The Kanab stop was always in the plan, so we can go see Gaelyn and her canyon at North Rim. And we still want to see Zion.
That means a lot of driving - but it's Southern Utah/Northern Arizona so it's not like we won't have plenty to enjoy along the way.
Tuesday morning we return north on Hwy 89 to the little town of Springdale. Both lanes at the entrance to Zion National Park have a short line, doesn't seem too crowded. Yet.
I've read that the only way to access much of the park is by shuttle which leaves from the Visitors' Center on the west side of the park. We're thinking we will likely forego the big bus if we can see some of the park along the 13 mile scenic drive between entrances. Tessa does well on buses, but if they're packed it can be challenging. We'll keep our options open.
Just around the first corner the eye-popping begins. Giant cliffs surround us on all sides. Unlike Bryce's bird's eye views, we're now tiny ants below the spectacle.
Like the towering monuments of the Park Avenue formation at Arches, I love the "huge-ness" of this place!
|More forest here than the other parks.|
|Cross-bedding of ancient sand dunes and vertical cracking from expansion during extreme winters give the mesa its name.|
|The first tunnel is more like a car-port compared to the main tunnel up ahead.|
|We begin to find the crowds at the ten minute wait to pass through the long, long, long (1.1 mile), very dark, with a turn in the middle, Mt Carmel Tunnel. $15 fee for vehicles over 11.4" - the tunnel is 13.1" in the middle.|
|The eighty-year-old tunnel passes through that giant sandstone wall with the dark varnish. There is no lighting inside. I'm glad I didn't know how long it was when I entered from the other side (sorry if I've ruined it for you).|
It's difficult to capture the grandeur of the place. Trust me - it's grand! It is also packed with people. Like us. Wanting to see the grandness.
We "attempt" stopping at the Visitors' Center where the huge (the largest we've seen at any park) parking lot is 120% full. People are parked in red zones, over curbs, it's nuts. The line for the shuttle looks a mile long. As we bail out of the park, more buses and cars are entering, the three lanes are full. I'm sure the buses are helping to reduce the impact of so many cars and feet, but with hordes of people, and such a long wait, we're fine with opting out this time.
St George is a good size town where we can get a prescription refill and pick up some groceries, so we continue another 30 miles. After errands and a late lunch, we complete the loop with an 80 mile return drive to Kanab.
|The return trip drops us into Northern Arizona for several miles. I love the wide open spaces.|
Gaelyn is doing a Geology talk at 3:00 on Thursday that we don't want to miss, then we'll drive around a bit, and return to have a bite with her at the little deli.
It's 79 miles on small roads so I don't know why I wait until almost 1:30! And we have to make a stop at Jacob Lake for cookies!! We don't remember the time change until after we see Gaelyn hasn't started her talk yet, when we arrive "late".
|While we must pick up chocolate chip for Gaelyn (and a couple for Bill), I try the lemon zucchini, which are wish-I'd-bought-a-dozen delicious.|
I stop at the VC to find out where the geology talk is being held (at this point I still think we're late), and while I'm waiting for a couple ahead of me, I hear the ranger say "She's doing the geology talk", and then the couple saying "We brought her cookies." I laugh out loud and say "I brought her cookies too!" The rangers point out that they also eat Jacob Lake cookies :-))
The lodge veranda is the place to be for the best views, and of course this is where I find Gaelyn setting up for her presentation (and I finally figure out the time thing). It's great to see her again after almost a year since our first meeting in Q last winter!
Now it would be a funny coincidence if other people brought her cookies on the same day - but it's a bizarre small world when those people are friends (from PA) of our pals John and Pam!! Bernie and Ann Marie are a lovely couple who are not fulltimers, but are here for a two week vacation. Seriously, what are the chances..... And, no of course I didn't get a photo :-((
Not surprising, Gaelyn's geology presentation is informative and engaging. She clearly enjoys sharing the "story book" of the Grand Canyon. We sit along the edge to catch the canyon view and listen to the story unwind. It's amazing to think of how relatively short a period of time it took to erode all the layers it took significantly longer to build up. When you go, be sure to catch her talk - you'll learn good stuff!
|The late sun is brutal, but the scenery is spectacular.|
|Colors swirl around the many walls.|
|Gaelyn doing her ranger-thing. She rocks it.|
|All ages are engaged in the story.|
|Large windows and comfy seating focus on the big show.|
|Complete with huge fireplace and over stuffed leather sofas, the lounge accommodates views in all weather.|
|Although high up in the soaring ceiling, these vintage wrought iron lamps add a pop of rustic color.|
|When I was ten years old I fell in love with Brighty of the Grand Canyon - the book, the movie - and here he is!!|
|A full-size Kachina (katsintithu) keeps watch from the fireplace.|
At the end of her shift, Gaelyn joins us at the deli where we get caught up on each other's plans for the winter. Hopefully our paths will cross again soon!
Our drive back is in the dark so we take our time, keeping eyes out for deer and other wildlife.
Friday the 13th and we're on the road to Page, Arizona. We return to the Page-Lake Powell RV Park. We were here 18 months ago when we turned around and returned to New Mexico to take care of Bill's mom, postponing our Utah travels. It's wonderful that we've now completed our first visit to that beautiful state (with one more stop in Monument Valley ahead of us).
I like this park with lovely red slickrock views, on the edge of town, close to everything, and still quiet. Gravel interior roads and sites, small trees, and no bright lights at night. The park WiFi works well as do the FHUs with 50 amps.
This is one of my favorite areas, and while we're here we find even more to love.