Jilara (jilara) wrote,

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Onward to Utah

After leaving Hoover Dam, I drove through the Lake Mead Rec area, stopped a couple times, once to hike around some great red rock formations with lots of wildflowers (and climb to the top of one), once to check out the artesian wells at a spring with a little park around it.

I was listening to talk radio on a Nevada channel, a program that pretty much hit my views, and was interested to hear guy call in from Texas talking about how all the stations and media down there were controlled by the Christian Right, and you wouldn't realize there were a lot of folks, possibly a majority, who didn't think that way, because there was such a stranglehold on what news and views were aired in the media. Fascinating, Captain.

The Arizona Strip was interesting, especially since I'm driving through huge sculpted canyons with "Great Western Theme Music" on the CD player, which fit the terrain. (Though I have yet to figure out what the music from "Glory" and "Gettysburg" has to do with the West.) Arrived in St. George and got thoroughly lost trying to find where I was staying (lousy map/directions). The gas station obligingly told me to follow the Green Valley Spa signs, since it was apparently next door, and that worked.

Next morning, it was off to Zion and Bryce Canyon. I pretty much zipped through Zion, stopping for a few pictures, especially of the frozen waterfall, planning to hit it more on the backswing from Bryce. I had read in the morning paper that there was a storm expected that night, and there were horror stories of folks who had gotten stranded in snow for days, or in mud and had to walk out, etc. Memories of some of the weird adventures my folks had that way, when I was a kid, rose to haunt me, and I decided caution was good. When I saw my first snow devil, off in the middle of Nowhere, Utah, I started wondering about this whole venture. That was before I hit the snowy plain with powder blowing across the road. Recent snow. Cold so it blows like sand. Not good.

The road into Bryce was half covered with ice and blowing snow. More not good. And by that time, a gas station burrito was announcing its war with my stomach. More not good with double stars. I stopped at the visitor center, set amid picturesque 4-foot snowdrifts, and took a picture of a pickup with 10-inch icicles hanging off it, unaware I was soon to have my own. The visitor center stats said that it had been 18 degrees the night before, and was up to a brisk 29 (windchill, which was substantial, not included). I bought postcards of red hoodoos with snow on them. Then I hit the museum. That was when the burrito told my stomach it was leaving. I almost made it to the restroom. The rangers were really nice, and brought me water and paper towels, while I apologised for their floor. Note to self: do not, repeat not, buy a burrito from a gas station warmer in small town Utah. I felt a lot better after ridding myself of the burrito, so I decided to go as far up the road as it was plowed. I'd come all this way, dammit! I wasn't going to let snow and a little food poisoning wreck my day. Yeah, I'm stupid like that, sometimes.

The road was closed about 1/3 of the way into the park, and I headed up to the first of my viewpoint stops. Now, I had on a good wool Irish sweater, but I was freezing. I took photos, so I could at least have something to show for the adventure. LOTS of snow on the Bryce Canyon formations, much more than the postcards! Thoroughly chilled, I headed off to the next viewpoint. This time I put my bomber jacket *over* the Irish sweater. I still froze, and there was a stiff breeze adding windchill. A busload of inadequately-dressed tourists pulled up in the parking lot as I was carefully negociating the icy trail back from the viewpoint. Poor saps, they had no idea what they were in for. At that point, I decided to listen to common sense (for a change) and bail. And was glad I did, when I headed out and found the road now completely covered by blowing snow and ice. I waited for a bus to negociate this deathtrap, bringing in another covey of unwitting tourists, then switched into 4WD and got the hell out of Dodge. Heading west, I saw a huge cloudbank mounding up over the horizon. Oh, so Not Good. Hmm, 3 pm. The storm was early. I put pedal to the metal and outran the storm (barely) down the back of the mountains, all the way back to St. George, cutting through Zion again via the tunnel (it was the fastest way back), not stopping to admire any views, and arriving back at an early hour, where I fell into bed, exhausted, and slept 14 hours straight. Food poisoning and freezing your tail off, followed by speeding on the icy rural roads of Utah, will do that too you.

Amazingly enough, I woke up good to go, the next morning. The morning paper was full of tales of many feet of snow being dropped on the areas I had passed through. I had made a good decision.

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