Off the deck and into the wild: counting the cost at Bryce Canyon
5/20/13, Bryce Canyon
I’ve been saving my quarters for the next Laundromat Adventure, and yesterday tried to pick one up on the asphalt of a gas station going out of Zion toward Bryce, our next destination—to find it had been glued down. Scattered around were several more, a dime and nickel too. I felt that furtive embarrassment you feel when you’ve been had, looking around to see if anyone would be laughing at my attempt to pry the quarter off the ground.
This trip has been like that—full of contrasts.
Saving quarters for laundry and spending two hundred a night on the National Park Lodges whenever we’re lucky enough to get them. Eating hundred-dollar dinners and blowing up mattresses in campgrounds. Drinking a nice red wine by the fire and refilling fifty-cent water bottles. 105 degree heat in the desert and getting caught in snowstorm on top of Cedar Breaks, wearing shorts.
I feel the constant push and pull off worrying about money, and at the same time the bullheaded determination that made me get this thing going: a few thousand dollars either way won’t make a difference in the long run, but it sure will in our quality of experience now that we’re older and creakier. So far, every time we’ve been able to get a room at one of the National Park Lodges (South Rim of Grand Canyon, Zion, and Bryce) they’ve been totally worth the double coin: historic, atmospheric, locations within walking distance of the best aspects of the Parks, great beds, clean, nice staff.
However: I woke up in my latest super-comfy Bryce Canyon Lodge bed worrying about quarters for the Laundromat. I am also, no matter how nice the bed is, already kind of sick of sleeping in a new one every night. We are almost at the halfway point of the trip, and I’ve begun to think about my dogs a lot. I dreamed Liko put his fuzzy paws up on the side of the bed, gazing at me demandingly with his bulgy Shih-Tzu eyes, wanting to come up and snuggle with me. Waking, I missed his fuzzy, silly face and relentless devotion, Nalu’s independent, loving intelligence.
Mike told me that would happen. He told me a month was a long time. He’s usually right, and now I’ve put it in writing where he can remind me of it.
So, Bryce National Park. It’s freaking amazing, as most of the world already knows, amazing enough that we are going horse-back riding down into the Canyon this morning. However: it’s freezing cold. REALLY really cold, like snowing cold. We did the obligatory time-lapse of the sunset off Inspiration point, and I sat cross-legged and had trouble getting up to walk out, my rear was a disembodied side of human beef. Also, it’s relatively small in terms of things to do, AND we couldn’t get a second night at the Lodge.
So last night we hunched at our overpriced dinner with our extra-large Atlas and a hand-drawn grid I’d made of the remaining days of the trip, and our list of “must-sees” from our Facebook friends, and tried to plot the rest of the trip.
Plotting routes is not going easily. Getting back to California looks like an unpleasant stretch of nothingness across Nevada and nowhere near where we are, and some of the “must-see” sights are prohibitively out of the way. But we did decide to go back to the park we’ve loved the most, Zion. We left there mainly because we didn’t like the crowded campground, and on our way out of the park, realized Springdale was very nice and had tons of motels right outside the park.
So, after our horseback ride today, we’re going back to Zion, or Mukunteweap as the Native Americans dubbed it. On the speedy route, on the freeway instead of over the mountains, and we’re going to stay two more nights at Zion Lodge if we can arrange it and a Springdale motel if not, because Mike’s going on a solo adventure I’m not interested in: a four-wheel drive quest across private land to find something called the Red Cave that’s supposed to rival Antelope Canyon. And, he wants to shoot the sunset over the dramatic red crags of Kolob Canyon outside the park proper, a three hour driving thing I’m not interested in either.
For my part, I loved that Lodge and want to go on some more mellow hikes in the spiritual atmosphere I enjoyed so much there, and much as I love my honey, he wears me out with his pace sometimes. I think a couple more days at Zion would be lovely, and the temperature was perfect there.
You’d be surprised how much something like temperature matters, when you’re spending all day outdoors.
Well, off to walk the rim of Bryce and see the sunrise before horseback riding. Getting on two pairs of pants, three jackets, gloves, hood and hiking boots to do so. I just really can’t handle this level of cold anymore than I could the heat.
P.S. Returned from the horseback ride. They gave Mike a steady mule named Tin Man and adjusted the stirrups to maximum length to accommodate him. I got a soft-mouthed black named Lucky Strike and remembered how much I love riding. We could never have seen the things we did or got the photos we did without the ride; even Mike was thrilled with the whole beautiful experience. As of this posting, we aren’t even too saddlesore! Best sixty dollars we spent on the trip.
Also, we got into the Zion Lodge again for the next two nights. Thrilled to be going back to that mountain paradise. Onward!