Suzi and I got back from Utah and New Mexico last Tuesday morning. 4 AM in the morning, actually. We were stranded in Dallas for a few hours while American Airlines tried to clean up a row of seats where someone had been sick. Finally, they just roped off the seats and we headed back to New York

That was the only dark moment on a great trip. It was, for me, a bucket list trip. I want to see as many national parks as possible. So, this year we visited Zion, Bryce, and Capitol Reef in Utah. That top picture is Bryce where there is a famous 17-mile scenic drive. Because the Federal Government was shut for a month, they stopped plowing the snow in Bryce and you can’t drive the full length of the highway. We had to stop at Mile 12, just where you can see this that wonderful Natural Bridge. Actually, it is a natural arch, not a bridge, because the hole there has been formed primarily by wind, not by flowing water. It was beautiful and cold. None of the Bryce trails were open in late April. None.

After Bryce, we went to Capitol Reef, a national park founded only in 1971. We hiked a “slot canyon,” narrow and tall. There is a small black dot in the lower left of the picture. That’s Suzi. The canyon walls tower over 60 stories. You don’t want to be in these canyons when it rains. It’s very dangerous.

Besides flowing water, there are other issues you should know about. You are at 7000 feet here. You can get altitude sickness or become dizzy. You can run out of energy in a flash — the best reason ever to carry some sugary junk food. And, most importantly, whether you are thirsty or not, you have to drink. At altitude, your lungs are exporting water at a rate you cannot imagine. You can dehydrate in a short time, and not be aware of what is happening. You can get very, very sick. So, take lots of water and do not just carry it around. Drink it!

After a week in the mountains and canyons, we decided to “recover” by going to Sante Fe. Our trails were the sidewalks of Santa Fe as we restaurant-hopped. Here’s our dessert from Easter Sunday at Santecafe, a famed Santa Fe restaurant from 1983. A bit sadly, this was the last day for the restaurant. It has been purchased, will shut for a while, and — we are told — reopen with the same menu. We hope so. This is their famed summer dessert of lemon angel food cake, lemon drizzle, berries and very thickly whipped cream.

You know how it is when you go on vacation. You come home. You step on the scale and you pray you have not gained more than five pounds. I lost seven pounds. I am now, officially, on the burrito-and-margarita diet. I can personally recommend it.