Last night, I drove approx. 20 miles east of Kanab to secluded BLM land to camp... again, it was after dark when I arrived and parked. It seems to be a thing... the element of surprise and wonder at what I will see once the sun rises the next morning. So this morning I learned that although I was on public use land, I was also very near to Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument... and it was those sloping plateaus that I saw in the distance. Nice. :) Also, I had a friendly neighborhood bovine nearby, who kept me company until I started moving around the outside of the Jeep.
Up and moving, I continued east... and turning to make the longer, slower-paced, but oh-so-scenic Cottonwood Canyon Road through the national monument. While it started near where I camped, it dumped me out right near Bryce Canyon... one of those places I was trying to get to today anyway. I loved this route - gravel/dirt/sand road... and I only passed one other car in the entire 46 mile stretch. That's the way I like to travel. So thank you, Joe! That was perfect!
I headed into Bryce Canyon National Park. It wasn't overly busy, but compared to the road I had just come from.... well, yeah. Because most of the hoodoo viewpoints were off to my left as I drove into the park, I decided to just drive all the way in, and stop and look at the points of interest in reverse instead. It may be a figment of my imagination, but it seemed to be a lot easier. I love the iconic monuments, the arches, hoodoos, and my favorites, the chatty ravens. Another bird I wish we had around home - instead we have their smaller cousins. :P I spent a couple hours here before deciding to head across over to Zion National Park.
It was mid-afternoon when I chose to go to Zion, and I realized it would probably be too late to do much of real substance once I got there. I thought that once I'd gotten into the park, I'd find camping and then explore in the morning. Only, I think Zion missed the memo. Most of the other national parks I've been to thus far on this trip have been winding down for the season, and really didn't have an overabundance of visitors... except Zion. SO. MANY. PEOPLE. I wonder if there was some kind of event there this weekend, or if this was normal. All of the campgrounds in the park were full... all of the campgrounds outside of the park were full... all of the hotels/motels were full. And when I did drive through the park late this afternoon, there were just tons of people. It was a little frustrating. So instead, I chose to go on to the next location and leave Zion for another time. Maybe research when their least busy time of the year is... or at least, see what could have made that park so crazy this weekend and avoid that in the future.
So next... Vegas! Before I left home, I decided Vegas would be my point of reprieve. It would be the one location that I would allow myself to get a room, and get out of the Jeep for a night. Aaron and I did the same thing when we came through Vegas back in 2012 on our way to start our Route 66 trip - and it was a nice break. That aside, the last 2-3 nights in the Jeep had been a little rough. While I woke up feeling like I was mostly rested, it's often been interrupted sleep. And my body has been a bit off today... so maybe a real bed is the trick. Also tomorrow is laundry day, so I need to be within reach of a city anyway. It all works out.
I'm roughing it here at the Harrah's in Vegas (yes, I know you feel sorry for me). I got a pretty sweet deal on the room though, so while it seems all swanky, it's really not. Well, I mean... all aside from the actual bed, the shower/toilet, television, wifi... and all the rest. Ha! Pity me. ;)
*some of today's phone pictures*