One of the major themes of this trip was expanding my comfort zone, and that got kicked off with a bang in Zion.
But first? VEGAS.
Vegas was lights and sounds and clubbing until 4AM and meeting new friends (and a few memorable Australians) and just THE best time. Ever. It was like living in a different world for three days.
Then day number four came along. My two good friends who I’d been having the time of my life with left, and we sadly said goodbye at our (classy and beautiful, like its inhabitants) suite at the Venetian. I was staying my last night with my best friend since 5th grade, her Aussie boyfriend, and penpal.
By then, I was definitely feeling the effects of bombarding my liver for 72 hours straight. Despite feeling
like I had just been hit by a jet plane a little…off, day/night number four turned out to be super fun. We had some minor hindrances, like getting drugged at the pool and penpal refusing to keep his shirt on and us somehow getting talked into a private car headed to a strip club an hour off the strip, but hey, when in Vegas!
It was a interesting night full of an interesting kind of fun, except for the small problem that apparently you should spend time with people and not just write letters to them before you make plans for a week long roadtrip and I was a leeeeetle exasperated by my new traveling companion by the next morning. Even if he did have a manbun.
Nevertheless, penpal and I set out on our adventure. Our first destination was Zion National Park in Utah. We were surrounded by Vegas’ neon signs which faded into mountains and then plateaus and then all of a sudden, we were tiny little human dots surrounded by fiery sandstone walls. There’s nothing like beautiful scenery and too much indie music to realize that this guy next to you may make some questionable life choices, but ones you might be able to deal with for the next few days. Maybe.
We arrived in Zion, immediately made an emergency trip to the store for s’mores rations, then set out on a canyon overlook hike. We parked a little bit up the road and set out for the trailhead. That is, until penpal noticed a side path that would surely meet up with the original trail. In true journalistic style, I was too busy taking artsy video shots of cacti to realize that this “trail” was probably just an overtrodden tarantula path because OH YEAH THERE ARE TARANTULAS IN UTAH.
Nobody mentioned that previously, which was a good thing because it probably would have resulted in significant travel plan changes.
So we head down this trail…
which leads us into a narrow canyon path…which we find, about half a mile in, is blocked by a gigantic puddle/mini lake. Naturally, penpal decides that turning around is out of the question, and finds a suitable ledge to rock climb out of. Naturally, it’s filled with little tarantula-sized holes. Naturally, I’ve only taken one rock climbing class ever in my life. Naturally, I’m way too stubborn and competitive for my own good…so I jump up onto the rock. I start climbing, then look down.
I stick one finger into a hole, flash a shaky smile down to penpal, and start mentally hyperventilating. By then, my fear of heights was overcoming my fear of arachnids, and I knew that I could survive a spider bite–physically, but I would probably never be the same emotionally–but I would definitely break something from the fall. Like myself. And now penpal, who had jumped up behind me to save me from falling despite my “It’s fine! I can do it!” cries that were more quavery than strong and independent (dammit).
I stuck my fingers in some questionable crevices, took a deep breath…and I missed my foothold. But I dug my fingers in, found my footing in a haze of adrenaline, and crawled out of that canyon. I rock climbed out of a canyon, dangnabbit, and my camera has dust in the lens to show for it.
After that little…incident, we established rule number one: following Sam (aka penpal) was a bad idea. So when he tried to point us down another “shortcut,” I put my foot down and directed us back to the road. Then, we went on a beautiful hike, with an actual path, with a beautiful view at the end.
And we didn’t even see any tarantulas.
See more pictures here!