day 6: the lunatics leave the asylum

For five straight days we spent six plus hours per day in hardcore exercise mode. Day 6 arrived in the form of a generous, well-timed gift: a field trip to Zion National Park. Zion is Utah’s first national park and, in my estimation, one of the most beautiful.

This trip was not included in our weekly program fee, meaning it came with a nominal charge to attend. The Russian Princess and I jumped at it.

A small group of us, eight in total, made our way to the van at 6:00 am. It was cold and dark. Colder, in fact, than it had been all week.

Some 90 minutes later we pulled into the Zion visitor center parking lot.

A blast of icy air greeted us when we opened the van door.

At its lowest elevation, Zion sits at 3,666′ above sea level; at its highest, 8.726′. Even with umpteen layers on, it was cold enough to make my teeth chatter.


Freezing our asses off.

The group entered The Lodge, a combination gift shop and restaurant. I ran straight to the shop to see if they sold anything that would offer me more warmth. I settled on some colorful knit socks.

Several of the others had gone upstairs to the restaurant in search of coffee, an item that is verboten at Movara, but The Russian and I were there to hike, not sit in a cafe, so we headed out to our chosen trail.

Another guest, Paul, looked like he was ready to hike too, so we invited him to join us.


Showing off my new socks at the start of the Grotto Trail.


Just moments into the hike we saw 2 massive deer, one of them friendly enough to allow Irina to get a close up shot.


A few moments after that, while crossing the bridge over the Angel River, we saw another large male deer at river level. It actually looked like he was playing in the water, balancing on large rocks and looking up at his admirers on the bridge.

It was as close to a magical moment as I’ve ever seen.


You can barely make him out on that large flat rock in the middle, but he was clear as day to the naked eye. Amazing!

In total we covered four trails that morning: The Grotto (easy), followed by the three Emerald Pools trails: Lower Emerald Pools (easy), Middle (moderate), and Upper (moderately strenuous).

The views were sublime.

All the hiking we had done in southern Utah had been pretty spectacular, but Zion delivered awe-inspiring backdrops second to none.


And I couldn’t have asked for better company.

We arrived back at Movara at 1:30 p.m., just in time for “Graduation”.

Guests gathered in the lecture hall to watch a compilation video of the week’s activities causing fits of laughter. The video of me wailing away at the freestanding heavy bag during kickboxing class is one that should never make its way into the public eye. Ever.

Next we had another round of group shares, this time about what the week had meant to us.

I started out strong and dry-eyed, but then found myself choking back tears as I sputtered out the following:

Three years ago in Malibu, I felt crushed and beaten and incapable 5 of the 6 days. The thing I’m proudest of about this week is that while there were several days when my body felt a little beat-up and broken, my SPIRIT never felt broken. I was never broken.

THIS is my biggest win of the week, and – regardless what the scale shows tomorrow – my heart and my spirit are whole and unbroken. And I’m proud of myself. 

I looked towards the stage and saw that Trainer Cliff (the only human on the planet who cries more easily than I do) was also crying. I yelled, “Stop it! You’re not helping!“, to which he replied, “We’re not crying, it’s just our eyes sweating.

We hugged our goodbyes with guests not staying over that final night, and then checked our agendas for the next class.


Hmmpphh. No more classes.

Many guests chose to run errands, do laundry or lounge by the pool. (Did I mention that Day 6 felt like a gift?), but Irina and I decided we needed to squeeze a little more exercise in, so we hit the gym.

Half hour on the treadmill seemed more than enough, considering the beautiful sunny and warm weather beckoning us to the pool.


I had been eyeing an inflatable shark pool toy all week. That bastard taunted me in much the same way my giant inflatable rubber ducky in Toronto did.

He challenged me.

I accepted his challenge.

After a whopping 3 seconds on Sharky, he tossed me aside like a drunken college girl riding a mechanical bull.

Final stats for the day: 

  • 20,966 steps
  • 8.6 miles
  • 2,120 calories burned (vs. 1,200 consumed)
  • 1 massive amount of fun had
  • 1 Lomi Lomi massage (my second in as many days) …Holy hell, I miss Masseuse Marie and her magic hands.

Keep moving,

xoxo nancy

91 thoughts on “day 6: the lunatics leave the asylum

    • Sam, in a corridor of approx 90 mins drive time this part of Southern Utah features 3 of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen: Zion Nat’l Park, Bryce Canyon and Cedar Breaks National Monument. If I could, I’d get to those parts every weekend, but driving 3-5 hours, depending on which park I want to hit (one way) seems excessive. A bit. 🙂

  1. It looks like an amazing experience, Nancy. The photos were stunning, as were your colorful socks! Simply striking photos of the national park. As far as the pool? I could never last on those inflatables. I always tip over.

  2. What an amazing hike! We brought a cute inflatable whale ( sharky’s twin) to my nieces birthday party and succeeded in making 20+ kids cry as they all flipped off the beastie one after the other. Noooooo. 😦

  3. Wow, what views! You always make me want to go hiking! But, I’m pretty attached to my running shoes right now! I think that when Mr. T graduates, I may have to look into it – I think I have some trails near me! I’m so glad to hear how successful the journey was – focusing on your Spirit and acknowledging your strength was so awesome to read – and yeah, I cried, too. I’m just so happy for you and your journey and that you share it with us, and all the encouragement you send out!
    And seriously, how many massive inflatable pool toys can enter one persons life?!?

