Published: April 24th 2011April 24th 2011
Ok when we left off we were enjoying our last night in Yellowstone before heading south to warmer climates (fingers crossed). We left Yellowstone early the next day and drove over mountain pass to head south. The road was somewhat icy but now being seasoned snow drivers we managed without problem just travelled 30 miles in 2 hours. We headed down to a park which adjoins the southern boundary of Yellowstone called Grand Teton NP. Because of unseasonable cold weather we could not exit Yellowstone directly into Grand Teton and had to take a somewhat roundabout way there. The main town near to the park is called Jackson and from what we could see it seems to be based around the large elk herds. In the town square there are four arches made entirely of elk antlers, one in each corner. You may ask why cause we certainly did. It was a little weird but just the start of weird for this day.
The park itself is a valley drive which is shadowed by the most amazing mountain range down one side and so we drove up into the park stopping to look at the resident moose and the views.
A one stop point we stopped at a view point which was a little under snow and Steph and I walked out across three foot of snow bank to get to the view point. We know it was three foot of snow because that is the length of my legs which disappeared straight down upon the first steps. Steph though it was hilarious to watch and because of her slight frame she should be OK to walk out. Once I had stopped laughing and taken two shots of her buried up to her middle in snow I heeded her pitiful cries of "you will have to help me I can't move" and took another photo before gallantly turning and taking a couple of the lovely mountains shots. Who says chivalry is dead? She finally managed to extricate herself and we spent the next few minutes walking on the four foot concrete nib wall enjoying the view before continuing further into the park.
From Grand Teton we headed south as far as we could get in the day so as to give ourselves a good head start the following day. As night started to arrive we looked for a motel
to spend the night but each town posed it's own weirdness upon us and forced us to move further south. I was in favor of stopping at a town based purely on it's name as I figured "Smoot" had to be a good sleep but unfortunately with a population of three people two dogs and a beast we think resembled a cow, we kept heading south until night fall persuaded us to stop at an extremely flash place called "the energy inn" in an aptly named town of Diamondville. J C Penney started her empire in this town so it couldn't be all bad. I gave Steph explicit instructions to wait in the room and lock the door while I got the things from the car and we enjoyed a very nice evening listening to the sound of banjos in the distance.
The next day we kept our trek south on target. I learnt a little about NZ compliments of the supermarket deli girl who exclaimed when I spoke to her " oh my boyfriends grandmother comes from NZ she is related to the royal family there! What is the Royal family called in NZ? I was somewhat stumped
for words but set her slightly straighter on the subject, sort of? We stopped for the night at a little place called Hanksville, Utah. The temperature today went above zero so we decided to get real brave and pull the tent out of moth balls. Near Hanksville is a little known park called Goblin valley state park. It is the weirdest place we have been yet. There is a valley which you walk through which is dominated by short sand stone mushroom shaped figures which resemble goblins and just about any other drug induced haze creatures that you want them to be. It was the valley they used for a scene in a classic movie "Galaxy quest" staring Tim Allen. ( I recommend you watch it) we spent about an hour hour wandering around trying to describe to each other what each of the rocks looked like. Steph found a dog balancing a book on it's nose and I found a replica of King Kong on the Eiffel tower. Like I say it helps to take drugs sometimes.
The next day after a warm evening in the tent we arrived at Capitol Reef NP and spent most of the
day here viewing more spectacular rock formations and a couple of very obliging bighorn sheep who posed perfectly for me. Capitol reef is named because of the rock shaped like Capitol hill in Washington and was a great place to spend time just wandering. We finished the day by heading south towards Bryce Canyon NP via a delightful back road aptly named " Hells backbone" which clung to the side of mountain and was the original road in this area. Needless to say after 10 miles of this vey well named road we did a U turn and headed back to the main highway. I never knew that they could stick road to the side of a cliff so successfully.
We arrive at Bryce and set up for the night and splashed out for a restaurant meal before hitting the hay in a slightly colder climate than the previous night. The night time temp reached 1 degree so not too bad. Today we set off to explore Bryce Canyon and decided to do a short 40 minute walk which ended up being a 3 hour special. Every corner we turned in the canyon led us to a more spectacular
sight. This place is amazing with sand stone spires of different colours and shades of red, pink, white and orange set amongst the snow. Some of the formations have names which when you used a bit of imagination looked pretty close to the description on the map. The whole valley was able to be walked through without too much effort and turned out to be an extremely enjoyable hike.
Hit the hay a hit tired in a balmy 9 degrees with nota sign if snow anywhere...awoke to 1 degree and the tent covered in snow. We have got to make like a bird and head south! Wee decided to head back into the park to get some views with the snow covering everything then we did as suggested and headed south.
We drove about 80 miles south and arrived at a park which we knew little about called Zion NP. As soon as we entered we were mesmerised by the sheer scale of the mountains all around us. It was like driving the car down the bottom of the Grand Canyon as everywhere we looked the skyline was dominated by amazing rock faces and mountains. We set up
in a campground at the foot of Zion and then drove back into the NP to enjoy the afternoon heat as we had peaked at about 17 degrees and was fantastic to feel the heat again after a week up north. I came across a herd of desert bighorn sheep with about 15 sheep and lambs all playing precariously on a cliff face and managed to get a sheep and lamb to pose before the too ran down a sheer cliff and into a meadow below. Spider man eat your heart out..these guys have glue on their hoofs. We drove back to camp and wandered into the small town of Springdale for a latte and just wandered around enjoying the evening temperature. Long may it last!
Tomorrow we have the whole day at Zion doing some hiking into the mountains and then the following day onto Vegas for a bit of a break and a chance for Steph to melt the visa card in the shops and a chance for me to count a few cards and play Rainman.
There are more photos below