Friday, October 18, 2013

Utah Utopia ... Generosity of Nature: Red Canyon, Bryce Canyon National Park, Cedar Breaks National Monument .....

Wednesday morning we awake to a very cold morning, 26F [-3.33C] – brrr.  But, this doesn’t deter Lacy and me from getting ready for an exciting day of Utah discovery.  We haul out of the Kanarraville, UT RV Park in Petunia Smart at 8:30 for the drive to Bryce Canyon National Park, about 85 miles distant, following the route suggestions of our Park’s owner.  She's mapped out a plan so that we don't have to backtrack by heading north, then east, then south and west - a 210 miles journey.

We head north on I-15 to East Hwy 20 to South Hwy 89.  We stop in Panguitch, a truly fine looking Utah town just West of Red Canyon for our first or many culture-acquainting opportunities. 

As we're driving down Main Street, I use my intuition, such as it is, to pick “Cowboys Café.”  Hmmm, this must be an interesting place and a good spot to get a cuppa’, I say to Lacy.  It’s closed!  So much for my intuition!  Looking just down the street I see “Little L’s Bakery.”  Sounds interesting too.  I park Petunia with Lacy just outside the bakery door (no parking problems in this community), I enter and order a cup of coffee and a cinnamon roll.

This is it, small-town America, just what I’m looking for and thrilled to find.  Two young ladies are working behind the counter of this bakery / coffee shop / gift shop / antique store / art gallery combination.  Two tables constructed of antique doors, doorknob intact, are taken and one is free.  I take my order to the table and listen in on a conversation between a local rancher and the couple at the table closest to mine.  He’s telling them about his encounter with a rare species of antelope “right here in town.”  Soon he’s up and showing all of us his photos of this antelope buck on his smart phone; I’m automatically included in his photos and explanation.  Oh, this is what I love - local personalities.

He finished his 'coffee break' and tells the counter ladies he’ll see them soon.  The couple, Rob and Bev, from North Carolina, begin a conversation with me - where am I from, what am I doing, who am I traveling with.  They tell me they fly to Utah every year to visit their son, who lives in SLC.   And, each year, at the end of their family visit, they rent a car and investigate a different part of the West; this time it’s Utah's Bryce Canyon / Zion area.  Lucky for me because they’re a wealth of information about North Carolina points of interest, geography, weather, culture and history – all the components of my bucket list for my upcoming visit this winter.  Rob's an author, historian and book- reviewer for an Asheville newspaper and its magazine section.  We share calling card info and they invite me to contact them to maybe get together and take advantage of their expertise when I arrive NC.  What a find in little Panguitch, UT!

As I’m readying to leave the shop I tell the proprietors that this is the best cinnamon roll I’ve ever eaten.  (That’s saying something having great experience as a cinnamon roll aficionado – I bake them and I know well airports’ Cinnabon)!  They ask if I’d like the recipe.  Well, sure; so they give it to me - verbally.  Hope I can remember it the next time I bake MP’s cinnamon rolls.

From Panguitch we head east through Red Canyon and get our first inkling of what’s in store for our visual pleasure today.  OMG!  Nature can beat any artist’s brush and cameraman’s picture.  This is going to be one heck of a fantastic day.

This is a sample of the scenery taken from a residential neighborhood in Cedar City

Lots of cattle, horses, hay fields in Utah - on the way to Panguitch  on Hwy 89 south

Downtown Panguitch - Hmmm current movie - theater probably seats about 40 - Across the street is the first cafe I tried to check out - closed

Main Street looking north

Residential area - lots of brick construction

Love the gingerbread trim and old fashioned garage door

Corner drug store

Here's where I had the world's greatest cinnamon roll

Check out the doorknob on the antique door-table
No processed ingredients here - sweet butter, yeast, locally-milled flour, locally produced milk - warm from the oven!

Only a short distance south-east of Panguitch we came upon Red Canyon in Dixie National Forest
Wow, this is beginning to be interesting
Let's go around the next curve ....

Wow, there's more red rock - In Red Canyon we're looking UP at the fabulous rock formations

A close up of the interesting formations - how in the heck do those rocks stay like this?

