If you leave Zion the way that we did you get to drive through a series of six hairpin switchbacks. When you pull over to take photos there is usually a wall to keep people from falling over. When you drive a hairpin turn there are bricks the size of bread loaves piled about two to three loaves high. (Things that make you go ???) After the series of twists and turns you drive through a tunnel. A 1.1 mile long tunnel. A tunnel mostly built in the 1920’s. A tunnel with no fans or lights or fancy stuff like others we’ve been in. A tunnel not wide enough for wide loads. When one comes up they have to close the two way traffic and take it down to one way traffic so that they can drive in the middle. We lucked out. There was a big guy a few cars ahead of us so we got to follow him through and drive down the middle also. Made it easier to relax while driving through.
There are all of these tunnel do’s and do not’s. Do turn on your lights. Do not wear your sunglasses. Do not stop. Do not pass. Do not walk through tunnel. OK maybe there were more do not’s. Sort of makes you think… a lot can go wrong in 1.1 miles. At least the walls were bigger than the hairpin bread loaves.
It was solar-panel-shutdown dark. Made darker by no dash lights for Annie day.
But there was a light at the end. Actually there were a few in the middle too with great views but they don’t allow stopping. Tease!
Free at last. Free at last. Now we can go back to knocking bread off the edges.
Every day that we rode the shuttle into the park we heard the same recorded message. Besides reminding us that falls cause most injuries and deaths at Zion and following that up with ‘your safety is your responsibility’, they also mentioned ‘those who travel through the tunnel emerge into a completely different world’. They made it sound magical, filled with lions and tigers and bears.
OK, it was big horned sheep and deer and lizards or something like that, but still…
It was quite pretty and there was a subtle but gradual change to the terrain. There were some sweeping slot canyons with beautifully wind and water shaped rock. There were not enough pull-outs. So we did not get photos. In only a few miles the elevation dropped to almost flat with rolling hills covered in trees and shrubs. Only a few minutes later, Zion not even visible in your mirrors and you felt transported to another world and you saw things… things like this.
There are so many things we could say but we’re going to leave that one right there were it is and move on down the road to Kanab. It’s known as ‘Little Hollywood of Utah’ due to the high number of movies (mostly Westerns) that have been filmed there. It was Easter Sunday so the town was locked up tight but it was a cute town. It seemed nice enough. One problem… their police are a bunch of dummies.
We set up camp our first night out from Zion on some BLM near Pariah (scene of a famous movie set). It was a quiet roadside spot with just us, one other rig and no phone service. This was our first time in a long time camping at elevation (around 5000 feet). Not really all that high but there was a palpable difference in the morning cold compared to lower elevations. Not to worry, that soon gave way to an even more obvious heat. We spent the morning exploring the area on foot.
We were camped across from these striped hills and set off to get a better look.
The slot between the left and right hills was our final destination.
It was a pretty neat area. The color and texture reminded Nicole of milk chocolate and Darlene of the mud dauber nests back home.
We enjoyed exploring this unmarked and un-people-tracked area (there was a multitude of animal tracks as seen above) so we continued on past some other ‘marked’ trails to an overlook for Lake Powell.
A great spot for lunch!
We checked out the Glen Canyon Dam.
Assessed the structural integrity of the bridge we were about to cross.
Walked across the bridge to check out the view opposing the dam.
Saw some dinosaur tracks.
Then we spread our wings and flew on down the road.
Despite our change in course, a weather update showed us a cooling trend coming across our more southern route. We may even get snow and admit that (even though we still haven’t acquired a heat source for the van) after months in the desert, it might be nice to have such a change of pace. Either way, it’s all part of the great plan. So we’ll take it as it comes, hunker down and stay warm playing cards with our good friends who are on their way to meet up with us. Until next time… signing off and heading out into an internet-free zone.