Monday, July 5, 2010
Last week we went out to Utah to spend a week with my family. As we made the evening drive from Las Vegas to St. George all I could do was stare out the windows at the mountains and try to keep from drowning in memories and waves of homesickness as they crashed over me. Don't get me wrong, I like Philadelphia, I love our home and our friends and I have no intention of EVER returning to live in St. George, but there is something about the towering mountains and the glowing sunrises and sunsets and the orange dirt that never washes out of your socks that just fills my soul.
The drive from Vegas to my childhood home is a familiar one. The airport in St. George is on top of a small mesa so you have to spend a small fortune to fly there directly. Las Vegas is the closest major airport. Also, it is where my Dad moved when my parents split so we spent a lot of time as kids making the trek there and back.
During the first part of our drive the moon rose and sat perched on the mountain to our right, larger than normal and slightly orange in color, welcoming me back. Then the millions of stars came out one by one reminding me just how many are hidden by the smog and the trees back east.
A small portion of the drive between the two cities is through the Virgin River Gorge. It is a four lane highway (two lanes for each direction) that runs parallel to the twisting path of the Virgin River between towering canyon walls. With "watch for falling rocks" signs and frequent big horn sheep sightings the path can be trecherous to say the least. The speed limit through the gorge is 55 mph. My Mom, who used to make the commute to Vegas for graduate school 2-3 times a week, takes it at 90. As I drove through On Saturday night a week ago with my four sleeping boys, I was driving a conservative 65. There are so many twists and turns that driving on a dark night is more than a little terrifying. The curves are hard to see and the road is alternately bordered by steep drop offs or solid rock walls. Driving the gorge in daylight is less frightening and more intoxicatingly beautiful- which poses the danger of distraction.
St. George is a small basin surrounded on all sides by red sandstone cliffs or black lava rock hills with the rocky mountains in the distance. From the surrounding hillsides you can see for miles in any direction- with very few trees to block your view. The wide open space gives you a feeling of insignificance but also one of gratitude for the overwhelming, breathtaking beauty of it. Never has the odd color combination of green (grass), orange (sandstone) and blue (sky) been considered gorgeous until you have seen it here.
It was good to be home. And HOT. We took family pictures outside on Sunday and the thermometer read 117 degrees. Most days it hovered around 108. Mom and Dwane's pool felt like a bathtub. It was still refreshing though and we took the kids swimming twice almost every day. The kids had a great time playing with their cousins and John and I had fun hanging out with my brothers and sisters and their spouses. It was insane and hilarious chaotic and entertaining and stressful and silly and I did not want to come home yesterday.
I left my computer at home due to airline limitations on bags and needing every extra bit of room for baby stuff and I was kicking myself from the moment we landed for not bringing it. The next week or so will be blogs about our trip that I composed in my head. Stay tuned...