June 6th, 2019
Zion National Park is beautiful, truly beautiful. It has soaring mountains and deep valleys. The towering cliffs are a rust color which is only broken by the green of the trees that hang on wherever they can. Only a soul that is truly dead could fail to be awestruck when looking at that scene.
Karin and I drove along the Zion-Mount Carmel highway to the east entrance of the park. Somehow, I was surprised when we were actually entering the park. It kind of snuck up on me. We then followed the long, winding, windy road all the way through Zion to Springdale, Utah. The drive required intense concentration, considering all of the hairpin turns, tunnels, steep grades and heavy tourist traffic. Damn tourists. I was behind the wheel for most of this journey. Unfortunately, we got to Zion at the end of a very long drive from New Mexico. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I should have.
We stopped a few times on the corkscrew highway to soak up the scenery. Karin took many pictures. I struggled with vertigo. I could deal with the high mountains, but the deep, sudden drops got to me. We parked at a turn off, and I just sat down on a rock and tried to hold on to that piece of the earth. Karin asked if I wanted her to drive. The answer to that was an emphatic “yes”. We could have stayed longer in the park, but I was exhausted. Our park pass would allow us to return in the morning. We decided to go to our hotel.
We stayed at the Majestic View Hotel. It is the most expensive place we have ever stayed. I suppose that we could have found more economical accommodations, but not anywhere near Zion. If a person wants to see the park, they have to pay, and pay a lot. That is just how it works. We knew that before we ever left home.
I have a good friend living in the Dominican Republic. He is currently unemployed because the economy sucks there. The monthly wage in that country is less than what we spent for one night at the Majestic View. That bothered me while we were there. It still bothers me.
The Majestic View really does have a “majestic view”. The hotel is set up so that every occupant of every room can have a truly excellent picture of the surrounding mountains. I have to give the hotel that much credit. Otherwise, the hotel was just a hotel. The rooms had a weird elk motif, and the furniture had a faux rustic look to it. Staying there was like roughing it in the Wild West with air conditioning and room service.
When we got to the hotel, we anxiously asked about places to eat, hopefully within walking distance. The only real choice was the hotel’s own restaurant, “Arkansas Al’s Steakhouse”. We ate there. It was a typical hotel restaurant: a fancy room with fancy menus, and fancy prices for average food. Neither Karin nor I had any intention of driving to any other eatery, so we just went with the program.
An apathetic hostess us placed at a table surrounded by noisy patrons. Karin and I could barely hold a conversation while seated there. It was exactly the wrong place to be at the end of a long day.
A young man came to our table. I immediately asked him if we could sit somewhere else. Anywhere else. The restaurant was nearly empty, so we could have any of a dozen different tables. He guided us to a table for two. We ordered drinks. I wanted a beer. The young man disappeared for a few minutes. He brought us our beverages, and some warm sourdough bread on a cutting board. Karin and I suddenly realized that we were hungry.
Karin ordered a salad, and I had some kind of BBQ sandwich. The waiter eventually brought out our food, which was actually quite good. He asked if we needed anything else.
I asked him his name.
He seemed surprised by that, and he answered, “Donny.”
I asked him, “Where are you from?”
Donny shrugged and said, “Well, originally, I’m from California, around Sacramento. But I’ve been here for a while, so I consider Utah to be my home now.”
I told Donny that years ago, Karin and I lived in Monterey, courtesy of the U.S. Army.
He replied, “Cool. did you like it there?”
“Oh yeah. It was good. It’s just that it’s too expensive to live in paradise.”
We talked some more, or rather I talked some more. I told Donny about about our cross-country journey. I told him about our kids. He listened patiently. After a while, he left us to attend to another customer.
Karin ate her salad and asked me,
“Why did you have to tell him your whole life story?”
“Honestly, I don’t know why. Maybe it’s a good story. I wanted to hear his story too.”
Donny came back. I think Karin might have ordered a dessert. Before Donny walked away, I asked him,
“How do I tell your boss that you did a good job?”
Donny seemed surprised by this question.
“Well, we have a form that you could fill out with your comments.”
“Good. Get me one.”
I wrote on it that Donny was friendly, professional, and that he really cared about us. After we paid for the meal, I shook his hand and thanked him for everything. He wasn’t quite sure how to respond. That was okay.
We left the restaurant. We never saw Donny again.