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Casinos are King

September 12/Day 57. I drive through Las Vegas first thing this morning. Ever notice how usually the bank has the biggest, fanciest building in town, followed by the church? Well in Las Vegas it’s the casinos. They’re just a little over the top. Big names playing various venues, too: Rod Stewart, Lisa Manelli, David Copperfield—I can’t remember them all because I’m not into celebrities, but I recognize a couple dozen names on billboards.

After Las Vegas, it’s an uninspiring drive until the road slices up a deep canyon of the Virgin River where it cuts through a mountain range. Now that’s impressive! Then I hit a small town called Rockville, which is named appropriately because it has giant boulders bigger than SUVs sitting in yards right in front of houses. At last I pass through Springdale, on the opposite shore of the Virgin River from Zion. In Zion, home of the holy temples of rock, I claim my campsite and walk to the visitor center, about 100 yards away.

A view of Zion Canyon

This park, like Yosemite, bears a heavy burden of visitors. But unlike Yosemite it’s administered in a professional manner. Cars have limited access to the park between May and November. There’s one fairly small parking area which usually fills by 10:00 a.m. After it’s full, there are parking places in Springdale and a shuttle bus that brings tourists directly to the tourist center. Every seven minutes a park shuttle ferries people into the park, stopping at numerous trailheads and points of interest. You can ride the shuttle round and round all day for free. The shuttles are timed to the second, so much so that the recorded narrative onboard tells you not to forget personal articles on the bus at just the  moment it pulls up to a stop. Must be run by Germans.

The thing that catches my eye at the visitor center and adjoining gift shop is a T-shirt that reads “Angels Landing.” I resist the urge to buy it.

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