Just a few last notes before I hitch up Flo and leave Bryce Canyon.
Ruby’s Inn RV Park is part of a large enterprise. They have a hotel, restaurants, gift shops and a general store. I went over to check it out. I’m always curious.
There was a long, long line waiting to get in to the Cowboy Buffet and Steak. The price was rather jaw-dropping for a buffet — something like $30. What really irked me was that beverages were extra. Good grief! For that price, couldn’t they throw in a cup of coffee or a glass of pop?
But, I know people have to eat, and people staying in the hotel are a captive audience. Luckily, I have a kitchen and I went shopping before I arrived in Bryce Canyon.
I strolled through the gift shop, just to see if they had anything I hadn’t seen before. Believe it or not, I saw something that I’d never seen in a gift shop before.
They had license plates for sale! Real license plates.
I also notice that Ruby’s Inn RV Park was right next to a part of Dixie National Forest. There was a trailhead with roads leading back into the forest.
I decided that I’d take a little drive around the forest. I discovered all sorts of dispersed camping sites. Free camping! I checked Campendium.com to see if they had it listed. They didn’t! So, I got to be the person to name it on their website. It’s not an official name, but that’s how it is listed on their website.
This is the site that I would have camped in, if I hadn’t already paid for my stay at Ruby’s Inn RV Park. Level and spacious! In addition, in National Forests, you can collect firewood, as long as you use it in the forest.
Here’s a site that a tent camper is using.
There was a good deal of wildlife. I saw some mule deer in the distance, and I managed to snap a shot of this one. I’m no wildlife expert, but I think that is an antelope.
Ah, but there is the circle of life.
What a lovely place to camp! There was also good phone connection, and all the roads I was on were on the map. I didn’t even have to worry about getting lost.
What did I name this place? I named it “George’s Gift” after my father, who gave me a spirit of adventure. If you want to read my review, you can check it out here.
After the day’s explorations, I returned home to delightful surprise. There was another Airstream parked right next to mine!
I met my neighbors, Linda and Marty. They were having a campfire that night, and they invited me to join them. It’s always lovely to spend time with other Airstream fans.
Before I left Bryce Canyon, I had to do one more thing. I had to check on my snowman.
After my day at Bryce Canyon, I decided to see some of the other offerings of the area.
But first, I needed to make a snowman.
There was just a little snow nearby and I needed to take advantage of it.
After documenting my snowman – after all, if there are no photos, it didn’t happen – I decided to explore Mossy Cave Trail.
The hoodoos were spectacular!
The canyon originally was dry. The Mormon settlers managed to dig a ditch that brought water up an over the ridge from a nearby river and ran it down the canyon.
It was a short but steep trail. I walked up it a ways, but decided that I had had enough walking the day before. It was hot and I felt like I had the general idea. I headed back to Bart.
The view from the parking lot shows a change in the scenery coming down the road.
I motored onward and came to a visitor center for various federal lands, including the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. I stamped my National Parks Passport and looked at the displays. One point I found interesting was that the Southern Paiute, who arrived from the Southern Great Basin around 800 years ago believed in following the water. They traveled in a seasonal rhythm and used what the land offered. The Mormon settlers followed a European lifestyle that involved bringing the water to where they wanted it.
Here we see Reginald Stewart, working on the ditch that brought the water down Mossy Cave canyon.
After looking around a bit, I decided to follow the road a little further to Kodachrome Basin State Park. I was intrigued by the name. Was it named after the film I had to find out!
I was tantalized by what I could see from the entrance, but I couldn’t bring myself to spent the $8 admission fee. I chatted with the ranger and he invited me to park and look at the displays they had inside the ranger station.
And, I found out that it Kodachrome Basin was named for the film! Originally, it was called Thorley’s Pasture.
The area is filled with sixty-seven sand pipes that range from six to 170 feet tall. One theory is that the area was once filled with hot springs and geysers, which filled up with sediment ant solidified. Over time, the sandstone surrounding the solidified geysers eroded and left the sand pipes behind.
Around the turn of the 20th century, cattlemen from the nearby used the area as a winter pasture. In 1948, the National Geographic Society explored and photographed the area for a story that appeared in the September 1949 issue of the National Geographic.
They were writing a story called “Motoring into Escalante Land”. They named this area Kodachrome Flat, after the relatively new brand of Kodak film they used. In 1962, Utah designated the area as a state park, and changed the name to Chimney Rock State Park, to avoid possible repercussions from Kodak for using their trademarked name. It was renamed Kodachrome Basin a few years later, with Kodak’s permission.
Ah, but time marches on! This cartoon was displayed in the ranger station. No more Kodachrome film, but Kodachrome Basin State Park remains.
In retrospect, maybe I should have sprung for the $8 admission to the park, but I found out the Grosvenor Arch wasn’t too far and the road was in good condition. I decided to head that way and see it.
Grosvenor Arch was named for Gilbert Grosvenor, a president of the National Geographic Society. It is about ten miles down the road from Kodachrome Basin State Park in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
Luckily, the roads were dry. But – my-oh-my! – the roads were not smooth! However, they were passable. After a fashion.
