The Bill and Kit Excellent Adventure Journal-Issue #37
Thursday, April 30, 2009:
52 degrees this morning and clear but still windy. We reluctantly broke camp, left Zion NP and headed for the Zion Tunnel on the Mt. Carmel Highway. This one mile tunnel transit is a classic…..it was built in the 1920’s in order to provide direct access to Bryce Canyon NP and to The Grand Canyon NP. It is a very narrow arched tunnel with curves and not very high. Most RV’s need an escort through the tunnel and we were no exception.
The transit went smoothly however and we were on our way toward Bryce Canyon via US-89.
Spotted this earlier RV along the main street of Orderville, Utah which US-89 runs through. It was next door to Mugwumps Antique Shop…..which wasn’t very orderly.
Turned off on US-12, a National Scenic Highway and continued toward Bryce. We stopped to checkout Red Canyon Campground because it was right outside the National Park entrance and had access to some mountain bike trails. It had not opened for the season, but it looked like a good prospect for a future layover.
Entered Bryce Canyon NP around noon (once again, no entrance fee for OGC members) and stopped at the visitors center to pick up maps, brochures and view a 20 minute film on the history of the park. We decided to take the park drive to Sunset Point which sits at an elevation of 8,000 feet and get a windshield view of the beauty of the park. We passed through both of the parks campgrounds to check them out and made a few other stops along the way to get out, stretch our legs and enjoy the views.
We really wanted to spend a few days at Bryce but decided as there was so much more to check out and that it is already the end of April we will add this place to our Life (Bucket) List for a return visit. The main problem (yea, I know everyone should have our problems) is that there is so much we want to see, there are sure to be many unusual places ahead that we don’t even know about yet, and that we want to be home to enjoy the Maine summer which usually occurs on the 4th of July.
As we learned at the visitor’s center, Ebenezer Bryce, the Mormon settler that moved here with his wives built a cabin at the entrance to this strange and unusual canyon. When folks came to visit and asked about the strange formations behind his cabin he would just reply “Yep, it’s a hell of a place to lose a cow”!
Below are some shots we took of Bryce National Park:
Leaving Bryce we continued on US-12 passing through Canyonville, over the Paria River and stopped at the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument visitor’s center.
This almost two million acre National Monument spans five different life zones from high desert in the south to evergreen forest to the north with an overall elevation gain of six thousand feet. It has the distinction of being the last spot in the continental US that was fully mapped. The monument is the first to be managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and is pretty much left the way it has always been, primitive and undeveloped. There are however many miles of off road “jeep” trails that thread this entire area. I thought briefly
that it would be fun to explore some of these trails but was immediately vetoed. I guess the fella in the picture below didn’t have an intelligent wife (or wives) to keep him from doing something stupid.
As we continued to climb on US-12 into the Dixie National Forest at around 7,600 feet we spotted an “Elk Crossing” sign. I’ve often wondered about those signs. Like…..How do the elk know to the cross there? Or….. Back in the forest along the elk trails are there “Human Crossing” signs? The weighty thoughts of a retiree are never ending.
Topped out at 9,600 feet where there is still some snow in the shady areas and then began the downward plunge toward Torrey, Utah. We stopped at a very nice full service campground called Wonderland. And it was…..after a week of spit baths to conserve water, minimizing our battery loads and carefully watching our fresh water and holding tank capacities it was nice to take a break, do laundry and enjoy all the comforts of home.
Our next door camp neighbors were former Navy and so there was a lot of sea story swapping to do. In addition they are avid metal detector hobbyists. They have 3 high end detectors between them and often go treasure hunting around whatever campground they may be at; with the owner’s permission of course. I walked with them for a bit and in less than an hour they uncovered: 2 water pipe fittings, 7 tent stakes, about $4.00 in change (some of which was tarnished and appeared to come from the last century…..OK, so maybe that wasn’t that long ago), and a ring. They claim to have paid for their high end equipment with their discoveries in money alone besides all the other trinkets they uncovered. I asked them to look for my Lockheed stock as it had to be underground somewhere.
Behind the campground there was a farm with the customary barbed (bobbed) wire fence. This farmer must have originally been from Maine as he scored major “Yankee Points” for using what ever he had to extend the length of his fence and to conserve what must have been very valuable barbed (bobbed) wire.
Friday, May 1, 2009:
Off on US-24 toward Capital Reef National Park. Stopped at the visitors center for the usual orientation and ranger talk then drove the length of the park looking at the sights and checking out the campgrounds for the next trip. This park, although nice was not as dramatic as Zion or Bryce…..nor as crowded. The backcountry is reported to be a great backpacking destination however.
Stopped for the evening at Green River State Park in Green River, Utah. This is the home of the John Wesley Powell museum which we plan on touring tomorrow. Even though the park had no hook-ups the grounds were very nice and our spot was right on the green river, a classic kayak opportunity. Now why didn’t I bring my kayak….oh yea, it was frozen in place back in January. And I didn’t want to fuss with it on top of the truck for the entire trip. There have been however about 4 times that I could have enjoyed it. Kit says I should “invest” in an inflatable kayak to take on these trips. Boy….do I love that girl!
Love, Dad/Mom, Poppy/Guma, Bill/Kit