carocali (carocali) wrote,


Sorry it's taken SO long to get this entry up.  It certainly doesn't have the same flow as when I posted from the road, but the beauty of the area is still due its praise.

I'm also trying to see if I can do this 'cut' thing so it's not a huge waste of space.  I think you just click below on Day 12 and you can read the adventures to Bryce Canyon...  No promises, I'm still no good at this!




October 11, 2007




Man, who knew that every bone in your body can actually hurt all at once?  Well, Kathy and I found out the morning after our big climb.  There were no early morning scampers as we faced the day.  We were like two old ladies needing walkers to even step a foot across the room!  The worst part was that, in addition to barely being able to move, we were on the second floor with no elevator.  And our suitcases were heavy!  It took us the better part of the morning to finally get our stuff together and out of the Lodge. 


The idea was to make it to Bryce Canyon before sunset.  That’s one of the popular things to do there so our goal was to limp into ‘town,’ get a quick bite to eat at the Mean Bean, check our email and hit the road after being idle for the last few days. 


The coffee shack was touted in one of the books we’d read, so we wanted to give it a try, even though neither of us really drink coffee.  By the time we got there, we were at the end of their serving day and we actually were locked out of the café, having to eat outside – and upstairs. 




We scanned the map and realized that in order to get where we were going, we had to go back into the park to take the beautiful Highway 9 through the rocky giants once again to get to Highway 89.  With our National Parks Pass in tow, we drove back into Zion, hoping to make it to Bryce with a few hours to spare before sunset, settle in, grab some aspirin and enjoy the rest of the day.


But we had no idea what we were driving back into.


This was a whole new section of the park, filled with fresh wonders to behold.  The tangled path through the stunning scenery started the chorus of ‘wow’s’ and ‘oohs,’ accompanied by the occasional ‘ouch’ for good measure.  Just breathing was still painful.


We twisted and turned and followed a different kind of switchback up the elevation to ‘the tunnel.’  This passageway was actually carved through the slickrock in 1930 to shorten the distance through the park.  The main tunnel was about a mile long, and when we emerged on the other side, the rock tended more towards the ‘white’ side.  This was where the Checkerboard Mesa (a white rock giant carved with a criss-cross pattern) made its home along with the towers of sediment along the way.  Of course, this meant more pictures as the beauty never ceased to amaze.


The oddest thing about going through the tunnel was the strange little ranger dude.  He handed Kathy a wooden stick and simply told her to give it to the man at the other end of the tunnel.  With no further explanation, she took the stick, handed it to me, and hit the accelerator. 


The parade of cars obeyed the speed limit as we worked our way through the darkness.  Larger vehicles wouldn’t stand a chance trying to get through here and some need escorts to do so.  We puttered along and finally saw light at the end of the tunnel (but no choirs of angels) and another little ranger man took the stick from Kathy, thanking her for doing a good job, and we drove away.  I watched in the rear-view mirror as he handed the stick to the car waiting to enter from the other way as soon as we made our escape.  This was, apparently, how they could tell when the last vehicle passed through the tunnel.  Makes sense, but it was way too mysterious for our taste.


The panorama as we drove continued to amaze us.  The road actually consisted of a deep red; probably some kind of clay from the area that was mixed into the cement.  It was a shocking contrast to the speckled whites of the rock around us.  Trees were ramped again through the crevices of the area and at every turn the opportunity for a picture was like a siren song.  Keep in mind that every time we moved, our bodies screamed from our adventure the day before, so getting out of the car to take a picture was quite a feat!  We had to finally just say enough was enough and we treaded onward to our next destination.


Finally making our way to Route 89, we were a little distraught that we were going north instead of south.  The whole idea of the trip was to do 89 South to Phoenix, but because of our snow-in at Yellowstone, we had to backtrack north a spell to hit Bryce.  It was easier to glance through this part of the trip since we knew we’d be right back this way to go to the Grand Canyon tomorrow.  What we weren’t expecting were ‘pre-hoodoos’ along the road.


A hoodoo is an erosion of sedimentary rock that stands in a spire, chiseled with unique grooves caused by water freezing and thawing.  They’re in the same family as their humungous brothers at Zion – color-wise at least – but what they display is quite different.  We were teased with a glimpse of a hoodoo along the road, whetting our appetite for the next level of weirdness we were about to encounter.  Funny enough, it was only in that one spot, many miles from Bryce, that we saw a preview.  We waited for quite a time before we saw the sign to Bryce Canyon where we knew his long lost brothers would be in droves.


Little did we know that we would get yet another treat as we got closer to our destination.


