Heavy snowstorms had slowed our journey. We had left the San Luis Valley after school. Our plan was to drive the 550 miles to St. George for a weekend of warm rock climbing. Everything was going according to our plan until we were south of Zion National Park. The rain we first encountered at Page, AZ had finally turned to snow and the roads became icy. Our progress slowed to a crawl.
Finally, half-awake, we arrived in St. George, UT. We began to worry immediately when we saw the same two words at every hotel: "NO VACANCY". Having no choice, we headed over the Utah Hills and towards Nevada for a night in the desert. This was going to be an unpleasant night of car camping'; planning to stay in a hotel, we had no camping gear. I put on my father's extra clothing in a futile attempt to stay warm. Finding a comfortable position in our little car was not possible. I tossed and turned and shivered. Eventually, exhaustion won over discomfort and I fell asleep just before dawn.
I woke almost immediately. The pre-dawn light revealed the magical landscape around me. In the distance, the low storm clouds were just starting to lift, revealing snow-topped mountains. The higher clouds were reflecting red light, giving a surreal tint to everything. I got out of the car and started exploring. By chance, we had parked in the middle of a Joshua tree 'forest'. White flowers, just beginning to bloom, topped the green spiky Joshuas. Small purple flowers dotted the damp, soft ground. Carefully moving among the cacti, I noticed the many odd rocks. This was a complex area. The rocks were a mixture of limestone, sandstone, and basalt. Some of the sandstone looked like small pieces of wood. Other rocks looked like a piece of red sandstone was glued to a piece of black basalt or limestone. As I wandered, I watched the sunlight move across the huge valley before me. I paused and breathed the moist air. It was loaded with the smell of renewed desert life. In a moment, I was also renewed. The tiredness left me. Almost instantly I forgot the sleepless night. The struggles were over. I knew everything was going to be OK.