From Red Canyon to Bryce Canyon National Park is only a hop, skip and a jump for Petunia

The Ranger's response, at the entrance toll booth, to my greeting, "I'm glad you're here today," was, "I'm very happy to see you too."  Park entrance fee is $25 per vehicle - zilch for me with my Golden Age Pass

Captains CE Dutton and JW Powell first explored this area in the 1870s giving the area various names; Members of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints came and displaced the Piute Indians.  Then, in 1875, Ebenezer Bryce came to live and harvest plateau lumber.  Neighbors called the canyon behind his home Bryce's Canyon.  Bryce Canyon National Park was legislated by Congress in 1924.

Here is Bryce Canyon National Park - always looking DOWN at the beauty - boy, is that a long way down!

These photos are not necessarily in order - I shot over 200 during the one day!
This is the Bryce Amphitheater with some folks meandering along the trails that actually go from lookout areas to near the bottom of the canyon.

The hoodoos cast their spell on all who see them.  Hoodoos are pillars of rock, usually of  fantastic shape, left by erosion.  Geologists say that 10 million of years ago forces within the Earth created and then moved two massive blocks known as the Table Cliff and the Paunsaugunt plateaus.  Rock layers on Table Cliff now tower 2,000 feet above their corresponding layers on the Paunsaugunt.  Ancient rivers carved the tops and exposed the edges of these blocks of rock, removing some layers and sculpting formation in others.  
Probably more than you wanted to know, but I want to be able to come back and remember the geology!

To get an idea of the vastness and depth of the canyon, the trees in the picture are a mixture of Douglas Fir, Ponderosa Pine, Quaking Aspen, Blue Spruce and about ten others - some reaching almost 300 feet tall!

This is called the Grottos -

I missed the shot when this gentleman was standing out at the point of that formation to shoot photos!  I'm sorry, there is no way I'd venture out anywhere near there!

A very long shot of a community to the north-east of the Park (name?).  On a clear day, such as this, it's said the visibility is 100 miles!

Over 1.5 million people visit the Park each year.  There is a 30 miles drive to various view point locations and over 50 miles of hiking trails.  The altitude at the view points is generally between 7,500 and 10,000 feet

This is a view point called Bryce Point.  Notice the walkway to the viewing platform is not fenced.  I had a thought or two before I walked down there - it looks relatively mild in the photo - in person there's very little ground on each side of the walkway so I held Lacy's leash - maybe mostly for my own comfort
At the lookout area the fence is built tilting inward; so when the foolhardy lean over the fence they'll not tumble dooooowwwwnnnnn

View from the lookout - We were there for about four hours so the sun's movement continuously changed the colors

I also missed this gentleman when he was out on the edge.  Here he'd returned to have the lady help him with his equipment.  He'd actually had one foot over the edge - crazy!

More and more and more

 I couldn't resist - Lacy didn't take her eyes off that drop very often

Okay, so one can take a self-portrait with this camera - but I need lots of practice or else a better makeup and hair stylist!

Saw warning signs in several different locations - Many hiking trails were covered with snow and ice.  Neither Lacy nor I needed to venture onto those

Oh, oh!  I have lots more photos but I've 'done something' to my MacBook Pro Library and need to figure out where they went!  For this post I'd like to add just a little about some of the people we met during this exciting day:

*A couple from France - we spoke French, Spanish and English, depending on how my language-center was functioning!

*A couple from Northern Saskatchewan, who live a little North of Sturgeon Lake, where my friends, Kevin and Ruth, managed a camp for the Summer.

*A lady from right near where I lived in Marin County, California – we even have common acquaintances!  She works for the Buck Institute, one of the most amazing philanthropic organizations ever founded, one of which I’m well aware of from having lived in Marin for decades.  If you'd like to read more about this amazing institute, here's a link:  Buck Foundation / Institute History

*A Korean tour group’s Korean-American guides who translated for members of the group who had many questions for the ‘American lady, traveling alone with her dog’

*Of course, the numerous people who ask if I’d like them to take a photo of me.  [I try to offer my services when I see somebody who’s apparently alone and I’m thankful there are others who do the same]

*The proprietors in stores and cafés who have enough time and friendliness to enter into conversations – giving valuable information and insight into their corner and culture of the World – the lady who insisted on giving me two free beef jerky sticks for Lacy, the bakers at the café who gave me the recipe for the best cinnamon roll I’ve ever eaten, the NP Ranger who told me how happy he is to see us visitors and to be working, thanks to Utah’s Governor Gary Herbert, who’s paying the federal employees out of the State’s coffers.

What a wonderful experience this day was.  210 miles in Petunia (48 mpg - hooray!) - about nine hours of wonder.


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