Thursday, August 4, 2011

Bryce Canyon

On Wednesday morning we got up and headed to Bryce Canyon.  Before leaving the town we were staying in, we stopped off at the post office.  Scott went inside to mail a package, while the girls and I waited in the car.  After about 20 minutes of waiting, I started to get a little worried.  My mind then took off on its own, and I imagined that someone had “gone postal” in the post office.  After another five minutes of my mind running wild, the girls and I hopped out toward the post office.  Don’t know what I was thinking… if someone had “gone postal,” I was getting ready to get my girls in the middle of it!  Dummy!  Anyway, the girls waited on the sidewalk just in case he walked by while I was inside checking things out.  As I walked in, he was walking out of the postmaster’s office.  Then I’m thinking, “Great, they think he was mailing a bomb!”  My mind is a dangerous thing!  Anyway, turns out that he had struck up a conversation with the postal clerk about where we were headed for the day.  Seems that, in her words, the postmaster knew everything about that area and off she went to get him.  Scott said the next thing you know the postmaster had pulled him into his office and was drawing him a map on the scenic route to Bryce Canyon along with giving him a history lesson on how zip codes in Utah were developed.  So after a half-hour stop at the post office, we took off on the scenic route to Bryce Canyon.  Small town, friendly people!  It was definitely the scenic route!  Here are some pictures from our drive.  The scenic route took about 2 hours longer but, after all, we were on vacation.

Cattle crossing the road

 We were driving on the ridge of a mountain here.
Literally, on either side of the road, the land
just dropped straight down. Terrifying!

This reminded us of The Painted Dessert
We were about five miles from the Bryce Canyon entrance and found a pullout with a little hike to some waterfalls and a “mossy cave.”  After checking out the sign at the trailhead and discovering it was 1.2 miles roundtrip, Ashlee and I decided to trade off our flip-flops for our tennis shoes.  Scott then suggested we have lunch first, so we pulled out the cooler.  No sooner than we got our sandwiches made, down came a rainstorm.  The girls and I had jumped into the car at the first sign of a sprinkle, but Scott was still finishing up at the back of the van.  Fortunately he had the back hatch still up, so there he stood under cover, eating his sandwich at the back of the van.  The rain only lasted as long as it took us to eat, so as soon as we finished, we jumped on the trail. 

It looked like a city of sand castles.

We spotted a lizard scurrying across the trail.

After the trail, we went on up to Bryce Canyon and made our first stop at the visitor center to take in the 20-minute informational video.  It was about this time I got a text from my buddy, Cindy, from back home.  She and her family were out west on vacation as well.  We had originally compared itineraries and knew that at some point along the trip we would be passing each other somewhere along the way.  Turns out, we were both in the same park on the same day.  Once again, go across the country and see someone you know from back home!  Crazy!  So we met up, chatted for a few minutes about our travels, compared the cracks in our windshields (they got one too), and said, “See ya in a couple of weeks!”  After us being on the road for seven weeks, it was nice to see a familiar face, especially one that belonged to a friend!

Bryce Canyon was more of a drive-thru park where you jump out at the pullouts, take a small walk to the overlook for the view, and then hop back into your car to drive to the next viewpoint.  There were a couple of hikes, but we decided to save our energy for our planned hike at Zion the next day, so we kept to the car drive.  Most of my pictures are of the “Hoo-doos.”  These rock formations were created throughout the years as a result of ice and snow melt during the day that refreezes at night.  This happens approximately 200 days a year.  The pressure of the melt/refreeze process forces the rocks apart from inside the cracks, monsoon rains remove the debris, and holes called windows are formed.  When the windows collapse, they create the rust-colored pinnacles in the pictures below.  Seeing all those “hoodoos” for miles and miles was an amazing thing to see.

Check out this tree's roots.

The white formations looked like people.

The formations in the background are Hoodoos.

More strange tree roots

A whole canyon of Hoodoos - they were gorgeous!

Natural Bridge

As we were leaving the park, we spotted some pronghorns and some prairie dogs and couldn’t resist stopping for a picture.

Pronghorns, sometimes mistaken for antelope

More pronghorns

Prairie dogs - they were so cute!
We finished up at Bryce and decided to skip the scenic route back to our hotel and stick with the quick straight shot.  So glad we did.  We got an even better scene on the way back… the brightest, most vivid rainbow I have ever seen.  I bet I’ve seen more rainbows on this trip in the past seven weeks than I have in the past seven years!

There were actually two rainbows!

The sun was setting, and it was gorgeous!

 We finally found an "E" on a mountainside like the "A"
we found earlier in our trip.  Of course, we dubbed
this one "Emilee Mountain."

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