As I mentioned at the end of my last post, on Thursday June 22, after our exceptionally hot four-hour hike to Scout's Lookout and Angel's Landing, we still had two destinations left to check off our list before we left Zion for good - my sister's favorite waterhole and Canyon Overlook hike.
My sister Stephanie and her husband Steve had lived and worked in Zion when we moved back to Rapid in 2012 and therefore had some insider suggestions for our trip. For their favorite waterhole in the Virgin River, she pinned the exact location on google maps and texted it to me. I saved the location and researched what it looked like from the street view so I'd recognize it. So, from the Canyon Junction shuttle bus stop, we walked west under the highway bridge on the Pa-rus Trail. There was a lot of complaining by the kids. It was somewhat legitimate since they had already walked like six miles in over 100 heat that day. Even I didn't want to walk down there. We crossed the Virgin River three times by bridge and covered about a quarter mile, maybe just a little more and arrived at a left hand sign that said "River Access."
We were ridiculously hot and sweaty and worn out. The deep, cool, shady water was exactly what we needed. Terry jumped off a couple riverside boulders and then sat in the man-made waterfall while I snapped some pictures.
Then he jumped!
Here's the video of his jump and a look at the 360 degree view of our surroundings.
I put my camera away, gave Terry's phone to Noah, and joined Terry on the waterfall for a combined jump. It felt glorious. I didn't touch the bottom of the riverbed either.
After we had been there for a while, a group of hip young people showed up and one of them climbed up this tree and tied a rope up high. They all proceeded to jump into the river from it. Terry did it a couple times too!
There was no whining by the kids while we were here.
All the kids but Ezra jumped in from the riverside as well. Evie is the most adventurous and jumped the most.
A video of her highest jump.
But Samuel got his courage up after he watched Evie and repeatedly jumped from a smaller boulder into shallower water. He kept commanding us to watch him do cannon balls but in reality, but he didn't quite pull it off. It was cute.
He's so cute!
One of Samuel's first jumps. He did it constantly alone after this.
Right before we left, Noah finally caved to our pressure and jumped too.
Maybe he did it a couple times because I got both pictures and videos.
From there we walked back to Canyon Junction and waited in the shade for daddy while an ambulance went past to load up a guy who we had heard about on the bus radio - he was either drunk, unconscious, or had heat stroke and maybe all at once. Anyway, Terry walked up the highway to retrieve our parked van and pick us up. From there we drove east back up the highway that we had driven in on Monday, back through the mile long tunnel, and parked just on the other side of it, just above the Ranger Station, to hike Canyon Overlook.
This was the trail we had to do to remake the picture of me and my siblings from our 1995 trip. Dad took what seemed like precious few photos and there was the only one I could find with us actually in it.
The trail climbs up right next to the highway so you can see the tunnel from up above.
A look at the rock all around it. The tunnel drives through a solid mountain of stone. It's amazing.
Around the corner from the tunnel it is a little slot canyon formed by Pine Creek, something I had wanted to see but didn't have time for.
There's the slot canyon!
There was a little arch above it...
...and my dad took this exact same picture (on the left)!!! It's SO COOL!
We saw quite a few lizards on our hikes, but they were hard to get close to or take a picture of. This was one of the better shots.
From the slot canyon, we walked through a mossy cave that reminded us of Bryce (but it was bigger and more interesting; the Bryce one was lame). Then we climbed up a bit to Canyon Overlook. The kids complained a lot even though it was only a half mile. I guess it was 6:15pm and we hadn't eaten yet...but we made it in quick time.
Boom baby! Looking left...
And looking right. You can see everything because you're up so high! It was impressive and totally worth a half mile of easy walking.
Best of all, here was the location for that 1995 family photo.
Here's my dad's 1995 picture of Nathan, me, and Stephanie...
And here's our 2017 family photo! It was so exciting!
We asked the dude to take another few pics since I had forgotten to take off my sunglasses. I wish I had asked him to come a little closer. Garrr. But, we got the shot. Wahoo!
I got one of the just the kids too. They were being silly here.
I made this side-by-side shot on my phone and LOVE IT!
Looking out west again while everyone wandered around. It was too bad that the sun was so far west, sort of impeding our view. It would be amazing at sunrise or sunset.
Terry took a couple of panoramic photos on his phone.
That big rock cliff is what the tunnel goes through!
Behind Karate Kid Terry, but not too close to the edge, is a drop off, and windows from the tunnel.
I think these up and down progression of photos captures the view a little better. This is looking left at the tunnel mountain.
And to the right.
Terry was still exploring around near the edge when I found him doing this...
Don't be alarmed. HA!
We finally turned around and hiked back. This was the cave above the slot canyon.
The kids were good at following my directions to stay away from the edge.
There's one of the tunnel windows (towards the bottom in shadow)!
We loaded up and drove back west through the tunnel one last time. This was going to be our farewell drive through Zion.
I got a pretty decent picture out of one of the windows!
Coming out was amazing, still.
Once you come out and go around that left hand turn from the tunnel, the road turns right down a switchback and the Great Arch comes into view. The Canyon Overlook hike we had just done looks out over the canyon from right on top of that arch! The hike used to be called the Great Arch hike but they changed it since you can't actually see the arch when you're up there.
Looking south of the arch back at the rock mountain we had just come through and you can see one of those windows again.
And there's the bus at Canyon Junction, where we spent so much time. GOODBYE BEAUTIFUL ZION!
We had noticed this sign on our way in and out of Springdale and stopped to get a picture of Evie with it.
Just a couple streets away we found Steph and Steve's old garage apartment! It was fun to see since I had regrettably never got to visit them here, though I very much wanted to.
Ezra immediately fell asleep, which is what he did at the end of every day. They were big days, huge days. From there, we drove past our camper in Hurricane to St. George, Utah where there was a Culvers. Pastor Dave and Carol had gifted us a gift card and we felt we really deserved a treat, even if it was an hour away. That was an amazing meal after such a huge day. No one cared that it was like 8pm by that point.
When we got home, the kids swam (again!) for like only 30 minutes and we showered up. We went to bed late and slept well for our final night in the camper. Right before we left, after we'd already taken our piles and piles of stuff out to the van, I took some quick pictures of the inside of it. I'm standing in the back front-side of the camper, as far as I can in front of the bathroom. Evie is only like six feet away from me and that's where Noah slept. The next photo is of the "master bedroom" bed right behind her...
Small little area! Thankfully the owner had installed an extra little air conditioner in the window to the left of the frame. However, with just that running while we were gone, several times, just about every day, a fuse would blow and the camper would be over 110 degrees inside. That made our stay in the camper difficult.
I'm standing next to the master bed looking back at where I had taken the first picture.
The wall behind Evie was a full size bed and teeny twin bunk above it where Evie and the littles slept. Boy, she looks tired right? She woke up that morning feeling sick! The poor thing. It lasted another week until we got home and then I took her to the doctor and got her some antibiotics.
Directly to my right was this tiny little sink that my hands could hardly fit into.
And the itty bitty bathroom we tried not to go number 2 in because it already smelled bad.
Goodbye RV Resort and goodbye Zion! California was next and we were excited!