We spent the last two weeks on the road in the western part of our country, reconnecting with friends in Salt Lake City, visiting a couple of national parks in Wyoming, soaking up Americana on July 4th, and exploring Idaho’s natural wonders – a beautiful state that had sneaked under our radar until now.
Posts tagged ‘home leave’
As with our previous Foreign Service assignments, we have decided to mark the end of our tour abroad with an American road trip. After Kenya we had spent three weeks driving around California; following two years in Moldova we had returned home just long enough to drop our bags before heading to the Southwest. This time we strung together an itinerary that starts off in Salt Lake City and takes in parts of Wyoming and Idaho before culminating in Boise.
After one final morning in the office – to pay bills, tie up a dozen logistical loose ends, and formally hand over to his successor – D walked the 45 minutes home from the Embassy, something he had been meaning to do but never quite found the time or energy for. He got a bit of the typical mzungu treatment – an exuberant shopkeeper offered passport photos, a handful of kids recited “give-a me money” in heavily accented English, several passing moto-taxis honked to offer a ride – but mostly D was left alone with his thoughts as he soaked in the sights and smells of Kigali one last time.
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.
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.