The Bill and Kit Excellent Adventure Journal-Issue #35
Sunday, April 26, 2009:
We hated to leave Las Vegas and the great times we were having with Suzie, Kevin, Jack and Tucker so…..we, kind of got a late start. Heading East on I-15 we decided to pop into Nellis Air Force Base (AFB) to re-provision at the commissary, gas station and Base Exchange. After shopping we took a drive by the base campground to check it out and dump the sanitary tanks. It was a very nice facility and they had sites available, it was also getting late in the afternoon so…..we decided to stay. Kind of weird as the total trip mileage for the day was 13!
Monday, April 27, 2009: Left Nellis AFB early and continued northeast toward Utah. Kit experienced a rather nasty gash as a result of me goofing off outside the trailer which she mistook for some kind of an emergency. Suffice it to say that I was in the doghouse all morning…..kinda familiar surroundings to me but it does make it a challenge to drive the truck.
Pulled of the Interstate at US-17 toward southern Utah and the home for many Mormon folks whom we hoped to spot and photograph in their natural habitat. Not sure why any man would want more than one wife but apparently that’s the norm around these parts.
Since we had toured Grand Canyon National Park (NP) on a previous trip we decided to check out Zion NP this time. Pulling up to the west entrance I proudly announced that I was 62 and was in need of a “Golden Access Pass”. Paying my $10.00 and then filling out some paperwork resulted in my long awaited and much anticipated “Old Geezer Pass”, as my bruzin Dewey refers to it. Now, there are many things that are great about getting older but this has to be one of the best. It paid dividends in seconds as the normal fee to enter Zion NP is $25.00, and my fee was exactly…..zero, nada, zilch!
Found a really nice campsite in the Watchman Camping Area which had electric hook ups and was only $9.00 a night with my “Old Geezer Card” (OGC); we set up for an overnight stay. The site was very convenient; right across from the visitor’s center and a shuttle stop.
Zion, as many other National Parks, is using propane powered buses to get folks around the park and to ferry hikers to the various trailheads. Being this early in the season the park was not crowded so the buses ran only ¼ full on most trips. They are very convenient, come by any given stop every 10 to 15 minutes, and they allow everyone to enjoy the views and to hear the park ranger explain some of the features and history of the park.
The friendly fellow below was at the campsite to greet us. Apparently there is a real mystery about this species of lizard and their distant cousins south of the Colorado. They are genetically similar but look quite different. The speculation is that when this whole area was one level land mass there was a large lizard colony. When the Colorado River began carving the Grand Canyon millions of years ago the colony was split; they then acclimated to their new terrain and environment. Today they are quite different in size, shape and color.
After a tour of the visitor’s center and talking to the park ranger, we took the shuttle up the canyon getting off at a few spots to walk around and take pictures. Now a caveat; these pictures do not come close to showing the color and grandeur of this fascinating National Park. One of the interesting things we learned in the visitor’s center is that Zion is the middle “step” in the Grand Staircase. Bryce NP is the upper “step” and Grand Canyon NP is the lower “step”. Put another way…..The lower elevation of Bryce NP is the upper elevation of Zion NP and the lower elevation of Zion NP is the upper elevation of Grand Canyon NP. Who knew? All three have very different terrain, geological topography and their own individual beauty. Here are a few shots of scenery along the canyon road.
Later in the day we rode the shuttle to the end of the line and hiked a few more miles up into the canyon on the Narrows Trail. The trail into the very upper reaches of the canyon was closed due to high and swift water from this seasons snow melt. After the river subsides it is possible to hike into the upper canyon and explore the many slots in the area. Apparently there are areas where the canyon walls are hundreds of feet tall and one can reach out their arms and touch both sides…..now that’s a slot canyon.
Tuesday, April 28, 2009:
Woke to temperatures in the mid sixties and sunny skies. We are still in Zion…..decided to stay for a couple more days because it is not possible to see all that we want to see in one day. Ah…..the advantages of not having a definite schedule or itinerary. We did have to move to the neighboring South Campground which had no hook-ups but was more wooded and actually more to our liking. Still scored a 50% discount with my OGC…..only $8.00 per night!
There is one multi use trail called the Pa’rus Trail in Zion and it is paved. However it was a nice bike ride along the valley floor with many excellent picture taking opportunities. I rode it all three days we were in the park at various times of the day, and my personal favorite time was early in the morning.
That afternoon we hung around the camp site and visited with fellow campers. One of which had an incredible 1950 Silver Streak that they had restored themselves. The couple, Jim and Patty from Orcas Island, Washington had an interesting history of living on a 65 foot sailboat in Alaska for many years, where Jim was a contract Bush Pilot, before moving to Washington. They invited us into their trailer which was just as shiny on the inside and decorated in a tropical theme. The unit is 18 feet long, weighs 2500 pounds and they pull it with a 4 cylinder Toyota pickup. How about that…..almost sixty years ago they had the lightweight trailer thing figured out. He also has a 1950 Ford pick up at home that he uses to tow locally.
Also noted many rental motorhomes and noticed most were driven by Europeans. We met families from Germany, Holland and Sweden. Some were pretty new to the workings of an RV so I helped where I could…..fortunately they all spoke very good English. When they found out we were from Maine almost all of them exclaimed: “ah….Bar Harbor?”
Love, Dad/Mom, Poppy/Guma, Bill/Kit