A week ago Kelly and I departed for Zion National Park hoping to spend a week with her family hiking the trails, enjoying the sights, and generally appreciating the natural wonders of the area.
Of course we knew all about the government shut down and how in all likelihood, the park would be closed. Despite this probability, with cautious optimism Kelly and I set GPS coordinates to the park and began our two-day journey. Unfortunately, the grid-lock in Washington continues and we were not able to visit Zion as we had intended.
Also impacted were Kelly’s brother and his girlfriend (who drove down from Boise, ID) and Kelly’s Dad and his wife (who drove up from Phoenix). Suddenly, all six of us were wondering what plans to make as an alternative.
Fortunately, anticipating the on-going park closure, Kelly found a very suitable Plan-B … the solution being Sand Hollow State Park, just outside of St. George, Utah. While no Zion National Park, the location was quite nice actually, and we all made the best of an otherwise pretty shitty situation, especially since this trip was also about spending some time with Kelly’s family.
Our site overlooking the lake
Looking out at the other campsites
Sand Hollow State Park offers a fair bit of recreational opportunity for those who seek it – we saw lots of off-road ATV’s and also some over the top dune buggy vehicles. Additionally, there is a lot of fishing activity on the lake.
Not interested in any of these activities, we sought out hikes and also made the quick drive to Zion National Park.
Kelly’s brother and his girlfriend joined Kelly and me for a hike through some of the public lands surrounding St. George. This area is a haven for mountain bikers and hikers alike … and it’s easy to understand why. The geography of the area is wicked-cool and the views are not too shabby. A variety of slick rock, single trail, and fire roads provide hours of exploration for anyone seeking as much.
Views from the trail
Pausing for lunch
Once Kelly’s father and his wife arrived, we all went to visit Zion. Highway-9 is the primary east/west road through Zion National Park and remains open during the shutdown. Park Rangers (who I’m guessing are not receiving any pay) quickly brief everyone and explain the rules – chiefly – that no one is to stop and/or exit their vehicle.
Entering Zion National Park
Mountain goat relaxing above
The park was eerily quiet. What I’m guessing is an otherwise bustling area was nearly devoid of anyone. It was odd to see a marquee park such as Zion so empty. Driving the highway was pretty spectacular, but I know from experience that the real beauty of the parks such as this reside far from the main roads. At one point, we noticed that Kelly’s dad was sleeping .. perhaps unimpressed by the scenery – or more likely, tired from the long drive from Phoenix, Gene assumed full-on nap mode.
Tired or bored?
As for me, I found that driving through the park simply is not sufficient. Kelly and I will definitely need to schedule another visit sometime.
Back at the campground, Kelly’s dad – fully refreshed from his nap, assumed dog duty before receiving the box of stray gold balls Kelly and I have been collecting for him. Living next to and walking Lilly along a golf course provides ample opportunity to gather otherwise forgotten balls.
Kelly’s dad – perhaps momentarily overwhelmed.
All in all, the government shutdown proved to be on only a minor hassle. Lot’s of people are far worse-off than any of us in our little family gathering, so despite our disappointment to come all this way and miss Zion, things could be far worse for me/us and I continue to remind myself of that.
Thursday morning we all packed our bags and departed. Kelly and I relocated to Nevada for a few days before beginning our drive home.
Sand Hollow State Park
Note: for those that might care … AT&T voice and (4G) data signals available at the park can easily accommodate remote working. Conversely, my Verizon MiFi really struggled to carry a decent data signal, even under amplifier boost.