Thanksgiving 2016: Zion National Park in Southern Utah
Odometer (Legend): 549,008
Odometer (ILX): 187,248
Trip Distance: 849 Miles
What are some of the most expensive toll roads you’ve driven?
On Thursday morning, I paid $30 to drive 14 miles on State Route 9 in southern Utah. $2 per mile! But that’s a small price to pay for this kind of scenery-per-mile, right?
Truth is, that fee was actually the cover charge for Zion National Park, and it just so happened that I needed to pass through Zion in order to get to a Thanksgiving feast that was awaiting me at Aunt Jodi’s house on the other side in Rockville.
Knowing, though, that I wouldn’t need to re-enter the park since I’d be taking a different route home, I decided to “pay it forward.” It was Thanksgiving Day, after all. As soon as I got through the park and exited its west end, I hit the brakes, threw the hazards on in the ILX, and rushed out the driver door to hand my park pass to an unsuspecting motorist going the opposite way who was waiting in line at the ranger station to enter. “Do you want a free park pass? It’s good for 7 days,” I told the driver of a white SUV. “Umm, sure!” he said as he took the brochure and receipt. “Happy Thanksgiving!” I yelled as I ran back to the ILX and drove away.
Growing up in southern Utah, my family’s home was only 45 minutes from the gates of Zion National Park. Zion is one of Utah’s 5 colorful national parks, established 97 years ago and covering over 200 square miles in the southwest corner of the state. There are some key features including waterfalls, gardens, and picturesque sandstone cliffs carved away by the Virgin River at the base. Holiday tourist traffic was heavy on Thanksgiving but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the scenery and stopping for a few photos on my quick drive through.
My favorite feature of the park is 1.1-mile-long tunnel called the Zion – Mount Carmel Tunnel. It was carved away in 1930 and shortened the distance from Zion to nearby Bryce Canyon by 70 miles. The tunnel is narrow and requires a special escort for oversize vehicles. The interior of the tunnel is completely black except for 3 or 4 spots where there are ‘windows’ opening up to the outside canyon. Unfortunately cars are not allowed to stop at those windows.
We dined heartily on turkey and trimmings at Jodi’s. It was good to see my brothers and a couple of my cousins. Here are a few photos and a short video from my Thanksgiving weekend. Check out my cousin Dillon’s dance moves at 1:46 in. I hope you and your families had an enjoyable one.
Highway 89 northbound just south of Page, Arizona
Utah state line near Lake Powell in Page
I liked this Parry Lodge in Kanab, Utah
Highway 9 westbound
Curvy road after exiting the tunnel
These backdrops never get old
Quick jaunt to Salt Lake to visit a family member in the hospital
Sunset off mom’s back patio on Saturday night
Visiting a couple of my favorite little people, nephew Rex and niece Vivienne
I was shocked on Thursday evening when my friend Chris messaged me about an article that had just been posted on Jalopnik about my garage and Acura collection. Jalopnik is one of the largest automotive media pages around – with over 300,000 followers on Facebook, 150,000 YouTube subscribers, and a huge presence overall. A couple of months ago, I had shot a quick email over to editor Andrew Collins who I also knew to be an Acura driver (with a > 200,000-mile TL). He took enough interest in the story to put together an article about it.
The level of response was pretty nuts. My blog had its best view day in its 5-year history, with 2,558 views and over 1,200 visitors the following day. Both the Facebook post and the article itself got about 300 comments each. I was terrified of reading them but eventually got the nerve. To my surprise, most were overwhelmingly positive. I’m glad a few people out there can relate to a my madness or at least consider it a little bit entertaining.
The blog, by the way, is sitting at around 496,000 views overall since I started it in March 2011. That means we are shortly coming up on a Drive to Five milestone of a completely different nature. Thanks for being part of it!