Leonard and Judy's Autumn Tour 2008, Part 3
Wednesday, October 8th. (The fifth day.)This was our day to ride through Bryce Canyon National Park. We got up early and decided Bryce Canyon was close enough that we would not have to head out right away. Noon was our target time to leave. So we ate a slow breakfast, looked at post cards, chatted with the couple who are the "camp workers," also from Colorado. By then it had turned hot and it was lunch time, so we ate and then we moseyed on out. (Rancher talk.) We were able to slip on our light jackets for the days ride. If it turned cold, we had an extra sweat shirt along and we wouldn't be that far away.
The ride thru Rubys Inn (a town, with no apostrophe,) and to Bryce Canyon is idyllic and pleasant. A lot like riding across rural America or Canada. At the entrance to Bryce Canyon, we were all prepared to pay the $25 entry fee. But, the kind ticket booth lady asked us our ages. And goodness!!! It was my 62nd birthday. Since both Judy and I are 62, we got the much coveted senior citizens pass for a total of $10. Wow, what a savings. Pictures and the post cards say it best. The colors of the canyon, the pines and other trees, the colors of the mounds and spires are beyond verbal description. The roads are good asphalt, but are curvy and hilly, but not so tough though, since the speed limits are low and it seemed everybody was abiding the law. I think our whole tour lasted a little over five hours, which included an hour at the visitor center. Bryce Canyon's main road is only about 18 miles long, but does have a few side asphalt roads worth taking. We didn't do any "hiking" due to time, but we did a couple of short walks to get good angles on things Judy photographed. During our tour, we did see some White tailed deer and a few squirrels. No wolves or any other larger animals.
At the Bryce Canyon visitor center, Judy and I both took our time looking at plaques explaining Bryce Canyon and observed that the visitor center is actually a tourist trap in disguise. T-shirts, jackets, caps, pictures, CD films and scads of other stuff. I ended up buying a book about the Mormon's during the time the National Park really got developed. Much of the book is testimony directly from today's survivors of the area in the early 1930-1940's.
On the way back to camp, we stopped at the large general store in Rubys Inn and purchased the minimum of goods. Apparently grocery items are priced on the spot market, because many items showed no prices and you only found out how much you were going to be gouged when you "paid up," at the cash register.
We weren't towing the trailer, so had to fill up the side tanks, and bungi the hard packaged items to the tiny luggage rack. We did make it back to camp without loosing anything.
Later, in the evening a gentleman on a motorcycle arrived and took a cabin down the road from us. However we never made contact with him as he stayed in the cabin for the rest of the night, wasn't out and about the next morning and gone the same night. We learned the ranches consist of 10 to 30 plots of 35 or less acres. Most ranches are irrigated, twenty four hours a day through the warm weather months. Getting their water from the Virgin River.
Each evening at dusk, while staying at the Cannonville KOA, we were surprised to see, all at once, droves of cotton tailed rabbits scurrying through the camp ground. I mean we are talking a hundred or better. About an half hour later three cats, spread out in a line like a foot ball team on the scrimmage line, came stalking through. Later in the week I asked Marsha about the cats. She said they are feral, but somewhat tame. The town folks and ranchers encourage the cats to hunt the rabbits, to keep the rabbit population down. Over the years the fox and coyote population has dropped to near non-existence, so the cats are full filling the other predators roles. We noticed that none of the three cats looked skinny and were in good health. I suspect hunting was fairly easy with the large number of rabbits.
Thursday, October 9th. (The sixth day.)Today we were to ride to Zion National Park. As we headed south the air started to cool and some clouds were starting to form. We had started out in our SMS jackets and chaps, so the cooler air wasn't bad. We found highway 89 to be a joy to ride. Nice scenery and smooth surface. The way to Zion, visually seemed pretty much like Bryce Canyon or highway 12. Red rock, spires and pine trees. Near Glendale it started to get very cold and the clouds had started forming into a solid bank farther south. We had stopped to add a sweatshirt and warmer gloves and was told by a passer by that it wasn't getting any warmer. The lady in her car said she had the heater on and thought we were nuts. We told her we were, but not to alert the authorities, because we had only escaped the big house this morning. Since it was near lunch time, we opted to head back to the KOA. We weighed the cold, possible rain and the $10 entrance fee against our comfort and resigned our self to not seeing much of Zion N.P. We did skirt the edge of Dixie National Forest on our way back and the parts we saw were pretty. The next day we were told that Zion had gotten rain which turned to snow during the night.
This also was the afternoon that a very strong south wind came in around 4 in the afternoon and blew thick red dust. You could see the front of the red dusty cloud front several minutes before it hit. We have been in Kansas and Saskatchewan dust storms, so we prepared by covering the bike with a tarp and staying inside the cabin. We stuffed a rug under the door and paper towels in the window seams. In an hour it was over.
Walter and his wife had left all their dishes sitting out, in the open pavilion. As we started cooking our own supper later in the evening, we discovered the red dust all over the table, the sinks, the ranges and Walter's dishes. We cleaned up everything but their dishes before cooking our own meal. As we sat there enjoying the evening, the Walter's arrived and it goes with out saying, that when they saw the thick red dust, they were not happy campers.
After supper we happened to meet the Scott brothers, from Guffy, Colorado, a small high mountain village, which has a cat for a mayor. So much for Guffy politics. The Scott's are our age and we had fun talking to them late into the evening. Soon yawns and stretches dictated sleep, so we said our good nights and called it a day.
More of Leonard's articles: Two Wheels by the Campfire
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