Bug and I just got back from a week’s vacation in Zion National Park, in Southern Utah. It was amazing. I don’t think I’ll be able to write a proper post with little stories about each picture I took because that would just take me too long. But I do need to write a little something about it because this trip was monumental in so many ways.
Mostly because I took this trip with Toby. When he first asked me to come along I flat-out refused. There were so many reasons I couldn’t/shouldn’t/wouldn’t go. It was crazy that he would even ask.
Firstly, I had been out of work for a complete month because my laptop died. I couldn’t afford to take a vacation now, of all times. Secondly, he’s my ex! Do I really want to spend that much time with him? Thirdly, well, there really wasn’t a thirdly but number one and number two counted enough. It was just a crazy idea.
But he talked me into it. Of course he did. I think what really got me was knowing that Bug would have a better time if I went along. I know it’s all in my imagination. I worry like crazy when she isn’t with me and it’s silly. She always has a good time with her dad and he takes great care of her. But I always picture her missing me or maybe he would forget to feed her on time or keep her up later than she should be up and she’d be tired and grumpy, etc…. (Not that that doesn’t happen with me too—heh.) I just felt like I could make things so much better if I were there.
Then there was the fact that I really love camping. Toby and I used to camp all the time. That’s what we did back in the old days. I want to say “the good old days” but those days were troubled too so I shouldn’t really cast a golden glow on them. But I am sentimental about them nonetheless.
It’s a strange thing about divorce. I don’t want to stay married to Toby and I know we are going our separate ways. (He’s moved on. He has a girlfriend. Someday I will probably move on too.) But it is still hard to let go. We had so many dreams together. I think in a way this trip was a goodbye to those dreams.
Not that the future is grim. It’s not. We both have bright, shiny new dreams and they are still overlapping because we share a child. But they are not the dreams we once had and I have to admit there is some grieving that goes along with saying goodbye to those dreams. We’ll never have that house in the country together with the greenhouse with birds and orchids. We’ll never listen to that King Crimson album again playing from a stereo in a living room with a wood floor that we daydreamed about for so long. We won’t make crepes in the morning or buy a fancy espresso maker together. He won’t take me to coffee shops along the Eastern Sierra because he knows I’m jonesing for some civilization in the middle of nowhere.
There will be a new woman doing those things with him and even though I’m happy for her and someday I want to meet her and be friends with her, there is a tiny piece of me that is sad that I am not her. She will fill the cracks that I couldn’t. I tried so hard. I really did. But I couldn’t do it.
I am moving on. This is my new life and I choose it. But I don’t choose it lightly.
And that is why this trip was such a big deal. It was a turning point. One that has been a long time coming. If my life were a book it would be a very very slow boring one with way too many chapters. I think I am finally in the middle of the story.
But it was a great trip.
We didn’t fight along the way. Toby played his music while the hours slowly crept by with the creosote bushes and Joshua trees. We made jokes and taught Bug about our favorite songs. I sat in the back with Bug like I always do. Strangers don’t understand but that’s okay.
Bug is probably the only one who will see us both as who we really are.
We finally got there and it was exactly how I remembered it. Zion National Park is so beautiful. The Grand Canyon is crazy big and awesome but Zion will always have my heart. The Mormons called it Zion because it was like a sanctuary from the outside world for them, a refuge from being persecuted. I understand that completely. When the walls rise up so high on both sides of you and the air is so still in the narrows of the canyon, it does feel kind of like the reverent quiet you experience when you are in a great church. The sheer size of it reminds you how small you are and how great God’s gift is to us.
I want to share all my pictures with you but they don’t really capture the magnitude of what it was like to be there. You’d probably nod off. So just make it a point to go there at some point in your life and sit on the canyon floor for a moment or two. You will understand what I mean.
But don’t go during Spring Break because it is crazy crowded there. The weather was perfect, there were no bugs, no mosquitoes, no humidity, not much cold…it’s perfect that time of year and everybody knows it. You can’t find a campsite for the life of you and you can’t go up or down a trail without having to stand aside for big giant groups to pass. But it was still awesome.
I love camping! And I love teaching my girl to love camping.
The tent, sleeping outdoors, the campfire, the campfire food…it’s all a bundle of fun and wonderfulness.
Nothing tastes better than campfire food when you are starving. Nothing.
Bug is a true river rat. She was writing up her Spring Break report for school and it was all about the river for her. Maybe I’ll have her write a post about it here later.
I let her borrow my small waterproof camera as her camera for the trip and she got some great shots.
Of course I got some great shots of her too. That’s the funny thing about taking pictures when you are on vacation in a beautiful spot. You want to take a picture of everything but you know when you get home, those pictures will be boring for people to look at. What makes them interesting are the people in the shot next to the amazing scene in nature. Because a picture of a river in a canyon looks the same in 1973 as it did in 1923. The only thing different would be the quality of the film or the clothes on the people in the picture. So when you’re so busy trying to crop out the tackily dressed tourists and their giant lame motor homes, maybe you should reconsider.
In fact, I thought maybe I should have made a point to take pictures of the tourists instead of trying to crop them out. That would be an interesting documentary. What do tourists have in common? How are they different? What makes someone who is obviously out of shape want to take a two hour hike up a rugged path to see a waterfall? How far will they push themselves? What epiphanies do they have when they get there? Are they working out stuff too? Sometimes you have to strip away your busy day-to-day life to figure out what is really going on and what is really important. That’s why we take vacations right? Something to think about. It’s not always escape.
I wore my Crocs the entire time. Hiking, camping, kicking around in the river…they were great. And then when I got home I dusted them off and wore them to church.
Maybe you’ve noticed a theme here. Everything is red! The dirt is red. It’s something to do with the iron and oxidation. It’s pretty.
(She was tired. It was a long hike.)
Even the roads are red in Zion.
I even got some painting done but it quickly put me to shame. How am I ever going to teach a class on watercolor this weekend? Eeek!
We made some new friends.
And we survived our week! It was a great week, actually. One that I will treasure because it will probably never happen again. Toby and I talked a lot about it. He kicked around the idea of camping together again someday but I know deep down it probably won’t happen. Not unless his new girlfriend and I become fast friends. I like to daydream that we will but that’s probably silly. We are a new family now. A family of two parts.
Two parts that made one spectacular person. We are so lucky to have her. All of us.