Monday, October 11, 2010

Utah Road Trip - Day 05

Today started early (even before the crack of dawn), We got up at 5:30 so that Fannie could be fed and exercised in time for us to catch a shuttle into Zion National Park. Nature Valley granola bars were our breakfast. We took a chance and left Fannie Mae in our room. We haven't done this before. After all, this is a fifteen week old puppy. What if she started barking and bothered other guests?

We were picked up by the free Springdale town shuttle around 7:30. It stops right in front of our hotel. It drops you off at the entrance to the park visitor center where you pay your entry fee (Unless you have coughed up $10 for a lifetime Golden Pass). When we got into the park we rode the park shuttle bus that gave us a very nice tour. Automobiles are not allowed on the scenic route until after November 1 (off season). Ranger Ken Hulick (or someone who sounded just like him) talked to us via a recording on the shuttle and explained some of what we were seeing. There are 8 stops along the way and a shuttle every 7 to 10 minutes. So you can get off at whichever stops you want to and then hop on another shuttle all the way up and back down the tour trail. We timed it so we could get back in time for check out at 11 and hoping that Fannie Mae hadn't gotten us evicted. In the photo gallery you will see some of the many photos we took. It was a breezy day. Linda was all bundled up but John was in his shorts as usual. He did ask Linda to stand close by where he was sitting at one of the shuttles stops and block off the wind. Then he opined that he wished she were wider. So I guess it's a go on the double scoops of ice cream from now on. And her new theme song will be "Stand by Your Man and Block off All the Breeze You Can with Your Can". The meter seems a little off but she will work on that too.

The shuttles were started in 2000 because of the massive popularity of Zion and thus the horrendous traffic and harm to the ecosystem than was happening. Every day there were 3000 visitors trying for the 400 parking spaces. Plants and animals of the park have benefitted from having less auto emmisions. The shuttles run on propane.

When we got back to the Driftwood we were relieved to see the "Do Not Disturb" sign still hanging on our door. Fannie Mae was snoozing in her crate and was glad to see us. We checked out and stopped for brunch at The Pioneer Restaurant in downtown Springdale. One of the shuttle drivers clued us in that it is where the locals eat (good food and reasonable prices). She steered us right. Thanks Thelma! They have a nice breakfast buffet.

To get out of town and head toward Tropic, UT (Bryce Canyon) we needed to go back into the park and through the 1.1 mile long tunnel again. Another shttle driver had assured us that our route would take 2 hours that way and 4 hours by the freeway. She lives 100 miles away from Zion and has driven it many times. John said "Wow, you drive that everyday?" So she proceeded to tell us about her work life. She works four 10 hour shifts a week so on those 4 days she stays in her Blazer. She can shower and use a refrigerator at work and seems very happy with her life in the park. Part of the fun of road tripping is meeting so many colorful characters.

After getting out of the tunnel we were still in Zion National Park for a while and what a treat! There were completely different configurations and colors of rocks and plenty of places to pull over for photos.

We were out of the park by 12:15 and the interesting scenery continued. John spotted a wooden windmill up ahead on the right and Linda noticed as they approached that the herd of cattle near it were actually buffalo. That made John feel bad about having that Wild Game Meatloaf for dinner the night before. We then passed lots of valleys with horses and more horses and lots of places for people to stay (many of them offering horseback riding).

After Utah 89 we took highway 12 going toward Tropic. We spotted an unusual looking rounded white rock formation and as we got closer found that it was a rock shop that also sold soft ice cream. We both got chocolate and vanilla swirl cones. While we enjoyed the ice cream John heard the history of Kinko's from a guy who was hanging out there and Linda broused through some of the rocks and bought a chunk of green glass for the garden. John refers to it as her newest "weaapon".

We arrived in Tropic a few minutes before our room was ready so we took a drive around Tropic. That didn't take long. When we got back our very nice room at America's Best Value Inn was ready. We will be here for two nights so we can explore Bryce Canyon.

We ate at Clark's restaurant next to our lodging. John had a chef's salad and Linda had salmon with mango salsa. Both were excellent. It was a family restaurant with lots of old timey photos on the walls. And a scarey Halloween guy at the door with a tray of Bit-O-Honeys.

Today's photo gallery has 63 photos, 22 of which are High Dynamic Range (HDR) images. Most of the 63 photos were taken in Zion National Park. You can view the photo gallery by clicking here.

Today's Teabag Philosophy is from Linda's cup of Yogi blueberry tea: May this day bring you peace, tranquility and harmony.

Once again, John's Pot Shot was selected randomly and is.....

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