BLOGGED ALONG THE WAY: WILD WILD WEST EDITION #2
The next few days were spent in various places in the great state of Utah. If there is one thing that stuck out for me, it was the fact that there are a LOT of white people in Utah. A lot. It was also colder than I thought it would be. The morning we left St. George, I dressed in clothes that were appropriate for the blazing, hell-like temperatures that we had encountered the day before. Unfortunately, a tank top and shorts were a little too exposed for what felt like early spring to me. I had to suck it up, though, because there wasn't any way I could go back and change when I realized it. At any rate, we went on our way. Our first stop was Cedar Break and Bryce Canyon.
CEDAR BREAK & BRYCE CANYON
DAY 3 – Monday, June 25, 2007: On our way to Cedar Break, Steve tried to kill me. Don't let him lie and say it was an accident either. We had stopped at one of the many turn-offs along the road, which allow the interested motorist to stop and take pictures of the gorgeous scenery from the vantage point towards the top of the mountain. This “scenic overlook” happened to be at the edge of a cliff, but offered up a lovely view of the valley and surrounding mountains. I had taken a couple of shots and found a wildflower that I wanted to shoot. That's one thing I do on trips like this is to try and take as many macros of wildflowers that I can find, as long as they are different from the ones at home.
But I digress.
I knelt down by the plant and began focusing, and all of a sudden Steve came rushing towards me. Here I am on the edge of a cliff, kneeling down with my back to the very LONG drop, and Steve tried to push me off. Well, that's what it felt like, anyways. He actually lost his footing and slipped, landing on his butt and sliding into me. I had the whole bloody and painful fall played out in my head in about 4 seconds before I realized that Steve and I had not fallen over the edge. Once the dust settled and we both realized we were still alive, we laughed hysterically. I don't think that it was all that funny, but it was either laugh, or faint. I didn't want to faint at the edge of a cliff. When Steve and I pulled ourselves back together, we all got back into the car and drove off towards Cedar Break.
Cedar Break is a big, rocky hole in the side of a mountain. Well, that is much less romantic sounding than it really is. It's a beautiful, rocky hole in the middle of a mountain. It is like a little version of Bryce Canyon, and you can see the various levels of strata in the rock, as well as some very lovely “hoodoos.” A hoodoo is a new thing for me. It is a tall spire of rock, shaped by the wind and rain, and it can look like all manners of things. It's basically big needles of rock that are slowly, but surely, falling away from the larger area of rock. We stayed there for a while, while Mr. Lee took his stereo camera onto some (shhhh) off limit trails. Steve and I were still a little shaken from our near-death experience, so we sat on a big log and continued to be happy to be alive. Once we left there, we went on our way to Bryce Canyon. We were technically in the Dixie National Forest, which we were told was named such because the settlers felt that since it was far enough south from Salt Lake City, it was just as much south as the real Dixie was. Before we left, Mr. Lee stopped at a place that he knew of off the beaten track. It was so beautiful. It was a large meadow with a stream running through it. It was so perfect that it almost didn't look real. Mr. Lee and I took pictures while Steve wandered around. There were no other tourists there, so we could take pictures without anyone being in the way. It was, by far, one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen anywhere. This is from someone who loves the beach more than any place on earth, but I would go back to that meadow and stay in a second. When we drove off, we passed through a place that reminded me a lot of the town in the Pixar movie “Cars”. It was a tiny town that catered to the people traveling to Bryce Canyon. It was a perfect example of a one street town. There were all kinds of motels with interesting names and street signs that would make James Lileks wet his pants. We had lunch in that town and then finally made it to Bryce. We stayed in a place called “Bryce View Inn, which was an offshoot of the Ruby Inn – a place once opened by a Mormon family in the early 20th century. Once we got settled, we drove on to the different look out points along the canyon. There were so many beautiful places that it's hard to describe. Lots of hoodoos, canyons, trees...just all kinds of nature. I took a million photos, I think. Although it was strictly prohibited, some lady was feeding the ravens pistachio nuts, and they wouldn't go away. Those freaking birds were HUGE. I'm not kidding. They would come right up to you and stand there, so I'm sure that all kinds of people feed them, but they were so big that they started to get scary. I was able to get some pretty good shots of them, but when they started ganging up on me, I got into the car. : ) We were out there for several hours, and I got to see the moon come up over the canyon's edge. It was so beautiful. At some point that day I got severely sunburned (of course, I didn't know it because it didn't seem that hot) and I got some pretty bad mosquito bites on my shoulder blades. One of the bugs must have been as big as a humming bird because the bite it left on me was the size of a silver dollar! Hastared bugs. By the time night came on, we got back to our hotel and slept. Unfortunately for me, I kept waking up in the middle of the night and so the next day I was exhausted.
