Monday, April 21, 2008

Zion and Bryce with Jamie and Robby

Jamie, my sorority sister and senior year roommate, came out for her second trip with her boyfriend, Robby to play in Vegas/visit me. They stayed with me two nights before moving on to a Strip hotel (no, I didn't run them off, that was the plan!). Friday night I successfully made them hungry enough so that when dinner was served at 9:30pm, they devoured it without minding that I was the chef (with some crucial kitchen prep by Brad).

On Saturday, I wanted to let them escape the neon by taking a trip to visit two national parks in Utah, Zion and Bryce Canyon. Zion is a three hour drive from Vegas, and Bryce is an hour past there, so the plan was to wake up early and hit the road. The wine from the night before kept me in bed until 9am (and the headache lasted all day), so we didn't leave the house until 9:30am.

We got to Zion at about 2pm (we lost an hour with the time zone), and it was breathtaking. The main road through the canyon was closed to private vehicles because they are already in their summer traffic restrictions, but we were able to enjoy the scenery along Highway 9.
We looked for a picnic table along the way to eat our lunch, but we had to settle for this picnic rock along the side of the road.
After leaving Zion, we continued on to Bryce. This area of Utah is very rural with lots of horses and cows. In fact, as we were driving along Highway 89, we came across a herd of cattle being led along the side of the road. Being city folk, we pulled over to watch the scene. It is fitting that that we have Johnny Cash playing in the background on this video.
The trip between Zion and Bryce seemed to take forever, and we finally arrived at about 4:30 local time. Bryce is so interesting because you are several thousand feet above sea level, but you feel like you are on flat ground. You drive through the park and turn into overlook areas which peer into the canyon below. The geology is remarkable. Here are some good pictures of the hoodoos and videos of the amphitheater (turn down the volume so that your speakers don't bust from the sound of the wind and the Quebecois in the background).

We figured that since we came this far, we might as well drive the entire length of the park. The road is 18 miles long and ends at Rainbow Point, which is 9115 feet above sea level. The view looks over the entire park, and on a clear day you can see New Mexico (not that there was a sign pinpointing New Mexico).
We finally started the drive back at about 6:00 local time. We drove through Red Canyon, which not surprisingly had a scattering of red rocks. We stopped to take a picture of this neat arch, and Robby started running away from the car. He figured standing in the middle of the road was less risky than another minute in the car with me.
This sign bid us farewell as we left the scenery. I guess Dixie was the last national park to draw a slogan from the hat, and this is what it got stuck with.

The drive home was not nearly as excruciating as it should have been. Robby discovered that my backseat reclines, so he was asleep quickly, followed closely by Jamie. I spent the four hour drive catching up on my favorite podcast, the Living in Las Vegas Podcast. Thank you to Scott and Melissa for being highly entertaining and keeping me awake on the drive home. We pulled into my garage just before 11pm, for a 13+ hour day of driving. The drive to Zion was absolutely worth it, but I wouldn't go that far again just to see Bryce. I would say these parks are best seen by staying the weekend in Zion and taking a quick trip over to Bryce.

You can see more pictures from the day here

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