There were sandy spots…
and washboard roads that jarred my teeth. I was so glad to have a steering wheel to hold on to and I learned to clench my teeth so that they didn’t rattle. I went up over ridges and down through washes. It was quite a ride!
There were incredible views along the way!
I finally came to a fork in the road – so I took it. (Quote courtesy of Yogi Berra.)
I couldn’t imagine 30 more miles of this rutted, washboard, rocky road to get to US 89. But, one more mile – I could handle that.
And I arrived!
Grosvenor Arch is a unique double arch in sandstone.
Of course, what would natural beauty be without graffiti?
What is surprising to me is how soft the sandstone is. I got close to the rock and put my hand on it to brace myself when I walked past. My hand was covered with sand when I pulled it away. I wonder how much longer this arch will be standing? Wind, water, freezing temperatures and gravity will take their tolls. One of these days, It will be no more. I’m glad I got to see it.
I went back to my truck and got ready to leave. I noticed a sign a little further down the road and decided to walk over and check it out.
Well, you can’t be any more explicit than that, can you? I have to admit, I was curious about what the impassible section looked like. I was not willing to drive the 24 miles to see it.
I bounced my way back to the paved road – another ten miles or so. I was never so glad to see asphalt!
The next day, I got up and headed back to the park. I arrived at the entrance at the same time as carload of visitors from France. They asked if I would take their pictures. I love taking pictures of people, and they were happy to take mine, too.
I stopped at the Visitors Center and asked the ranger for a map and advice for how to see the park. She recommended that I drive to the end of the park and then work my way back. I stamped my National Parks Passport and headed out.
The park is a compact 55 square miles, as compared with Zion National Park’s 229 square miles. Bryce Canyon National Park was first established as a national monument in 1923. Its name was changed to Utah National Park in 1924 and it received its current name in 1928.
The park was named for Ebenezer Bryce, a Scottish immigrant and pioneer to the region. He converted to the Mormon faith and left Scotland at the age of 17. According to my sources, (Wikipedia) he was the only member of his family to convert to Mormonism and was “disowned” by his father.
After driving to the end of the park’s road, I arrived at Rainbow Point.
Wow! That’s some elevation! I walked over to the edge and looked at the view.
What a view! Spectacular!
I don’t know how far I saw on that day, but according to the park information, on a clear day, you can see 150 miles and even identify landforms in Arizona. The air is so clear!
I decided to eat my peanut butter and jelly sandwich and drink my water before I hiked the Bristlecone Loop. They had these incredible benches that are made out of split trunks of enormous pines. I do wish I had a photo of the benches. In lieu of the bench photo, here’s a shot of the toilet paper array in the vault toilet.
Something for everyone: over, under, left and right. Can’t say they don’t celebrate diversity!
I headed down the trail to the Bristlecone Loop. I came to the sign and turned left. Anyone notice something about the sign? I wondered why I met so many people coming toward me. Oh, well.
Winter hadn’t quite lost its grip up here above 9000 feet in the middle of April. There were a few patches of snow across the trail, but I managed to get around them without incident.
Every now and then, the trail would lead me back to the rim and another amazing vista.
When I got to a place with a little shelter, I asked some of the people I met walking toward me to take my photo.
The woman noticed my Kalamazoo jacket and told me that she and her husband were married in Kalamazoo. I asked her where the wedding was, and she told me that it was in Crane Park. What a small world! I lived in the apartments across the street from that park. She and her husband were attending college in Kalamazoo when they met.
Here is the marker that was at the point. They have a program where kids can get a small reward for hiking at Bryce Canyon. No such program for adults, however.
I always wondered what a bristlecone pine looked like. I think I may have found one.
The trees are slow-growing at this altitude. Given the dryness, they don’t even decay that quickly. I wonder how long this stump as been sitting there.
The views just continued.
I got to another place for a photo-op and decided to display my Kalamazoo Promise tee shirt.
Views, views and more views.
You know, you don’t need to tell me twice. Actually, after all the views, I was ready to see the rest of the park.
I headed down the trail and back to Bart. I started back toward the entrance to the park. There were pullouts all the way back.
One of the stops was called Natural Bridge. It’s natural, but it’s not a bridge. Bridges are created by water flowing through them. This is an arch. It’s still impressive.
I drove and then pulled over to admire the views.
There was still snow in Black Birch Canyon.
There were hoodoos galore. A hoodoo is a tall, thin spire created by erosion. (Just in case you wanted to know.) They actually occur in many places around the world. They first time I encountered something like this was in Momostenango, Guatemala. There they were called “los riscos.”
Ah, but back to Utah.
While I was driving back toward the entrance, I noticed RVs being driven on the same road. I was thinking that I was so glad that I didn’t have to drive something so large through the park. When the opportunity arose, I took a photo of Bart with one of them. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that they were about the same length – and Bart had a longer wheel base!
One of my last stops in the park was the Bryce Canyon Lodge. I do like an interesting hotel!
The Bryce Canyon Lodge was built in the mid-twenties by the Utah Parks Company, which was a subsidiary of the Union Pacific Railroad. This was part of the railroad’s project to develop tourist traffic to the national parks in Utah and Arizona by providing quality destination hotels at each park.
