Hiking 6500 Feet Up to Observation Point in Zion National Park
"You have to climb the tree, if you want to enjoy the fruit."
-A framed quote sitting on a little table outside of my low-tech neighborhood gym-
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As the Lab Rat & I hiked up the Utah mountains in Zion & down into the canyons of Bryce & Capitol Reef, I had one of those light-bulb moments.
Everything that I'd been doing for the past 4 years had brought me to this magnificent experience. Here I was hiking up strenous narrow trails with precarious steep drop-off cliffs. The temperature was 70 degrees, sunny, not a cloud in the sky.
We weren't limited to just driving to the parks' look-out points--in order to view the awe-inspiring sites of Zion, Bryce Canyon, & Capitol Reef National Parks. We hiked up the mountains & down into the glorious canyons. Away from the crowds.
That plant-based no-oil diet certainly was working for us. Plenty of energy to spare--and no aches or pains to hold us back. No bum knees or hips. We were steady on our feet--no worries about slipping off the mountain's edge. Not to mention, the unmentionable--our digestive systems were doing just fine, in spite of the travel.
All that spinning & weight-training was paying off in spades. These were strenous hikes (ranked as "difficult"), yet my quads were up to the task. No need to stop & catch my breath--even in the high-altitude. No need to rest my quads. I felt strong, capable, & down-right proud of how my body was up to the task.
A word about technology: I mysteriously lost my annoying interest in the internet for a week. Gone. Who cares what's in the news? No computer. No iPhone. No TV. No newspaper. The sights I was seeing--were a lot more captivating.
And of course, the presentation on, "Centenarian Strategies"... That's the reason we were in Utah in the first place.
When I was asked 6 months ago to speak at the Utah Library Association's 100th meeting, I thought, "Sure, why not. What an honor! You want me to speak?"
But, two months ago, I wondered what I had gotten myself into. What was I thinking, saying "Yes" to delivering an hour-long presentation.
No exaggeration--putting this presentation together was a mammoth job. Hours and hours of work. But worth every minute of it! I stretched my brain in ways I never thought possible, while getting proficient with Apple's Keynote software. I could literally feel the new neuron connections sprouting.
I learned how to insert videos, add audio clips, work with shapes, include fancy animations, transitions & graphics. The whole 9 yards. Learning something new--out of my comfort zone was worth all the effort.
But, the best part, was the opportunity to share what I had learned over the past 4 years!
Turns out, only one person in the entire audience had seen "Forks Over Knives". The film had never made it to Salt Lake City. All this was new territory.
Rx: SPiF WAD - The Centenarian Six
The night before my presentation Ann Esselstyn sent me an email: "Good luck! I know you'll be fantastic. But expect "technical difficulties. Nothing ever goes as planned." Uh oh! Was this an omen?
She knew how things can go in the "presentation world"!
I had double & triple-checked that there would be audio for the video & audio clips in my presentation. All systems were go. No worries.
When I arrived an hour before the talk, there was no audio in the room. Somehow the IT staff never got the order for audio--and by now, they already had big computer problems to work on for other presenters. Oops. Now what?
Well, the audio somehow finally got sorted out--but that put me about 15 minutes behind schedule--with the big luncheon & keynote speaker following me at 12:00 o'clock sharp.
The talk went well. The Lab Rat (who's as honest as they come) says everyone was closely paying attention--transfixed, he said--& rapidly taking notes. But, I ran out of time to finish, to wrap things up, to answer questions, & just plain schmooze with everyone. That part was a big disappointment for me. But, I'm over it. The feedback--so I hear--was great.
So, Here's the Post-Presentation Wrap Up I Never Had the Chance to Make
As we flew home on Thursday, I was totally engrossed in Jonah Lehrer's new book, "Imagine: How Creativity Works". It's all about how ideas come to us, seemingly "out-of-the-blue" when we're relaxed & least expect them.
Light bulb moment again. Well, nothing so brilliant. But, having the opportunity to travel 6 days after the conference, I now had THE PERFECT ENDING to my Centenarian Strategies talk.
I had experienced every single one of the Centenarian Six Rx on this trip!
And I had reaped the rewards of this outstanding trip because of the Centenarian Six.
- I've got a body I can count on because of what I eat & how I exercise
- I've got energy
- Strong heart, bones, & a better brain (I really notice clearer thinking)
- Solid sleep
- The joy that comes from friends, family, & meeting new people wherever I go & embracing new experiences
- The fulfillment that can only come from work that's serious & stimulating
- The laughter, the silliness, the upbeat attitude (that's the smiles) & unabashed joy of music & singing
Bottom Line: Diet really is the keystone to Rx SPiF WAD--but all the other five are important contributors to health & happiness. We need them all!
Here's the silly acronym I jotted down on the inside cover of Lehrer's marvelous book - SPiF-WAD.
It says it all.
The only "food" we brought with us on this trip was chia seed, Hammer bars & Larabars. So little preparation? What were we thinking?
