June 11, 2019
The western-style breakfast did not disappoint this morning with French toast, classic biscuits and gravy, eggs, fruit, yogurt and more. However, we had even more exciting things to do besides eat breakfast today.
First up: horseback riding. I chuckled when Pop Pop said he was interested in a horseback ride, because I had not gone in years, and this would be my second time in a week. I’m not complaining, though! I love horses. The ride that fit into our schedule was bright and early at 8:30 in the morning and took us on an easy trail through pine trees that led us to the northern rim of the canyon.
I think Pop Pop and I would have enjoyed a more challenging and scenic ride, but we did what we could do and enjoyed it along the way! Well, besides the fact that my horse would not listen and kept eating the dusty grass that isn’t good to eat. I don’t think I have ever been so frustrated with a horse, and of course this is after I told Pop Pop horseback riding isn’t too hard. I guess I spoke too soon (or the horse was poorly trained)! Regardless, it was an unexpected way to spend the early morning.
After slight confusion about which street leads to Bryce Canyon National Park, we found it using UT-63 and drove in through the visitor’s center for free thanks to Pop Pop’s America the Beautiful senior national park pass. Visitors can do all the normal mountain things at Bryce—hiking, camping, climbing—but what I like about it is for people on the go such as me and Pop Pop, UT-63 runs the length of the western side of the canyon and leads to various overlook points. So, with one hand on a map the other on a steering wheel, Pop Pop and I hit many of those points, which you can see below.
Once we finished our slightly time-concerned adventure though Bryce, Pop Pop drove out the way we came in and stopped for lunch at the Canyon Diner, which was not a diner at all and merely a fast food joint. Then we drove an hour and a half to Zion National Park.
Zion’s set up has you park in lots and then take a shuttle bus to any of the nine stops you please, where unlike Bryce, you start your journey from the bottom of the mountain and hike the trails up. My biggest piece of advice is to do your research about the trails and know what you want to do. Pop Pop and I basically picked one that looked and sounded ideal, but we overheard people on the shuttle bus talking about how serious of a climb it was, and we opted for something easier and less time-consuming. We ended up at the Grotto, which is the sixth stop on the shuttle route. The trails here are supposed to lead to a series of natural pools, but due to recently fallen rocks, everything was closed besides the lowest pool. So, Pop Pop and I enjoyed what we could and did the mile-long, laid-back walk to the lower emerald pool, which was surrounded by green vegetation and has the slightest bit of water trickling off the cliff from above. It actually quite reminded me of the scenery from Karijini National Park in Australia.
And finally, the mountain and canyon-exploring part of our trip was over and Pop Pop and I had a relaxed five-hour drive to Boulder City, Nevada, which is right outside the Hoover Dam. We did take a quick detour through Las Vegas, though, which is somewhere I’ve never had any interest in visiting. Driving through and seeing all the grand hotels, resorts, and landmark-themed buildings definitely did pique my interest though, so maybe one day I will get there.
The day was filled with stunning sights and I am so thankful I finally got to see some of the beauty in the western U.S. I was in awe of the varied orange and brown formations Mother Nature has carved for us to marvel at over millions of years. The nature we have in America really is beautiful, and I really don’t think we appreciate it enough.
Whitmanythought 1: How is there only one day of this journey left?!