It is elegant, in a rustic way. I thought I might have dinner there. I looked over the menu and decided that I wasn’t hungry enough for a $35 dinner. I enjoyed looking around, though. I thought this was an interesting sign at the registration desk.
I actually saw families playing cards and sitting together reading in the lobby as they waited for the dining room to begin serving dinner.
I had one more stop to make before I returned to Flo for my dinner: Fairyland Canyon.
What a spectacular view!
My eyes were getting worn out from all the looking!
But one more shot before I head back to Ruby’s Inn and RV Park for dinner and to get rested up for the next day’s adventures.
I got set up and made myself a little dinner. With the wonderful weather and the picnic table at the site, I decided to dine al fresco.
The sun was still up, so I decided that I couldn’t wait until tomorrow to see Bryce Canyon.
The entrance to the park was less than a mile down the road, and you tell by the angle of the shadows that the sun was setting fast. There was no one at the gate, as they weren’t charging admission during the free week, and the visitor center was closed for the day.
I drove into the park, figuring that I would see a sign that would give me an idea about where to go. The first sign I noticed was for the North Campground. I drove in to see what the sites looked like. They were a bit cheaper than my site at Ruby’s, but they seemed kind of irregular. Most of the RVs I saw were propped up on all sorts of boards to level them out. My site was nice and level. Oh, and my site had electricity.
I drove around and finally came to a parking lot at a picnic area that was near the rim. I parked and took the trail to the rim.
I kind of stood there slack-jawed for a few moments taking it all in. I walked the rim trail for a bit, until I noticed that the sun was getting kind of low and the temperature was dropping. Since I wasn’t dressed for the cold and I didn’t have a flashlight with me, I decided to head back to the truck.
One final look at the canyon and the moon rising. Back to Flo the Airstream and a good night’s sleep. More Bryce Canyon in the morning!
I found some information about a hike that featured petroglyphs.
Be still my heart! I just love petroglyphs! This trail is part of the Santa Clara River Reserve and is managed by the Bureau of Land Management. If you are ever near St. George, Utah, and you want to see them, here is a link to the information about this trail as well as many others in the reserve. One of the trails is called “Suicidal Tendencies.” Not exactly my idea of a good time.
The trail left the trailhead and wound its way back and forth across the face of a hill.
There were interesting plants along the way. This cactus looks like it had gone to seed. I imagine those red fruits would be really tempting to birds looking for dinner.
I wish some budding horticulturist would go around and label all these plants! I can identify about five desert plants. All I know is that this isn’t one of the ones I’m familiar with.
The rock was interesting, too. It had a rippled surface. I wonder if the ripples are from layers eroding irregularly or if they are the remains of rippled sand on the bottom of a lake.
It seemed like forever, but I finally got to the top of the hill and I found petroglyphs!
I love it when you get to encounter these things in their natural environment. They are just sitting there. No one has defaced them. They are there, the way the Anasazi left them.
Here I am, at the top, and happy with my discovery. And, do you notice how far down the valley is? That is one thing that caught my attention.
I crawled around the rocks, enjoying the pleasure of discovery.
Some of these shapes I’ve seen before, like the snakes and the double circles with the dots in the centers.
This was a new one to me. In fact, they almost look like they were done at different times.
The one on the left reminded me of a mirror. The geometric designs on the right are interesting. It almost reminded me of a floor plan.
Of course there are spirals.
There always seem to be spirals.
I wonder what the significance of the antenna-like protrusions are on this human-like figure?
This little one was identified to me by a fellow petroglyph fan as a sheep’s head.
And here’s a shot with a person in it, just to give you a sense of scale.
It seemed like there were treasures to be found just about everywhere I looked. Whenever I was about to move on, I’d see another rock I needed to investigate.
Oops! One more spiral!
This one kind of reminded me of some advanced math scratch pad. But, finally it was time to move on.
I saw some people coming over the ridge and I asked them if there was anything to see further down the path. They told me that there were more petroglyphs.
MORE petroglyphs?! I’m there!
I walked along for maybe another twenty minutes or half an hour.
I saw this interesting rock, that reminded me of a monk’s tonsured pate. It made me giggle.
I didn’t see anyone else on the trail. The only place that petroglyphs might have been were on the side of the cliff. I was not about to scramble over the edge of the cliff – petroglyphs or no petroglyphs! Not by myself, at least.
So I took a selfie to document my hike.
This was what I was looking at. It was a long way down!
And then I started back to the trailhead.
Of course, I had to document some of the pretty blossoms.
When I got past the original petroglyph site, I saw a sign that indicated that there were ruins at the top of a small rise.
Apparently this had been a community. A team from a university excavated some of the rooms.
You can see the outline of a room fairly clearly in this photo. Unfortunately, before the site was secured, people on OHVs (which I used to call ATVs) had ridden over the site an created a great deal of damage.
After taking in what there was to see here, it was just a short, switchbacked trail back to my truck.
After four days at my FREE site in Dixie National Forest near Leeds, I decided to move to Snow Canyon State Park. I had picked up a brochure for it, and it sounded like an interesting place.
