rv adventures part 2: A 10th anniversary trip to Zion and Bryce (with kids!)
Tenth wedding anniversary? We headed straight for Vegas - not for renewed vows in the chapel or the tempting tables - but for the proximity to Zion and Bryce and the El Monte RV rental company. Shakedown complete, fridge filled at Trader Joe’s, we were on our way with Skye (8) and Charlie (6). Skye sat up front, in Tor’s hat and my glasses, looking dusty and dramatic.
Tor said, “I have loved being married to you this past nine years.” Whatever, I thought. He can’t count.
We swung into the Zion Campground, right outside the park, for our first night. We were down on the river, but, as in most commercial campgrounds, cheek by jowl with other RV’s. At the crack of dawn, we loaded our sleepy kids into a Zion Adventures van and were driven to the East Mesa Trailhead. We walked about 3 miles through cool pines in the dawn, along the spine of the plateau to emerge at the top of Observation Point.
Skye learned not to play with the cute tiny cacti lining the path.
We started down the vertiginous trail, kids on the inside, at points edging along the rock.
We met virtuous, vigorous climbers on their way up (4 miles, 2100’ gain) equipped with walking poles. They seemed so amazed (and disheartened) to see us sauntering down -- “What time did YOU get up?” “Those KIDS beat ME up here?”-- that we started apologizing to each hiker as they came around the bend -- “Don’t worry, we got a ride to the top! Only hiking down! You’re almost there!”
Despite our having cheated, it was a spectacular walk down, from which we emerged, legs like rubber, around noon. We collapsed on the free (and frequent) shuttle bus, and spent the rest of the day eating ice creams and napping.
The second and third nights, we camped inside Zion at Watchman, which was a spectacular place to moor.
We had a fun (if challenging) hike to Angels Landing.
On the way up, the kids climbed in and out of smooth formations in the rocks.
Near the top, Torrance and Skye attempted the climb to out to the very tip of Angels Landing rock - but Tor got unnerved when he realized that the handholds and chains were farther apart than Skye's 9 year old arms could reach! The next morning, we took a picnic stroll down Riverside.
On we rolled to Bryce, spending the first night at Ruby’s Inn and RV Campground, outside of the park. Although not as aesthetically pleasing as campgrounds in the National parks, there was a whole social ecosystem, with families plugged in for week-long stays, packs of kids roaming the grounds on their bikes and babies and moms around the swimming pool.
We woke predawn and piloted the RV into Bryce, parking it near Sunrise Point. We left the kids sleeping in their bunks. Tor wrapped a blanket around us to ward of the dawn chill and we watched the sun fire the red rock formations.
In the face of this immensity, Torrance observed, our 9 years together were like a drop in the bucket of time. Ten years, I corrected him, absently, thinking about coffee and pancakes.
Over the next two days, we explored Bryce, hiking down into the astounding hoodoos.
On our last night, we made Philly cheese steak sandwiches and drank Prosecco around the fire. The kids recited anniversary poems they had written. Tor surprised me with a wedding album, a beautiful, funny volume that the kids retrieved from its hiding place in the side of the RV.
“I knew you've felt guilty for the past 9 years about not having put it together, so I did it for you.”
“Wait. Was there a year in there where we weren’t married?” I said. “No,” he said, teasing, “Just a day here and there . . . I figure it’s cumulative.”
So we drank to 9 very happy years while the kids climbed on the top of the RV to bask in the full moon.
Details: I have saved this trip to my account in trovvit and can share details through my travel records with friends and family.
Flight: RT Newark to Vegas on Delta ($288), leaving June 3rd and returning June 11th.
Hotel: Las Vegas: Because our flight landed at 9pm, we spent the night at the Westin Las Vegas, using American Express Starwood points for the room.
RV: We rented the FS31 from El Monte RV rentals in Las Vegas. We paid $1800 for 7 nights, an estimated 600 miles, kitchen kit and linen kit. You can check out the floorplans as well at http://www.elmonterv.com/rent-an-rv-search-results/
Zion Campground Campground and RV Resort: ($49/night) We spent the first night here because I wasn’t able to reserve a spot at Watchman. It was clean, simple, and conveniently right across the street from Zion Adventures. http://www.zioncamp.com/
Watchman Campground: ($30/night) Spectacular. Reserve at www.recreation.gov (This is an amazing site where you can not only reserve your site in almost any park in America BUT they have photos showing the view from your campsite!)
Zion Adventure Company: http://www.zionadventures.com. Super nice and organized. Van to East Mesa Trailhead was $29 per person.
Ruby’s Inn RV Park and Campground: ($60/night) http://www.brycecanyoncampgrounds.com/. Clean with a small pool and showers.
North Campground: ($30/night) Perfect location. Here’s the trick, most of the RV locations in Bryce are not reservation, but first-come-first-serve. www.recreation.gov We had a backup reservation at Ruby’s, but pulled in and snagged a prime spot the morning after we arrived.