It’s been an incredibly busy year so far. In less than 5 months, I’ve published two E-books, several articles and shorts around the web, tried perilously to maintain my blogs, all the while still working my tukus off at the casino. It was time for a break.
The decision was made to pack up the car and head out of town for a day. We’re big fans and supporters of the National Park system and one of the things on the bucket list is to visit as many of them as possible. Dust off the National Park pass, we’re heading to Utah for a day at Zion National Park. Less than 3 hours from Las Vegas, a perfect day trip destination.
While the beauty and splendor of our National Parks is nothing short of spectacular, nobody goes there for the food. Although plenty of concession stands and restaurants dot the landscape in and around the parks, the food is usually overpriced and a little dull. So, in order to save a few dollars, we always pack in our own food. However, throwing some lunchmeat and bread in a cooler and calling it lunch, ain’t exactly our style around here.
Lunch started a couple of days ahead of time by marinating some chicken tenders in a mix of orange juice, cranberry juice, salt, pepper, sugar, a crushed garlic and two whole cloves with a hint of fresh squeezed lemon juice. After marinating overnight, it was lightly poached in the marinade, diced and mixed with some mayo, celery, onion, salt, pepper, paprika and dried cranberries. Then we mixed up a pasta salad with elbows, mayonnaise, salt, pepper, hints of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, diced celery and diced red delicious apple.
The drive between Las Vegas and Springdale, Utah was less than 3 hours and the scenery was amazing, winding through mountain gorges and around the Virgin River. After passing through St. George Utah, the country road into Springdale and the park entrance offered a few tiny hamlets and unrivaled views of the mountains.
After entering the park, we left the car at the visitor center and caught the shuttle bus around the park. Riding up to the Zion Lodge, we got off the bus at several points and walked around a few minutes, soaking up the mountain views and trying to catch some glimpse of the wildlife, the next stop offered a small natural history museum and we spent some time perusing the native American artifacts of the canyon area. Upon arrival at the Lodge , we entered the trial head to the Emerald Pools and hiked up the mountain to some amazing waterfall areas. After hiking back to the lodge, we caught the bus once again and rode deep into the canyon floor and hiked a ways along the river. Absolutely breathtaking is the only way to describe the natural beauty of this area. Although we had armed ourselves with bottled water and granola bars to munch during the hike, it was time for some lunch. We caught the bus back to the visitor center.
Not a seat to be found in the picnic area, so sitting in the back seat of the car, in the parking lot, we spread our awesome chicken salad on some fresh buttery croissants and ate our macaroni salad right out of the cool whip container we transported it in. A side of sun chips, and we called it lunch. Not getting a table was okay; incredible scenery can still be enjoyed from the back seat.