August 21, 2014 – To Boulder, UT

Today we start to take the long way home. I am the first driver. As we head north on I-15 and past our usual exits I notice a sign that I have never seen anywhere – speed limit 80! Now I am no stranger to pushing the legal speed limit to somewhere between 75 and 80 but now I am allowed to? It seems too fast to be allowable.

After a quick breakfast in Cedar City, Utah, John takes the wheel. He always drives when there are high places involved and as we will be climbing UT-14 to 9000 feet, it is possible that I could get a little freaked. As we ascend we get our first glimpses of Cedar Breaks National Monument.

Cedar Breaks National Monument from UT-14
Cedar Breaks National Monument from UT-14

We stop at an overlook to view the panorama looking back towards Zion NP. We are at the top of the staircase that starts with the pink rock of Cedar Breaks and Bryce Canyon and ends in the ancient rock at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

Panorama from near Cedar Breaks NM back towards Zion NP
Panorama from near Cedar Breaks NM back towards Zion NP

A lot of the evergreens here have died due to bark beetle infestation. Opportunistic aspens take over.
A lot of the evergreens here have died due to bark beetle infestation. Opportunistic aspens take over.

By noon we reach Bryce Canyon NP. After a quick stop at the visitor’s center so John can get his National Parks book stamped we head out to Bryce Point. The park is fairly uncrowded. Most of the visitors appear to be Europeans as American children are back to school and have already been assigned to write what they did on their summer vacations. We take the walk out to the point. At 8300 feet we notice we are a bit breathless negotiating the small hills. The views are astounding. The rock formations called hoodoos fill the colorful landscape.
John at Bryce Point
John at Bryce Point

View from Bryce Point
View from Bryce Point
The Wall of Windows which are actually mostly alcoves
The Wall of Windows which are actually mostly alcoves
Here's a free standing window
Here’s a free standing window
Another view
Another view
One more
One more

We decide to have lunch at the Bryce Canyon Lodge. We have managed to arrive at the moment when the computer goes down. We wait over half an hour for a salad and a sandwich which are mediocre. Certainly the time would have been better spent looking at the incredible formations in Bryce Canyon.

Lastly we take a look at Fairyland Canyon. Once more there are beautiful views. As we turn around to head back to the car, the sky is looking ominous. Being out on an exposed point with an electrical storm approaching is not a good place to be.

Mary at Fairyland Canyon
Mary at Fairyland Canyon
View from Fairyland Canyon with sinking ship formation
View from Fairyland Canyon with sinking ship formation
Uh oh
Uh oh

We hop back in the car to finish the drive to Boulder, UT where we will spend the night. Along the way there’s more fabulous scenery and REALLY scary stretches where the road is on a spine between two canyons. The two lane road takes up the whole space between the canyons. We stop once to look at Powell’s Point. On his second expedition Wesley Powell mapped this area. It was the last area in the continental U.S. to be mapped.
A view looking towards Powells Peak
A view looking towards Powells Peak
Close up of Powells Peak
Close up of Powells Peak

We make it to Boulder just as the rain drops start to fall. We are staying at the Boulder Mountain Lodge. There is a restaurant here called the Hell’s Backbone Grill. After resting up for a while we go to dinner. By Utah standards the dinner is really outstanding. What is especially good are the vegetables that they grow on their farm a mile or two down the road.

Tomorrow we hope to do some off-roading on the way to Beaver, UT

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