Our group was small - an Australian Family - Janelle, Lionel, Brendan and Hayden, Taran a 19 year old from Perth, Georgiana, a 22 year old Romanian, Justin and Scott who were filming and photographing the trip for a promotional video and Anderson - our guide - a Navajo Native American, who's Indian name means Troublemakers 4 the Son!
On the first day we headed to Zion National Park which was discovered (and named) by the Mormons. We passed through the Court of the Patriarchs - 3 rocks named Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, past Angels Landing and up to the Temple of Sinawava with its rock formations of the Organ, Altar and Pulpit. He we got off to do our first Hike amid the towering Sandstone canyons.
We did the Riverside walk ( no prizes for guessing that it runs along the virgin River) and then proceeded to do a hike called the Narrows - which runs up the river.
Being the delicate waif that I am, and not at all clumsy, walking up this river was easy! (hmm) The rocks were slippy and the water very cold and at times reaching our thighs. It was only sheer determination dn the fear of getting my camera wet that kept me upright, and to be honest at some times that was nearly not enough!
Back on Tera Firma, out clothes dried quickly in the hot sun as we headed up to Weeping Rock. Here the water seeping through the porous sandstone hits harder rock and forces itself out horizontally over an outcrop making it look like it's weeping . The water has been dated to be over 1200 years old.
From here we walked to Emerald Pools (named for the Algae!), before heading out of the park, past the Zion arch, and on to our home for the next two nights The Village of Many Nations and our Native American TiPi
After Dinner, and around the roaring campfire, Justin and Scott initiated us non Americans to the wonde of S'mores. Roasted Marshmallow sandwiched with a piece of Hersheys (or reeces Peanut Butter Cup) between two Gram Crackers. MMM MMM MMM!
Anderson then told us stories of the native Americans under the sky which was packed full of stars.
Yvette has asked me to tell one of the stories here. But I have also written as many as I could remember in my journal for those who want to be bored by me when I return:
The Story of the Stars:
When Man and woman were first put on the earth God gave the animals the tasks of sorting out light for them.
The day animals wanted it light all the time, while the nocturnal animals wanted it dark all the time. Eventually a compromise was reached with half the day as dark and half as light, with the condition that small lights were put up at night to light the way.
God gave all the animals stars and the nocturnal animals set about placing them carefully in the sky, with the badger and raccoons etc discussing where each start should be place to make animals and stories within the constellations.
The tricky Coyote however got bored, and grabbed the bag of stars and ran off, being chased by all the other animals. As he got away, he climbed a hill and threw the remaining stars up into the sky which fell so densely they looked like a cloud - The Milky Way.
The next day we headed into Arizona to the Grand Canyon. We were on the North Rim, and posed precariously for shots on tops of piles of rocks at Angel Point. We then walked for 20 minutes down into the Canyon on the North Kaibab Trail where the trees in their fall splendor complemented the reds of the rocks.
After lunch (where we were joined by 2 Friendly Mule Deer!) we headed to Cape Royal, where the view was amazing. The vastness of the Canyon was really noticeable and we could just make out the muddy Colorado River meandering it's way through the Canyon.
We also saw a ledge where two crazy Ozzies had recently done handstands- right on the edge of a 10,000 Ft drop. Luckily they did not become one of the statistics in the book from the gift shop " Over the Edge: Death in the Canyon"
That evening we went to the main Tipi for stories of the Mountain Men and Native Americans with Buzzard Eater (a mountain man - like Davy Crockett) - complete with home made Skunk hat, and Little Buffalo who played the haunting Native American Flute. Anderson also told us more stories about the Navajo.
Sadly we were soon packing up camp and heading to our third destination Bryce Canyon - my favourite of the three by far.
Here's the Geography Bit - The canyon is made of limestone and has been eroded by Freeze Thaw weathering to produce thousands of Pinnacles called Hoodoos which change colour in the sun.
Legend has it however, that these are the Legend people To-when-an-ung-wa who were bad and turned to stone by the Tricky coyote.
We walked around the rim looking at the Hoodoo's standing to attention like the Terracotta army and then after lunch walked down into the Canyon itself.
We passed the Temple of Osiris and Thor's Hammer (which we renamed Thor's S'more as it looked like a giant marshmallow on a stick) and then spent an imaginative afternoon spotting things in the HooDoo's - although only Lionel could see the deformed BullDog riding a horse!!!
Sadly it as time to go and as we returned to the bright lights of Vegas our hearts sank after all the natural beauty we had experienced was replaced by tacky nonsense and Neon Lights. This was the most amazing trip - and has given us the taste for more!