Incidentally, it is not named for the wintry weather condition I have been doing my best to avoid. It’s named for Lorenzo and Erastus Snow, prominent pioneering Utah leaders.
Before I left my campsite near Leeds, however, I did call to ask when check-in time was. The cheerful, yet misinformed, volunteer told me that there was no formal check-in time. If you have a reservation, just come on in.
Well, that didn’t sound quite right to me, so when I got to the park and found a spot big enough for Bart and Flo, I pulled over and called again. This time, I was told that check-in time was at 3:00 and that the people in the spot were still there. No matter. I was parked by a trail called Pioneer Names. I figured that I’d take a stroll.
Now, I know you can’t see them, but inside that arch in the making are names written in axle grease. I headed up the trail and I found out what “scrambling” is. I didn’t do it, but I watched some youngsters scramble up the sloped surface of the canyon. They were on all fours – hands and feet – going up and coming down. I’ll bet they got a good view of the names!
This is the best photo I have of the signatures. See if you can make them out.
I continued along the edge of the canyon.
The spring flowers were in bloom.
I came across a hunk of the canyon that fell to the floor.
You can see the darkened surface that they call “desert varnish”. It’s what pictographs are usually pecked into. The ones I saw in Zion were in stone with a much lighter surface.
The rocks sure are interesting. this swirled pattern caught my eye.
And then I came upon this arch! I love surprises like this. I am sure nimble folks would scramble up through it. I was satisfied to admire it from the ground.
Just over to the side there was an arch in the making. So far it was just a hole through a fin of rock, but one of these days, I am sure it will be a full-fledged arch.
I followed the trail back to where I had parked Bart and Flo. It was time to check in to my campsite.
These campsites are different from any I’d seen before. Of course I’d seen sites that were close together, but this was the first time I’d seen campsites that share a covered area.
Well, “shared” isn’t quite the right word, as there is a stone structure separating the two areas, so you do have your privacy. Kind of. Since you need to have your doors opening toward the patio, the RVs enter from opposite directions.
Oddly enough, the people sharing my patio were from Michigan, and they were also full-timers. The people on the other side were from Alaska and had just picked up their Bambi Airstream in Portland, Oregon. This was their first trip in it.
But, even if we were sort of packed in, there were still glorious views.
This was the view from the back of my site…
and this was the view from the front.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get more than one day at Snow Canyon State Park, so I decided to make the most of it. After a late lunch, I headed out for the Lava Flow Trail. Toward the end of the park, I had an amazing sight. If I looked one way, I saw white hills and black hills.
When I turned and looked to other way, I had a completely different color scheme.
Red rocks rising out of a sea of green.
I parked Bart at the trailhead and started down the Lava Flow trail.
It’s a little more challenging than the Pioneer Names trail. In fact, it is rated as a “moderate” trail – a step up from the “easy” ones I’d been on so far!
What an amazing world! At one end of the park, you have sand. At the other end you have a lava field.
A lava field with white hills rising behind it.
Truth be told, I was a little uneasy on this trail. I did have my walking stick, but the trail was rugged and I just knew it would really hurt if I fell on the lava. Luckily, though, I didn’t.
What kept me going was the fact that there were lava tubes along the trail. I was really curious to see what they were. My curiosity kept me going and finally I got there.
Actually, I walked right by it. I walked another quarter mile or so and then decided that I must have missed it. I saw it on my way back and walked over to look inside.
There were signs posted about how people could explore the lava tubes. Uh…
After looking down inside, I knew that wasn’t ever going to happen.
However, as I was getting ready to head back, a couple came along. The woman was wearing wedge-heeled flip flops! Coming down that trail in them was a feat of balance I marveled at. THEN she and the guy she came with went right down the tube! Goodness! I can only imagine that they are locals and have done this many times before.
Right after they went down, I met another couple getting ready to descend. They had better footwear, but other than that, they seemed no more prepared. I guess I am just not one for adventure. Or, maybe I am just pain-averse.
Heading back, I had more time to appreciate the flora and fauna.
Pink prickly pear
Pink flowers on a bush
Yellow flowers on a bush.
I am sure all of those plants have names, as do these creatures:
Lizard on a black rock
Is this the same kind of lizard? I wish I knew!
The Lava Flow was the last trail I got to explore at Snow Canyon State Park. I had hoped to snag a “walk-in” site and stay another day, but they had nothing available that would work for me. So, in the rain, hail and wind, I got hitched up and headed out.
As I was saying, there are two sides to Zion: the drive-through side and the shuttle bus side. Today it was time for the shuttle bus side. My plan was to do the Riverside Walk.
I parked at the first lot I saw in Springdale, the town just outside the park. The bus came along just after I got out of the truck, and I was at Zion in no time at all. I walked through the gate, brandished my America the Beautiful pass (along with my drivers license, so they would know it was me) and headed to the park shuttle.
The views along the way were spectacular.
After a short ride, I arrived at the last stop, Temple of Sinawava. According to my research – and the recording that played on the ride up – Sinawava is the Paiute’s coyote spirit or god. The Temple of Sinawava is an amphitheater. Judging by what I have seen here as well as in other places, an amphitheater is a canyon that has widened out to a bowl shape.
