Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Canyon Fodder


we left Las Vegas with all our senses slightly numbed (sight, sound, hearing... smell? And to a certain extent, decency). We needed something to clear our minds - we needed a trip to the canyons!

There seemed to be no 'best route' so first on the list was Bryce Canyon. Desert gave way to occasional green plateaus. Many miles were covered with few notable landmarks but in the distance rockfaces started to become taller and redder. We found a campsite with unusal ease. A national park site which was as basic as usual but very new and was one of the best we'd stayed in - full but felt like we were alone.

Beer, barbeque and marshmallows were the prelude to an early night so we could make a start on the canyons before the worst of (or best depending on your point of view) the sun hit us.

Bryce was extra special as Katy's parents had been to these same canyons a couple of years earlier with family friends, Les & Bill (who were living in Wichita at the time), so this felt as if we were re-tracing their steps.

The photos cannot fully describe the vastness of the landscape. Majestic vistas were on offer no matter which way you looked. this combined with a gorgeously sunny and cloudless day made for some amazing and unforgettable views.

We packed a lunch and lots of water and did the long walk along the Canyon top from one side to other (well nearly), it was amazing and Katy was very excited as she had already decided that the following morning she would be running the same route with the added miles we didn't cover as I was suffering from my now obligatory achilles heal pain... a bus took us back to our campsite.

The following morning Katy got up early with her camel-back full of water and a sugar snack for the bus ride home and she was off. Several hours later, said wife returned home and only just before i called the emergency services (but not before some consdierable pacing and mumbling on my part).
She had tried to get on a track which is shut in the summer (probably due to the risk of death) but which wasn't actually marked on any of the maps as being so. Apparently this was "AWESOME". So, wife back, showered & fed and we eventually started talking to each other again: Bryce Canyon done...

We then headed over toward the oh-so-very-hot Zion National Park.

We only spent a night here, but as all US National Parks are so popular, even this was difficult, but eventually managed parked up, paid our fee and headed to the bus station for what we hoped an air conditioned ride around Zion. Being environmentally friendly, it had no AC but it did deliver some amazing views of rock and river.
Back to the campsite we decided that we would take advantage of our excellent river location and chill (literally) in the river. It was lovely; very much like Glasbury but with fewer canoes and more massive rockfaces above us. Such a lovely spot to relax in.

So, another day another Canyon done; the following morning Katy left me again in Jeremy and after yesterdays marathon run she only vanished for a short burst along the river before the sun got really hot: Zion done.

Next stop - the mother of all canyons and Ultimately the biggie - Grand Canyon.

Our drive was long and winding through amazing views and weather as it turned out, from baking hot Zion we got to the Sunny but chilly Grand Canyon via a thunder and lightning storm and the first real rain we'd seen for months.

Camp-site sorted, we boarded the bus see what we could see. Even after seeing two other canyon sites in as many days, it still lived up to the title 'Grand'. We stopped at all the view points and took so many pictures (be thankful, you are being spared most of them!). We hit the gift shop to get post cards and it was here that we found - what we hope is a - lovely Grand Canyon tree with animals for our soon to be new neice or nephew (Nephew as it turned out, hope you like it Ben). By the time we returned to Jeremy it was getting dark and cold and we still had to cook food so a rapid fire was made and a quick dinner before we headed to bed. darkness arrived quickly and brought with a surprisingly cold wind so we we're pleased to still have our snowboarding thermals...

A good night sleep we we're worken by the sound of rain and moving outside when we looked out a deer was in the neighbours site trying to get into the garbage or even sneak a beer!
Katy was VERY excited about doing a trek down into the canyon; I was very excited about a hot coffee and internet access: everybody's a winner!

As I logged in, Katy disappeared into a hole in the ground... apparently it should take twice as long to come up as it does to get down so with that in mind Katy left at 9am and we agreed to meet at 12pm this way she could get into the canyon to the base hut and turn round and come back and I wouldn't have to send out a search party for her.
Imagine my suprise then when she turns up at 11am, sweaty and smiley; it took her less time to get up than it did to get down (I'm very proud of her)! I'd had my coffee, katy had done a canyon, time to pack up and head off back to the coast, our next stop along Route 66 a quick snack stop in an old school diner and then onto another Canyon - almost. This time Black Canyon City... the hotest place we have been to so far.

Driving past open prairies of cacti in the baking heat with the A/C on we rolled into another KOA campsite with the obligitory pool.
What was unusual about this one was that they had a pet King Snake that they had caught just that morning in the site. Apparently these are the good guys as they take care of the rattlers! We knew it was going to be an uncomfortablely hot nights sleep, so we headed to the bathrooms where we we're greeted by our first native tarantula - a big beasty at first we we're a little petrified but as the cleaner who was trying to keep all other bugs at bay assured us it was fine and he gently picked him off the wall and took him to a quiet area of the park on the other side of the camp. we entered our respective washrooms and seconds later i heard a scream as Katy had been rained down on by a torrent of bugs and flies as she opened the door... the delights of camping!!! Our unbearably hot night in the van was tempered the most amazing night sky we have seen anywhere (and we've seen some bloody good ones on this trip!).

Three canyons and a canyon city all in 750 miles... Right, thats the last you'll hear about canyons (for a while at least).

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