Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Utah's 6th National Park

Did you know that Southern Utah extends into the Middle East? They call the place Petra, but I call it summer’s home. Last week in Petra was the first time I’ve felt at home in a long time (including Bountiful) even though I’ve never been further away from home. I could have sworn I was in Zions, Capital Reef, or Bryce Canyon as I climbed the red baked sandstone cliffs and hiked up the sandy desert trails and slipped through the narrow slot canyons of Petra. I half expected to hear Uncle Wayne fake a warning about rattlesnakes in the brush ahead or hear Aunt Trina tell Jade to stop leaping over cliffs. It was all so surreal.

Petra is the 2nd of the 7 Modern Wonders of the World. I am the 1st. Here are some pictures of 2 different Wonders of the World colliding:

All of the sandstone mountains are covered in tombs and houses carved right into the stony mountain walls by the 5th century Nabataeans. The Bedouins (modern nomadic people like the Gypsies) later began living inside these tombs. Fun to explore.

Recognize this place? I walked out with the gift of immortality. But no girl.

This is me on a donkey. Sideways. I rode on it all the way up to a monastery, scaling slippery cliffs. People kept checking out my ass on the way up.

After Petra we visited Jerash, which is the largest, best preserved Roman architectural city outside of Italy. Once again, I experienced Deja Vu having been in Rome a year ago. All roads do lead back to Rome.


Inside one of the Roman theatres, some military-retired Jordanians started playing Scottish music for us, to which we had a small African style dance party. It must have been an interesting sight to see a bunch of Americans dancing like Africans in a Roman theatre with Scottish music played by Arabs in Jordan.

The big picture on the right is the Jordanian King. He has blue eyes because his mom is British. The people here love him and there are pictures of him everywhere. The two guys in the middle are Princes.

After the tour we watched a bunch of middle-aged Jordanians reenact Roman battles and Gladiator tournaments. Horrible acting + cheesy costumes + obvious choreography = hilarious show.

We got to hangout with the actors afterwards. Violence is so fun.

Jordanian food is the best. I could have eaten ten of these huge, fresh out of the oven, thingies. I am tempted to call them tortillas but I know I shouldn't.

These are the girls before they entered the main mosque in Jordan. Moddest is the Hottest.

The river Jordan. This picture is kinda silly but the river Jordan was a beautiful, peaceful place. We had time to reflect in the cool breeze, dip our hands and feet into the river, and listen to Brother Wilson teach. My mind brought me back to my own baptism and reconstructed the images of Jesus's baptism.

When I first received my 3 1/2 month Jerusalem itinerary, I looked forward to Egypt, the Old City, and Galilee so much that I really had no expectations for Jordan. Jordan was a pleasant surprise, a country full of friendly people, incredible ruins, and biblical history. It reminded me that while I do love to travel and experience what's out there, one place remains at the top of my "favorite places to go" list, and that's Southern Utah. So, Mom and Dad, don't forget that while the Pyramids of Egypt and the Treasury of Jordan are absolutely magnificent, they will never quite live up to my memories of summer campouts to Southern Utah with the fam.


  1. You'll take any excuse to legally swear won't you Jeff. Kind of reminds me of Shane. Yes, Southern Utah is the best...but those ruins are awesome!

  2. I loooved Jordan. Jerash was fascinating to me- how do they do it, those Romans.

    I loved the rock at Petra- lots of purple and ochre and blue all in one slice. Todd climbed to the top of whatever the top is there (cause I was in no mood to exert exertion) and rode donkeys back and has a funny story he tells about that.

    You know, Isreal reminded me alot of Utah- not just Petra, but really everywhere. Very similar climate.

    What is it about Southern Utah? Something magical for sure. Heading back, walking on top of a sanded mesa, the sun setting, knowing there's some good dutch oven bbq chicken back at camp.... there's nothing like it.

    But the most randomest is the Jordanians playing the bagpipes- but maybe there is an explanation we don't know about, but really it's quite common? Love the wierdness.

  3. I think Southern Utah memories will be forever engrained in all of us. Hopefully we can all take our own kids on campouts together someday.

    Those ruins look spectacular and I'm sure the pictures don't even do it justice. Just what does Jordanian food consist of?

    McKennan was very excited to see your photo just now. "There's Jeff! There's Jeff!" He said. I guess he's ready for you to come home.