The no-fat vegan Heart Thrives & California Suncakes we ordered too late to arrive before we left. But, be sure to check them out! They taste great & are loaded with nutrition. Perfect travel & hiking fuel. They taste like scones.
How crazy & fortunate that we found amazing vegan options for breakfast, lunch, & dinner--everywhere.
We stocked up on hiking supplies for our hikes in the little Utah town of La Verkin, on our way to Zion. Found Better'n Peanut Butter (better than nothing), hummus, hearty whole grain La Brea bread, Suzy's Spelt Cakes, & fruit. That's a packable lunch!
In the Salt Lake City Hilton, and at Oscar's Restaurant in Springdale, outside of Zion, we enjoyed giant bowls of steel cut oats, topped with berries & chia for breakfast. At Oscar's, steel cut oats are made daily--but they're not on the menu. And they even have soymilk.
At the famous Hell's Backbone Grill in Boulder, UT we breakfasted on brown rice, red beans, & hot sauce. Definitely rib-stickin'. Something I'll try at home for breakfast.
At the amazing Torrey School House B & B, our host made us no-fat vegan whole grain blueberry pancakes & served them with fresh organic asparagus from her garden. She called it, "Vegan Bacon".
The Salt Lake City airport Quality Inn & Bryce's Best Western Grand had sorry-looking breakfasts, but we made do. Donuts, Lucky Charms, bacon, sausage, white bread, waffle mix, tasteless oatmeal that looked like thin gravy & yogurt. Next time I'll pack some emergency homemade oatmeal baggies.
Steel Cut Oats with Berries for Breakfast
Hell's Backbone Grill Beans & Brown Rice with She-Devil Sauce for Breakfast
Dinners to Delight
Our dinners were all vegan & all delicious. How is it possible that we were able to eat so well? These options don't exist where I live.
Favorite Utah Restaurant:
Sage's Vegetarian Cafe in Salt Lake City
Other memorable vegan dinners:
Bit & Spur in Springdale, UT: Polenta Stacks with Cremini, Shiitake Mushrooms & Black Beans & Pumpkin/Mushroom Tamales with Roast Tomato Sauce & Black Beans.
The organic, locally-sourced restaurant in the Bryce Canyon Lodge is under new management & has a number of vegan options.
Hell's Backbone Grill in Boulder, UT
Cafe Diablo in Torrey, UT (ask for the gluten-free & vegan menus)
Breakfast in Springdale (Zion National Park): Oscar's Cafe: Steel cut oats are made everyday, even though they aren't on the menu. Soymilk is available.
Sage's Cafe in Salt Lake City
Sage's Amazing Towering Soba Salad with Blackened Tempeh
Sage's Mayo-Free Potato Salad with Blackened Tempeh, Avocado & Vegetables Galore
Sage's Special Squash & Spicy Tempeh Burrito with Tofu "Sour Cream"
Sage's Appetizer Asian Lettuce Rolls with Spicy Tempeh & Vegetables
Cafe Diablo in Torrey, Utah
Cafe Diablo's Complimentary Grilled Vegetable Appetizer with Homemade Bread
Cafe Diablo's Vegan Vegetable Tamales with Black Bean Sauce, Pureed Sweet Potatoes & Grilled Vegetables
Cafe Diablo's Kid-Sized Homemade Strawberry Sorbet
Hell's Backbone Grill Vegan Arugula Pesto Ziti with Greens
Hell's Backbone Grill Award-Winning House Salad with Honey-Chili Dressing
Hell's Backbone Grill Hearty Vegan Green Chili & Bean Posole - Not Much to Look at, but Delicious! I Plan to Order Their Authentic Posole
Utah Sights - Salt Lake City, Zion, Bryce, & Capitol Reef National Parks
Utah Rocks! Zion National Park
On Top of Observation Point - Zion National Park - 4 Miles Straight Up & 4 Miles Straight Down
Whoa! We Hiked Up Those Switchbacks?? At Zion NP
Hiking the Navaho Loop & Peekaboo Trail at Bryce Canyon NP
Hiking Among the Hoodoos in Bryce Canyon
Hiking to Hickman Bridge at Capitol Reef NP - That's the Lab Rat on the Left!
Waiting for the Shuttle at Zion NP - No Cars Allowed!
Flowers are Everywhere in Salt Lake City's Stunning Tabernacle Square
Listening to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir's Thursday Night Rehearsal - Beautiful
The Mormon Temple
Lay Your Head Down - Sweet Sleep
The Warm & Inviting Under the Eaves B & B in Springdale, UT - Zion NP--Thumbs Up! Hosts Mark & Joe are Terrific
Our Home Away from Home at Under the Eaves - Zion NP
At Boulder Mountain Lodge - Boulder, UT - Freebie Upgrade to a Gynormous Rustic Room with a Kitchen, Porch & Mountain View
The Charming 1914 Renovated School House B & B in Torrey, UT - Gorgeous Gardens Everywhere