Trek West #1: Zion National Park, Las Vegas, and the Hoover Dam

It’s Or, James, Hayley and Lisa here again, for your second trip update! It’s mind blowing how much can happen in a day here!

Since you’ve last heard from us, we have been through our weekend in Utah. We stayed on a beautiful ranch resort called Ponderosa, near Zion park that had a comfortable and relaxing atmosphere- a perfect place to spend our first Shabbat together. We arrived at Ponderosa on Friday and celebrated Shabbat together by eating dinner, praying and saying the blessings over the candles, wine and challah. After dinner was over, everyone had free time to hang out and do activities. There were many options of fun things to do; like unlimited swimming, basketball, foosball, and table tennis, and extra activities using tickets like paint balling, zip-lining, horseback riding, and rock climbing.

Saturday was another relaxing day. Everyone loved the Shabbat sleep in! We all ate breakfast together and then did some Shabbat prayers before more free time that lasted even after lunchtime. We celebrated the end of Shabbat and the beginning of a new week with Havdallah under the setting sun. We had a great conversation about being appreciative for the blessings that we have, including the gift of being on this trip. We used this conversation to create a positive mindset for the upcoming hike the next morning.

We had an early start on Sunday morning, in order to get to Zion National Park as early as possible. The Park was beautiful with it’s overwhelming mountains, stone paths, lush greenery and beautiful views. Everyone made a commitment to do their best on the hike, and we were truly blown away by the achievements and perseverance of our Trekkies. We started at the bottom of the mountain and walked for 2 miles to our first stop, Refrigerator Canyon. It acquired this name because this canyon path is low between two mountains and the shade makes this part of the path cooler and more manageable, but don’t get us wrong, the uphill switchbacks that followed were a huge challenge.

 

The next major stop was Scout’s Landing and the views were incredible. Some of the group decided to stop here to spend the rest of the time at Zion hanging out with friends and enjoying the scenery. The remaining Trekkies hiked on to Angel’s Landing, the most challenging and thrilling hike any of us had ever tried. The positive attitudes of everyone made this journey special, memorable and rewarding. Angel’s Landing is named for the narrow cliff face that seems to be supernatural. While the Trekkies did not have wings to carry them to the top lookout, they relied on sure footing and sturdy chains along the way. It was the most exciting mile of hiking that any of us had ever traversed! The group completed it with a great attitude by facing their fears. The incredible view and the even more incredible sense of accomplishment was truly rewarding.

The next day, we were off to Viva Las Vegas! We arrived around lunchtime and ate our first meal on The Strip. After getting our footing in this unique city, we went bowling at Silver Nugget Casino. Everyone loved the challenge of seeing how many strikes they could bowl and who would finish top of the leaderboard. After departing Silver Nugget, the group left to UNLV for a terrific “college experience”. The group was able to explore the vast campus and eat their meals in a college cafeteria.

 

The group then departed for the CSI experience, where the Trekkies were able to put their crime solving skills to the test by solving three different cases. The groups all solved their cases and proved they have a future in crime solving! Departing the CSI experience, the group witnessed one of the most amazing experiences of the trip: the Las Vegas Strip at night, with the added excitement of it being the 4th of July! There was a real buzz in the air as the group walked along The Strip and saw the amazing sights Las Vegas has to offer, LIKE the fountains at the Bellagio hotel and the volcano at The Mirage! Tired after an exhilarating day in Las Vegas, the group returned to the UNLV campus for a well deserved night’s sleep.

For our last day in Vegas, we visited the Hoover Dam. We took a tour underground to the generators and learned about the history of the building of the Dam. It was a unique experience to be able to view this complicated, genious system. We took beautiful pictures on the bridge that separates the Colorado River and Lake Mead, and Nevada and Arizona. After the Hoover Dam, we went back to The Strip for lunch, shopping, and hanging out. We returned to the UNLV campus for dinner and went to an evening showing of the Blue Man Group. We were lucky enough to sit in the first three rows, so we were all dressed in ponchos to protect ourselves from the paint and pudding used in the show. The show was quite the spectacle; it was musical, colourful, funny and interactive. Some of our Trekkies were even involved in the show!

Our next stop in Los Angeles, California! Looking forward to what is next for Trek West #1!

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