Following a huge free breakfast at the Switchback Restaurant we then drove back west to Virgin and then north up Kolob Rd. across the Kolob Plateau to Lava Point and Kolob Reservoir, in the Zion highlands. This was a beautiful and fascinating view of Zion Canyon from 7800′ (elev. of the canyon is 4000′), Most of the pics were taken from Lava Point, where we could gain a concept of the vastness and majesty of this area. Very few people in this area, only occasional cars. I took a short hike from the West Rim trail and saw no one! What a refreshing change from the mobs down in the canyon. Zion has many meanings from the Old Testament, referring at times to Mt. Zion, and other times to the City of Jeruselem. In the Book of Mormon Zion seems to mean the City of God, or to salvation. Google the term if you’re interested. Whatever, this does feel like a heavenly area. We are so glad that we stayed two days and, through our trip to the Kalob Plateau, were able to more fully absorb the sense of the canyon that we had enjoyed experiencing when we were last here on our way from New Orleans to my internship in San Francisco 52 years ago!
Dinner was a nice change from beef to very fresh Utah red trout at Wildcat Willie’s down the street. Tomorrow we make our last stop, at a time share in Park City, UT.
In the morning, we cruised around the city of St. George, which seemed very clean and bland. We took a tour, with a Mormon elder, of the St. George Tabernacle, which Brigham Young had ordered to be built, in 1863, so that his followers would settle in the area and grow cotton! He made St. G. his winter home. It is a handome, well preserved edifice which is still used as both a church and a community center. It seems to be the crown of the city.
The drive to Zion was uneventful, until we started to glimpse huge rock formations that rose majestically out of the desert floor. The drive into
Springdale (the town at the Zion entrance) itself was fantastic. Absolutely breathtaking!
We checked into our last Best Western Plus – which again we had prepaid- and again found ourselves in a cramped dreary room. This is truly the last of the BW’s ever for us. Had a late lunch at Jacks Grill which was very tasty and then took off for the National Park itself. We took a shuttle bus into the entrance and then another shuttle within the Park. The shuttles are all free and run every 10 or so minutes. There is a reason for the shuttles. There must have been thousands of people coming and going in and out of that portion of the park. Everyone was crammed into 2 large buses (which moved in tandem). They were the only way you could ride around the park. We went up the Riverside Walk, at the end of the canyon. The trail was paved and packed with throngs of people. The whole enterprise is now so commercial that the idea of enjoying the grandeur of the canyons in a peaceful and tranquil environment has been totally wrecked. I went back to the hotel, but Peter stayed in the park and went to the Court of the Patriarchs, where he found a dirt trail, with no one else there, and had a lovely, peaceful experience.
Arriving back at our hotel, we were exhausted and so ordered a takeout sandwich from our local Jack’s Grill.
Driving to, and now from, Las Vegas we had forgotten how beautiful and majestic the desert can be. Entering St. George was particularly stunning, with huge sandstone cliffs and valleys. We had made reservations at a Marriott Courtyard there and it was a spacious room and hotel. A nice break from the often cramped and dreary Best Westerns- and I never want to ever again stay at the BW’s. At the suggestion of the desk clerk, and the validation by our froiend, Rich Loeffler, we played the Pointe nine at the Sunbrook Golf Course. Nice, mostly wide open, but challenging, fairways and stunning views of the surrounding sandstone cliffs and mountains (see pics). Before golf, we lunched at Iggy’s, across the street from the hotel. Tasty 1/2 pound hamburgers, so we minimized dinner with a sandwich at the motel. The people here looked clean and happy, compared to the grunges in Las Vegas. Maybe we should reconsider the LDS.
This was not our best day. Leaving our dear friends, the Henleys, driving about 1000 yards, out of their gated community, crossing one of the busiest 6 lane highways, our car stalled – totally out of gas. I bucked the car onto the middle median ( there were no shoulders in this busy 4 lane street) and there we sat. Fortunately, our car said that all systems were ok, but that we had no gas. After frantically calling AAA and our friends (in case they happen to have a gas can which actually contained gas – they didn’t) and waiting for about 15 minutes, a young man, who said he was a para medic, stopped and had a gas can with about a gallon in it and poured it into our gas line in the car. Ludie appeared about that time and told us where to go for gas (same place the young man recommended). We then called AAA and canceled them, drove to the service station and filled the car with almost 18 gallons of gas – the car only holds 18 gallons.
Resetting our WAZE route was difficult, but finally Peter managed to change it to the route our friends had recommended.
The highlight of our day (and the only thing that kept us halfway sane), was meeting our niece Allison and her husband Sang Woo Pak for lunch at an Italian Restaurant in a subdivision in Oceanside, CA. They had been at a conference in San Diago. We so enjoy being with those we love.
