Zion was a stunningly beautiful place,
snow dusted red-rock canyons scattered with cacti, naked trees and juniper. We spent a full day hiking around the more accessible sections of the park, doing a little bit of bouldering and scrambling where the rock was exposed and just enjoying the vistas. The sun came out in the afternoon and we got glimpses of blue skies before the sun went down.
We left the motel outside of Tucson ready for a long drive and made good enough time that we were about an hour ahead of schedule when we got to El Paso, TX. About 30 minutes east of El Paso there is a US Border Patrol checkpoint, and we were lucky enough to be selected for a search. We sat in the office while a man we referred to as "Vin Diesel" started unloading our life possessions from the back of the truck but got less than 1/3 of the way into the bed before giving up to re-pack. They had set aside a package of brewer's corn sugar that probably looked suspiciously like cocaine, but in the end we left with all of our belongings and no further hassle.
After 14 hours on the road we got into San Antonio and met Fran's old friend Alanna from middle school. We chatted with her and her mother for awhile and they kindly housed us for our two nights in SA. The next day we went and saw Fran's old house on the army base and then went downtown. We had some drinks on the riverwalk (you can walk and drink as long as you stay on the riverwalk!) and saw the site of the Alamo with Alanna and her boyfriend before dinner. That evening we chatted with Alanna and her folks for several hours - their hospitality was amazing and we had a great time in San Antonio!
The next morning we drove to Austin and met Jacob's friends from UW, Joe and Emma, who are in Austin for school. We had a delicious lunch with them at a taco truck and then explored some of the artsy parts of the downtown area. In the evening we were joined by Kelsey's friends Meg and Steve to celebrate Meg's birthday. We had Avocado margaritas and delicious mexican food before crashing for the night.