Day 50: Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Start: Salem, VA
End: Winchester, VA
Miles Driven Today: 237
Total Miles: 8,787
Today, we finished driving the Blue Ridge Parkway. Unfortunately, we hardly saw any of it! It rained today. Or I should say, it POURED today. The area had a nasty swath of thunderstorms. To make matters worse, the Parkway was also fogged in. So, prior to the torrential downpour, the fog was so thick that we could barely see 50 feet in front of us.
Luckily, we found another tanker truck full of coffee. (Nah!)
Today’s open road was…not so great. But one rainy day out of fifty…I can live with that!
Today’s rainy and foggy open road – Blue Ridge Parkway
After we finished the Blue Ridge Parkway, we were going to drive Skyline Drive across Shenandoah National Park. The entrance is just past the end of the Parkway. However, when we got there, the ranger told us that it was completely fogged in the entire way. So, we decided to just motor along the valley floor and get over to Winchester. We took a local route rather than the highway. It snaked through small towns all along the way.
Tomorrow, we head to see Bob and Sharon, and then we’ll sprint home on Thursday. I’m sad to see this adventure end, but I’ll be glad to be home and to NOT live out of a suitcase.
Of course, Jasmine is none too happy at the prospect of seeing Lily, the very large and enthusiastic Labrador mix tomorrow. I’m hoping that her experiences on the road have made her a little less…fragile than the last time we visited!
Day 48: Sunday, June 16
Start: Asheville, NC
End: Wilkesboro, NC
Miles Driven Today: 156
Total Miles: 8,374
Our second day on the Blue Ridge Parkway was as scenic and pleasant as our first. Leaving the hustle and bustle of Asheville, we were on the Parkway in just a few minutes. Our first stop was at the Folk Art Center. A cooperative effort between the National Park Service and the Southern Highland Handcraft Guild, this center showcases the fine handicraft of artisans in the region. The Guild also runs several other shops in the area and on the Parkway (including the center at the Moses H. Cone house). It’s worth the stop!
Of course, the moment we got there, two young women approached us asking for a jump-start. This is the second time we’ve helped stranded travelers. Ladies and gents, just throw a set of jumper cables in your trunk. Really.
Anyway, we were on our way in no time. Today’s roads were less windy and challenging than yesterday, but still meandering through forest and mountainous terrain. There were so many lookouts and so many beautiful vistas…I’ve included just a few.
Another Blue Ridge view
Blue Ridge Parkway Panorama (CLICK TO ENLARGE)
Smoky blue mountains and a beautiful vista
We stopped at the Craggy Gardens visitor’s center and met the same ranger that we spoke to at the Asheville center yesterday evening. At least they get to move around and have a bit of variety in their job! We stopped to ‘smell the roses’–or, in this case, the Rhododendrons, and spied the next tunnel around the bend:
One of the many tunnels on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Craggy Gardens
As we made our way North, we decided to stop to find another deli to get a picnic lunch. Little Switzerland stood out on the map, with a cafe and an attraction called the Emerald Mines. Bingo! We got off the Parkway and were immediately in the town. Of course, the bright sign advertising the Emerald Mines (tours, panning, gift shop, etc.) beckoned us. So off we went!
There were two areas–a mine museum and self-guided tour, and a little mining area. The mining area looked like a fun place to take the kids. You get a bucket (various sizes/costs) and a sifting box. You shovel your ‘raw’ materials (sand, some gemstones, some rocks) and wash away the sand to find your treasures. It looks like a fun place to take kids.
Barn quilt on the way to the Emerald Mines
Mine shaft opening at Emerald Mines
We then stopped at the Switzerland Cafe and had lunch. They had outside seating, so we just ate outside. While we were pulling in, Juliet started barking at a Jack Russell terrier walking down the street. Our little non-barking dog has turned into a Barky McBarkster!
After lunch, we went on to the Linn Cove Viaduct. This viaduct was the last bit of the Blue Ridge Parkway to be built. It hugs the face of Grandfather Mountain and was built specifically to lessen the impact on the ecology of the area. Each part of the roadway was constructed off site, and each piece was installed in place. Here’s a video of us driving across the viaduct! Oh so thrilling! 🙂
Towards the end of the day, we stopped at the Moses H. Cone summer house and Craft center. Wonderful house (forgot to get a picture…duh), the same art as the first Folk Art Center. But still a nice stop!
