Tuesday, November 20, 2012

November 18: Lots of "Wows"

We arrived to Zion National Park late Saturday night, and went straight to bed. On our way in, we knew there was some pretty amazing scenery passing by, but it was dark, so it remained a mystery...until this morning. We woke up, looked out the window of Majestic View Lodge and a breathtaking view welcomed us to beautiful Utah.

After a breakfast of omelets in the lodge restaurant (that we had all to ourselves), we ventured into the park...Uhaul and all!

Our first thought was to drive through the park and stop at a few scenic overviews as we made our way through onto Salt Lake City. However, we got sidetracked by the awe and wows that filled the Mazda and decided to venture down a side scenic road to take in as much of this beauty as we could. No words can describe this park, no photos I post will do it justice, but here are a few of my favorites taken with my iPhone.

Weeping Rock

After being swept away by God's creation in Zion, we ventured out of the park on our way to Salt Lake City. Check out this 360 view Rob took on our way... http://360.io/cvTaKJ. In true Hannah and Rob fashion, we arrived at the intersection of State Highway 12 also known as the Scenic Byway and decided this route would be much more fun. We turned right and never looked back...not sure what we were in store for. Let me just tell you - this byway made me fall deeply in love with Utah. Let me show you why...
Presenting Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument...

Seeing this unexpected beauty and craving more ''wows," we decided to skip Salt Lake City completely and continue driving on Highway 12 to I-70 on route to Denver. Good thing we didn't make hotel reservations. I love being off the cuff with my fun, spontaneous, boyfriend!

The darkness overtook us as we entered into the town of Escalante, so our endless views of mesas, rock formations and nature's sculptures slowly diminished from our sight. We were tired from the night before, so we canned the original plan of driving another three hours to Green River. At this point our cell phone service was non-existent, so we began relying on our faithful road atlas...next town...Boulder, UT. Was it big? Did it have hotels? Could we find food during tourist off season? Google could not help us now.
The twilight from the setting sun and bright half moon allowed us to see a little bit of the scenery as we drove on. Suddenly, out of nowhere after blindly winding up and down mountains, we looked out on both sides of the car and could see nothing but vast mountains and cliffs to the valleys below. No room for anything but two cars. I literally freaked out and became the worst back seat driver ever. Slow down, go slower, wait, oh my gosh, we're going over the edge, slow down!
Well, we made it across the scary rock bridge and didn't fall down to our deaths. Next stop...Boulder. Where the heck are we?! And why are there no other cars on the road?
As we entered into quaint Boulder, we were relieved when we stumbled across the Boulder Mountain Lodge (with vacancy) complete with an adjoining Hell's Backbone Grill. Please let it be open!! We found it ironic that we woke up in Zion only to find ourselves having dinner in Hell's Backbone...hmmm...

Photos from the next morning...

We had no idea what we were in for. This was more than just a grill...it was truly a food mind boggling experience. Apparently, this restaurant has been featured in O Magazine and the New York Times. That's right - we randomly stumble across one of the best restaurants on this side of the Rockies in the middle of Nowhere with a capital N. After I win the lottery in Nebraska, I may take my private helicopter to this restaurant every weekend. Let me just say the pumpkin apple soup was to die for.
That night, we fell asleep with fully bellies, excited about the views we would encounter in the morning.

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