Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Weekend Trip: Bryce Canyon

Every year we like to go on a little trip in the spring.  Nothing extravagant - just a little nod to the end of busy season (thank goodness!) and a small celebration of our anniversary.  This year busy season was harder, longer and more intense than ever before.  Spencer left the house every day around 7 am (later than his previous job) and it was not uncommon for him to get home between 9 and 10 in the evening.  Some nights it was nearly midnight by the time the sliding glass door would signal his arrival.  With a little girl who wakes around 7:30 and goes to bed around 7:00, they only really got to see each other on the weekends.  Many people think that because busy season starts at the first of the year and is usually over sometime in April that it has something to do with taxes.  Spencer does not do taxes.  And busy season stretching well into mid-May was certainly evidence of that.  But on May 16th (our anniversary) Spencer came home triumphant - the report for the client he'd been working on ever since starting his new job had been issued that day and we were going to celebrate.

Spencer had Thursday, Friday and Monday off as well, so when we went out for an anniversary dinner, we started discussing plans for a getaway.  Spencer called his dad to see if the condo in St. George was available, but his cousin was using it until Saturday morning.... so we decided to head to Bryce Canyon instead.  I was surprised that my husband - a Utah native - had never visited the park before.  But I had read about it in my book 1,000 Places to See Before You Die (yes - another to cross off the list!) and was intrigued.  We made a reservation at Ruby's Inn, packed the car and headed out.

Heavy rain followed us for most of our journey south - though we did find some respite from the storm (and a delicious donut shop/diner) - in Manti.
 By the time we pulled into Ruby's Inn it was actually snowing a little!  I was a little worried that we would be able to stay warm enough - I had only packed one warmer outfit for Clara and myself, and within five minutes of arriving we were already talking about staying for another night (our original plan had been to head to St. George after one night in Bryce).  It was in the forties and very windy when we arrived.
We layered Clara up in some warm clothes and double jackets and hopped on the park shuttle.  We arrived unknowingly in the middle of a huge astronomy festival, but the park never felt crowded.  Most of the time we were on the shuttles with only a handful of other people and plenty of empty seats.

We got off at various view points and basked in the glory of the unique canyon.  I had a general idea of what to expect, but was blown away at just how beautiful the canyon was.  We went to the Grand Canyon a few years ago, but I think that Bryce Canyon easily rivals it.  The limestone hoodoos - typically white - glow in various shades of reds and oranges; the oxidized and rusted iron deposits showing a whole range of warm colors.
Clara was not content to be held for very long, wanting very much to hike and explore on her own.  Whenever we were not near a ledge we would hold her hand and let her walk a bit.  It wore her out and she went right to sleep that night.

After staying the night at Ruby's Inn (and unable to secure our room for a second night) we packed up and headed out to enjoy a beautiful warm day.  The sky was blue, it was in the mid-60s, there was a slight breeze, and it was nice and sunny; conditions couldn't have been better.  We went on a three mile hike into the depths of the canyon on the Queen's Garden/Navajo loop.  It was our first time using the hiking backpack with Clara and she seemed to really love it.
She learned to say "wow" on the hike and every time we pointed out something new or interesting, she'd amuse us with a "wow!"  She gave Spencer encouraging pats along the way and loved to feel the texture of the rocks and trees.

We quickly explored Bryce Canyon Lodge, a few more view points and then drove to the far end of the park.  Clara fell asleep in the car, so we drove around for as long as we could to give her a decent nap.  We got a room at another (less charming) hotel across the street from Ruby's Inn and headed there to set up camp for another night.  Every free moment I had (except while in the car) was spent devouring NieNie's new book "Heaven Is Here."  I have read Stephanie's blog for sometime and was well aware of her story and miraculous recovery, but until I read her book I was not aware of the depth of depression, discouragement, and despair and persistent pain that she had to walk through first.  She really takes you with her through her entire journey and it is such a beautiful story of hope; I'd recommend it to anyone.  I have lots of thoughts on her book - maybe that will have to be a separate blog post.

After two nights in Bryce Canyon we had decided to forgo St. George and just head home.  But once we got on the road, we changed our minds again.  We headed for St. George and spent the evening on a grassy hillside reading, playing and watching the annular eclipse.  We were in one of the best spots to see it and witnessed the ring of fire in full force.

On Monday morning we packed up once again (theme of our trip?) and headed home.  It was so nice to have some time together as a family and to enjoy our beautiful state.


kwh said...

What a fun trip! It's so fun to be spontaneous like that. :) Stephanie's parents are the mission presidents here - I should get the book and read it too.

Joanne said...

Images you uploaded are pretty inspiring, it reminds me of my nephew who I assume is the same age as her.

Places to Stay in Bryce National Park

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