The ‘summer house’ of Moses H. Cone
We’re staying in Wilkesboro tonight. Unfortunately, the smaller towns along the Parkway didn’t have dog-friendly accommodations. Wilkesboro is about 20 miles off the Parkway, down a HUGE hill and into a valley. The Holiday Inn Express that we’re staying at…well, let’s just say that they are dog tolerant, if that. They tried to ream me with an additional fee on TOP of the ridiculous dog fee that I’m paying. Uh, NO. Then, you can’t have the dog in the lobby; yet the doors that they told us to use have a no dogs allowed sign. Holiday Inn Express, you stink!!!
However, we’re in for the night after a lovely dinner at the Mason Jar Grill. Yummy food, inexpensive…and hush puppies. What could be better? Their homemade banana pudding! YAY!!
Tomorrow, we’re back on the Parkway to Roanoke, Virginia. However, the good weather we’ve experienced throughout this trip is coming to an end. We’re going to have a wet week, especially as we get closer to home.
Jasmine says, “What’s for dinner?”
Chillaxin’ at the Holiday Inn Express in Wilkesboro. Dog unfriendly. Don’t stay here.
Day 47: Saturday, June 15, 2013
Start: Sevierville, TN
End: Asheville, NC
Miles Driven: 140
Total Miles: 8,218
Today took us into the Great Smoky Mountains and onto the Blue Ridge Parkway. We left our (somewhat smarmy) hotel room early to ‘sprint’ through Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. The number of attractions, theaters (okay, so the mind-reading pig did intrigue me), souvenir shops and themed hotels and restaurants were grossly fascinating.
Titanic Theater in Pigeon Forge. ICEBERG!
We wanted to make sure we made it through the throng before the hordes of summer travelers finished their pancake breakfasts. Seriously. I have never seen so many non-IHOP pancake joints in my life. We did pass up on Dollywood as well. Tom was heartbroken (NOT).
We made it through entertainment row and then into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We were surrounded by lush green…I felt like I could BREATHE again!
Road to the Smokies. MUCH nicer open road!
As we traversed through the park and stopped at the many vistas, I was continually in awe of the beauty. I remarked to Tom about how much we’ve seen, and how different each of the National Parks has been. However, the lush woods of this park felt familiar and comfortable (okay, other than the sheer drops and narrow roads). The thick, wooded terrain really reminded me of New Hampshire.
Blue skies, Smoky Mountains. (CLICK TO ENLARGE)
On the Appalachian Trail
Along the way, we stopped in a number of National Park visitor’s centers. Tom, of course, made the best of each of the stops. No, I didn’t see any bears.
Oh! It was only Tom!
The Blue Ridge Parkway is 469 miles long, stretching from Shenandoah National Park in Virginia to the Great Smoky Mountains. The Parkway meanders through the Appalachian Mountains and intersects with portions of the Appalachian Trail. The parkway’s construction started in 1935, and the last section was completed 52 years later, in 1987! That’s not much longer than the Big Dig! 😀
The Southern end of the Blue Ridge Parkway
Today’s drive on the Parkway wound through the Nantahala National Forest and the Pisgah National Forest (and over Mount Pisgah). We also went over the highest point on the Parkway (a bit over 6,000 feet). Driving the road was pretty intense due to the inordinate number of twists and turns. Tom (more than once) commented on the fact that the Parkway has been the windiest road we’ve driven thus far. Given that we’re only about 80 miles into the 469…um…
More beautiful views (CLICK TO ENLARGE)
Rhodies in bloom add to the beauty
We picked up food before we ventured onto the Parkway, and we found a wonderful vista near the Waterrock Knob visitor’s center to spread a blanket and have a picnic. A perfect, warm day…and a perfect place for a picnic. Another bit of heaven.
Happy feet! Having a picnic at Waterrock Knob Overlook.
Soon we reached Asheville, North Carolina and our hotel for the night. We’re a few miles off the Parkway near the Biltmore Estate. It was kind of tough to find a dog-friendly hotel, but the Best Western came through…and even gave us a goody bag! Given the number of poop bags we’ve been through on this trip, this was a welcome sight!
Thanks for the doggie goodie bag, Best Western!
