the horizon,
and the water smooths the rocks underneath my feet, slowly, slowly,
covering them like a blanket as the bedside candle burns.
I am dirt and skin and soul together,
here below the sky and the stars starting to show their bright faces,
all of us, together, sheltered in the growing darkness.
Red rocks pressed up against the blue sky
Imperfect in their crooked edges but unafraid to be noticed.
Why can’t I make such a statement
Even in the dark I feel them
Standing there in the quiet but ever-present as my shadow on a summer noon.
Does anyone even know I’m here?
I don’t want to scream but I want you to listen
and know I am important and have something to say,
so that you pay attention even after the sun sets and the stars take over
I’m either noise and shame
Or quiet and heartbroken
I don’t want to live in extremes, like the red rocks pressed up against the blue sky.