Monday, August 17, 2009

Grand Teton to Grand Canyon - Day Six

Up early again. This was our day to tour Zion National Park.

We stayed in the Bumbleberry Inn in Springdale, Utah, just outside the south entrance to Zion National Park.

We drove into the park to catch the shuttle tram. Actually, we could have taken the tram into the park from Springdale, but I was pretty sure we each would have had to pay an admission fee. By driving in and catching the tram at the Visitors Center, we could all enter the park on our existing Senior Pass.

So that was what we did.

Aside from what you can see from Highway 9 running through the southern part of the park, the primary access to the rest of the park, including Zion Canyon itself, is by shuttle tram. In this respect, the tams are different than those in Bryce Canyon. There, you had the option of using your personal car to access places the shuttles went to as well. Not so in Zion.

It is just as well. There is so much to see that you don't want to distracted by driving and if you are distracted by the scenery, accidents would be just waiting around the corner.

We rode on the tram to Zion Lodge, the first scheduled stop. There is a nice dining room there. So we decided to start the day with breakfast there.

We are learning that the buildings, especially the lodges, in the national parks are all very good looking structures that fit the environment perfectly. The Zion Lodge would be a nice place to overnight if you get reservations in early enough.

They say the shuttle tram through Zion Canyon, a 12-mile round trip, should take about 90 minutes. Of course, that depends on how many stops you make and how long you stay. For example, breakfast can extend your stay at Zion Lodge. But what else do you have to do?

On the way up the canyon to Zion Lodge, we passed the Court of the patriarchs, so named we were told because the three most prominent peaks seen there were deemed by the early Mormon explorers and pioneers to represent three important patriarchs of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Mormons who settled in Utah played a major role in the exploration and preservation of Zion Canyon.

Indeed, the very name of the Canyon, which the park inherited, was given to it by the Mormons, who interpreted the Hebrew word to represent a place of safety and refuge.

As a result, there are other religious references in the names of park features. Among those are the Grotto, Angels Landing and the Great White Throne.

The Grotto was our next stop. It was a lovely tree shaded park area in the shadow of the the Great White Throne.

Next stop was Angels Landing, so named because it was believed that angels would have too much respect for the Great White Throne to actually land on it. Instead, they would land at its foot.

After that stop was the terminus of the shuttle route, The Temple of Sinawava, said to be a name given to the area by the Paiute Indians who also live in the area.

From the Temple of Sinawava a hiking trail heads along the Virgin River into a gash in the landscape known as the narrows.

It is a popular hiking destination because the canyon walls are high and steep, creating a gulch that receives little direct sunlight and is cool and refreshing for hikers. If you go into the Narrows, however, you are encouraged to take and extra layer of clothing to contend with the temperature change.

We spent some time along the shore of river, Melissa was intrigued by the some stones she found resting in the shallows along the river bank.

In trying to get a photo of her, I stepped on a loose bank and slipped. I didn't fall far nor into the river.

But I got a few scrapes on the arms and legs. They will heal with time, thanks to the prompt application of Polysporin.

After decent period of solitude and reflection on the power and beauty of nature, re boarded the shuttle for the trip back to the Visitors Center.

Returning to Springdale and the Bumbleberry, we dipped into the pool again, did a little internet surfing and prepared for dinner. The Bumbleberry offered wifi in the rooms, along with mini-fridges, microwaves and cable TV.

When we checked in, we were advised that the wifi network was sporadic, but there was hard-wired computer station in the lobby if we could not get on line via wifi. We only had to use it once but it was good to have it because it also had a printer attached to it. I had to print some pages for a project I was working on. The Inn graciously let me use their paper at no cost.

Susanne and I strolled through some shops on the main drag near the Bumbleberry. There were some nice potential purchases there. One of the most impressive was a gallery showing the work of its owner, a photographer with a remarkable eye for photographic opportunities and beauty. His work, most of which was taken in Zion, was stunning in its color, composition and subject matter. I wish we had purchased a print. But, alas, we had to move on to have dinner.

We decided to try the Pioneer Restaurant. A look at the menu suggested the selection was good and the prices reasonable. We decided Sue would take a seat in booth with a glass of refreshing white wine while I went back to the Inn to get Melissa..

Dinner was very good. I had a steak. I like steak, as you can see. It was cooked exactly as I like it and I enjoyed it greatly.

I had a special idea in mind for dessert, so we passed on dessert in The Pioneer Restaurant. Instead, we went across the street to the bumbleberry pie shop adjacent to Wildcat Willie's. A little bumbleberry pie and vanilla ice cream hit the spot. Bumbleberry pie tastes a lot like blackberries. So maybe that's what it is. No one would 'fess up about it. But it was gooo-oood.

I finished off the night with a full-bodied craft beer from the area. I picked it up as a single at the Shell station convenience store in town. It was the only carry-out resource available. A good thing to remember if you are sitting in the Bumbleberry Inn in Springdale Utah and get a hankerin' for a flavorful bottle of one of the local brews.

See you in the morning, when we head for the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

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