    • If you ever make it back to Vegas, Kate, I am definitely taking you hiking. It is the most soul-nourishing activity I’ve ever experienced. (This despite the amount of cursing and scowling I do during the climb :))

      Thank you for your kind, kind words. Being vulnerable is not my strong suit, so when I share the real stuff on this blog, it’s good to know it lands and resonates for others.


  4. Sounds like a well-deserved day. The pictures are gorgeous. Was that pink color of the sky photoshopped, or is that how it really looked? Breathtaking.

    I always wonder how much money gift shops make in clothing items people either forgot to bring or they didn’t dress warmly enough. A lot, I bet.

    “Eyes sweating.” Ha!

    • I know, right! The altitude has a lot to do with it, as did the time of day. It gets SUPER cold at night, so the early to mid morning is really chilly. As you can see from the pics even from the hike, I start out with more layers than I finish with. 🙂

  5. That looks amazing, I am almost inspired to go hiking (except it’s dark and raining here so probably wouldn’t result in those stunning views…)

    • Linnet, I can honestly say that even here in Vegas, every time we drive towards the condo and I first glimpse the Red Rock Canyon range of mountains facing from the north, it takes my breath away. In fact, just yesterday, I said to my husband, “I will never get tired of this view.”

      There’s something so majestic and humbling about mountains. I feel that about the ocean, too – but different, if you know what I mean.

      • Yes – absolutely. With the mountains, for me, the difference is that there is just something so symbolic about climbing a mountain. So, combine the majesty of the physical with the symbolism of the action and it’s pure magic for me.

  6. Wow Nancy. Those occasions when we face a difficult challenge head-on and walk away having conquered it is simply THE BEST!
    Loved the pictures. My absolute favourite hikes are those when I see a deer 🙂

  7. There were no more classes yet you decided to go to the gym??? WHO are you? 🙂 All kidding aside, wow. You must have felt so incredibly accomplished, Nancy. The views, the hikes, the people you met – it all sounds pretty fantastic. LOL on the inflatable shark, you better stick to rubber duckies! 🙂

  8. “We’re not crying, it’s just our eyes sweating.” … awwwww. I’m laugh-crying/sweating now.

    Did the Shark have a name? Ryan Sharkling? Rob Gronsharkski? LL Cool Shark? Josh Sharknett? I’d ride any one of those sharks. 😉 Well, not the second. Michelle can have that one.

    • That part of the country is spectacular, Lynne. In a 90 or so minute corridor you’ve got Zion, Bryce Canyon and Cedar Breaks National monument; each prettier than the last.

  9. That one collage of photos is breathtaking… and the shark is a little fearsome. I just watched Sharknado 3. Honest! By the way, it’s freeeeezing around here, -25oC yesterday. But at least it’s sunny, someone said to me (as Trent sneered).

    • We just escaped that grossness by the skin of our teeth. Fingers crossed it’s all done in two week when I’m back. Actually, it can technically stay 3 more weeks, as I turn around and fly to Atlanta the day after I get back to TO. As long as the cold is done, done, done by March 5th, I will be happy.

      • I’ll tell the snow gods that – March 5th sounds great to me, too. Actually, it’s not that far away. Amazing how fast winter whipped by.

        So speaking of things, I’m hooking up with a personal trainer later this week. No telling what pain will ensue.

      • Go, Trent, go!!! (Stock up on epsom salts. Soaking in a hot bath filled with the salts will help with some of the lactic acid build-up and sore muscles. Also – drink tons of water.)

      • I smoked the rowing machine today, then hit the treadmill and some weights… not nearly as hardcore as you, but I am soooo sore. The scotch will help, though.

  10. Congratulations Nancy! You did it AGAIN! And isn’t Zion just incredible? I’ve only been there once but hope to visit again later this spring. Bryce too is gorgeous of course but I’ve never been to Cedar Breaks National Monument so now I have something to look forward to–thank you! ~Kathy

  11. Your description of these six days makes me ache for an adventure!
    I’ve loved every step of your journey and sometimes go back and soak in the photos. LOVE!
    Thank you for sharing your corner of the world with us. Michelle

    PS: sooo….it’s a BAD thing to dance like Elaine? Ooopsies. 🙂

  12. How the heck did I miss this one? You make me laugh, with your shark-bustin self. Side note: Hope all is well with you. Peace, John

    • Oh boy, Trent. My life is a shit-show beyond measure. Nothing bad – just relentless travel combined with crazy workloads. I’m trying to at least keep up with reading, even if I can’t dedicate the time to writing.

      I got to Vegas Tuesday night – will be here through to June 1st – so I’m hoping that keeping to Eastern Time Zone work hours will give me some much needed catch-up time. I’ve got lots to post about, but haven’t been able to justify devoting time to that right now when I’m so behind in so many other areas.

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