Well, we’re up to Saturday, May 23….at this rate, I might get this trip report finished before the next trip.
As you might recall, we’re finished up our stay at the spindly Bryce Canyon, having survived being taken to the edge by quadrupeds. Time to move back south…
The destination would be the Grand Canyon, but not until Sunday. Why? Well, I’ll recap the “planning” process:
Pin down rooms at the Grand Canyon North Rim Lodge, which I had believed would be the most difficult to obtain (in retrospect…no. But more on that when we get to Sunday). Then work everything else around that. The difficult issue was that Memorial Day Weekend falls right in the middle of this, and I had a heck of a time finding rooms that weren’t $300 a night for that Saturday night. (Sunday and Monday were GCNP nights, and I checked many times a day, but nothing ever opened up for Saturday. It if had, I certainly would have grabbed it). There are two lodgings not ridiculously far from GCNP North Rim – in Jacob Lake, about 45 minutes out, and then another lodge a big closer. Neither of them had Saturday night vacancies. I thought I had checked Kanab – just over the border from Arizona in Utah – out pretty thoroughly, and nothing reasonable ever came up. However, I’ll say now that when I drove around Kanab both Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning…I didn’t see packed parking lots in the hotels. I’m going to guess that the chains that came up on Kayak were either indeed unavailable or too expensive for me, but there might have been independent motor lodges and such that weren’t listed on those aggregate engines.
It turned out fine, and we had an adventure, but staying in Kanab would have saved me a bit of driving…a trade-off. But that’s the way it is with [insert Life Lesson and Metaphor here].
SO, where we ended up for Saturday night was this, via AirBnB – two little “bunkhouses” just a bit south of Colorado City (does that ring a bell? Well it just might….). That would be our goal for the end of the day, but in between Bryce and that spot was a lot of space and all day, so…time to set out and find stuff to do!
First stop, very close to Bryce, is Red Canyon – which is certainly red! We only spent about thirty minutes here – a place where Butch Cassidy is supposed to have used for a hideout – but you could certainly spend all day, at least.
Then we’d catch 89, and take it to Kanab. Every town along the way had at least one historical marking, each telling the tale of yet one more Mormon settlement. Rock shops are also very common, not surprisingly, and we stopped at one where we learned all about the Septarian Nodule – Geode-like, but not really – and bought a few things, including some small pieces of petrified wood. The owners gave us restaurant advice, but we didn’t take it, continuing on down to Kanab.
Kanab is a small town, but it’s a pretty busy gateway, with several hotels, including the Parry Lodge, famed for the movie stars who stayed there back in the day – the area was a popular location for shooting movie Westerns. I actually thought I’d gotten a room there when I was on the search for Saturday Sleeping, but the woman called me back five minutes later and said, oops, she’d made a mistake. Alas, no spirit melding with Tyrone Power (my mother’s favorite) this time.
There’s a terrible “Little Hollywood Movie Museum.” I mean – it’s the worst. You don’t pay to walk around the purported sets collected behind the shop, but you know things are in a sorry state when you feel ripped off…. by a free attraction. I hadn’t heard of any of the movies except McCabe and Mrs Miller , and all it was was a collection of shacks and false fronts (which is all it would be, I know). There seemed to be a small foreign tour group there that was being led through and being invited to dress up and play with fake guns, but I didn’t stick around to see. It was just awkward.
Lunch was good – at this great little pizza buffet called Lotsa Motsa. Just what everyone needed. I always tell my kids when we travel that when they have a chance to eat…EAT A LOT. Because they never know when they’re going to get a chance to eat again. Sound sad? Well, that’s just how our days tend to go on the road, and it’s especially how it can go when you veer into “picky eater” territory. So they’ve learned: eat what’s there, when it’s there. A pizza buffet was perfect, and the pizza was actually good. It was a popular place, too – crowded with obvious tourists from all over world, although the group of Asian tourists walked in, then walked right out, back across the street to McDonald’s.
It was early afternoon by then, and we had plenty of time to Do Things, so I decided that we should head back up north a little ways to Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park.
On the way, we made one stop, however, at the Best Friends Animal Society. This is a huge no-kill sanctuary spread over thousands of acres. Folks go and spend days or ever weeks volunteering at the facility. They do offer tours, but they are lengthy, and you have to reserve them ahead of time – we missed the opportunity, but that’s fine. I respect the work that they do, as well as their decision to be a refuge and a sanctuary and not a zoo, open to drop-in gawkers like us.
We did see these guys, though:
Such an interesting place. The red rocks from two more or less parallel mountain ranges blow off into this valley and form enormous dunes of, well, pinkish sand. What’s unique is that the park is open to both foot traffic and ATV’s (you can see the tracks in the photo), so while you are not going to get a peaceful afternoon in the dunes, ever, probably, everyone seems to respect each other and make way.
We probably spent two hours there – the boys had a great time wandering and playing their imaginary games, whatever they are about. I walked a bit, and then just sat and sand dune and people watched.
There’s a small visitor’s center with super nice folks who talked to me about one of the things that had started to obsess me – finding petroglyphs and dinosaur tracksites. The woman told me of a couple of near-ish sites and I filed them away for consideration.
Yes, it was a drive, but it’s what we had to do, and I didn’t mind – I would be driving through places I’d never seen, and they are beautiful places, so why not?
The bulk of the drive took us through the Kaibab Paiute reservation – unfortunately we were too late to go through the Pipe Spring historic site. But we did stop at the convenience store, and very weirdly, saw (as fellow customers) the couple who ran the rock shop we’d been to earlier – which was about fifty miles away…
When I booked these rooms, I hadn’t understood how close they were to Colorado City and Hildale. As we drew near, I saw that it was just a few miles, so I said, “Time for a detour!” and I explained, as best I could, what the FLDS was all about.
(And there’s a restaurant in Hildale – called the Merry Wives Cafe – that I’d hope to get to – but alas, they’re closed on Saturday evening, not surprisingly. I was disappointed.)
Trying not to think of Big Love, we reached the area, and I took a quick drive up and down some main streets, curious, I admit, to see what I would see. It was early evening, so there weren’t a lot of folks out, but I did see a couple of typically dressed women – in the long dresses and big hair – and the really huge, sprawling, but somewhat ramshackle houses, clearly added onto over time – were quite noticeable, and everywhere. The place had a shabby, tired, feel about it.
Yup, a quick view was good enough, so it was time to shoot back down the road to our home for the night:
They’re tiny and immaculate and have absolutely everything you need, including little solar-powered lights (that’s the panel on the roof on the picture directly below- they are good, I think for three hours at a high level and five at a low – I’m pretty sure this was it), bunks inside, a chair, a side table, and a propane space heater. The toilets were in a separate small outhouse/building and the shower was outdoors (behind a fence!). The boys had their own pad, and I had mine. It was fun.
Supposedly this bag containing water and pennies repels flies. Hey, I didn’t see any, so maybe.
This was the cooking/device-charging area.
The only unfortunate thing was that it was rainy. If it hadn’t been, the boys would have spent a lot more time outside playing, and we would have been able to sit outside around a fire (the other people in the other bunkhouses tried to build one, but with no success.) But it was fine – very snug and a lovely little respite.
And dinner? Cheese, crackers and fruit. I warned you, didn’t I!
Now, on to Sunday and…WHAT TIME IS MASS ANYWAY?