DAY 4 –Tuesday, June 26, 2007: Today was a day of ramblings. We would be staying in Zion National Park for the next few nights, but since we didn't have to be there for a while, Mr. Lee took us on a trek to Escalante. There is a place out here that is basically a staircase of cliffs where each step is a different color based on the strata layer it encompasses. Of course, you have to drive many miles between steps, but it was something we wanted to see. We stopped at a couple of places on the topmost step, where everything is white to take pictures. We were going on to a place called “Long Canyon” which was at least two layers down from where we were. At the next level, drove through an area that made me feel as if were were in a road runner cartoon. If you don't know what I'm talking about, watch an episode and look at the landscape. Lots of orange rocks and cactus were along the way. We stopped for dinner at this place where there was no air conditioning and the waiter was named Pavel. We were the only patrons at the time. The food was good, the atmosphere was nice, and the music was late 90's college radio. All in all, not bad. We went on from there and drove for what seemed like ages to get into the canyon. It was beautiful. I know I keep saying that, but it's so hard to explain if you can't see it yourself. Red rock walls rose on each side, and cottonwoods grew along because we were near a river. It was striking contrasts of both color and texture all around us. We stopped at a crevasse in the mountain and got out to take pictures. It was amazing to stand in this giant crack in this mountain. The shade was at least 20 degrees cooler and the constant breeze blew in and whistled around us. That was another thing about being where we were. In almost every place we visited, it was quiet. I don't mean the kind of quiet that you might be used to, but silence. Even with cars occasionally driving by, there is this great QUIET around you out here. It's peace.
When we left the canyon, we drove back the way we came and went on to Zion National Park.
I wish, I wish, I wish that I could tell you how beautiful Zion was. It was huge, and beautiful, and it almost didn't make sense to me because it was so alien from what I am used to. Huge rock outcroppings, enormous cliffs, and sheer mountain walls were all around us. It was literally breathtaking. We stayed in a tiny burg called Springdale, which is a place which is specifically created to cater to the families and hikers who come to see the place. Zion was first settled by Mormon settlers and soon grew to be a favorite spot for campers, climbers, hikers and families who want to get acquainted with nature. We got settled in our hotel “Bumbleberry Inn”, don't you just love the name? The mountains rose all around us, and as we sat in the cafe, I watched the sun paint the striped rocks as it went down. I can't imagine what it would be like to live in a place like Zion all year round. The tourists would suck, of course, but if you could get used to that...oh, my. I had to wash some clothes in the bathtub, and I laid them out to dry on our tiny back porch. I knew that the dry air would dry them before morning, but I was nervous leaving them out all night because I'm not that familiar with the kind of critters that live in semi-arid mountainous areas. When morning came, I went out and found to my delight that the clothes were indeed dry. However, as I was picking them up, I saw something on the ground that hadn't been there the night before. I saw what I thought was a crab claw. I thought that someone had eaten crabs the night before and had thrown the shells down and one had managed to wind up on our porch. Well, I'm sure that I don't have to tell you that it wasn't a crab claw. It was a scorpion claw. A scorpion claw so big that I thought it came from a crab. Oh. My. God. At least I can say that it wasn't still attached to whatever monster scorpion that had lost it, but that didn't make me feel better. I grabbed all of our clothes and ran inside. I shook and pounded all of those clothes until I was sure there was nothing living in them. I still don't feel better about it. *shudder*
EDIT: Upon further examination, and by that I mean that I made Steve go out and look closer, the monster scorpion claw...was plastic. So I'd like to say thanks to the kid who broke his toy and managed to scare the crap out of me. SAAAAAAALUTE!