Thursday, August 13, 2009

Grand Teton to Grand Canyon - Day Five - Bryce Canyon

Up early (again) in Salt Lake City, breakfast at the hotel and into the car.

We drove from Salt Lake City south on I-15. This is not a stimulating drive. Miles of Interstate.

One plus was the availability of an HOV lane.

(What does that stand for, HOV"?) Anyway it is a lane on the far left of the roadway, with cars containing more than one person. This reduces the number of vehicles and, especially local traffic. We got in it, set the cruise control at the speed limit +5 miles per hour and simply steered.

Our destination for the night was the Bumbleberry Inn.

I confess to being seduced by the name. When I made the reservation, I asked what a bumbleberry was. I was told the name came from a pie they baked that was so popular they named an inn after it.

The Bumbleberry Inn is at the western entrance to Zion National Park, as we learned later. Driving south we debated continuing south to the small town of Springdale where Bumbleberry Inn was located vs. turning east on Utah 20 and south on US 89 to Panguitch and the
entrance to Bryce Canyon National Park first.

We decided to head straight to Bryce.

Upon arrival at Bryce Canyon, we passed the two stone pillars that introduced us to the the "Hoodoo." They are said to cast spells. They certainly enchanted us.

As did the two stone arches carved over the roadway we drove through
the park.

Entrance to the park was eased by having the Senior Pass. Once inside the park, we stopped at the Visitors Center.

We learned there was a free shuttle service, buses
that ran on a regular schedule to the various vantage points around the rim of the canyon.

We boarded a shuttle bus and were on our way to its first stop. For us, that was
Sunset Point. We got off the bus and walked to edge of the rim.

The exposure was breath-taking.

We had seen photos of Bryce Canyon before. They are almost everywhere in Utah travel promotion brochures. But being there and seeing it in person was a real "Wow" for Susanne and me. Melissa was even more awed by it.

Bryce Canyon is a series of red and pink rock pinnacles remaining after thousands of years of erosion.

The color was extraordinary, as were the rock formations.

There were trails running down from the rim.

Standing on
the rim we could see hikers and horseback riders moving through the trails.

If my leg was in better shape and my age was a few years younger, I would have loved to do some walking. I had to settle for an eye-feast.

Bryce Canyon clearly is a remarkable geological phenomenon.

The shuttle bus is a brilliant concept for seeing it.
The shuttle stops at all the major viewpoints: North Campground, Sunrise Point, Bryce Lodge, Sunset Point, Sunset Campground, Inspiration Point and Bryce Point.

We got on and off the shuttle several times, at stops like this.

Cars are allowed to drive and park in the same lots. But why would you?

My advice if you visit Bryce Canyon is to park your car at the visitor center and ride the free shuttle. You also get some narration with it.

Upon leaving the park, we stopped at a private nature museum with a petting zoo area, attracted by a stuffed grizzly bear strategically placed to catch the eye.

This was about as close as we would get or would want to get to a grizzly-esque creature.

I stayed in the car because it all looked a little cheesy to me. Susanne and Melissa went in. When they emerged they were favorably impressed with what they had seen and done.

They said I missed something. Perhaps.

It was nice to have the Annual Senior Pass to get us into the park. Yet, that was not the most impressive thing about the $10 Senior Pass.

That came shortly.

As we left Bryce Canyon and drove to the
we learned we had to pass through Zion National Park to get to Springdale and The Bumbleberry Inn.

That's when that National Parks Senior Pass came in handy.
Otherwise, we would have had to pay just to transit the park to get to the other side. No exceptions.

The first drive through the park to the Bumbleberry gave us a taste of what awaited us after we checked into our lodging. We planned to return to tour Zion National Park the next day.

The Bumbleberry Inn was inviting and comfortable, albeit a fairly standard motel configuration. The reception desk person was very nice and gracious, with helpful suggestions about the lodge and the town. We learned that the original owners had sold the restaurant that had baked and served bumbleberry pie. We were told,
however, that the restaurant's new ownership, Wildcat Willie's, still served "the pie."

Our room of two Queen beds looked out through glass sliders to the mountains bordering the town. There also was a small patio with plastic chairs where we could sit and enjoy the view.

We looked out at a small farm paddock in the foreground. It included a cow, a calf and a horse, all of which were eager to be greeted, fed and petted by Inn guests. Much to Melissa's delight.

Then there was the pool. Of course, the pool was an important criterion for our lodging choice. Melissa was quickly in the pool. I even entered. It was a very, very hot day. The pool was a refreshing few minutes.

We had dinner across the street from the Inn at restaurant called Pizza and Noodles. It was a fun and funky place that featured, wait for it, pizza and pasta. It was cash only. There was a bar that customers ordered at. The food was delivered to our table, which was on a screened porch. Beer and wine were available. I got the feeling this was a pretty popular hangout for the local young'uns.

After dinner, it was back to the Inn and down for the night. But first, a stint on the wifi, followed by a nice cigar and a local craft beer on the patio.

See you in the morning.

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