me in the piazza

I'm a writer, publishing both as SJ Rozan and, with Carlos Dews, as Sam Cabot. (I'm Sam, he's Cabot.) Here you can find links to my almost-daily blog posts, including the Saturday haiku I've been doing for years. BUT the blog itself has moved to my website. If you go on over there you can subscribe and you'll never miss a post. (Miss a post! A scary thought!) Also, I'll be teaching a writing workshop in Italy this summer -- come join us!
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A couple of you folks have pointed out I never gave you the Zion report. So on this pre-holiday morning, as I get ready to head out to the Rancho for the first time in a month, here it is.

First, just the word "Zion" conjures up in my head three conflicting ideas.

One's the park I just got back from, but until I went there, that was the weakest image, though now it's the strongest.

The oldest, but most abstract, is all the baggage that comes with the idea of a Jewish homeland: my grandparents were among the original Zionists, from way pre-WWII. I know that pedigree's not fashionable in leftist circles these days, but there it is and I'm proud of it.

And the most powerful visual is the city at the center of the computer-run Earth in "The Matrix," especially the scene where they're dancing.

So with these the idea running around my head, I trundled off to Zion with my 12-year-old nephew from Philadelphia who'd never been on a plane before.

Flawless flight, quick night at the Salt Lake City La Quinta (note: of all the el cheapo hotel chains, I like La Quinta best because they always have an outdoor sitting area) and then a long but, again, flawless drive 6 hours south to the Zion Ponderosa Ranch. Any of you Bonanza fans, what could be better than a stay at the Ponderosa? No, it's not the set from the show, but it's log-built and staffed by very cheery, outdoors-healthy young folks who take completely in stride middle-aged women who can't get enough of the zipline and 12-year-olds who want to race ATVs around a dirt track in the rain. At the Ponderosa, we did those things plus horseback riding, skeet shooting (the kid was much better than I was), bungee trampolining, swimming (waterslides, whee!), climbing wall/rapeling, horsehoes (we were both awful), basketball, pool, and an ongoing ping-pong tournament which he ultimately won eight games to seven. We also had a running three-night Las Vegas Monopoly game in our very comfortable cabin, wherein he creamed me.

Then there was Zion Park itself. We hiked to the top of the three Emerald Pools, saw a tarantula on the path ("Hey, look at the giant spider!" "Oh, wow!") which we didn't identify and therefore weren't nervous about until we got back to the Visitor Center, saw western bluebirds (a first for me) and got caught in a humongous rainstorm that caused flash floods and made high waterfalls over every cliff in the park.

When we weren't doing these things we were eating, either from the Ponderosa's quite good buffet or from a Mexican place near the Park, quite yummy. Or drinking tea on our cabin's front porch, watching the clouds come and go. Or hanging out by the pool reading, but that's rare when you're traveling with a 12-year-old.

Finally, a long but nearly flawless drive back to Salt Lake City, marred only by a traffic jam within the city limits. A couple of nights with some really nice relatives who happen to live out there, and then back on another flawless flight, on which we played trivia on the seat-back consoles against two dozen other passengers and came in 4th, not so bad, considering.

All in all, an excellent adventure.

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