I took advantage of the restrooms – on of the first things I learned on my full time travel is that one should never pass up the opportunity to use the restroom. Then I headed over to the trail.
Unfortunately, I would have to satisfy myself with the Riverside Walk, and skip hiking through the icy cold water of the North Fork of the Virgin River. The Narrows was closed.
The water was rushing along at a good pace. Closing the Narrows seemed wise. At some points, the river takes up the whole canyon, so you are basically wading or swimming as you go. At the narrowest points, according to the literature, the canyon is 20-30 feet wide. That would be a fearsome place to get caught during a flash flood!
There are a number of different habitats along the river. I was surprised to find a swamp.
The information I read spoke of “hanging gardens”.
I think these must be some of them, however I would probably just call them “plants growing in cracks in the rocks.”
Speaking of cracks in the rocks, I guess there is always danger of falling rocks when you are dealing with a cliff.
Look out below!
It looks like those rocks came from up there.
I did some research, and the mighty elk is Utah’s state animal. However, after my hike, I think that they should consider transferring that honor to the squirrel.
In spite of hefty fines for feeding the wildlife, the squirrels must have had enough success with begging that they have no fear of people. All along the trail, people stopped to take pictures of them. They were quite engaging.
There is so much to look at. I enjoyed the various plants. It’s springtime, and many of them are in bloom.
As I continued down the Walk, I noticed that the sides of the canyon seemed to be getting taller and more vertical.
Of course, “Safety first” is the motto – but I don’t thing there was much chance of icy conditions on the day I visited. It was very pleasant. Nonetheless, I did keep an eye out for the ice.
Ice is an important player in shaping the rocks. Here we have what Matthew told me was a blind arch. You can see the arch shape forming in the side of the canyon as the rocks break away due to the freeze/thaw cycle. If this happened in a narrow enough rock, you would eventually get an arch that went all the way through. In this case, I think what would happen is that the narrow canyon would widen into an amphitheater. I’m not a geologist, but I have my opinions!
In my strictly non-professional opinion, I thought that these rocks looked almost volcanic. If so, I wonder how they got there?
The canyon got narrower and narrower the closer I got to the end of the Riverside Walk.
Looking down into the river, I saw the cobbles that gouged out the canyon when carried by the force of the water.
They say that you can hear the cobbles grinding against the rocks when the current is strong enough. That would be something I’d love to hear.
I came across this youngster throwing rocks in the river. He looked like he was having such a good time. It was fun watching him. And I really appreciated his parents for giving him the time and space to have this experience. I didn’t see any signs prohibiting that activity. Maybe I missed them. Or maybe they count on people to use their common sense.
I enjoyed watching him pick out the rocks he’d throw. His parents told him that he could throw one more. He picked up a largish one and dumped in the water with a big splash. Then he rejoined his parents and the continued on the walk.
And here I am, at the end of the walk and the beginning of the Narrows. Too bad the water levels were so high. I am sure I would have done that trail, too. (NOT.)
And so it was back along the river.
Watching the power of the water.
Looking at the driftwood that had been carried in the floods – how long ago?
Back to the Temple of Sinawava, where I’d catch the shuttle back to the park entrance.
One more visit to the restroom, though. They encourage drinking lots of water and they even provide stations for refilling your water bottle. The Zion Spring Water tasted good!
I just had to follow the arrow to see what the Foot Wash Station looked like. I had seen “fuss bads” in Germany the summer I worked in a Girl Scout camp over there in 1976. (Forty years ago?!)
And this is what it was. Not that I needed to wash my feet after my rather leisurely stroll along the North Fork of the Virgin River. But I was ready to head back to camp.
Finally! A new state to add to the map. My last new state was Florida, and that was some time ago.
Using a website, Campendium.com, I found some free camping in the Dixie National Forest, just a mile or so off I-15. Do I love the word, FREE? Yes, I do! There are no facilities, but I have my own water and toilet, and I make electricity with my solar panels. Who needs a campground?
You couldn’t pay for a view like this, either.
Yep, that’s snow up there. I was warm enough where I was, though.
When you camp in a national forest without facilities, they call it “dispersed camping”. This area was different in that they had assigned places where you could set up camp. I grabbed the first one I came to. It looked good and there was room to maneuver. I am glad that I parked over to the side of my site, because there was at least one site behind mine.
I don’t think it would have been possible to have gotten a trailer up the road, but these folks did fine in their car.
On the cliff behind my site, there were some people practicing repelling. It was fun to watch.
That is one activity that is definitely NOT on my “to-do” list!
The day after I got settled in at my campsite, I met up with a Facebook Friend.
I met Matthew through Airstream groups on Facebook. When he heard I was going to be in the area, he insisted on showing me around. Or, maybe I imposed and he was too much of a gentleman to refuse.
In any event, he spent a day running me around the area. What a great guy!
Here he is, holding up a ponderosa pine in Zion National Park. Saint Matthew of the Tundra, I dubbed him.
Even after enjoying the magnificent view from my campsite, I think I must have said “Wow!” at least a hundred times.
At every turn, there was always something amazing.
In Zion National Park, there are two sides. One side you can drive through and one side where you park and take a shuttle to visit various spots in the canyon. Matthew drove me through the side with the tunnels.
