Day 7/Wrapping Up!

Greetings from (very HUMID) Lawrenceville, NJ! If my first day back was any indication, most of the girls had a day filled with sleep and/or exhaustion. Hence the "day after" blog post!

Our final day of tour began with another day of sleeping in (thankfully--I was out exploring Salt Lake City's vibrant and irreverent counter-culture at a dueling piano bar called "Tavernacle" with some local friends until about 1:30AM!). We all got another fantastic breakfast, packed up all of our suitcases, checked out of our hotel, and loaded up our bus for what should have been the final loading up of our bus of the tour (more on that later!).

We drove about 45 minutes to the beautiful Bridal Veil Falls in the Provo River canyon, where some of the more adventurous girls braved the frigid water and climbed part way up the lower falls for a better view. If we had more time, I would have climbed the very steep path to go up to the top of the falls, but probably would have been too scared to make my way back down the path seeing as it was made nearly completely of loose rocks. The girls were also thrilled (some might say "too" thrilled) to see another puppy, which seemed to be a sub-theme of the tour that I haven't yet touched on. Any time we'd see a dog, half of the girls would yell "PUPPY!" and then go be distracted by said puppy for a while, no matter what activity we were taking part in. Amazingly enough, the incredible wonder of the natural world was no match for a simple puppy. Go figure.

We then headed back on our bus and made our way back to the Provo Town Center, the same mall we had stopped at on our way up to Salt Lake City for lunch the other day. It was pretty much the only place open on a Sunday in the area of Provo (the Mormon/non-Mormon ratio being even higher than in Salt Lake City, believe it or not). We had a few hours to spend our per diem on lunch, or a few hours to spend our per diem on motorized animals. You can guess which a good majority of the girls chose...

Our last scheduled stop was for some rafting down the Provo River. We all got our life jackets on, took the bus up to the launch point, and then took our assigned positions on our respective rafts. Our guides were experts, and we were expert entertainers for our guides. My raft's guide, Jessey, claimed that we were definitely one of her favorite jobs she'd ever had on the river. We saw local animals (otters, river rats, drunk tubers, etc), amazing mountain views, and a few rapids that managed to get our clothes wet. We also stopped about midway through the ride to wade in some shallow water--it was COLD! I only ended up getting wet from the occasional splash from a rapid and some "cool guys" jumping into the water off a rock too close to our raft. Some of our girls managed to fall out of their rafts. I guess they were just lucky.

After the raft ride, we had a lovely dinner from a local food truck that met us at our landing spot. We ate, changed out of our wet clothes, and braved a little bit of thunder and lightning to make it to a covered pavilion for our annual "Paper Plate Awards". A great time was had by all, and we decided it could be fun to head to the airport early for a relaxing no-anxiety trip through security and maybe even a little bit of shopping before our 1:05AM flight. We walked back over to our bus as we marvelled at a double rainbow over the mountains. We got on our bus and headed out of the canyon, noticing that our air conditioning wasn't working. Once we were out of the canyon, our bus driver pulled over to the side of the road and tried to get the AC back on by turning the bus off, essentially trying to reboot the system. Unfortunately, he couldn't reboot the system, nor could he turn the engine back on.

And so, there we were, on our very last day heading back to the airport, stuck an hour away from the airport with no ride. The girls, being the good sports that they are, got off the bus and used their towels from the rafting trip as blankets for an impromptu picnic on the side of the road. It was there that we hung out for about an hour, enjoying the beautiful sunset and mountain scenery, waiting for either a mechanic or a new bus to arrive. After it got dark, we headed over to a lighted park pavilion with bathrooms, drinking fountains, and outlets for charging our phones that happened to be right where we stopped. All in all, if there were a right place for our bus to break down, this was it! We waited about another hour before a new bus arrived, and it was totally awesome with leather seats and charging stations and everything! We got to the airport, got our tickets, checked our luggage, got through security, and arrived at our gate with just moments to spare before boarding! Phew!

The rest, as they say, is history. Our first flight was severely lacking in sleep due to a crying baby (which was just normal, for me). Our second flight was shorter, but probably had a few more sleepers. Our bus ride was out of the way, but afforded us more time to sleep. And then we were home, where I promptly went back to sleep.

So that's it. Fantastic tour! I'm looking forward to whatever next year brings! It's been real!