"Wouldn't it be funny if we went to Vegas?"
This sentence was the start of quite the adventure.
Rewind to 2 weeks ago:
Katey (my photographer friend) and Jake (her friend that is a boy) were talking about how they wanted to go to Zion for a wicked sick photo shoot in the desert. I heard about this and half invited myself/half offered to drive. Luckily they're both the greatest and welcomed me into the trip plans with open arms. We planned on meeting at 6:30am and driving down to St.George for some quality picture taking time, and then driving right back to Provo after sunset. Funny how plans change right?
I left my dark and quite little house at 5:45am, heading towards the gas station, after a solid 2.5 hours of sleep the night before. The car was loaded with outfit changes, snacks, camera gear, and sunscreen of course. We met at Katey's, piled in the car with excitement finally strong enough to push the dust of sleep from our eyes, and all three of us headed down I-15 South. Conversation came easy and we chatted about life and love and music and photographers and how lucky we are that we're all friends through such crazy circumstances.
After one stop for gas and some chocolate covered pretzels for a mid-morning snack, St. George popped up over the red rock hills.
We were itching for food other than jolly ranchers and pretzel chips so we hopped out at Denny's (charming right) and grabbed some breakfast/lunch. We discussed the importance of spirit animals and nicknames at the table in the corner that gave us a view of the entire valley. The heat was already trickling in through the window panes and we guzzled water knowing a long day in the desert was ahead.
After food we set up our game plan followed by a scenic drive up to Zion. After about 30 minuets of good music with the windows down the anticipation was killing me and I pulled down an empty dirt road that overlooked the valley and ran from the car. The heat of the sun spilled over every inch of bare skin and it felt so marvelous. I ran and span and jumped for joy. Funny what the beauty of nature makes you do sometimes. We spent some quality time on this little unnamed road taking pictures with our cameras and our eyes.
After finally deciding that we had seen plenty of this little slice of heaven we hopped back into the Bug and head towards Zion only to realize there was a 25$ entrance fee and we were poor. Plan change number one: we decided to head down a back road towards a lake instead. That drive has the possibility to make the list for top 5 most beautiful things I have ever seen. Red rock mountains as high as the eye can see. We climbed higher and higher towards the clouds up this thin 2 lane road that was occasionally lined with cliffs on either side (anxiety), until we reached the top of a plateau that was unnaturally green for this particular area of the earth. We were face to face with the summits of all the mountains we had seen towering from miles below. It was beautiful.
I have never felt so small and so grand at the same time. It was impossible to fathom how little tiny me could ever be significant in such a grand and massive world and yet, I was. I am living and breathing and existing and every moment of doing that was significant. I touch the life of everything that comes in contact with me and I have influence over everyone I meet just as they have influence over me. Maybe I am small on this great big earth, but being small still takes up space, and if I'm taking up space I might as well be doing something that's worth taking up space for.
I am Here.
At one point we decided our eyes just couldn't take it all in anymore and we broke out the camera to do some photoshoot-ing. 2 locations caught out eye the most, one of them being in the middle of the main road and the other being about 20 feet off the freeway. Here's some of the pictures we took in between dodging cars zooming 50 mph and avoiding snake holes and insects as big as my face.
This is where the fun really began. We decided that Las Vegas wasn't that far away and that 100 degrees wasn't that hot (we're dumb). The drive down wasn't that bad, but the lack of sleep from the night before was definitely sinking in. We spoke of our biggest fears, high school regrets, old relationships, new obsessions, celebrity crushes, and all sorts of mundane things that made me feel like I had known these people a lifetime. It's a beautiful thing, seeing people talk about their life in such a raw form. No dressing up the truth to make it sound exciting and dramatic. These we're real people and I liked them a whole lot.
Finally seeing the skyline of the Strip as we drove down the highway was rather exhilarating and all we could say was "I can't believe we're in Vegas". We got fancy and valeted the car at The Paris Hotel and let the wondering and people watching began. Dinner was Panda Express because once again, we're poor. Our number of hotel wanderings included the Venetian, the Cosmopolitan, and Planet Hollywood. We had our late night pick-me-up of frozen hot chocolate from Serendipity before finishing the evening at the dancing fountains.
The highlight of Vegas, for me at least, has to be a tie between one of the costume characters dressed up as Elmo coming up behind me and literally giving me a heart attack or standing up outside my sun-roof as we drove down the Las Vegas strip. Talk about a movie moment. Also someone asked me to flash them which was cool I guess (I didn't, don't worry).
Driving home was where the happiness ended and the mental breakdown began. About an hour outside of Vegas we hit some serious traffic and were stuck at a standstill for over an hour. We were going about one mile every 15 to 20 minuets. This, coupled with very little sleep and less than half a tank of gas, resulted in quite the anxiety attack. After we got out of that nightmare and got some gas and coffee, we set the cruise to 95 and prayed for the best. We switched drivers as often as we could, trying to get some sleep in shifts. My cure for driving half asleep is to belt out show tunes and to blast the AC. I'm alive so clearly I did something right. We rolled back into salt lake at 6:30am. It took us 7 hours to get home. Not planned for, but worth it. I proceeded to nap for 13 hours after that.
1 car. 3 friends. 1122 miles. 26.5 hours.
Dress: Free People
Hat: Necessary Clothing
Shoes: Urban Outfitters
Rings/Bracelets: Thrifted or Forever 21
Sunglasses: Urban Outfitters