For some travelers to a national park, I imagine taking a detour or dogleg, up and away from one’s intended destination might be a little irritating. The afternoon that we arrived in the vicinity of Zion National Park, it was early enough to take a drive into the park, but I passed the Visitors’ Center and continued up the highway, through a tunnel and a few picture-taking stops later exited the East Entrance to the park. However, without that detour, we would not have enjoyed some unique geologic features (like millions of years-old sand dunes that formed Checkerboard Mesa), or seen fearless bighorn sheep fairly close up.
After a year of travel restrictions and quarantine-closed places, due to COVID, a road trip from San Diego, California to Zion National Park in southern Utah was just the sort of escape my wife and I needed. It was perfect weather all weekend. In a matter of a few hours driving along Interstate 15, we left coastal mountains and drove past Joshua trees in the Mojave desert, and then entered Nevada southwest of Las Vegas. After a long-promised delivery of Christmas treats to old friends there, we continued the following morning into the high desert from Nevada through part of Arizona, and into Utah. Two hours from Las Vegas, rising up a thousand or more feet through the Virgin River Gorge, travelers soon encounter Saint George, Utah. As my hiking buddies and I had done a couple years before, my wife and I reserved a hotel in St George – a little less than an hour west of Zion National Park. Though still pre-season (and COVID infections decreasing) , had it been our anniversary, there are a number of hotels and bed n’ breakfast places in Hurricane, ten miles nearer, and in tiny Springdale just outside the park’s west entrance. We left those for newlyweds.
On the morning that we were going to start the eight-hour drive back home, I invited her to check out the town square I had visited with my buddies on a Zion trip two years earlier. Hearing that Saint George annually sponsors display of local artist’s work sculptures -in the town square from Spring to early Summer, I knew Sheri would find it picture-worthy at least. This dogleg into Saint George however was a few weeks ahead of the art festival. There were banners, and only a couple bronze children playing.