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  • Day35

    Day 35 - Memorial Day Weekend Chaos

    May 26, 2019 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    Woke up late & had a Big Breakfast each at McDonalds. Full we hit Interstate 15 northbound, then turned off on to Highway 9 to Hurricane, then on through La Verkin, Virgin & Rockville.

    Today was the Sunday of the Memorial Day Weekend & the roads were remarkably quiet & it was a very enjoyable drive. I was praying that the Americans were not stupid enough to go to a National Park this weekend. Our intention was to visit Zion National Park.

    We arrived in Springdale & it got noticeably busier & busier. People were parking on both sides of the road & any other spare piece of land. I saw car parks charging $30. We established that they walking to a series of free bus shuttle stops into Zion. I hadn’t done my research properly, otherwise I would have known that it was mandatory to take a shuttle bus on the 6 mile scenic drive!

    We decided to continue & take our chances, despite signs warning us that all car parks in Zion were full. We arrived at the park entrance & went straight to the front of the queue as a National Parks Annual Pass holder. We spoke to the Ranger who said we could drive through to the East Entrance or turn around, find somewhere to park & get the Shuttle Bus.

    We chose the former & drove through Zion NP for several miles. We were surrounded on all sides by massive rock faces & our road took us up Zion - Mount Carmel Highway too a long traffic jam. We were now stuck, but luckily it was just a 20 minute wait to pass through the Zion - Mount Carmel Tunnel. On the other side, there were hundreds of vehicles queuing to enter the park & because the road was so narrow they couldn’t turn round.

    We continued along this scenic highway & stopped for photos at Checkerboard Mesa, a massive rock with square grooves in it. A radical change of plan was required & we decided to visit Bryce Canyon National Park instead. To be honest the scenery was so nice, it was a pleasure just to be driving through it.

    At Mt Carmel Junction, we turned left, north on Highway 89, through Orderville, Glendale & Hatch. Next we turned on to Highway 12 to Red Canyon, where we stopped for a leg stretch. It will come as no surprise that Red Canyon involves red rocks.

    Unfortunately I saw quite a few people clambering up the rock, so I suggested to Jackie that we do the same. At the foot of the rock (mountain) was a sign saying photo trail. It sounded good to me. We commenced our ascent up a steep narrow track of red rubble. We got to a point for a breather & I couldn’t help going just that little bit further.

    I got to where I wanted to get to with legs now like jelly, but realised it was twice as scary going back down. My journey back down, mainly on all fours, was made all the worse by a little kid about 4 years old, right behind me making lots of stupid noises. When we finally got down our hearts were racing. We won’t be doing that again in a hurry!

    On we drove to the less popular Bryce Canyon National Park 🏞 & was pleased to see that we were allowed in without any warnings. Obviously we didn’t have to pay the $35 entry fee & proceeded into the park. There was a big car park for people to park up & use the shuttle bus, but we don’t ‘share’ transport, even if that is what the Rangers want you to do.

    We drove along the spine to the far end of the park, now at an elevation of 9115 feet & visited the lookouts of Yovimpa Point & Rainbow Point for some lovely views. It was sunny, but very cold. I looked a bit stupid in my T-shirt, shorts & adventure sandals. There was even snow still on the ground. We then headed back stopping at Black Birch Canyon, Ponderosa Canyon, Agua Canyon & the visually stunning Natural Bridge.

    We stopped at Fairview Point & took a little hike to Piracy Point. Next we turned off for Bryce Point, but joined a queue into the busy car park. We were waved in & told to go all the way round. There was no free parking space, so I abandoned the car & run over to get some snaps.

    As I returned to the car, an officious Ranger spotted me & said “Why have you stopped your car?” I replied “Because there weren’t any spaces”. He replied, “That’s because its Holiday weekend”. Jackie piped up, “Yeah, we know that”.

    I could see this was going to end badly, so I jumped back in the car & said “We’re just leaving”. I could hear him shouting after us “When there are no spaces you have to just drive on”. As we were driving away they closed the road to this car park. We were not happy, but could see the logic behind it. They needed to get the shuttle buses in & out.

    We drove on to Inspiration Point, where again we waved around the car park without a space being available. I was not letting this happen again, so we did a U turn down the road & went back in again & got a space. We walked to Inspiration Point & like a couple of others, went to the edge for a better photo. I also took a short burst of video footage of Jackie.

    We had just finished when a Ranger came running over & told us & others to come away from the edge because it wasn’t safe. She said the rocks were prone to crumbling & spoke of recent deaths in other parks.

    We stopped finally at Sunrise Point, where a Chinese woman climbed through the fencing on to a tiny ledge just so her friend could take a photo. Utter madness.

    With Bryce Canyon now done (or we were) we had a 2 & a half hour drive back to St George. The rain was also on its way.

    We finally arrived back in St George at 7.30pm, stopped at a heaving Chilis for dinner. We had fajitas & ribs, which were just so-so. The back to our Motel for a wine & bed.

    FITBIT = 8,799 steps / 4.08 miles.

    Song of the Day - In The Crowd by The Jam.
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