Day 7 – 29th August 2008 – Bryce and Zion National Parks
Ok today is a very busy day – let me explain. When we were first putting this itinerary together, this part of the trip caused us a lot of concern. We wanted to visit both Bryce and Zion but we couldn’t seem to fit in the days to do it – so at one stage we were considering dropping Bryce (or even Zion) so that we could comfortably spend time at the other. Anyway I suggested this on trip advisor and the overwhelming opinion was that we should not cut either of these two parks – if possible make cuts elsewhere.
So as a form of compromise we decided that we would pay a fleeting visit to Bryce on the way to Zion – I know we couldn’t do it justice in an afternoon but at least it would allow us to see it and who could resist catching a glimpse of the Hoodoos.
So we’re up by 7:00am – fed, watered and packed by 8:00am and on our way - we hadn’t travelled more than 500 yards when I notice in my mirror that I have a Park Ranger behind me with his lights on wanting me to pull in. Oh no what have I done – I can’t have been speeding our RV needs at least a 3 mile run up to achieve it’s maximum cruising speed of 60mph. Anyway, I pull over and thinking that it would be polite, I get out of the car – I am greeted with the Ranger shouting at me from his vehicle “GET BACK IN THE CAR” – goodness I thought maybe he’s auditioning for a part in an American cop series or maybe I cut as an intimidating figure in my knee length shorts grey hair and pink t-shirt – I can see where he’s coming from – I quickly get back in the car before he has me spread eagled across the bonnet. The Ranger approaches the car an explains that he has pulled me over because I did not stop at the Stop sign – I slowed down but my wheels did not stop turning therefore I had committed a traffic violation – I have to admit he was correct – my wheels hadn’t stopped but in my ineffectual defence it was 8:00am in the morning and the road that I was crossing was not even a proper road (I think it was some sort of service road and I could see for miles both ways and there was not a single vehicle on the road). The Ranger then invites me out of the car and asks me to produce driving license and rental agreement (which is in one of the suitcases and requires that I empty our three cases, in the road, to find them). I figure that he is putting me through the maximum inconvenience in order to reinforce the fact that this is not something that I want to go through on a regular basis and may act as a deterrent to future misdemeanours. He returns to his vehicle and obviously starts checking my details or maybe he had started eating his lunch a little early – either way he seemed to be away for a long time. During my wait I try and convince Lyn that he looks a decent sort of chap and once he has made me suffer enough I’m sure he will just let me off with a warning – well nearly - we now have 30days to pay the $75 fine – maybe I’m not such a good judge of character as I thought!!
We are eventually released and spend the next couple of miles questioning the Ranger’s parentage but eventually put the whole incident behind us – after all he was only doing his job – if not a little enthusiastically.
Anyway the drive to Bryce produces more stunning scenery – the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is breath taking - the Staircase is a sequence of cliffs and plateaus rising in succession, one after another, reaching 5500 feet high in places all the way from Lake Powell to Bryce Canyon National Monument.
We stop in Kanab to refuel $32 (£17) – when paying for the gas I inadvertently place myself in front of a young man who I didn’t realise was waiting in the line – he suggested that it may be better for my health if I joined the line behind him – which of course I did – obviously he didn’t find me as intimidating as the Park Ranger. This is turning out to be one of those days that you would just like to start again.
Anyway, still in one piece we decide it’s a good time to eat so we stop at Nedra’s for breakfast – this was a great place to eat – far too much but really nice..
Back on the road we enjoy the stunning drive to Bryce. Now, I have to say that what we did at Bryce is not the best way to see it – to get the best from it you have to give it much more time than we did but for us it was either this or nothing.
By the way the weather is still glorious – not quite so hot as it had been but that was a blessing – it was now just very, very nice.
Ok what we decided to do was to drive all the way out to Rainbow Point and work our way back stopping at all the viewpoints as far as Swamp Canyon – others had obviously decided to do the same as we drove in a convoy of about 4 or 5 cars in and out of each viewpoint all the way back to Swamp Canyon – quite comical really. Now I know this is going to be controversial but I was a little disappointed with these view points – Natural Bridge was the best in my opinion but the rest were well… ok but not quite what I was expecting – at that stage I didn’t express my feelings to Lyn nor she to me but later she confessed that she felt the same.
Anyway undeterred we made our way to Inspiration Point – now that was what I was expecting – wow and wow again – I’m sorry Bryce I take it all back you are a swan a very fine swan indeed. We walked up to Upper Inspiration Point and then drove on to Bryce Point to take in the magnificence of the Bryce Amphitheatre – the Hoodoos in all their glory look fabulous. Lots more photos. We didn’t have time but it does seems criminal to come all this way and not at least walk the Queen Garden Trail and get closer to these monoliths – one of my big regrets on this trip – never mind something else for next time – sorry Bryce we didn’t have the time to do you justice but those hoodoos at Inspiration Point………..
Our schedule was really tight and so we really had to press on – we took in Fairyland Point on the way out and couldn’t drive pass Red Canyon without stopping for more photos.
Lyn wanted us to pull in and visit Bryce Old Town – a very clever reproduction of an old western town with all sorts of nic naks for sell. The ice cream was to die for and we are now the proud owners of our very own piece of Bryce rock formed into tiny natural bridges – really quaint – it now stands in pride of place on a shelf in our dinning room.
Right now we must get on if we are to make Zion before nightfall. Back on the road we load Newton Falkner - Hand Built by Robots onto the CD player and slip off back down the UT 63/12 – US 89.
We started to run out of day light on our way to Zion so I pulled over and took some more amazing sunset pictures – Lyn patiently waits for me to finish – she’s being very good about all these photo stops don’t you think – that was to change!! To this point the current photo count was about 800 – oops!
We are now loosing the light fast and I want to try and make Zion before dark – so no more stopping – I slip on Simon and Garfunkel’s greatest hits into the CD player and we drive of into the sunset singing our accompaniment to our favourite tunes - we enter the park by the east entrance whilst listening to the prophetic words of Paul Simon’s Old Friends “Time it was and what a time it was, a time of innocence, a time of confidences – long ago it must be I have a photograph, preserve your memories they’re all that’s left you”……………
We fall in love with Zion within the first few miles – surely Zion cannot push the Grand Canyon into 3rd place – this is ridiculous – the Grand Canyon is really why we came.
The light is now fading fast – Lyn is purring in the seat besides me – I am trying desperately to keep the car on the road and take an occasional glimpse of the scenery emerging around us – this place is more than beautiful – according to Webster’s Dictionary Zion is “a place regarded as devoted to God: a sacred city” if this is not God’s own country then I don’t know what is.
We continue through the 1 mile Zion – Mt Carmel Tunnel only to be greeted at the far side by a series of high level switchbacks – what scenery I can manage to catch is awesome.
Our GPS behaves and takes us to the door of The Desert Pearl Inn – this is another Inn and location to die for – I’m not just saying this – the Desert Pearl has won a number of awards and it is superb – We are on the ground floor and The Virgin River runs no more than 20yards past our patio doors. The Desert Pearl is one my favourite places so far – well besides the Lake Powell Resort – and the …ah they’ve all been great!
We check in – get unpacked and decide to walk into Springdale get a bite to eat. Basically we fall into the first place we come across – which was lucky as it was very nice – The Pioneer Restaurant – good food – good service and good prices – basic ambience but everything we were after.
We stopped at the Pioneer for a couple of drinks before making our way back to the Desert Pearl about 11:00pm – Lyn feeling much better now and almost back to full working order. Looking forward to tomorrow – to do the Narrows or not?