Now, I have been through tunnels in mountains before, but these tunnels are really masterpieces of engineering. I have no photos to share with you, and I know it’s become an accepted truth that if there are no photos, it didn’t happen. Take my word. This tunnel is a marvel.
The tunnel was part of a 25 mile long road built to connect Zion with Grand Canyon National Park, Bryce Canyon, Cedar Breaks and the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. Work began in 1927 and was completed in 1930.
The tunnel itself is 5,613 feet long and follows the profile of Pine Creek Canyon at a consistent distance of 21 feel from the outside face of the rock to the center of the tunnel. the tunnel was built using mining technology. There are galleries that provide light and ventilation to the tunnel. As you are approaching the entrance, you can see the openings punctuating the canyon wall.
As proof that I actually went through the tunnel, we stopped to take a photo at the east entrance to the park.
Ah, but before we exited the park, we stopped and saw a few things.
This is the Checkerboard. With the vertical grooves and the horizontal layers of rock, it’s not to hard to see a checkerboard.
We also saw some big horn sheep scampering around on the rocks, but you’ll have to take my word for that, too. No photos.
Ah, but I do have photos of petroglyphs! We parked at a pull-out and then walked down an unmarked path. Matthew said that only locals know about it, and they don’t give information out about where they are. The NPS folks just shrug their shoulders when asked. “Petroglyphs? What Petroglyphs?”
I promised not to tell anyone where they are.
Do you think I remember where they are?
No, I don’t.
We also made a stop at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah. My photo didn’t turn out, so, here’s one from another blog. They took the tour, so if you are interested in animal rescue, click on the link. The people there were lovely and caring. What a beautiful spot for an organization like this.
Then next stop on our tour was Pipe Spring National Monument. Another stamp in my National Parks Passport!
Pipe Spring was an oasis in the arid region. It’s located in the Arizona Strip, the northern part of Arizona separated from the rest of the state by the Grand Canyon.
The Kaibab Paiute lived there and used the water. They lived lightly on the land, building wikiups out of the local plants. They were hunter/gatherers and, if I understand correctly, would move about as the seasons dictated. The water flowing out of the spring must have made this a favored stopping spot.
Beginning in the 1850s, the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints began to settle the area. They thought the water was just great, too. They thought it was so great that they built a fort right on top of it in 1872!
They call this “Winsor Castle”, named after one of the managers of the ranch, Anson Perry Winsor. We weren’t there in time for a tour, but Matthew told me that the women lived in the front part of the fort and the men lived in the back part. I imagine that there is a courtyard or patio in the center, as there are those large doors on both sides.
I’m a little perplexed by the door on this side, though. There doesn’t seem to be an access road to it. Maybe it was for ventilation?
In 1923, the Pipe Spring ranch was purchased and set aside as a national monument to be memorial of western pioneer life. There is plenty of graffiti, which is now part of the historical record.
They have some cattle at the site. Figures I have to go to Arizona to see Texas longhorns.
There are also a couple of cabins that have been rebuilt, to give a little more information about how the settlers lived.
And that was our last stop on the whirlwind tour. Thanks for a great day, Matthew!
My next planned destination was Vegas, baby! But Vegas was about 300 miles and a traffic jam away.
They started posting warning signs for the traffic jam as soon as I left I-17 and got on I-40. But, what could I do? I didn’t know the area and the maps I had didn’t show enough detail to plan a detour. Oh, and there was no cell service.
At one point, everyone just turned off their engines and got out to stretch. Some guys played soccer. Some headed toward the bushes with kleenex in hand. I headed back to Flo. It’s nice to have your own restroom with you.
Eventually, we got moving again, and I ended up in Golden Valley, Arizona for a couple of nights.
It was quiet, reasonably priced and had good showers. I also used their very clean laundry facilities to get ready for the next portion of the trip. It was dry and had acres o’ gravel, but it filled the bill.
I rested up and got ready for the last part of the drive to my friend’s house. A few hours on the road and we were there.
Cora and I accepted Jim’s offer of hospitality. What a novelty to sleep in a house! Cora enjoyed the experience, although I was a bit worried. For the first day or so, she spent a good deal of time hiding under Jim’s bed.
And Cora hiding under the bed became part of the act when we went to see Gerry McCambridge’s act at Planet Hollywood on the Strip. When we entered the theater, we were each given an index card and a pencil. He addressed the audience via video while we were waiting for the show to start. He had us write our full names across the top of the card. After that, we were to write two questions we didn’t know the answer to that were personally relevant. The final thing we had to write was a piece of information that only we would know.
At one point, we were directed to collect our cards and put them in a box on the stage. We were sitting in the rear of the theater, so I collected them for our row as well as several rows in front of us and took them up to the box on the stage.
After several other parts of the show, which he did while blindfolded, he got to the cards. He reached in the box and started feeling them and crumpling them up. He first said that he was looking for a woman with the initials K M. (Jim says it was K D, but I’m telling the story!) So, he spoke with this woman for a bit – who was sitting at the other end of my row.
