Daily Log
  Nave Album****1982 West Trip Go Back

August 10: Bryce and Zion, to Las Vegas

Starting trip mileage:2436 miles.

We again rose at 5 AM and departed at 5:30, moving the boys down to sleep. We left the Ponderosa Pine forest and went through several dramatic changes in the terrain. Driving along through the forest we topped a ridge and suddenly the forest vanished and we were traveling through a high desert plain.

We descended from the 8000 ft level through the desert plain and then entered dramatic red rock formations as we crossed the Utah line hear Kanab.

Soon the terrain changed again to angular hills dotted with small evergreens, with green valleys. The small Sevier River provided a lush green belt along its path.

We passed through Red Canyon just before Bryce - some of its brilliant red formations rival those in Bryce.

Reentering the small evergreens and hilly terrain as we approached Bryce Canyon about 8 AM, we had little premonition of what lay in store for us in the canyons. Bryce hides its beauty for those who stop and walk up to its viewpoints - little of it can be seen from the road.

When we stopped at the General Store at Sunrise Point the starter gremlin showed up again - the van would not restart! Just great - it had not missed a lick since we picked up the new starter in Arkansas - even on hot days when we restarted the engine more than a dozen times. Now it fails again on the day before we hit Death Valley! We pushed it off and it started easily the next few times. Maybe we can get the new starter put on at a service station. Jeff and Mark have been very good at pushing it off.

One of the highlights for the boys was the large number of golden mantled ground squirrels. They had fed squirrels or chipmunks at Grand Canyon - but these at Bryce will just run out of the brush right up to you, sit up and beg for food. They ate out of the boys hands and even crawled up in their hands and got the food. Merrily breaking the park's animal feeding rule - they were just too cute to resist.

We drove to Sunset Point and had our breakfast (after I shaved in the van and we all washed up at Sunrise Point). We set out our cereal on a picnic table and the ground squirrels converged from all directions. Also some large gray bbirds with black wings (our first introduction to the Clark's Nutcrackers) and the spectacular Stellar's Jays. Neither the boys or I could concentrate on breakfast. They fed the animals crackers and rice crispies and I snapped away with my camera.

We let the boys go to explore a bit while I finished breakfast. Brenda and I had a very nice quiet time talking and watching the birds and animals.

However, letting the boys explore with out definite instructions was a mistake - when we were ready to go they were nowhere to be found. We scoured the place for them and killed about 30 minutes before they came loping back up the Navajo Loop Trail. This really upset me because I had planned to visit 5 specific points, drive the trail to Rainbow Point and then do a short walk - a very efficient routine on what promised to be a very tight day.

Anyway, we proceeded with a short tour with the boys given instructions to not get more than 20 ft from us.

We went to Bryce Point which was very rewarding and also Paria Point. We drove the length of the road to Rainbow Point which was something of a letdown. We walked partway to Yovimpa Point because of its long southward view. On the return trip we stopped at Natural Bridge.

Returning to Sunset Point we all took the 1 1/2 mile Navajo Loop Trail down in to the canyon on multiple switchbacks and back up again on another route.

The Navajo Loop trail was the highlight for me. Sunset, Bryce and Paria Points plus the Navajo Loop trail would have covered most all the variety we saw.

We left about 1:30 PM to drive to Zion National Park, about miles away. It was clear that we would be time pressured and I was worried about the starter. Sure enough, the first time we stopped the car to walk up on an overlook, it would not restart. A guy from Florida helped us push it off. This left me pretty uptight, especially in about 98F heat.

The rock formations were really dramatic and large. This was one of the most impressive places yet to Brenda. The boys liked the mile-long tunnel through the moundain with windows for brief glimpses of the canyon outside. After the tunnel was a very well-engineered set of switch-backs leading down in the canyon. From here the great rock formations () were in good view. The whole place looked impossible to build a road through - huge rock formations at all kinds of angles. Yet the road was very good.

Even after leaving the park you got great views back at the formations. We drove along the valley of the Virgin River with its green Cottonwoods. It was beautiful and would have made some great picutes but the heat was just unbearable, and with the starter problem I just couldn't bring myself to stop and take pictures.

We soon joined the I-15 and rolled southward toward Las Vegas. The road was beautiful, moving along the Virgin River and through the Virgin River Gorge. The desert we entered was also beautiful but the heat on a sunny August afternoon grew ever more oppressive. The trip was quite umpleasant for me.

We saw a young man with his young son beside a car on the roadside in the oppressive heat and stopped to see about him. His radiator had overheated - his wife and infant child were in the car. We filled his overflow water tank to help with cooling and gave them drinking water but they were confident their car would restart after cooling and would accept no further help. He said he had crossed that desert a hundred times - so at least he had experience on his side.

Experience with Las Vegas was something we didn't have. We drove in and looked over a coulple of camping places in the 100F heat. One was the Silver Nugget RV Park - a casino for campers. Brenda had pored over a lot of campgrounds, but I wanted to be near our exit highway 45 - but she knew there weren't any campgrounds over there. We didn't communicate very well and wandered about the city becoming more and more miserable. The boys had really bickered and been real discipline problems - adding to our misery. The 100F heat and the fact that we had to push the van off twice to start it completed the unpleasant picture of our entry into Las Vegas - our luck seemed to have run out in Las Vegas.

Finally we decided to retrace to near our entry point, which was close to a Hwy 95 entry point, ane we found a reasonable motel for $38.50 and decided to stay there. The first harbinger of a change in fortune was that the van restarted after we stopped at the motel.

The boys enjoyed a swim in the motel pool and Brenda scraped together some food for us - Jeff had eaten and drunk nearly everything we had during the day. We were really dragging when we hit the bed in the air conditioned motel. Ingemar Furenlid had suggested that it was almost too hot to camp in Las Vegas in the summer - and we concurred.

409 Miles on the day.

Map for Day 10
  Nave Album****1982 West Trip Go Back