Dinner was at a local joint, Little Pigs BBQ. They are a local joint and they got decent reviews on Yelp. We headed over there and I had the BEST fried (broasted) chicken that I’ve had in years. And hush puppies! YES!!! I’m glad I had salad last night and today…
YUMMY broasted chicken at Little Pigs BBQ
Tomorrow, we continue on the Blue Ridge Parkway, meandering across the Appalachians. Another day, another adventure!
Note: I’m surprised that no one commented on the fact that my day count was a bit…off. 🙂 It has now been fixed!
Days 45 & 46: Thursday, June 13 & Friday, June 14, 2013
Start: Burlington, KY
End: Sevierville, TN
Miles Driven Today: 331
Total Miles: 8,078
We were all set to leave on Thursday. We had a great time with the old “gang” from Kentucky. Tom and I were ready to hit the Bourbon Trail. And then a text from Heather came in late on Wednesday night. “Want to meet us for lunch at Skyline tomorrow?”
So, we decided to do lunch with Heather and her daughter. And if we did that, we wouldn’t get to our destination until pretty late. SO that meant staying another night at Minda’s. Minda, being the gracious hostess that she is, let us camp out for another night. We made the best of it with a great lunch and visit with Heather and a nice pot of Coq au Vin and more Graeter’s ice cream for dinner. We know how to live!
Chowing at Skyline Chili
The dogs were really comfy and happy at the Michels’ house. They made themselves very comfortable and were peacefully co-existing with the resident dog, Sparky.
Jasmine and Juliet made themselves comfortable
Alas, all good things do come to an end. And given that Minda’s daughter is having a horde of teen-age girls over for a sleep-over tonight…hm…just in time! (Just kidding, Grace!!!) So, off we went in search of the Bourbon Trail.
Instead of taking the highway all the way to Frankfort, we decided to get off the Interstate and take some back roads. We went through small towns like Owenton, KY and were able to finally take some snapshots of a few of the barns on the Kentucky Quilt Trail.
Barn quilt on the Kentucky Quilt Trail
Barn quilt on the Kentucky Quilt Trail
We made it to Frankfort in less than two hours and hit our ‘priority’ stop–Buffalo Trace Distillery. Tom had been sipping on Buffalo Trace each time we visited the Michels family…so we had to stop there! We picked up a few choice items…given our wild Bison encounters, we are loving the furry beasts (and Tom is loving the bourbon!). I tasted a bit of the Bourbon Cream and had to have some to take home. YUM!
Tom’s new favorite bourbon–Buffalo Trace!
Pre- or post-tasting? You decide.
MMMM…bourbon! The Bourbon Cream is the BEST!
Our next and final stop was Wild Turkey. We picked up a turkey call and a great bourbon barrel coat rack. Alas, at both Buffalo Trace and Wild Turkey, we couldn’t take the distillery tours even though our timing was good. The day was way too hot to leave the pups in the car for any length of time. We knew that this could be a problem…but we still enjoyed both distilleries!
Wild Turkey Distillery
Tom riding the Wild Turkey! Pre- or post-tasting? You decide!
Back on the back roads. One of the reasons we stopped at Wild Turkey was to see the S-shaped bridge near the distillery. We couldn’t get a good shot of the bridge, but it was pretty darn cool!
S bridge right past the WIld Turkey Distillery
We also opted to go through Daniel Boone National Forest instead (again) of the Interstate to really enjoy the scenic byways and hills of Kentucky.
Beautiful road past Daniel Boone National Forest
That route put us through Cumberland Gap on our way to Tennessee. We picked up salads from Cracker Barrel (yes, SALADS…healthy food!) and had a picnic in the park.
Picnic at Cumberland Gap National Historic Park. Who says Cracker Barrel can’t do ‘healthy’ food? 🙂
Tunnel through Cumberland Gap
Hello Tennessee! Thanks for the Welcome!
One of today’s open roads. Beautiful Tennesse hills.
Then it was off to our stop for the night, Sevierville, Tennessee. Sevierville is outside of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We’re going to visit Gatlinburg, the Smokies and hit the Blue Ridge Parkway tomorrow, so this just sets us up for our next adventure. We’re settled in for the night and are looking forward to tomorrow’s sightseeing. We’ll end up in Asheville, North Carolina tomorrow night. From there, we’ll head up the Blue Ridge Parkway to its Northern End. I’m really looking forward to the Smokies and the Appalachian Mountains!
