Utah and more Utah
It’s been a whirlwind couple of days with more whirls ahead of us. We hit the road out of Zion early on Monday towards Bryce Canyon National Park. To exit Zion the way we needed to go there stood a mile long tunnel between us and our exit that requires a special tunnel pass IF you meet the size requirements. If we would have been too wide/tall/long we would have had to add over 100 miles to our trip to go around the park. Luckily we made the cut and the rangers stopped all traffic flowing both ways so we could travel through the tunnel. “Lights on, don’t stop and drive straight down the middle” we were told. That was the longest/coolest/scariest tunnel I’ve ever been in. All three walls were crazy close and it was DARK. The kids love tunnels so they cheered and screamed with delight the whole way through. Beyond the tunnel we were met with hours of driving up steep inclines and then back down again over cliffs and tiny roads. Let’s just say I’m glad Evan is the pilot of this trip.
After a few hours we arrived at Bryce Canyon National Park where we got our education on hoodoos. Hoodoos are rock formations that look like ice cream drippings from a soft serve machine that’s running low. Hoodoo is also extremely fun to say. The wind was blowing at an insane rate so the big kids took turns on who got to complain about the wind at which moment. They are considerate like that.
Due to the wind and the fact we all left our grippy shoes in the camper which happened to be occupying space in a parking lot near the visitors center, our main hike in Queens Garden wasn’t as long as we had planned. We were able to explore enough though to get down amongst the hoodoos and really see their shapes. After our hike we drove to the highest point in Bryce for a different vantage point. Once we’d had a few hours of taking it all in Gray and Kyrie racked up another Junior Ranger badge and patted themselves on the back as we left the park (Phoenix is starting to get a little jealous). Bonus for Bryce: The park ranger that gave them their “test” and swore them in was straight up Joey Gladstone doing Ranger Joe (see video at the end for proof). If this reference means nothing to you, you obviously weren't born in the 80's.
If you’ve ever wondered what’s in Utah, let me tell you. There is desert. And more desert. Don't get me wrong, there are some gorgeous spots out here in all the different types of desert but not much else. Beyond Bryce as we drove two more hours to a campground just outside of Capitol Reef National Park we found more cliffs and no civilization. We successfully traveled all day and never saw a restaurant and probably a total of 5 homes. Get your Big Mac and cell service elsewhere folks.
After arriving at our spot for the night we made supper and took it easy. We were prepared for a fair day in Capitol Reef the next morning and went to be debating if we should turn the heat on or not. When morning came we pulled back a curtain to see if it was cloudy out and much to our surprise we found a white blanket of snow covering everything outside. Say what?! Where had they come from? There hadn’t been snow in the forecast and I was planning to wear shorts. The big kids were ecstatic and you’ve never seen two kids grab snow gear so quickly. We allowed the Alabama Kids some play time in the white stuff before heading into Capital Reef and Gray said “God made me so happy this morning! It’s not even Christmas and there was snow!” Cue the tears.
Our fun day continued inside the park. Capital Reef has interesting landscapes and old homesteads to explore as well as fresh homemade pies. Yes, please! We had one of the best hikes of the trip with the kids. I don’t know if they were still on a high from the snow or what but they were straight up jolly hiking several miles up rocks into the sandy desert. When we first hit the trail barely anyone else what out so they had a blast using sticks as Star Wars blasters and chasing each other with their “pew pew pew” sounds. Phoenix, as per usual, sweetly snoozed and coo’d. Thankfully riding in a pouch while I huff and puff over unknown terrain is his number one hobby.
The ranger badge count went up to 6 as the kids filled out their workbooks, answered their questions and raised their right hands to say they would continue to explore and take care of the parks.
A straight flat drive lead is to Moab, Utah where Mexican food lured us in for supper. We’ve got three nights in Moab and it seems like a pretty sweet place to be so far.