Today we went to Bryce Canyon, the third canyon in three days. Although Kanab is slap bang in the middle of Zion, Bryce and Grand Canyons, it doesn’t mean that it’s near any of them! It’s 30 miles to Zion (not bad), 91 miles to the Grand Canyon (but hell, it’s worth it to see one of the top 10 sights in the world), and 81 to Bryce Canyon. So these days are full of road trips.
We set off after breakfast (bacon ‘n eggs) and drove up to Bryce non-stop. There are two types of roads in the US – those where the speed limit is 60-65, and you can actually travel at that speed; and those where the speed limit fluctuates every 5 minutes from 60 mph down to 15mph. Fortunately the roads around Kanab are the first type, so the drive to Bryce only took us an hour and three-quarters. When we arrived, we went straight to the Visitor Station to get Charlotte and Emily their Junior Ranger pack, and then we drove into the park. We were amazed – we’d seen photo’s of Bryce Canyon from our friends, but nothing had prepared us for the awe inspiring vision that greeted us at the rim. Laid out in front of us, like an army of soldiers, were loads of upright limestone pillars (called hoodoos here). They were the colour of carrots at sunset – an awesome sight. We stayed at the first viewing point for over an hour – partly to watch, partly to picnic, and partly to hear Kevin Poe, Park Ranger extraordinaire, give a Geology talk.
The Geology Talk was part of the work for the girls to get their Junior Ranger badges – they have to attend one of the Ranger talks. Sadly, we’d missed the guided trail and talk this morning, and we were going to be gone by the time the campfire talk was ready. So we had to do the Geology Talk. Imagine how thrilled they were at the prospect of this – a 3 and a 7 year old listening to a geology lecture. However, they sat enraptured for 30 minutes – for two reasons. 1) Kevin had bought some rocks and (wow) dinosaur fossils with him. And 2) Kevin sang part of his lecture with (so bad they were good) rock star impressions. Let’s face it, if you’ve got a group of 20 kids sitting through a geology lecture because they want the badge at the end, then you’ve got to do something a bit different to help you go to work in the mornings. He also explained a lot about sedimentation, using a bottle of Tang. The kids may have learnt more about Tang than about geology, but when they get to secondary school and ‘sedimentation’ gets mentioned, they may well be transported back in time, to remember that Neil Armstrong took Tang to the moon!
Afterwards the girls wanted to take the shuttle bus to another viewing point, so they set off with Sarah while I walked to the car park to pick up the car and meet them there. Unfortunately, after I’d put everything from lunch into the boot, I closed it – and as it closed I caught a glimpse of the car keys as the boot slammed shut on them! I got some help from a Ranger, a bus drive and then the driver of the world’s largest breakdown truck, and eventually recovered them – and ended up $35 poorer. 45 minutes late, I rolled up to the next viewpoint, to find the girls playing happily (I’d rather expected that they’d be whining about “Where’s Dad? Why are we waiting? Why do we have to sit here?” etc etc).
The Sunset viewpoint was even more amazing, and we decided to walk down into the canyon to view it from a different perspective. This was even more amazing – looking at the pillars towering above us, and feeling the cool air in the shady bottom of the canyon. The girls walked down the twisty track, which was narrow with very steep drops, right to the bottom. And then walked back up, despite being at 7,000 feet altitude, and being hot and tired. It was a great experience for us all.
Then, after an ice cream, we drove back to Kanab, passing through typical American mountain scenery on the way. After a while you become immune to more views of the ‘same stuff’ on drives, but every now and again you remember that you’re not at home any more, and you’ve only seen this kind of scenery before in films.
When we got back to Kanab it was sunset, so I had to take this photo of a typical motel sign, with the red hills in the background. This isn’t our hotel, it’s Parry Inn, where the movie stars used to stay when they made Westerns out here. The rooms are named after film stars, like Ronald Reagan, Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jnr (even though it appears they never stayed here – is that ‘spin’ or what?)
And then, after a quick bite, we went back to our hotel. I’ve mentioned it a few times, without saying why it’s so good. Well, as the name suggests – Victorian Charm Inn – it’s been built and decorated as as old-world inn, with lots of frilly curtains and table clothes. It’s normally well outside of our budget ($120+), but Sarah negotiated it down to a rate that we could afford (just) of $80, and for that we get a room with two huge iron bedsteads, a jacuzzi in the room, and a cooked breakfast.
And the girls loved the hot tub – each night they dived in as soon as we got back to the room, and bubbled away for an hour. It was good for us too – an hours peace and quiet. The only side effect is that jacuzzi’s seem to scrub off our hard won sun tans!