Arriving in Las Vegas, at the Casino Royal (a Best Western Plus) we really didn’t want to get out of the car. The garage was hard to find, the hotel and it’s casino were absolutely awful. We were right on the strip, next to Harrah’s, and It was like a trashy dress mob scene in a C rated movie – and it didn’t get better. As some friends still like Las Vegas, we must have gotten the wrong everything. The only shows in town were imitators – no big names in any catagory. The gamblers look depressed and pathetic. We ended up at a SubWay sandwich place for dinner, walked around a couple of large casinos (which were half empty), watched the ‘Volcano” erupt at the Mirage, across the street, and went to bed early. We left town as soon as we could the next morning, canceling our reservation for that night. We will never return to Vegas.
We had a leisurely morning visiting with the Henley’s and then went over to Elizabeth Martino’s (the Henley’s daughter) house for a yummy brunch of a cassarole, turkey sausage, strawberries, and english muffins, etc. She and John’s house is in a open, peaceful suburb of Newport Beach. The kids were in walking distance of the elementary and middle school, as well as the rec center. After brunch, I went over to the latter, which has a 8 lane olympic pool, for a swimming workout. Wow! Another highlight was meeting Maggie, a charming chihuaha- Jack Terrier mix doggie whose favorite gambits are to roll over on her back to have her tummy scratched and to jump on a kick board and cruise around the pool! I fell in love with her. We had the pleasure of meeting 17 y/o Amy, just as we were leaving. A really cute gal.
In the afternoon, Ludie took us for a comprehensive car tour of the many different aspects of Newport Beach. Our favorite was the area around the Newport Beach Yacht Club. The 3 car ferry to Balboa Island was fun. Stopped and bought filet mignons at the market, which Lois and Ludie barbecued on the beach, again in the dark. Delicious.
It has been great to have a few days visit with the Henley’s and reinvigorate our friendship.
Celebration Day in honor of Keith’s major commissioned painting in the reception area of a very chic newly restored old classic 1926 hotel – Casa del Mar, in Santa Monica. Ludie and David and their lovely daughter Elizabeth, ( whom Keith married at least 9 times when they were 9 – 11, a childhood friend, cousin and now an adult buddy), along with Peter and myself, met Keith (who had flown in from New York for the celebratory brunch) and his “California agent”, Cynthia Plehm, at the hotel to view the framed painting and have lunch.
The painting is a HUGE success, greatly admired by all. The painting itself is huge, about 4′ x 8′. It represents the beautiful view from the dining room, of the ocean, beach and Ferris wheel.. The dining area, along with the European styled lobby, is quite elegant and brunch was excellent.. However, the kitchen at the hotel must have had a “Typhoid Mary” in the kitchen as 4 of the 7 got hit less than an hour after, and the 5th got sick about 2 hours later. Unfortunate, but everyone – ourselves who thought it prudent to notify the hotel and the hotel, who obviously appreciated our input (they had a full house) and compt. the lunch – survived and didn’t let our day be ruined.
After all of the above occured, Peter and I went with Keith to the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, where we viewed one of his pupil’s exhibit, the superb permanent exhibit of mostly impressionist art, along with a terrific exhibit of Jim Hodges, all of which we enjoyed. Of course, our primary enjoyment was just being with our son. We were so flattered that he came out to CA especially to celebrate his great new painting with us.
Leaving LA, we traveled back to the Henley’s in Newport Beach, where Ludie and I strolled down to their little community beach on the Bay and sipped wine while broiling super hamburgers which Ludie had prepared. A correction must be noted at this point. In last entry, we said that we had dined on burgers on Sat., but actually Ludie and Peter had gone to a local Mexican diner for take out and we had dined in their garden.
Another full, fun day.
Started the day with a visit to the International Scottish Festival at the fairgrounds in Ventura. As the program was a very mixed bag of events, it was not overloaded at any time, although there were, over the weekend, certainly thousands of attendees. We saw, and enjoyed, some examples of Scottish dances, the weight throwers, the bale hoisters, and the stone throwers, the marching bagpipes and drums as well as other bands, and, of course, the many people dressed in their “family clan” colors. Had lunch on the fairgrounds of steak and mushroom “pie” and bangers. I won with the “pie”.
Leaving the fair, Ludie and David gave us a tour of Ventura, the down town, in which the City Hall was the star, all of which has been greatly updated, and the old Mission, which predates and is much smaller than the one in Santa Barbara.
Onward to the Reagan Library, in Simi Valley. One of the more impressive Presidential Memorials. Beats the heck out of George Jrs. in Dallas. But, of course, Reagan was so much more. We were so impressed with the setting, which, on its on, beats almost everyone else’s as it sits alone on a mountain top with wonderful vistas all around. Frankly, the architectural construction was fantastic – particularly with the “Air Force 1 wing” and the helicopter in which the President’s flew. We left in the late afternoon and unfortunately ran into tremendous traffic. What should have taken 1 1/2 hours turned into over 2 with bumper to bumper traffic. We would still be wandering around the complex LA interstate system if it wasn’t for our wonderful WAZE GPS.
Arriving in Newport Beach, Ludie and David stopped off at a grocery and picked up supplies, and Ludie and I went down to their lovely little beach and cooked some hamburgers, which we devoured in their private back patio yard. We all slept very well.