Friday, September 24, 2010

Day 12: Page to Cannonville, Bryce NP (#6)

Day 12: Page to Cannonville, Bryce NP (#6)

Chicago is a sort of journalistic Yellowstone Park, offering haven to a last herd of fantastic bravos.
Ben Hecht

Pics: A bunch from the Red Canyon, on the way in to Bryce, then Bryce, and finally, the gas station pumps in front of our “inn.”

We decide to try the buffet at the Courtyard, and it is industry standard. THB has waffles and yogurt, DB has scrambled eggs with mushrooms, chiles and cheese plus LB&CC. All mediocre, $25.

We are thinking we might be able to crash the Wave. This is a famous spot between Page and Kanab, and visitors are limited to 20 a day, 10 by advance permit and 10 by prior day lottery (so ya gotta go there twice!). Well, since we can’t even find the office where you register for the lottery, no need to worry about whether we can sneak in. There are some wide open spaces out here!

On the way into Bryce we pass a spectacular little park, Red Canyon, with many hoodoos just off the road. Get a trail map in the visitor center (along with sticker and stamps for our passport) and take a 1 hour hike. Many of the pics are from this hike. Hard to believe these type of places exist with no press, no notification, no hints.

We picnic just off the parking lot, then head into Bryce. There are some pics from our hike, a loop down and up through the Bryce formations. Pretty rigorous hiking, probably a little over 3 miles in 2 hours. Fortunately the weather is better, in the mid-70s. Where you see DB in the midst of a crowd, this is a group of French tourist. We think now that foreign tourists in the parks are up to 70%.

We visit the Bryce Lodge, hoping for a beer on the deck. Nope: this NP lodge only serves alcohol if you are eating in the dining room, not even a snack stand! On to our hotel: the Grand Staircase Inn. Uh oh…it is really one of those two story motel places that is a combo market-gas station (see last pic, a rerun of the Silver Jack, right down to it being a Sinclair gas station). I had booked this place almost exactly a year ago. Why? THB cannot remember why he did things last week, or what his room number was at the Courtyard earlier this morning. Good news, if we stay both reserved nights, the new rate is $89 instead of $99. Hmmmmmm…and a choice of rooms, upstairs or downstairs! Since we don’t have a pit bull spending the night with us, we move upstairs. Somehow, the places for miles around Bryce are either a) full or b) really really expensive. Now it is coming back to me why THB booked this place!

The good news: great wifi, two king beds, a window that opens to let in the cool night air, and we don’t stand a prayer of finding another place if we decide to look around much.

The inn proprietor, young guy in his mid-30s with cute blond kids running around, recommends Showdown for dinner, it is right down the road a bit, back in Tropic (we’re in Cannonville).

Showdown is totally empty when we arrive around 6:45 (we’ve again lost an hour by returning to Utah!). It is one meal for everybody, your choice of chicken or steak. Okay, we’ll have one of each. Oh, and comes with all you can eat of the canned string beans, reasonable home fries (NOT french fries, so okay for us), the whitest lightest french bread you’ve ever seen, and decent cole slaw, followed by peach cobbler made with the freshest canned peaches ever. No wine or beer, unless you bring your own and eat outside (Mormon country).

And a live band. However the band won’t start until the big tour buses arrive. And, so we and one other couple from northern Illinois and a cowboy from Ohio (this guy is dressed like he got lost as an extra out of an episode of Rawhide) enjoy our steak (not a great cut, needless to say) and the chicken (better) and all the lemonade we can drink, while the band sort of tunes up.

Finally one of the tour buses groups arrives: it is the group that is in the background of the picture I took of DB with the crowds swarming around her near the end of our hike!!! And, of course, they are French. Wonder if someone explained the “no wine” with dinner rule?

Total: $39.

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