September 11th, 2009

Vacation: Day 5 - Bryce and Zion

**note** I'm still sorting photos from Zion - I took many, and am trying to select the few that exemplify my travel.  Check back here if you're interested in seeing them; I'll put up photos soon.

We awoke in the Best Western Bryce Canyon Grand hotel, a new hotel in Bryce Canyon City, a community which changed its name from Ruby's Inn in 2007, which explained why _finding_ the place was so challenging.  Anyway, once found, it was very comfortable.  I think Shaina and I slept well.  We got up for the hotel's complimentary breakfast (which was a good deal more than just a simple continental breakfast!) and then headed back to a different section of Bryce Canyon to hike.  It was supposed to be an easy hike, and I suppose that if we'd stuck to just that hike it would have been.  We headed back into a canyon with a running stream and found our destination, a mossy cave, however a beautiful waterfall, not on our trail, became a no-brainer to visit.  We climbed to the top of the waterfall, and then Rich and I noticed that there was a steep path up a hill to a "window" through the rocks, which I had to climb.  It was maybe another 50 or 100 feet up, so I took it slowly, and getting up wasn't much of a problem.  The problem was getting back down.  At one point, my legs slipped out from under me and I twisted back, stomach first, onto the path in order to prevent myself from going down the hill and off the cliff below on my butt.  I'd mis-estimated the danger of the slope pretty badly, but obviously figured out how to get back down in one piece (_slowly_).  There was just a bad patch of gravel where I just couldn't get a grab on anything that was firmly stuck to the hill.

And then we drove to Zion.  At first, I thought that we'd give Zion a pass considering the beauty of Bryce, but Lola had convinced us that she'd liked Zion more than Bryce so we should give it a look-see.  Wow.  I'm so glad we did!  Bryce _was_ spectacular, and Zion was a completely different kind of spectacular.  Driving into the canyon on Highway 9 through the tunnel was a winner.  Spectacular views above of rocks.  But then, once you're in the canyon... wow.  Surrounded by cliff faces between 1500 and 3000 feet above, in spectacular colors.  I was too tired to do more hiking in Zion, so we just took the shuttle loop up the canyon and back.  It was enough.  Zion is awe-inspiring.

The drive home was relatively uneventful.  The Virgin River Gorge isn't exciting after Zion.  We stopped in Mesquite, Nevada to find dinner, and I had some really crappy pasta alfredo which I cut with tomato sauce to improve.  And then back to Las Vegas to sleep.