This week marks the 5th anniversary of D’s entry into the Foreign Service. While our first two tours flew by at breakneck speed, with hardly a break between them, the last half-year of language training has offered a measure of calm. Emerging from a long winter and even longer break in our travels, we are looking forward to the new adventures that await. Rwanda beckons this summer, and before we turn our attention to Africa there is also an overseas language immersion trip in our more immediate future.
Posts tagged ‘home leave’
It took us three months to recap our three-week road trip through the Southwest, the memories of our adventures sustaining us through the cold winter months in DC. Having just made it through a record-setting snowstorm, we are preparing to hibernate indoors once more this weekend. While the weather service warns of “life-threatening” Arctic chills, we’ll warm up with one last look at the highlights from our trip. This post is an index of sorts, a “best of” list of our travels.
Vegas, baby! VEGAS!! The Holy Grail for gamblers and 90’s cult movie fans, and the final destination of our Southwest road trip. En route to Sin City, we stopped by the Valley of Fire, a small Nevada state park that packs a lot of punch. In fact, we had to strike a balance between seeing all of its highlights and reaching Vegas at a reasonable time.
Our first road trip out West, we saw coyotes and foxes, in addition to various other more commonplace animals. Part of the joy of spending time outdoors, of course, is encountering animals in their natural habitats. Although no predators deigned to show themselves during our recent road trip through the American Southwest, the wildlife encounters we did have – some a little too close for comfort, even – left us feeling incredibly fortunate.
We set two alarms, rising with the sun. Zion was calling. We had already spent two days hiking in Utah’s grandest national park, but we had saved the best for last. Not only was this our last day in Utah, but it was also D’s birthday, which he had long wanted to celebrate atop Angel’s Landing.
Zion National Park is Utah’s Yosemite. It is big, beautiful, and full of massive monoliths that tower over a green valley. A placid river winds its serpentine way between the peaks, sometimes flooding the valley in monsoon season. Unlike many of the other parks we had visited during our road trip, which can be seen in a day or two, Zion demands more time and attention. With our stay in Utah winding down, we spent our last three days in the state hiking in Zion.
The Grand Canyon may be America’s most famous gorge, but it is not its most photographed. That honor belongs to the much smaller Antelope Canyon, which also can be found in northern Arizona. Located on Navajo land near the town of Page, Antelope Canyon is about 75 miles away from Kanab — perfect driving distance for a day trip, especially since there are plenty of other landmarks en route to and around Page that can be added to the itinerary. Despite the crush of visitors, Antelope proved one of the most memorable sites of our Southwest road trip, which had already provided quite a number of remarkable highlights.
Chronicling our adventures across Utah and Arizona, we have inadvertently avoided one of the highlights of traveling through the American southwest — the food. When planning a trip, deciding where to eat and sleep is just as important as researching what to see and do. With that in mind, here are our culinary recommendations for anyone embarking on a tour of Utah’s national parks.
Visiting the Grand Canyon is likely on most Americans’ bucket lists, as well it should be. Though it is far from the longest or deepest canyon in the world, its vast breadth is simply breath-taking. With our hopes of securing a permit to hike The Wave temporarily dashed our first morning in Kanab, we headed to the Grand Canyon to pick up our spirits.
Kanab, Utah is an unassuming little town that toes the border with Arizona. It seems about as unlikely a place for the diverse international gathering it hosts daily as can be imagined. We left Bryce Canyon in the wee hours of the morning to make sure we arrived in time to join the throng of visitors from all over the world who gather in large numbers every morning in Kanab. The reason: a chance to secure one of the elusive permits for hiking The Wave.