Day 2, 9/10/20: As it turns out, we decided to camp our first night during a crazy cold wave. After a night of barely having enough warmth, we woke up to all of our water bottles frozen and our toes nearly falling off. Max could barely get out of his sleeping bag, so I made him coffee and we warmed up with the seat heaters in the car. Soon, the sun came in and we were feeling a lot better. A bit of a tough start but already some exciting adventures.
We continued on through Nevada, and noticed the scenery slowly change. First, the features got more extreme–higher ranges, larger basins. We started noticing more diverse colors in the rocks (red!), and slightly different and larger vegetation. Eventually, we noticed a little gorge/canyon in the distance, and decided to follow a small road out to it. This ended up being a sweet little Nevada state park called “Cathedral Gorge,” a large gorge made of reddish clay, with intricate water-carved patterns creating awesome formations and cathedral-like shapes. Also, here I crossed off one of my major bucket-list items for this trip, and caught an adorable horned lizard baby! They are just so cool looking and cute, and I studied them in my desert ecology class, so I was especially interested in finding one.
About 10 minutes after leaving the gorge, Max had the horrible realization that he left his phone, keys, and wallet on the top of the car while he was changing into shorts. In some sort of divine intervention, despite driving 80mph, his phone was still perched on top of the car, undamaged. We turned around to look for the wallet, did some physics experiments to see where it likely would’ve fallen off, and sure enough, the wallet and keys were just sitting there in the middle of the loneliest highway in America, right before the exit to the gorge. Relieved, we finished up our tour of Nevada as we unknowingly passed the border into Utah (no sign, no change in roads, nothing).
Next up, we drove through Zion National Park. To be honest, I underestimated the crowds–it was absolutely packed. We couldn’t do any hikes in the park, but we pulled over to take some pictures and watch some climbers in the main scenic drive. Zion is stunningly beautiful, but the crowds make it difficult to get that isolated nature experience. Luckily, we found a little area to ourselves at the park boundary to scramble around and check out the geology and flora.
Finally, we continued the beautiful driving until Bryce, where we decided to stay the night before some big hiking the next day. Another successful day!
Some more random photos coming soon