"That would be one hell of a place to lose a cow."
- Ebenezer Bryce, 1875, on his first visit
to the canyon which would later bear his name.

TODAYíS ROUTE:
Rubyís Inn, UT to Cedar City, UT: SR-63 South to Bryce Point, back north to SR-12 West to US-89 South through Long Valley Junction to Mount Carmel Junction, West on SR-9 to Zion Canyon Scenic Drive, continuing West on SR-9 through Virgin to Hurricane, East on SR-59 into SR-389 to Pipe Springs NM, continuing West to Fredonia, US-89 North back to Long Valley Junction, West on SR-14 to Cedar Breaks NM and on to Cedar City. (
MAP)

THE DETAILS:
The rain delayed my visit to Bryce Canyon National Park yesterday. So today is quite full: 4 National Park sites and almost 300 miles between them. Bruce, Zion, Cedar Breaks, all in Utah, and Pipe Spring National Monument in Arizona. Actually, theyíre quite close to each other, but thereís no simple way to visit them all together on the same day. As the crow flies, Bryce is only about 40 miles from Cedar Breaks, Zion about 30 miles from Cedar Breaks, and Pipe Spring about 30 from Zion. But the roads winds around canyons and cliffs, making the route a difficult puzzle.

I need to end the day at Cedar City, very close to Cedar Breaks and a good starting point for tomorrow. If I took the logical route, Iíd end the day in St. George, but that would mean riding on the interstate and would add 50 more miles to my already big day tomorrow. And Iíd like to backtrack as little as possible. I hate riding the same road Iíve already been on. Iíve plotted the route about 5 different ways on the computer, but only one stands out. Iíll make a figure eight around my destinations, cutting off the top loop and only repeat about 20 miles of road.

Starting early is vital for a day like today. A late start would mean rushing through everything to get to that last visitor center before they close. So at sunrise, Iím at Sunrise Point in Bryce Canyon. Morning is the best time to visit this park anyway, as almost all of the formations face east. By late afternoon this place will be completely covered in shadows.

Bryce is one of those places you look at and just canít believe your eyes. Erosion has been working overtime here, and the results are a job very well done. Thousands of fantastically shaped spires, call Hoodoos, fill horseshoe-shaped amphitheaters carved from the eastern edge of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. A maze of stone and sand, whimsically arranged on the slopes of the cliffs, reflect the morningís sun in a panorama of tinted pink and orange. All of the overlooks are on the eastern side of the park drive and I stop next at Bryce Point for an awe-inspiring view over the entire range. A great way to visit this place is a horse or mule ride, beginning at the Bryce Canyon Lodge and descending into the surreal landscape of bristlecone pine and red rock.

Less than an hour southwest is Zion National Park, a spectacular landscape of cliffs and canyons. The name alone summons up a kind of mystery, a wilderness full of the unexpected. I enter the byway from the west where ancient sand dunes roll upward to sheer cliff faces. Checkerboard Mesa, a mountain of sandstone, has been eroded and etched into a uniform pattern of cracks and groves.

I pass through the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel, a monumental engineering feat when completed in the 1930s. When the light breaks through the other side, Iím in a magical world of rock temples and celestial canyon borders. The scenic drive along the valley floor follows the curves of the Virgin River, cut between sheer, vividly colored walls, over 3,000 feet high.

A gallery of sculpted rock, Zion is a quiet, peaceful place, despite all the visitors who come to see these wonders. I ride to the end of the canyon and then hike the mile long riverside trail up to the Narrows. Here the path ends in the river and you may continue 16 miles more through the water where the walls close in about you. Imagine a crevice over a thousand feet high, spaced apart by only 50 feet. These are the types of wonders that only Zion can reveal.

I leave the place with a serene calmness about me as I ride west and then east again towards Pipe Spring. Here, a natural water source allows plant and animal life to thrive in the desert. 1,000 years ago, native people raised crops in the area, and later Mormon pioneers built a fort and cattle ranch. When I leave, the stamp in hand, I pass within 80 miles of the north rim of The Grand Canyon. I almost consider going for it, but Iíll be there, on the southern side, in about a month. For now, I need to stay focused, stay on track.

By the late afternoon Iím at Cedar Breaks National Monument. An amphitheater like Bryce Canyon, the 3-mile diameter coliseum faces west. The late day sun fills the 2,000-foot deep bowl, as light breaks through the cloud cover. With no one around, I sit on the ridge overlook for about an hour, just trying to soak up the wind and the view and the feeling of seeing the world laid out before me. Itís been a good day.

THE DAILY TAKE:
Miles Today: 284.5
Total Miles: 12,112
Time on Motorcycle: 5 Hours 29 Minutes
Average Speed: 51.9 MPH
States Visited today: 2 (UT, AZ)
Total States Visited: 27
National Park Service Passport Stamps: 4
NPS Stamp totals: 91 Stamps, 24 States
Weather: Clear Morning, Cloudy Afternoon
Number of people who visit Zion each year: 2.5 million

SEEN ON THE ROAD:
"Top Six Visitor Questions at Zion National Park Visitor Center: #1.Where Are The Restrooms? Number of times asked last week = 348" Ė Bulletin Board in Zion National Park Visitor Center

RANDOM PASSINGS:
As Iíve traveled about these parts of Utah, Iíve noticed these little booklets, Xeroxed pages with crude type and handwriting over them, at many of the restaurants and gas stations Iíve stopped at. Theyíre known as Grandmas Little Books, and their author is Dorothy Galyean, a Springdale, Utah, great-grandmother, who typed them herself (misspellings and all), scribbled notes in the margins, and pasted in illustrations. The volumes now number six and include titles such as "Quips and Quotes and Good Clean Jokes" and "From the Dust of Time, Grandmaís Remedies Ė 1880 Barber Shop and Beauty Shop Recipes for All Old Diseases, Sure Cures and Some Not So Sure."

The tomes are filled with wisdom and folklore, and have sold many, many copies. Here are some examples (with the spelling corrected):

"Life is just too darn short to set around being bored."
"Youíre never too old to learn, so quit putting it off."
"Why canít people relate to people theyíre related to?"
"Money can buy a dog Ė but only love will make his tail wag."
"If I knew you and you knew me Ďtis seldom we would disagree, but never having yet clasped hands, we often fail to understand, how little complaint thereíd be, If I knew you and you knew me."

The books are 4.95 each. If youíre interested in more call 801-679-8999 or write to Grandmas Little Books, PO Box 276, Henrieville, UT 84736.

 


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