This is my personal blog, and is NOT a news story. As such it is my opinion and does not reflect the opinion of the station, my family nor anyone else.
DAY EIGHT—Bryce Canyon
After leaving Zion National Park via the switchbacks and driving through a 1.1 mile tunnel, we pass the Checkerboard Mesa, and turn north toward Bryce. The countryside starts to look vaguely familiar to me, and I wrack my brain to remember why. 30 years ago, as we left L.A., my wife and I drove through Las Vegas and up to Zion and Bryce. This is why it looks vaguely familiar. It’s the exact exit route we took.
When we arrive at Bryce, we unload into Ruby’s Inn & General Store, complete with Best Western, gas station, diner, gift shop, horse rides, ATV rides, Rock shop, ice cream shop, laundry, and about 12 banks of hotel rooms. There is some confusion, as the front clerk sends our motor coach to the wrong building instead of the one with the 7300 and 7400 series room segments. We walk quite a ways before we find the right room, but appreciate the AC and clean room as we shower and dress for dinner buffet. Holiday Vacations springs for the surprise meal.
With 90 free minutes to ourselves, I launch into yesterdays’ blog entry and nearly finish it before we have leave for dinner. I spell-check it, add a few photos, and post it, planning to come back and polish it and a few words since I’ve run out of time.
As we walk across the large complex, I pass two couples from our group, who have already eaten and are headed back to our building. Separately, they both compliment me on the blog posting. I am shocked, when they claim they read it on the WTAP app already. I’m surprised at how fast the blog has been seen, and they say it’s the lead article. I am embarrassed that I didn’t polish it before posting, but they seem to love it!
We eat in the Ruby’s Inn Buffet along with several other bus tour groups. There is a bit of a wait before we are seated. It seems this is a popular spot with the locals. I note that the wait staff is international, which makes sense as the tourists and visitors are also international. They need waiters who can interface with them. Still, at times, it seems disorganized, but they are processing a lot of people to eat quickly.
Later, I have trouble sleeping, as my nose is dried out. I am frequently getting up and drinking water. Finally I realize that the HVAC system has switched from AC to heat, since the outside temp has dropped to near freezing. In the morning, a fellow traveler in the room below tells me that he heard me get up each time, as he had the same problem for much of the overnight.
We wake and take breakfast in the buffet which is somewhat quieter this morning. We board the bus and ride a few miles into Bryce Canyon.
We travel 16 miles to the Rainbow Overlook terminus, and begin working our way backwards. Each overlook is more impressive than the last. Finally, we reach the Agua Overlook and several jokes are made about Aqua, since no water is present. The colors are dramatic and impressive. The hoodoos are the best in this part of the world, a combination of the elevation, freezing temps and dry environment that becomes wet in the winter. This Freeze Wedging continue to cause the hoodoos to form and erode. In geological time, this will erase the hoodoos in a twinkling of an eye, so to speak.
The next turn-out has a connecting trail to allow those of us who want to walk along the rim to the next observation point to stretch our legs. It’s described as a generally down-sloping trail that takes a half an hour, but 25 of us complete it in only 20 minutes and wait for the remaining 13 on the bus to catch up.
We finally arrive at the visitor center and watch a 22 minute national park orientation film. They are always the best, with great narration, lush music, and incorporate the native American history of the area as well as the early settlers' story. We learn of Ebinezer Bryce’s efforts to start agriculture in the area, and how this canyon took on his name, even after he departed for Arizona.
We return to our hotel to prepare for our half a free day. Some have booked horse trail riding, ATV riding, shopping, or other area recreation. I ride my first ATV ever, following the trail guide to the edge of the canyon and up a small mountain. We pass bulls in the pasture, long horn sheep, prong horns and four horse trail riders that turn out to be our fellow travelers. (Later in the day, we will discover I am missing my room key, but I recall something dropping out of my pocket when the trail guide offered to snap my ATV picture on my phone. I am able to walk across the street to the ATV rental location and immediately find the keycard in-between the seats! Whew!)
Although my wife is a horse person, she declines to join the next horse trail ride, preferring more control over the horse and to "ride", not "follow". After the group of six British guests depart on the trail, we wander down the line of shops and I shoot two more Facebook Live updates. Then we shop for gem stones, buy some ice cream and chat with other returning guest horse riders that were our fellow travelers. We all enjoy the ice cream and relax before returning across the street our hotel rooms.
But then something unexpected happens as we pass the horse stables. I ask if my wife could ride solo with just a guide. The new clerk at stables reports the last ride is out on the trail, and he can't leave, but that she could come ride inside the corral. He allows her in and together they discuss horsemanship, tack, training and more. He allows her to ride and help train his horse that they are breaking in.
She’s in seventh heaven, as this is something special and unexpected. For the next half hour, they train the horse together until the trail ride returns. The boss isn’t happy, saying the corral ride is for kids. But the clerk explains how she has helped and there was no pressure, no risk, and no violation of insurance. So everyone won, and we have a happy camper!
For diner, we gather and are bussed across the busy street to "Ebenezer’s" for a Country Music Review and enjoy either steak, salmon, chicken or BBQ. The portions are large and the meal is great! Many are singing along with the band through the 90 minute show. The final number turns out to be "Country Roads (Take Me Home)", and we stand, clap and sing along!
Satisfied and full, we return to the hotel to pack, clean up or write blog entries. Tomorrow, we begin the long road back up I-15 to Salt Lake City for our farewell dinner, and the following day’s long flight home.
What a great day it has been!