Day 40: Saturday, June 8, 2013
Start: Fort Collins, CO
End: Colorado Springs, CO
Miles Driven: 343
Total Miles: 6,572
Today’s travels took us up into (and on top of) the Rockies. Even though we only traveled from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs, we covered some serious landscape.
We stayed in Fort Collins so we could have easier access to Rocky Mountain National Park. We woke up early, packed up and headed for the park. Our approach to the park said it all…the John Denver song kept playing in my head (hence the title of this post).
I don’t think any of my pictures can do the park justice. Stunning vistas, a trail that skirted one of the highest peaks, and roads that were so steep (and scenic) that I had to avert my eyes (my fear of heights really kicked into high gear on this one).
However, being up there, overlooking the vast forests, peaks and valleys…I felt like I was on top of the world.
On the way to Rocky Mountain National Park
Vast beauty of the Rockies
Mountains, valleys, sheer cliffs…oh my! (CLICK TO ENLARGE)
At the top (CLICK TO ENLARGE)
Atop the Trail Ridge Road Scenic Byway
EEK! Where does the road go? It looked like the road just ended…14,000 feet up!
After we left the Rocky Mountain National Park, we continued on our scenic journey through the Arapaho National Forest, past Winter Park and Copper Mountain, down across the Top of the Rockies Scenic Byway, through both the Pike National Forest and the San Isabel National Forest, past Pike’s Peak and down to Colorado Springs. We saw some substantial mountains, including Mt. Elbert (at 14,433 feet, the highest peak in Colorado) and a group of mountains named after colleges (Oxford, Harvard, Columbia, Princeton). We even stopped at the Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument. A busy day, but SO very pretty!
Of course, our two back-seat drivers were happy to be with us. We’ve noticed that they are more curious about where we are (especially when the car stops). They couldn’t be more pleasant travel companions!
Where to next?
Tomorrow is the first of two ‘power motor’ days to get us across the plains and back to Kentucky. I don’t know if there will be anything to report…but then again, cute pictures of the pups might be in order!
Day 37: Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Miles Driven Today: 259
Total Miles: 5,763
Today’s adventure was a visit to Yellowstone National Park. While it was a bit of a haul from Jackson, we’re glad that we decided not to stay in Montana. We’re really enjoying our cabin.
Yellowstone National Park
I hadn’t realized that Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park were so close together. You’re out of Teton for just a few minutes before you hit the entry to Yellowstone. Once in the park, you pass over the Continental Divide for the first time in the park at an elevation of over 7900 feet.
We encountered the Continental Divide throughout the park
Our ‘must see’ in the park was Old Faithful, so we took the Grand Loop to the West. The scenery (not surprisingly) was magnificent. Tall pines lined our road, sheer cliffs and canyons flanked us to the right. Old Faithful was around 40 miles INTO the park, so it took a bit of time to get there. As we turned the corner, we could see it spouting above the tree line. Uh oh. That meant a 60- to 90-minute wait until the next ‘show’.
We parked in the village and walked around the visitor’s center. There are a number of villages around the park that include a lodge, visitor’s center, groceries, restaurants and gasoline as well as campgrounds and cabins. Old Faithful Village was teeming with people; not surprising since this is the single most popular attraction in the park.
There were benches and a viewing area all around Old Faithful, so we took the pups out in the stroller and sat in the sun waiting for the next eruption. A little over an hour later, the geyser spouted, shooting water and steam over 100 feet into the air.
We then went on to the Grand Prismatic Spring in the Midway Geyser Basin. The springs and pools around here are uniquely colorful, with brilliant cerulean, orange and ocher rings and boiling, steaming cauldrons of mineral-rich water. The colors are formed by micro-organisms that thrive on the hot water. I found the area to be particularly inspiring; the photos are going to serve my artwork well!
Bubble Bubble Toil and Trouble – Excelsior Geyser Crater
At the Grand Prismatic Spring
Brilliant color at the Grand Prismatic Spring
We went on to see waterfalls, the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, Yellowstone Lake and so many other vistas. And we only saw one part of the Grand Loop; we would need several more days to see all that the park had to offer.
Base of the falls at the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone
Beautiful Waterfall in Yellowstone
Tom was exceptionally happy that we were also able to see Bison in the wild. We stopped on Fountain Flat Drive and saw a herd of Bison (including young calves) across a river. We also spotted a bunch of Bison in Hayden Valley along with some antelope, mule deer and a number of Canadian geese. It was a good wildlife day. (We also saw some additional bison, antelope and deer near Teton on our way back!)
