Friday, July 22, 2011

Our 2nd day at Bryce

The plans for our last full day in Utah included an antique shop, a special lunch, a couple hikes, a picnic dinner, and watching the sunset. The day ended up to be so much more than that, however!

Everyone slept in, (we had stayed up late the night before playing Fill Or Bust), wrote in their journals, and played outside before we headed north towards Bryce. The first stop was supposed to be a really fun-looking antique shop in the town of Hatch. Unfortunately, their hours of operation tend to be a little scattered and it was closed when we arrived at 11:00 a.m. on a Wednesday morning. I’m thinking maybe it’s more consistently open on the weekends? Ah well, we then stopped for lunch at Bryce Canyon Pines Restaurant, famous for its homemade soup & pies. We had a pretty good lunch there, though we’ve definitely had better pie! Then we stopped at Ruby’s General Store outside the Bryce Canyon entrance for a few more bandaids for blisters and batteries for cameras. Then we were off to the Mossy Cave Trail! This short half-mile trail goes one direction to a cave and the other to a waterfall. We anticipated the cave more than the waterfall, since we thought the waterfall was for viewing only. As we walked up towards the cave, we began to see a little river, carved out by Mormon settlers, and we caught a glimpse of the waterfall. People were playing in the river and under the waterfall! We went towards the cave first, which was tinier than we expected, and nothing much to write home about. Then we walked toward the top of the waterfall. The girls & I went wading through the stream above the waterfall, which was very fast and challenging to walk in, but so refreshing! Ed & Sarah decided they were going to climb up the very steep trail on the other side of the river while I took the other girls back down the trail and we would meet up at the river on the bottom.

Well, after the girls & I got started on our trail, we remembered that Becca had put down her walking stick somewhere before walking in the river. We went back to retrieve it, but saw that another little boy had picked it up. I was trying to console Becca that now it was that little boy’s stick when he suddenly tossed it down over the waterfall into the pool below! I couldn’t believe his mother didn’t panic about that since there were several people playing in that pool down there! We could see the stick resting at the end of the pool, so the girls & I made our way down the trail and to the water. Then we walked upstream, crossing several times when the shore got too steep to walk on, towards the waterfall. When we arrived, the father of the family playing around the waterfall applauded my efforts of crossing the stream with my camera bag, camera, and the girls hanging onto me for dear life. We must have been quite the sight! Becca managed to get the stick and then the guy there took our picture by the waterfall. On the way back down river, we met up with Ed & Sarah, who were disappointed we hadn’t been on the other side of their steep cliff to watch them emerge from the hoodoos. Oops, sorry! But then we all waded back upstream to the waterfall again so that Ed & Sarah could see the waterfall. And once again, only one of my children managed to stay mostly dry.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that while we were hiking down to the river, we saw two California Condors soaring above us – a rare sight. We had heard while we were at Zion that there had been a recent Condor sighting and all the Rangers were on alert, ready to point one out to all visitors should another be sighted, but we did not see one that day. Then, suddenly, there they were. A blessing.

After the waterfall hike, we headed back into the main section of Bryce Canyon to see Sunrise and Sunset viewpoints and to hike the Navajo Loop. We looked around at Sunset Point before heading on our Navajo Loop trail. Again, this place has some of the most incredible scenery. Just amazing. The trail we were taking descended 550 feet into the canyon via a series of 31 steep switchbacks and a couple of steep staircases. Being in that canyon was incredible. It’s a totally different perspective on the canyon.

Once at the bottom of the canyon, we kept following the trail because it was supposed to be a “loop”. We figured we would ascend back up to the rim in a different place. Unfortunately, we walked quite a ways before we finally came across a sign that indicated that the second half of the trail was closed and we had to turn around and go back up the same way. That was pretty disappointing, because we wanted to see something else and we had walked so far in the bottom of the canyon. But, we headed back and saw the switchbacks from a different perspective – going up! The girls did AWESOME! No one complained the whole way up and I was much less terrified of someone falling off the cliff. We made it to the top and pretty much collapsed on the ground. No, not really, but we filled our water bottles and sat at a picnic table in the shade to rest for a while. Thankfully, it was only about 85 degrees with a slight breeze, and a lot of the time down in the canyon we were in the shade, so we were not at all too hot, but we did need to rest!

We then checked out Sunrise Point, found a picnic area, and ate our picnic dinner. The blue jays really enjoyed Elise’s crust that Ed threw on the ground. We drove back to Sunset Point (saw a fawn, doe, and young buck on the way) and took some pictures of the light changing on the canyon. So pretty. And with that, our time at Bryce was over.

Out of the 3 parks we’ve visited so far, Arches, Bryce, and Zion, my favorite is Zion. Right now we’re driving to the Grand Canyon and I’m trying to ask my family which park was their favorite, but everyone is looking at me like I’m crazy and saying “I don’t know”, so I guess they’re too tired and crabby. We got up awfully early this morning…

updated: I wrote the previous stuff yesterday, while driving to the Grand Canyon. We saw the Grand Canyon, which just isn’t quite so grand after seeing Bryce & Zion. It was super-busy there and much hotter than forecast. We saw a few view points and then we were done. We ate some ice cream at the general store and Ed looks at me and says, “Do you wanna go to the hotel?” I said, “Nope, do you?”  “Nope”.

So, we called the hotel and confirmed that there would be no charge for cancelling our reservation, called my brother to see if we could arrive late Thursday night instead of Friday afternoon, and hit the road! We made great time and arrived at my brother’s shortly before 10:00 p.m. We gained almost a whole extra day with them and saved $180 on the cost of a hotel!

This morning (Friday) we went to see Ed’s Grandma DeWitt who is 94. She’s doing pretty good and we are always really thankful for each time we get to visit with her. She reminds us SO much of Ed’s mom – it’s almost eerie. She is exactly what Jean would be like had she lived to be 94. Now it’s time for lunch, a little shopping, some hanging out, and lots of cousin love.

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