Saturday, 10 May 2008

Bryce Canyon, Utah

Utah is turning out to be the most beautiful and diverse state we have visited so far. The whole of southern Utah seems to be filled entirely with national parks and forests. I wonder if anyone other than park rangers live here! We are in a colder climate now, often surrounded by rapidly melting snow, and sleeping with the heating on at night. My tan will have well and truly worn off by the time we get home to Banbridge. We have been traveling over three months now. I think we have about 6 or 7 weeks of travel left and will be home on July 4th. To be honest we never know what day of the week it is, or what time zone we are in any more. We often turn up to camp sites just to realise its the weekend and therefore the sites are packed.

Bryce Canyon National Park was a place like no place I've ever seen before. I have seen images of Utah on TV etc and looked forward to seeing these things for myself. Bryce is full of 'Hoodoos' which are the odd shape phalic type orange rock formations that have been shaped over centuries by wind and rain erosion. They are an odd site to see. Beautiful in a strange way. Not like the overpowering majestic beauty of Zion, but curiously, strangely pretty.

The drive from Zion to Bryce was a long one, so we stopped at a campsite outside of Bryce NP and rested over night, and did a bit of laundry and internet updating. The following morning we set off early into Bryce Canyon, where we spent the day. The kids completed their ranger programs and now have quite a collection of Junior Ranger badges. We spent the day driving from each lookout to the next in the canyon. Dan took a walk down into the canyon while the kids and I made lunch. I just didn't have the engery for the strenuous climb back up, but I could tell that Dan was itching to explore. So he climbed down and walked aroung and through the hoodoos. Some of them have walkways drilled through them. From the ground the hoodoos look an entirely different site than from above.

The various overlooks along the way all have enchanting names like 'Fairyland Point', 'Inspiration Point', 'Agua Canyon' or 'Rainbow Point'. In truth Inspiration Point truly was an inspiring place to look out over Bryce Canyon. Although Dan and I found it hard to breathe at such high elevations. At first I thought I was terribly unfit as a short walk up to the lookouts left me gasping for breath. Then I noticed Dan doing the same. Then everyone else was too, and someone explained that the air is much thinner at high altitudes and the slightest bit of exhertion leaves one breathless. I was releived it wasn't just my fitness.

As we drove to Rainbow Point, the furthest point in the park and the highest elevation, we started to drive through alpine forests still covered with a thick layer of snow. During the winter this area gets many feet of snow and the park is not open to traffic. Now the snow is melting but there are still huge piles of it about the place. It was at this point we saw some large wild turkey crossing the road. They are funny looking creatures, and so huge. When we reached Rainbow Point the kids couldnt wait to get out and play in the snow. It was strange to be playing in the snow after so much time in the desert. But even here it wasn't cold enough to need a coat, or hat and gloves.

As we left Bryce Canyon we saw some wild deer roaming the forest land, and we stopped to watch them and to take some photos.

I had another photo to upload but my connection is too bad to let me load it. I'm gonna just upload this blog post now, unfinished, while I can. I'm so sick of bad internet connections.

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