Field of wild Bison (CLICK TO ENLARGE)
I couldn’t imagine how congested this park gets in the heart of the summer season. Today’s visit was filled with tour buses and full parking lots, but the park wasn’t at capacity. Once again, we’re happy about our timing, good weather and good fortune.
Today’s Open Road
Tomorrow is a ‘down’ day in Jackson. We’ll hang out, do more sightseeing (and perhaps a couple of the local museums) and just relax before heading out on our next adventure. I did find this t-shirt at a gift shop in the Grand Teton National Park. It so fits the trip!
Day 34: Sunday, June 2, 2013
Start: Bryce Canyon City, UT
End: Richfield, UT
Miles Driven Today: 215
Total Miles: 4,992
Today was a scenic motor day. We decided to take the longer loop on Route 12 and Route 24 through Escalante and made some detours as well. It was another day of unbelievable views and quiet roads. Just our speed!
Wel left Bryce and were immediately blown away by a change in landscape. We entered the Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument area (quite a large area) and were hit by a lovely open road and the beginning of our driving adventure.
Entry to the Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument
We saw a sign for Kodachrome State Park, and we had to go. Who wouldn’t go to a park named Kodachrome? Right after the turn-off for the park, we saw a visitor’s center for Escalante. We stopped, chatted with the Ranger about both Escalante and Kodachrome, and motored on.
While Escalante was mainly made of a buff-colored stone, Kodachrome returned us to the iron-rich soil that we saw in Zion and Bryce. Deep terra cotta stonescapes surrounded us in this dramatic park. It was more a camping and hiking park, so our visit was short. But even on the main roads, we could see the bright beauty of this area…the reason for the park’s name. I would imagine that the landscape’s imagery changes dramatically throughout the day…it would be great to see.
Kodachrome State Park
Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument
Incredible vista in Escalante National Monument (CLICK TO ENLARGE)
Route 12 wound in and out of Escalante, skirting into and out of the Dixie National Forest. It was a stark contrast of deep, lush greens and stark desert landscapes. We loved it. The changes in altitude and temperature were equally dramatic. At one point, we were at 9,800 feet; the temperature in Richfield was almost 30 degrees more than at the summit in Dixie National Forest.
Aspens in Dixie National Forest
We loved this route. Desert, deep red canyons, lush groves of Aspen, rich floral meadows, wide grazing land…it was all on our route.
The road less travelled (CLICK TO ENLARGE)
At the intersection of Route 12 and Route 24 in Torrey, we took yet another detour to Capitol Reef National Park just a few miles East of the intersection. Once again, we were thrown into a canyon with thick walls of iron-rich red cliffs and dramatic stone formations. We went a few miles in to the visitor’s center and then took a bit of the scenic drive. However, we wanted to reach our destination at a reasonable hour, so we left and motored back West. Given what we saw on the way TO the park…we saw much of the majesty of this area.
Capitol Reef National Park
Capitol Reef National Park
Open road to Capitol Reef
We reached Richfield and our modest overnight accommodations and are now safely and comfortably settled for the night. Tomorrow, we’re driving all the way to Jackson, Wyoming. We’ll stay a couple of nights there so we can spend a full day exploring the Tetons. We then will go up to Yellowstone!
For you Jasmine and Juliet fans, the girls are doing GREAT. One of the things I’ve been noticing is the interaction between Jasmine and Juliet. Jasmine is starting to cuddle more with Juliet. In the car, on the bed, and in the crate, these two are together 24 x 7…it was bound to happen. Juliet’s assertiveness is also changing the alpha dynamics. I’m not sure which dog is alpha (they tend to go back and forth). I do know that at the end of this, the dogs will be a little better bonded. Buddies? Maybe not today, but I’m hopeful.
Day 33: Saturday, June 1, 2013
Visited: Bryce Canyon National Park
This is our third National Park in a week. We are in awe of all this country has to offer, all the wild and beautiful places that still exist and are being preserved for generations to come.
Today’s visit to Bryce Canyon was as good as could be. We got up early and took the first shuttle into the park. It was quiet and almost empty. The morning was bright and cool. Perfect.
