So we didn’t fish on this “fishing trip”. Anyone who’s ever traveled with a photographer will tell you that every trip, regardless of original purpose, becomes a photo trip. I just traveled with two of them. The near-cliché of “have camera, will travel” is practically the photographer’s motto [ section deleted by author ].
Panguitch was beautiful as always. The folks at Bear Paw Lakeview Resort remember us and are expecting their first child together in October, hopefully right after they shut down for the season and not before (Congratulations, Nikki and Adrien!). We docked the boat but never used it. There was just enough wind to make the lake choppy with little white caps, and if you’ve ever been on a boat, even one with a flat bottom that’s stable in the water like ours, choppy water is basically no fun and the fishing will be lousy. We went to Bryce Canyon National Park a day ahead of plan. On the way, we stopped at The Paunsaugunt Wildlife Museum (aka The Bryce Museum). I’ve driven by it twice now on previous trips and decided to stop. I hugely underestimated – it was amazing. 800 animals on display in life-like scenes, all the way down to the lizards and toads, with real preserved plants and backgrounds painted by a wildlife artist. 1600 butterflies from around the world. Not to mention trophy game fish, beetles and bugs to give you nightmares, a rhino skull (already deceased – they’re endangered you know), an ocean shell collection like I’ve never seen…a lot of visitors just wrote “WOW” in the guest book. There were also a herd of live fallow deer outside you could feed corn; there was a lot of begging and slobbering involved. Absolutely worth stopping if you’re going that way.
On to Bryce. Somewhere in the region there was a wild fire going and unfortunately it made the horizon a bit hazy. We did every stop on the scenic route through Bryce (with the exception of Inspiration Point and Paria View), saving the best for last (Bryce Point, aka The Amphitheater). Darryl was with us on this trip and as far as I’m concerned, he can go on every trip. The guy is great to road trip with – never complains, always enthusiastic, laughs easy – just make sure you have your own tent cuz he snores like a grizzly bear. On our way back to camp we stopped at the worst steak house I think I’ve ever been too; even Darryl couldn’t find anything nice to say. At the Family Steakhouse outside of Bryce but before Red Canyon it took 30 minutes for us to be acknowledged with water. I saw one waiter for probably 40 tables and only one table of people chewing. Everyone else was just sitting there fiddling with their menus and looking around with that hungry stare and probably contemplating biting someone. Honey seasoned his own steak and slathered it in the equivalent to A-1 sauce to make it edible. I had a Rueben to be on the safe side but the main filler was sauerkraut instead of roast beef. The iced tea nearly put hair on my chest so I sent it back; when we finally left we ask the cashier to take the tea off the bill, and I swear she looks at Darryl (who was gracious enough to buy dinner that night) and says “Is that the $1.95?” Enough said.
The following day the skies cleared a bit. The guys decided if I wouldn’t kill them for asking, they’d really like to go back to Bryce to get better horizons and improve on a few not-as-spectacular-as-it-could-be photos. We agreed on the four main stops only, had a hearty breakfast that almost put us back in our sleeping bags, and decided we’d make it back to the café for a buffalo burger even if it meant leaving early. The guys get all starry-eyed and start drooling when you mention the buffalo burger. At first, I wasn’t impressed cuz it didn’t look like much: bun, burger, bbq sauce, and an onion ring. Where’s the stuffing – you know lettuce, tomato, pickle? But it didn’t need anything else. We each had it twice in the three days we were there.
So we returned to Bryce. Darryl had purchased the Annual National Parks pass, which paid for itself entirely on this trip. It’s $25 a car to get into both Bryce and Zion. This time around we did Inspiration Point and Paria View (which has been closed all trips previous), and Bryce Point. Paria View is under-publicized as far as I can tell. It’s not on the list of “if you only have a short time in Bryce, see this” list, but it should be. It’s the view that gets you closest to the landscape and gives you a slight feeling of vertigo as it shows you the depth of the canyons, plus you can see for miles. We skipped Sunrise and Sunset Points because the views we were seeing were better, and the buffalo burger was calling us. We’d been discussing shooting the sunset at Cedar Breaks National Monument, which is actually an overlook platform on the edge of a cliff. But I believe it was Darryl who said first, and was quickly supported by my hubby, that if the burger would be rushed, we weren’t going. That got compromised too. Adrien, the owner of Bear Paw, gave us directions to see Cedar Breaks from the side, thus putting the sun off the shoulder instead of in the face. On the way we were slightly sidetracked of course - by skidding off the road to photograph the fire suppression helicopter while it sucked up 700-1000 gallons of water from a reservoir. Darryl’s big lens got some great shots on both cameras and we still made it in time to see the sunset.
Third day we pulled the boat out of the water since we weren’t going to fish. It basically acted as a gear-hauling trailer this trip, and a good one. We slept in, packed up, ate hearty (the order of those last two is very important), and headed for Zion, via Panguitch for gas and a ridiculously thick milkshake, which I later managed to drip all over my lap whilst driving highway speed and trying to kill a spider on my leg simultaneously. By the time we got to Zion I think we were all just worn out. We found parking at the visitors’ center in an RV space; even though the sign said the lot was full (it always says that). We took the shuttle to the last stop and walked to the river bank to take some photos, and get my feet wet. This was not to be the trip where we spontaneously decided to hike the Narrows for several hours. We got back on the shuttle, back to the visitors center, back to the car, and into town for our traditional dinner at Oscar’s Café. I know I’ve linked their menu here before, and as always it was awesome. We all got chili verde pork burritos, plus a pesto quesadilla. Nobody had room for dessert and we had to walk it off for awhile before even considering the drive home. We went across the street to David Pettit’s photo gallery. The guy uses 4x5 large format (huge!) and has some breathtaking images of Antelope Canyon. There was also some cool pottery by a local artist I wasn’t allowed to touch. The guys started chatting techno-speak so I went next door to the book shop. Unfortunately, I found the same photo book I’d found the guys at the visitor’s center – only half price. Oops.
Another amazing and memorable trip for the books – or blog, as it were. The ‘service engine soon’ light came on the night before we left, stayed on the entire trip, and went out as we were pulling out of Springdale for the drive home. Either it realized we were completely ignoring it or it just got tired – it hasn’t been on since.
Don’t know when the next trip will be, but I’m dreaming about it already.