The past weekend was a great escape from the great white north. I took half a day off work Friday and we got the kids out of school a bit early, then headed down to St. George. The drive was long, with the usual “Are we there yet?” emanating from the back seat. I was a little worried at all the snow still on the ground as we drove south. Approaching Salina there wasn’t much snow on the ground, but closer to Cedar City there was still quite a bit. However, upon arriving in St. George, there wasn’t a single bit of snow–it was t-shirt weather. We checked into our hotel and unpacked the car, then set out in search of something fun to do while we waited for some friends to arrive in town. We decided to go to Cottonwood Cove Park, which had some really unique playground equipment, a climbing wall, and a walking path that followed the Santa Clara River. After we spent a while there, Chris and the DeSart family arrived in town, and we met them at Ruby Tuesday for a late dinner. I was hesitant to eat at a sit-down place because, well, my kids behave poorly. Ben kept them occupied with a game called “Coma,” where they pretend to be in a coma. I didn’t think the boys were that gullible, but they played along, and the adults were able to carry on with some nice conversation while my kids held still and were quiet. Traci said to Ben, “You’re hired!”
On Saturday, we woke up early and met a large group of geocachers at Golden Corral for breakfast. We did this same thing four years ago, but didn’t have quite as good a time then. With the kids being older now, it wasn’t as big an ordeal. After breakfast, a few groups went out on different geocaching adventures, but I chose to go it alone. Traci took the kids swimming at the hotel while I did some hiking.
I hiked to Johnson Canyon, which is in Snow Canyon State Park but just outside the fee area, then drove to Ivins and did a few short hikes at the base of Red Mountain. For lunch, I picked up Traci and the boys and we hit Arctic Circle for some halibut and fries. I would have preferred Long John Silver’s, but the nearest one was in Vegas. We hit Cottonwood Cove Park again so the kids could have their fun, then found a few geocaches near the motel. While caching, we ran across some natural springs coming from the cliffs above St. George Boulevard. I didn’t expect to find anything so interesting in town, and I had a great time hiking with my family. We met up with Chris and the DeSarts again for dinner, this time at Brick Oven. After dinner, we hit Nielsen’s for some frozen custard. It was raining when we left there, and it rained heavily throughout the night, but the next morning it was relatively dry and clear.
Sunday was our last day in the area, and we spent most of it at Snow Canyon State Park. After the continental breakfast at the hotel, we loaded up the car, checked out, and drove to Snow Canyon. I’d done some poking around in Google Earth, and looked at the photos on Panoramio, so I knew where I wanted to go in the park. We did the short hike to Jenny’s Canyon first. The canyon slots up pretty quickly and ends at a box canyon. Our next stop was the sand dunes, which unfortunately were wet from the night’s rain and not as much fun to play on as they are when dry. After letting the kids run around and make castles out of the wet sand, we drove a bit farther up the road until it crossed a big wash. We parked there and hiked up the wash to find the official state park geocache. The wash was very interesting, as it cut through the edge of a lava flow, so the canyon walls were formed by basalt on one side, and sandstone on the other.
The next attraction was the petrified dunes. The petrified dunes are simply Navajo Sandstone like we have in the Swell, but it’s more red and more interestingly sculpted. After scrambling around on the slickrock, we hiked the Butterfly Trail until we reached the lava tubes. They don’t advertise the lava tubes anywhere, but we asked the park attendant at the entrance and she told us how to get there. We checked out a couple of the lava tubes using my meager headlamp, but due to time constraints we didn’t explore much farther. After returning home and seeing more photos, it’s apparent that we missed some of the more interesting lava tubes. That’s yet another reason to return next year. When we got back to the car, we drove to the northern entrance of the park, then turned around and drove back through and exited at the southern end.
We hit St. George and grabbed some snacks at a grocery store, then started the long drive home. We stopped to visit our good friends, the Hunts, in Sigurd. It was nice to see them again, and it helped to break up the trip home. We got home a little after 7:00PM, and after dropping Traci and the boys off at home, I immediately drove to my mom’s to pick up my puppy, who I’d been without all weekend. It felt good to be home, but the one thing I didn’t miss was the cold and the snow on the ground.
I’ve now only been to two of the geocaching events in St. George, but I think it will become a yearly tradition for my family. It’s not worth it for the event alone, but getting away from winter for a few short days is well worth it.