The first shuttle stop was at Bryce Canyon. The bus let us off, and within a few steps, we had reached this magnificent vista. According to the park info, Bryce Canyon is not technically a canyon since it was not carved by running water; instead, the canyon was made by rainwater eroding the stone and, over time, making this unique landscape. I do have to say that I took about a hundred photos today. You can thank me for only publishing a few of them… 😉
Tom and Mahgrit at Bryce Point
Magnificent Vista at Bryce Canyon
Unusual Bryce Canyon strata called Hoodoos (CLICK TO ENLARGE)
We took the bus to each of the stops and checked out the different canyons and views. I especially liked Inspiration Point.
Hoodoos everywhere at Inspiration Point
This Hoodoo reminded us of an alien. Could it have been an alien race that carved these canyons? Nah…
Hoodoo or Alien?
We walked along the canyon rim trail from one of the points, Sunset Point, to the next vista, Sunrise point. In between, we visited the lodge. It had great, rustic cabins that were just steps away from the canyon rim. I’d love to stay at one of these someday! The lodge house itself was the original lodge put up by a family that now seems to have the monopoly on lodging and restaurants at Bryce Canyon City.
Bryce Canyon Lodge
After touring the park through the shuttle system, we went back to the hotel and picked up the car (and the pups). We drove out to Rainbow Point, the furthest driving point in the park, and had a picnic lunch. We then stopped at all the vistas on the way back to the hotel. This part of the park is not served by the shuttle system. However, the shuttle gave us a great overview of the park and allowed us to determine how busy the park was (not) and if we’d have issues driving to different points. We spent the rest of the time exploring on our own. What was surprising was the contrast between the vast forests and the dramatic canyons. Both the Grand Canyon and Zion were less densely rich in forest, while Bryce was a mix of the two. Hence today’s open road.
Today’s open road to Rainbow Point
There were more great strata at the different vista points, including this great Natural Bridge.
Natural Bridge – Bryce Canyon
We saw a lot of ground squirrels and birds in the park, but our most dramatic encounter with nature was the Pronghorn Antelope that were grazing by the side of the road. We stopped and I got out of the car to take this picture. It didn’t phase the antelope one bit.
Pronghorn Antelope on the roadside
I do have to say that three National Parks in a week is a lot. By the end of the day’s sightseeing, I was getting a bit jaded. “Oh yeah, another breathtakingly beautiful vista. Click.”
Oh the places you will go… (CLICK TO ENLARGE)
After a hard day of sight-seeing, we had some down time. I did a little artwork, while Tom and Jasmine surfed Facebook and then took a well-deserved nap.
Tom and Jasmine check out Facebook
All that sight-seeing makes everyone sleepy
Tomorrow, we start heading North towards Yellowstone. However, we are going to take the scenic route. At this point, is there any other route but scenic?
Day 32: Friday, May 31, 2013
Start: Springdale, UT
End: Bryce Canyon City, UT
Miles Driven Today: 187
Total Miles: 4,737
Today was a driving day, moving from Zion to Bryce Canyon. Leaving Zion and going to Bryce was as breathtaking as the trip in. Given that we drove in around 4pm and left around 11am…the landscape was vastly different. The light made the area look so very different; or perhaps we were less in shock as we drove through the incredible vistas. I do think I took more pictures of Zion today than I did yesterday!
Highway 9 Out of Zion
Majestic views on Highway 9 in Zion
Checkerboard Mesa – Zion
Striations on the sandstone in Zion
The trip was only about 2 hours long primarily up Highway 89. We needed a few groceries and personal items, so we decided to drive down 89 to Kanab (the largest town around) and pick up the needed items. While it was about a 35-mile detour, we were in no hurry today and the drive was beautiful.
After we left Kanab, we motored up Highway 89. We passed a few small towns that consisted of trading posts and rock shops or a few small houses and businesses. Many of the road-side businesses were shut down…a sign that ‘recovery’ is relative.
Highway 89 skirts the Dixie National Forest, and since we couldn’t check in to our next hotel until late, we decided to detour through the Forest. We took Highway 14 to 148 and then through 143, making a loop through both the Dixie National Forest and the Cedar Breaks National Monument. It was a great detour. We climbed to over 9,000 feet and saw the temperature drop from about 70 degrees to the low 50’s. At the peak, we encountered some serious remaining snow banks! What? We passed Navajo Lake and Panguitch Lake, saw an Elk ranch (with a paddock of Elk).
