Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Riding With A Ranger

I packed up my campsite quickly on Wednesday morning—I've gotten good at this, by doing it in shifts. The trick is to divvy up the work by packing up the sleeping bag and mat before you leave for your shower. Then after your shower, you can have a leisurely breakfast, load up your cooking gear and collapse your tent, then you can go about your day.

I enjoyed my shower and breakfast. Showers are *so* wonderful when you're hot and dirty and traveling. I struggled to fold the tent up right for storage—the tent and all the camping gear was going home in a box today, and I was going back to Vegas to drop off the car and fly onward to my comic book event in San Diego.

I'd barely used my camping stove—only twice for my camping breakfasts—so I carried my nearly full fuel canister into the reception area at the campground.

"Can you give this to someone?" I asked the clerk.

"Put it here," he said, motioning to a shelf. "I'll tape a free sign to it."

I drove my rental car out of the campground and back into Zion National Park. I'd been camping in Springdale, the town right outside the park gates, and I had one more thing to do in Zion before driving back to Vegas. 

I'd signed up for the nine A.M. "Ride With A Ranger" event.

That's where a ranger—in this case, Ranger Matt who was also a middle-school geography teacher in Hurricane—takes a shuttle full of people around the park, telling stories, identifying geological formations, and explaining how the flash floods and erosion have affected the landscape.

This was a great morning mobile lecture, and the shuttles at Zion are technologically unique. And by that I mean that they don't have air conditioning, instead using a system of windows and hatches to ventilate the passenger cab. 

When Ranger Matt dropped me off back at the gate, I headed out of Zion and Springdale, stopping in Hurricane's dollar store for some packing tape, and OfficeDepot in St. George for a box, and then I spotted a UPS Store. 

"What's your phone number?" The UPS Store clerk was able to call up my details in New Jersey. I didn't even have to label the box. 

I taped up the box containing my tent, sleeping bag, Therm-A-Rest, and travel towel, paid $30.94, and off it went. 

I was en route to Vegas, several pounds of luggage lighter.

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