Tuesday, 29 September 2009

South West USA: From Capitol to Bryce

As promised: a little entry about our day between Torrey and Zion Canyon which held two (!) National Parks in itself namely Capitol Reef and Bryce Canyon. Both of them still in red rock country, and both of them very beautiful in their own way.

Capitol Reef is named ‘reef’ because it is really a long fold in the landscape, like a ridge or reef. (At least, I think that’s why.) Before we have always driven through the topmost point of it, from Hanksville to Torrey, on our way from here to there. We have good memories from Torrey so it is a logical place for us to stop.

The good memories from Torrey? Okay: the first time we were there we arrived late in the evening and everything was really dark. It was me, my guy, his brother, and a friend. The guy’s brother and me went into the lobby to find out if they had a room for us. There was a man before us, discussing rooms with the lady behind the counter. He travelled with his family with two kids or so. He looked very tired. The lady explained to him that she had rooms downstairs or up on the second floor where he would have a better view. The man sighed, thought for a bit (probably about his family, the suitcases, etc.) and said Ah, screw the view! I’ll take downstairs! “Screw the view” became a bit of a household expression after that. At the lobby (where we got the upstairs rooms, obviously) we found out that we had travelled into ‘mountain time’ meaning we had only 30 minutes left to have dinner in the restaurant across the street. Two women were playing country music as we ate our steaks. The following morning the to-be-screwed view presented itself to us: it was absolutely stunning!

Back to 2009. Since the cross-country drive the previous day had been cut short due to the weather (see earlier entry) we drove into the north side of the park and did the scenic drive. Quite a beautiful bit there, along the river. Theoretically it would have been possible to continue down the small, unpaved road to the south, on towards the highway, but we were cut short by a small stream. The stream itself we could have tackled, but not the steep bank on the other side of it. The Aspen was not a proper 4-wheel-drive, you see? Having little desire of tearing the underside of our car out, we doubled back.

Did you know that large portions of the American landscape are preserved just for the silence and tranquility of the place. Quiet as a natural resource. I know they're trying to do it in the Netherlands, but it just. isn't. the same. ("I can see Germany from my house!!!")

Bryce Canyon is on the way between Capitol Reef and Zion Canyon. It is very different from either of those though, in fact very different from most parks. The main attraction is the ‘amphitheatre’, a grand bowl of weird rocks and spires called ‘hoodoos’. Everything is a pinkish kind of orange. It is a very strange landscape and you have to see it to believe it. Which is why we also hiked into the canyon (and out again obviously) to be in the middle of it. My mom, not a good climber, huffed and puffed a bit on the way but overall she did really well, that was encouraging for hikes in Zion Canyon.

As we drove into the eastern part of Zion Canyon at the end of the afternoon we spotted some bighorn sheep. We had never seen those in the wild before. It was a beautiful sight. The rams (two) kept a watchful eye over the flock and we had plenty of time to admire their curved horns. Watch a short video of the sheep (actually they’re goats, technically speaking…) here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RcI8BIpQzoY.

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