Cedar Breaks Vista
View from Cedar Breaks Scenic Byway
Panoramic view from Cedar Breaks
Snow on the Cedar Breaks Scenic Byway (approx 9000 feet, 52 degrees F)
Today’s open road – Route 48 to Panguitch
As we were on the way down the mountain, we saw what we thought was Bryce; it was, in fact, Red Canyon. We later drove through Red Canyon on our way to Bryce.
New meaning of drive-through at Red Canyon
Today’s drive was beautiful, memorable and vastly diverse. We went from high desert to dense forest and back to sandstone and rock. It was a great discovery drive and a beautiful day.
Of course, the dogs thought that the best part was attacking Tom after we got to the hotel.
When Dachshunds attack
Tomorrow, we’ll explore Bryce Canyon. We’re thrilled to see yet another natural wonder. Grand Canyon, Zion and now Bryce. What a trip!!!
Day 31: Thursday, May 30, 2013
Visited: Zion National Park
We spent the day exploring Zion National Park.
Unfortunately, the park doesn’t allow pets on its shuttle system and only one of the trails is pet-friendly. So, we decided to board the girls at Doggy Dude Ranch just a few miles out of town. We’re glad we did. The three-page questionnaire and the detailed questions the owner at the Ranch asked us spoke volumes. Had our two girls been more socialized, they would have had a grand time chasing other small dogs around the outdoor play area, complete with doggy pool. However, we explained the issues with Jasmine and Juliet (especially the sensitive tummies), and they were more than happy to keep the dogs in the house. This is not your ordinary boarding kennel.
With the dogs safely and (somewhat) happily housed at the Ranch, we parked back at our hotel and hopped on to the Zion shuttle. The shuttle system for the park is fabulous. One shuttle goes back and forth through the town of Springdale, enabling park visitors to leave their cars at their hotels or in open parking lots outside the park. The park itself has very little available parking, so this makes great sense. Inside the park, the most picturesque road in the park is ONLY accessible by park shuttle during the busy summer season. Given the lack of parking and the impact of cars, this makes great sense. So, we got to the park and then hopped on the park’s scenic shuttle. All of this is provided at no cost (aside from park admission).
Yesterday’s views were just a precursor to the natural beauty we saw today. From the Virgin River to the Court of the Patriarchs, from Weeping Rock to the Temple of Sinawava…we drank in the beauty of this geological wonder. Here are just a fraction of the photos we took.
Tom and Mahgrit – Court of the Patriarchs
Zion National Park – It’s all sandstone
Majestic canyon at Zion
Carved by water and wind
Virgin River – Zion National Park
This canyon was carved by Virgin River and continues to evolve over time
Love the colors, unusual formations
Mahgrit at Zion National Park
Butterfly at the Virgin River
Mahgrit tires of the paparazzi
Zion Panorama (CLICK TO ENLARGE)
We left the park around 1:30 or 2:00 and headed for lunch. We tried MeMe”s Cafe…recommended by the Doggy Dude Ranch people. This little cafe is known for their crepes. We tried the triple berry crepe with vanilla yogurt and Nutella. WHOOP! Tom had never tried Nutella before. What kind of deprived life has this man led? We also had steamed rice, veggie and chicken teriyaki bowls; we balanced healthy with…um…well, everything was yummy!
Triple berry and Nutella Crepe at MeMe’s Cafe
After lunch, we picked up the dogs. They were happy to see us, but it was clear that they weren’t negatively impacted by the Dude Ranch. Everyone was happy, including the persistent Jasmine (pet me…Pet Me…aren’t you going to PET ME?).
The many moods of Jasmine. Okay, the ONE mood. PET ME!
It was a fabulous day, and we are kind of sorry that we didn’t book more time here. But we’re off to Bryce Canyon tomorrow…perhaps we’ll be equally enthralled with Bryce as we have been with the Grand Canyon and Zion. After Bryce, we believe we are going to go through the forests and green spaces of Utah, up into Wyoming to the Tetons and Yellowstone. After that, we’re contemplating going back down through Colorado and sprinting across the plains to Tennessee. We have up to three weeks more to meander across the country. We’re really not sure how we’re going to spend the time. But we do know that whatever we decide to do…it’s going to be yet another great adventure…