Are you a parent? Do you know somebody who is? Then listen-up, friend. I am going to solve all the worlds problems and that is why "I will win the Nobel Peace Prize."
Do these two kids look happy? Well they are. We've made the drive to Zion National Park about 20 times in the past 3 years. All have had varying degrees of success. This one was the best. "Why?" you may be asking. Sit back and relax. The show's about to begin.
Once upon a time, there was a happy go lucky family, without a care in the world. Somehow the stars had always aligned for them and they managed to get anything they ever wanted. But there was this one little thing that eluded them. They were really bad at vacationing. How bad? Lets put it this way. You know that family that's always singing in their Lederhosen? Well we aint them. Car activities quickly deteriorated into fighting over who cheated or who didn't want to play anymore. Then it was too hot. blah blah blah.
Even Universal Studios was too hard to enjoy. It was Hollywood, yo! What could be more fun than that?
So our next little adventure was upon us. Or was it?
We all know there are "NO FREE LUNCHES" right? Your darn tootin. So this is where my 9 plus years of parenting come in handy. I've learned all the wrong ways to vacation. First is the "Soft Sell." Tell the kids how much fun this is going to be and how we are doing it "for them." Turns out even 9 year olds are too smart for that one.
Then there is the "Hard Sell." Listen up you little punks, your going to sit in the car for 6 hours. Your not going to fight. Your not going to complain. And one more thing. Your going to have fun. Do you understand? "WELL DO YOU?!?!?!?!?!?!?"
"No Free Lunches", right? Right! Try this...Before you say "no", tell me what it's going to cost. I want to drive 3 hours to eat dinner at the Texas Roadhouse then hike at Zion National Park. Turns out there was a price. It was going to cost me $30 per kid. So far so good. That was within my budget. Here was my counter offer. I agreed on the price, but I had stipulations on the pay out. $10 in Las Vegas. $10 at the Texas Roadhouse. and $10 at Zion. Deal? Deal.
All was going great until we had spent all day together in either a car, a booth at a restaurant, and then...a hotel room in St George, UT. The close quarters were starting to take their toll. A swim in the hotel pool helped a little.
There was a little fighting, but it was late and we all eventually fell asleep.
Well, Captain? Now what. You know a certain couple of ladies hate to hike, especially in the summer desert heat. Think...Think...Think... Ding! I got it. Thank you "Cash Cab." Double or nothing. I will double your $30 if you two kids and Mommy make it all the way to the top. The kids were on board. Mommy, not so much.
The kids marched up that hill with purpose and a sense of urgency. I didn't have to threaten to leave any of them buried in a shallow grave in the middle of the "Grand Staircase." You see, Zion is the middle step of the Grand Staircase. It starts in Bryce, then Zion, then the Grand Canyon.
We made it to the top and all was well, but we weren't done yet. There was still the hike down, the lunch at the Cracker Barrel. Then the drive home. I was out of incentives. Or was I? Before you two think of regressing into your old bad habits, there is one more condition to the pay out of your $60. Each incident of fighting or inappropriate behavior will cost you $10.
Skeptical? I was too. But you know what I found? That the kids really like money.
We made it home in one peace. All of us. And I am declaring this the best vacation ever. Do you want to know what it cost? With Gas, Food, Lodging, Park Fees, and Kid Incentives, it cost us $245. Not bad, eh?
Did I mention we spent more than that just for the admission getting into Universal Studios? And it it wasn't nearly this cool. I mean, were you even looking at these photos? Zion is paradise on Earth. Those Sand Stone Cliffs are millions of years old. It takes one drop of water 1200 years to filter through those cliffs. "LOOK!"