Right before entering the actual ‘park’ at Bryce, we hit yet another area of interest - Red Canyon.  These are piles of carved bright sierra rock that flirt with their whitish cousins.  Many look like pieces from a chess game but really, there are no words.  The rocks here are along the road for you to get up-close and personal with, and their porous features are fascinating.  They’ve met the same fate as the hoodoos – being tortured by the freezing waters – yet somehow their appearance is quite different.


This whole section of the United States is like your brain on crack.  Just as you think you can wrap your head around the most amazing thing you’ve ever seen, something else pops out at you that’s more bizarre then the thing before.  Kathy yelled at me to shake a leg (which still hurt, by the way) so I snapped a few more pictures and headed back to our little Taurus.


We pulled into Ruby’s Inn, just outside the entrance of the park, looking for vacancy.  Ruby owns this town; in fact it should just be called Rubys.  There’s a Best Western, a row of ticky-tacky strip malls with everything from black and white reenactment photos, to helicopter rides.  They own the three restaurants, the gas stations, the general store and the hotel across the street. We’d missed the last room by minutes (damn red rock!) so we left the small village and traipsed across the way to the much dingier (and cheaper) motel to look for a room.  We checked in and headed onto our next great adventure, hoping to explore the hoodoos before sunset.


Bryce is tiny in comparison to Zion; the whole accessible park is probably fifteen road miles.  It spans much more than that, but in order to get to it, you either have to hike or attempt some of the limited backpack country.  Knowing we were short on time and a hike was certainly out of the question, we decided to grab whatever eye candy we could along the blacktop.  Our first stop was Inspiration Point, where we were advised it was the place to see the sunset (according to the ranger) so we pulled out our trusty map and headed that way.


The park was stippled with people, but it wasn’t too bad.  We ached our way up the small incline (that felt like a mountain) to see what the hubbub was all about.  As the tree line broke, the tips of the hoodoos came into view.  We inched closer and saw the magnificence of the area. 


It was just…awesome! 


Abstract points poked out in every which way, bathing themselves in the falling sun.  As each second passed, they clung to a new tone, wearing and discarding it all at once.  The shadows darkened the interspersed forests between the formations as they crawled up the hoodoos.  The sand, caused by years of erosion, decorated its pinkish hue as it fell at the feet of the pinnacles like a warm blanket tucking them in. 


Did I mention it was awesome?


You shake your head in wonder as you look at this amphitheatre filled with sediment from millions of years ago.  Even the scientific explanation for their existence is hard to wrap your head around; it’s simply nature at its finest.


We knew the ‘official’ sunset wasn’t for another half hour or so, so we decided to take a gander a little deeper into the park to see what was there.  I skimmed through our guide book and read that the Natural Bridge got high marks, so we trucked along the winding roads to see for ourselves.


The little brown sign told us to turn left into the parking lot, so we did as instructed.  The chill in the air became more evident now as the elevation change was hitting its mark.  Bryce is a full 2000 feet higher than Zion canyon (assuming you climb a mountain that’s 5970 feet – ouch) and now the waning sun was letting us know that it was time for some additional layers.


The Bridge should really be called an Arch, because that’s what it was; a freaking cool arch!  The top almost looks like Bart Simpson’s hair as it spikes into the sky.  Then, it just stops and joins the rest of the formations along the way.  In the distance, the hoodoos are not as prominent as in the amphitheatre, but their presence is still known.  Bookending the arch are more statues of rock – one that resembled the arm of a waiter bringing the head of beast to his patron.  At every turn, the rock is carved with symbols and gouges.


We knew we were fighting the sun, so we swiftly entered our car and headed back to Inspiration Point to see the setting star, fearing we’d be elbowing our way to the top to get the best view.  As we arrived at our destination, we were surprised by the lack of cars in the lot.  Looking over the amphitheatre, the darkness of the day-end was evident.  It was clear that the true show would be sunrise to get the full-effect of the light on the hoodoos.  But this did not stop the beauty that happened on the other end of the area.


Kathy took the lead as we gazed into the pit, watching the haze over the dulled colors.  The brilliance of the rock was gone at dusk, but the eeriness of the wonder remained.  Behind us, the sun journeyed beyond the hills, leaving a few strands of light to play with the wisps of clouds.  Deep orange enveloped the sky briefly where the sun was hiding as its final beams disappeared.  Its reflection pooled underneath the white, dyeing them with her colors.  To the left, pinks and blues infiltrated the sky as the sun pulled herself to sleep for the night.  As we began our way back down the incline, we startled a jackrabbit from its own slumber, skittering off into the night.


We stood and watched the radiance unfold, wishing the sky would be clear enough to observe the renowned star-gazing.  Unfortunately, it was not to be and we took our final glances towards the sky, knowing that the morning would be quite a treat on the hoodoos.


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