“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberatively, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
– Henry David Thoreau
There are two kinds of people in the world–those who would relish a weekend in Las Vegas, and those who upon winning a weekend for two at the finest hotel with tickets to the show of their choice would readily offer them at no cost to the first person who shows interest.
Actually, there are three kinds of people in the world, the third being those who would accept the tickets, fly to Vegas, rent a car, and immediately take I15 north to the forests and canyons of southwestern Utah. That’s me.
Last month, my son, Thomas, my brother Terry, who lives in northwest Canada, and I converged on Las Vegas, set the GPS for St. George, Utah, and headed north to the bristlecone forests and surreal canyons of this small sampling of the Great American Southwest. We focused on three treasures of the National Parks system–Cedar Breaks National Monument (featuring, at over 10,000 feet, some of the most iconic southwestern vistas I’ve ever experienced), Zion National Park (rugged, majestic, mountainous), and, slipping across the state line into Arizona, the north rim of the Grand Canyon (go to the north rim–better than the south, with a more intimate feel and a fraction of the traffic).
With each visit to a National Park, I am reminded of the awe-inspiring natural beauty of America, and my patriotism is stirred knowing of the national commitment we made many years ago to preserve that beauty for all to experience–including the millions of visitors from countries far and wide who visit America specifically to see our parks. Those parks represent some of our country’s most treasured values–respect for the land, protection of our natural resources, a sense of the spiritual that transcends all ethnic, cultural, and religious traditions, preservation of our natural inheritance for all Americans for all time, and showcasing all this at minimal cost (free with my senior pass!).
So, head to Las Vegas. Spend a day there (if you really must!), then shake the dust from your sandals and head north to some of the most beautiful scenery our planet has to offer. You will leave renewed, in body and soul.