Then he said, “No, I’m looking for K M D.” There were a couple of us, and then he narrowed it down to me. He got my name, Jim’s name, the Airstream and that I was worried about finding a camping spot in Zion. He named Cora and that she was hiding under the bed. The only thing he didn’t mention that was on my card was “Ludlow 7334”, which was my first phone number from when I was a child.
Then, he asked the other woman if she was going to gamble tonight. She said that she wasn’t. Then he asked her if she’d like a good luck charm. She said no. He tried a couple times to get her to say yes to the good luck charm. I finally said, “Hey, I’d like a good luck charm.” I thought that he needed a way to end the segment of the show.
Well, he crumbled up the papers some more and then threw one out into the audience and told them to pass it to me.
It was the index card that I filled out! I was gob-smacked!
Now, the rest of the show was good, but I have to say that this was my favorite part!
If you are looking for a good act when you are in Las Vegas, I would recommend The Mentalist.
Cora did come out from under Jim’s bed. Unfortunately, she really enjoyed exploring the fireplace. My pretty white kitty was covered in soot! Jim did his best to try to brush it out of her coat. That got some of it. I washed the rest of it out with a washcloth. She didn’t seem to mind at all.
While I was in Vegas, we did some fun stuff, but the kind of stuff you do when you visit anyone. You go out to eat…
Of course, the gaming industry probably wouldn’t be too thrilled to know that these messages are in the fortune cookies!
You visit friends. These women are Jim’s neighbors. Lea was celebrating her 90th birthday, and I got to join in the festivities.
While we were there, I got a hostess to take a photo of Jim and me.
We’ve hardly aged a bit since we taught at the American School of Guatemala back in the 1980s!
One of the things that was left on my Vegas “to-do” list was to get my picture taken at the world-famous “Fabulous Las Vegas” sign. Jim had some things to take care of, and I had an appointment at the Apple Store to have my phone looked at. When I was finished, I zipped over to the sign.
The line was long! What was really holding things up was a wedding party that was doing all of their photos there. But, once they got back into their white stretch limo, the line started moving. Unfortunately, the sun was going down! Would I make it?
YES! I did, but just barely.
I like Vegas for the things that you just don’t see everywhere – like a combination gas station/car wash and 24 hour slot parlor.
And sculptures of tennis players waiting to cross the street.
We had one more show to attend – a taping of Penn and Teller’s “Fool Us”. They were taping the shows and they needed a live studio audience.
I got tickets for me, Jim and his friend, Bill. We all managed to amuse ourselves with our phones while we waited.
The lines to get in were incredible! I think they had us split up into four LONG lines. We all got in, but we were seated just about as far up in the balconies as you can go. It was a good show.
The most unexpected part of my visit to Las Vegas was the rain.
Luckily, there was a canopy over the gas pumps – and I was especially fortunate that Jim got out and pumped the gas for me.
The last full day I was visiting Jim, about 0.8 inch of rain fell. They usually get a little less than 4.25 inches of rain in a YEAR! The roads were flooded and it was a mess!
The washes were awash! Eventually, the rain did drain away, and I was able to get hitched up and head out the next day without a problem.
After my day in Sedona, I decided that I wanted to see some of the remains of the earlier inhabitants of the region. My first stop of the day was Montezuma Castle National Monument, near Camp Verde, Arizona.
First stop, though, was the ranger station to buy my new pass for the National Parks. It costs $80 for the year and I really got my money’s worth last year. I can hardly wait until I’m 62 and then I can plunk down $10 for a pass for the rest of my life!
Waiting to greet me at the ranger station was Teddy!
President Roosevelt included Montezuma Castle as part of the first four National Monuments under the Antiquities Act in 1906. Due to looting of the site, very few original artifacts remained in the structure, but he still identified it as a place “of the greatest ethnological value and scientific interest.”
According to the brochure, Roosevelt’s decision assured the continued protection of one of the best preserved prehistoric cliff dwellings in North America.
It was just a short stroll to the castle from the ranger station.
Well, it’s not really a castle, and it has nothing to do with Montezuma. Early anglos visiting the region knew the name, Montezuma, but it was a case of a little knowledge being a dangerous thing.
This is a 20-room high-rise apartment building that was constructed about 800 years ago by a group of people that have been named “Sinagua”. The ranger who gave the talk I attended said that these people moved on. They weren’t defeated in battle and there is no evidence of catastrophe. They just left. They didn’t leave a record of their name, but they did leave behind interesting information in their architecture and in other buildings.
The ranger who gave the talk told us that the “fresher” looking part of the dwelling is the result of resent restorations. The workers used the same materials from the creek bed that the original inhabitant would have used. The older parts have just been bleached by the sun for hundreds of years.
In addition to the 20 rooms in the the main structure, they also tucked rooms in other parts of the cliff.
In 1933, a 45-50 room, pueblo ruin was excavated. They uncovering a wealth of artifacts which added to the information and understanding of the Sinagua people.
This was a riparian community, along Beaver Creek. Life was good here for the residents of the “Castle” for about 400 years. So good that they had time to build elaborate dwellings. They also traded for goods from a long ways away.
