6/15/07 As I reported to you at the Grand Canyon, one of the fun things about having an MP3 player along is being able to cue up a soundtrack like Sheryl Crowe's "Leaving Las Vegas" at appropriate moments in the adventure. We drove away from the campground on Sahara Boulevard to I-15 north to an unscheduled stop in St. George after spotting a Cracker Barrel advertisement. Shortly after we turned east on UT-9 for the beautiful drive through Hurricane, Virgin, and Springdale and the entrance gate for Zion National Park. Our intention was to ride the park shuttle into Zion Canyon but we oscillated in our interpretation of park rules and achieved a sort of negative gridlock over, you know, the furry short legged component of our traveling trio. I asked the park employee if it was possible to run the generator of the RV so that Diesel could be provided with the comfort to which he has become accustomed.My phrasing of the question indicated my intent to leave the dog unattended and that was an infraction that we could not escape without one of us staying with Diesel while the other rode the shuttle around the canyon. In retrospect, I should have asked if I could run the generator so that my aging mother could survive the debilitating heat while my wife and I rode the shuttle through the canyon. Then I could have fired up the generator, dressed Diesel in a little hat and a muumuu and left him to relax in the air-conditioned comfort of his home while Linda and I rode the shuttle through the canyon. I have an oracular vision that this new procedural knowledge will be applied many times over in our future national park visits. We drove off in our huff and returned through Springdale, Virgin, and Tocqueville to our KOA campsite in Cedar City.
6/16/07 We had a major loafing day starting with a late rising; a sausage, eggs, and toast breakfast under our awning; laundry duties; a good read; lolling around the swimming pool; and relaxed planning of a circuitous route around southern Utah that would give us time in Bryce Canyon, Escalante National Monument, Capital Reef, Canyonlands, and Arches National Parks.6/17/07 We refilled our propane before leaving the Cedar City KOA and I asked the attendant for what he considered to be the most beautiful route to Bryce Canyon and he suggested UT-14 and then UT-148 through Cedar Breaks National Monument. He spoke of 10,000 ft. mountains with switchbacks and that it would be slow going in our rig but he recognized our undaunted natures and we were reluctant to doubt ourselves in his eyes. It did wind a lot and we did stop for a while to let Rocinante's bubbling coolant to quiet down and to look out on Zion Canyon from way above it, but it sure was a beautiful route. I had not known of Cedar Breaks but it was definitely worthy of a few gasps. The visitor center sits right on the edge of the canyon and the big windows provide a little bit of artificial framing for an essentially un-frameable expanse that goes on forever. There were many quotations from the woman who built and occupied this cabin before it became a visitor center acknowledging the way that a day begins here, progresses through the seasons, and ends at sunset.
We somewhat reluctantly continued along UT-143 with views at every turn of the road and no guardrails to prevent us from adding a great white stain to the bottom of the canyon. At Panquitch we turned south for a little stretch on UT-89 before turning east on the National Scenic Highway UT-12 through the Red Rock Canyon where we stopped for a short photo-op.
We then drove the few remaining miles into our campsite at Ruby's Inn from where we could ride the Bryce Canyon shuttle to the various eyeballing venues. After we had provided for Diesel's comfort and entertainment we boarded the shuttle and rode to the far end of the canyon and a stop called Bryce Point. To some peoples' delight and to other peoples' terror there is a paved and somewhat railed path running steeply down and then out onto a narrow projection from the canyon rim. From this projection the views are breathtaking.
Recovering our senses we got back on the park shuttle and rode to Inspiration Point for a couple snaps and then on to watch a sunset from Sunset Point before returning to our campsite on the last shuttle of the day.
6/18/07 We caught a morning shuttle back to Sunset Point to hike the Navaho Loop trail past the Natural Bridge and through the Queen's Garden and Wall Street down to the bottom of he canyon and then back up to the rim. Linda led the way while I dawdled to take pictures as every switchback turn revealed new rock windows, narrow clefts in the rock, or rock bridges. When we reached the view called "Wall Street" an avalanche had blocked the trail so we had to return up the very steep set of switchbacks that we had traversed to get down into the canyon. Needless to say there was much "phewing" and many rest stops whenever we could find a little shadow of shade.
We then returned to Diesel's bad company and fired up the air conditioner for a afternoon of rest before donning "formal" dress for dining at Ruby's Inn in the evening. We bought a chilled bottle of chardonnay at the "licka stowa" and then watched the appearance of an amazing star show with a perfect convergence lineup of Venus, a sliver of first quarter moon, Mars, and Saturn. It's hard not to go on and on about the clarity of the air in this corner of the world. You can look across a huge canyon like Bryce and see the details and texture of things on the other side that are 60 miles away. The Milky Way is like a meandering river of light splitting a background of black velvet sparkling with star diamonds. It finally had gotten close to the projected low of 37 degrees and we ran for the warmth of Rocinante.
6/19/07 We treated Rocinante to a wash and an oil change before leaving Bryce Canyon on the hugely memorable UT-12 National Byway through the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument to a "chuck wagon" dinner at our campsite in Torrey, just outside the west entrance to Capital Reef National Park
6/20/07 Gobbled great blueberry scones at the general store/bakery in Torrey and then drove through Capital Reef. The literature describes Capitol Reef as a giant, sinuous wrinkle in the earth's crust stretching for 100 miles and somewhat visible in the aerial photo. Its name derives from the white domes in the third picture.
Barely visible in the last pictures below are petriglyphs created by the so-called Fremont tribe of native Americans some 700 years ago. After Capitol Reef we traveled UT-24 across the San Rafael Desert to Green River where we turned south on UT-191 to the Portal RV Park just north of Moab.
6/21/07 Eight dusty feet had wrecked major havoc on our once clean RV so we spent the morning doing some serious laundry and house cleaning tasks including a re-ordering of our storage bins and the rediscovery of some long sought items like our daypack and flashlight. In the afternoon we drove through a set of photo-ops in Arches National Park at Park Avenue, the Three Gossips, Delicate Arch, Sand Dune Arch, the Devil's Garden and the Landscape Arch.before driving back to the Portal and reattaching our umbilicals for our last night in Utah.
Images of Greece 1989