Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Shakespeare and Zion

Just prior to my Alaska trip, we made a mad dash to Cedar City Utah, home of an always excellent Shakespeare festival, and close to Zion National Park, Cedar Breaks National monument, and other red rock wonders.  We were joined by Kathleen's brothers Rob and Kevin and their families, as well as by Brent and Val, a last trip before they leave on their mission to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Kathleen, Kate and the boys started a day early, as I was tied up at work, which has been a common theme of late.  No matter; Kate arrived in time to see the Merry Wives of Windsor, her first Shakespeare play.  And she loved it!  Like, really loved it. I am so happy about that. She is such a little writer, and it gives me joy to know that she appreciates Shakespeare at the ripe old age of 12.  I came down Friday after work, and we enjoyed a non-Shakespeare play, Mary Stuart, by Friedrich Schiller, which also was very engaging, with excellent actors throughout.

Saturday, we made a real day of it, finding our dear friend, Harriet Crandall (formerly of Stinson Beach), and hiking up the delightful Taylor Creek, in the Kolob Canyons section of Zion National park.

Hiking in Southern Utah in July is usually not to be recommended for anyone not native to Phoenix. But this was a shaded trail, with a cooling stream.

Red Rock cliffs towered over head,

providing shade,

and allowing even pine trees to grow in the moisture of the seeping stream.

We found tadpoles and even frogs (tiny and otherwise) all along the way, much to the delight of two little boys.

These they were able to catch,  

unlike the ubiquitous lizards below (0 for 21 and it could have been worse).

This snake, however, likely did much better. Shortly after this photo it launched at a speed I could not believe, chasing after two of those lizards. I did not see the result, but it did not look good for the lizards.

After about a mile and a half the boys were ready to turn around, and Harriet (two hip replacements and a knee) decided to join them. Kathleen, my hero, volunteered to go with them, while Kate and I went on to the head of the canyon, about 3 miles up.  It was beautiful.

Here are some photos of the seep that starts Taylor Creek:

After hiking, we went to see Titus Andronicus, its themes of strict adherence to tradition, its collision with unbridled wildness, and the tragedy that can result when violence is used to sort it out, as eternal as everything Shakespeare did.  Kate was again enthralled.

Sunday I woke up early, and while the kids and Kathleen swam at the motel pool, I made a quick dash to Cedar Breaks. Kathleen and I, as poor college students, honeymooned near here (Brianhead) 23 years ago.

And so it was very sad to see that the pine beetle is destroying the forests here, just as it is in the Uintah mountains and near our home, at an alarming rate. Global warming is savaging the forests I grew up with and love. When my kids are my age, I fear the places I cherish will look nothing at all like they once did. It is a really hard thing to watch, and I hate the pine beetle with a deep passion. It deserves utter extermination.

Needing a little lift, I made a trip along the plateaus above Zion, then down into the northwest corner of the park.  (Thanks Rob!)

The gold, burnt orange, white and blue world that makes up these parts on a sunny day never grows old.

All in all, still a very good trip, damned pine beetle notwithstanding.  At least Shakespeare seems timeless, as do those giant cliffs of brilliant sandstone and blue, blue skies.