Silly me! I always marveled at how sea shells from the Pacific could be trade goods in Arizona. I envisioned a guy loading up his pack at the beach and heading for Arizona. Nope. These were smaller trades – a few miles at a time. Those shells passed through many hands before they got places like these. I was glad the ranger helped me discover the error of my thought process.
Sycamores, just like these that still line the banks, were used in the building.
Originally, visitors to the National Monument were able to climb ladders and explore the rooms on their own. Right about the time when they discontinued the ladders, they came up with a diorama that allowed people to see what it would have been like for the people who lived there.
On my way out, this red cactus caught my eye.
My next stop was Montezuma Well. This was a place I had never heard of before I got to the area. It was mind-blowing!
When I drove onto the site, the first sign I saw was for a pit house excavation. Beneath a roof, there were the remains of a pit house. You can see the poles that held up the roof.
It is built in the traditional Hohokam style, and dates to about one thousand years ago.
This illustration was on the interpretive sign by the dig.
I got to the parking lot and got ready to see the well, which is in a limestone sinkhole. Now, you might think that the well would be on level ground. No. It was a little bit of a hike up a hill to get to the edge of the well.
Along the way, I passed a surveying marker. I always think it is interesting to find these along the way.
Once up at the top, I found the well.
It is a source of water that has been used for irrigation since at least the 8th century. Even during times of drought, there is a dependable output of water. A steady 1,500,000 gallons of water enters the well from underground springs.
The water is highly carbonated and contains high levels of naturally occurring arsenic. Fish don’t live here, but it has at least five species of life that are found only in this well. One of the species is a leech.
When you don’t have any clue as to what you might find, you can be surprised and delighted.
Just under the lip of the sinkhole, there are cliff dwellings! I’ll bet that these were very desirable places to live. Warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer – and you only had to build part of the house. The top and back was already taken care of – and sometimes even the sides.
There was a sign pointing to another house. The only drawback was that the sign pointed down a set of stairs on the inside of the sinkhole. I decided to start down. I could always turn around, right?
I made it all the way down the stairs and came to some more rooms. According to what I’ve read, there are about 50 rooms around the property.
Of course, what would a ruin be without 19th century graffiti?
Actually, these ruins were mostly unknown to the rest of the country until Richard J. Hinton published Handbook to America in 1878. So, Duke Heflin, here, was pretty avant-garde in tagging this site.
I paused on my way back up to take a picture from across the well of the first cliff houses I saw.
Back up at the top of the hill, there are remains of a large pueblo.
With its dependable supply of water, this must have been a great place to live.
The water exited the well into Wet Beaver Creek. These people directed the water into irrigation channels. Some of these channels can be still be seen today.
My next stop was lunch. Touristic activities can take a toll on a person. I headed toward Cottonwood, Arizona. I had a hankering for some Mexican food, so I stopped in at Plaza Bonita.
A delicious tamal, beans rice and tortilla chips – all for $8.61. That included the tip!
Thusly restored, I decided to head to Jerome. Konnie had mentioned that she thought it was an interesting place – or maybe she thought it might be interesting. Anyway, I found it on the map and I pointed Bart in that general direction.
I don’t think I knew anything about Jerome, but as I climbed higher and higher, I figured that it must be an old mining town.
When I finally finished with the switchbacks up the mountain, I pulled over and took this photo. Cottonwood was about 3000 feet above sea level. Jerome is about 5000 feet. As the crow flies, the two places are only about four miles apart, so you can imagine how much climbing was involved.
Luckily, Bart did all the climbing. I just had to keep my eyes on the road and maintain forward momentum.
Once I got up there, I saw a museum surrounded by rusting mining equipment, so my guess that it was an old mining town was confirmed. Since they wanted me to pay to see the rusting equipment and whatever displays they had inside, I opted not to visit. I headed toward the center of town and hoped that there would be an easy loop to head back down the mountain.
I saw lots of artsy places – studios, workshops and artisanal restaurants – since I had already eaten and I wasn’t too thrilled to be so high up, I headed straight back down.
Once back near Cottonwood, I saw a sign for Tuzigoot, that last park in the area about the Sinagua people. I turned toward it and saw it looming on a hillside.
I got there with just fifteen minutes before closing, so I took a quick walk around the site. It turns out that it looked like this before the CCC started working on it in the 1930s.
Archeologists Louis R. Caywood and Edward H. Spicer directed the work here beginning in 1933. The original inhabitants didn’t leave a name for this place. The workers on the site named it Tuzigoot, from the Apache meaning “crooked water”. The pueblo is near a bend in the Verde River.
The site was inhabited between 1000 and 1400. According to the brochure I picked up, the village began as a small cluster of rooms. There were few exterior doors. The residents entered the buildings using ladders through roof openings. In the beginning, there were about 50 inhabitants. At its peak, around 400 people lived here.
Using the archeological tools available to them at the time, they used the stones at the site to replicate some of the 87 ground floor rooms.
In some places, there were second stories.
Based on the black and white photo of the ruins that they had on the sign, I think it required a great deal of archeological insight and imagination to figure out how the site had been used.
I gave the site a quick tour and managed to get out before they locked the gate. I had a busy day and I was ready to head back to Flo the Airstream to put my feet up.
The next day, it’s time to hitch up and hit the road.