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Published: April 23rd 2011
72 Layer cakeGrand Circle Day Five – Capitol Reef
If you can look at this and not see cake, your life is empty.
I was desperately trying to finish my essay for OU, poor Ursula was desperately trying to get some more sleep whilst I tapped away in the next bed. If we were in a penthouse suite in some five star hotel this would be a considerable distance, as it was I have slept further away from people I have been in the same bed with. I felt guilty, not guilty enough to have finished the essay before we set off, but guilty all the same.
We had no internet in the motel, I couldn’t send my essay, but we went off sightseeing anyway. Ursula trying to make me find internet and send it, being eager to see views of rocks and other stuff I insisted later would do. We were getting better at National Parks. Zion had taken us by surprise – they are so vast, you need to plan what you want to see and how long it takes from one spot to another. The visitors centers are excellent sources of information, and we generally buy something whilst we were there. One day we had bought crampons to put on our trainers
68 The Scream
Rock impersonating The Scream. That was my interpretation, less artistic types amongst you may just see it as rock.
to stop us falling over in the snow – then chucked them in the back of the car and returned them unused at the end of the day. This day we bought National Park playing cards. Drinking in our room wasn’t debauched enough for us, we were going to start gambling as well.
A ranger in the visitor centre advised us that the 3.5 mile and steep hike to Chimney Rock was one of the most spectacular. Possibly she was right, but we could see that rock from the road, we didn’t need to go up it to know it was there, we have such faith!
We took the scenic drive instead to Capitol Gorge, and a 2 mile hike to see the Pioneer List – early twentieth century graffiti by the pioneers, sadly added to at lower levels by united nations chavs. Possibly the Parks are partly responsible for the human need to inscribe their name on everything, the fine is $250 to $350 – a cheap price to have your name carved in stone for ever more. Although it has to be said that united nations chavs are possibly quite thick – hard to deny it was
70 striped rock
Striped rocks typical of the area.
you who desecrated the stones when you signed your name. The scenic drive is a 25-mile round trip along the reef face. It follows an old road which has been used for hundreds of years. Legend has it that one of the pioneers came across the devil on this route, and chased him away with the Book of Mormon. It would have been far less energetic and just as effective to point out that all Mormons are teetotal, sobriety makes the devil’s work much harder, and he would have been off like a shot.
We passed a couple who told us ‘it’ wasn’t much further. The husband was carrying a tripod – nearly every couple we saw in the parks had a tripod which the man carried. I am convinced it is the tourist equivalent of a cordless hammer drill. Men who like to look as though they know what they are doing, regardless of any actual skill, have a cordless hammer drill at home and a tripod for holidays.
At the end of the pioneer list walk we scrambled up the rocks to water pools, which weren’t overly exciting, unless you were Ursula and got to sit
and relax and watch me make an idiot of myself by insisting I could walk round one. Why I do these things I don’t know. As the week went on, Ursula gave up waiting for me to think up stupid places to venture, and started to suggest them . They generally involved precipices, and I like to think she wasn’t hoping I would fall, particularly as we were in the wilderness and I had the car keys.
Guilt caught up with me, and I dragged us off to town to find internet and submit my essay. Then we had lunch in a café and looked for accommodation for our next stop. The café had free internet, but the very young waitresses had no idea of the password, so I went to the store next door and asked them, then shared my knowledge with the other guests. In fact I started providing tourist information to half the café – my mother’s daughter!!
On our way back to Capitol Reef we stopped by the petroglyphs – more ancient graffiti. Several tourists seemed quite knowledgeable and could actually see many of the petroglyphs. I could see the obvious ones, but not
Ancient grafitti, I wonder if they had ASBOs back then?
all of the others, so I gave up and turned my camera towards the grazing deer, hiding out in the long grass.
We returned to the park and had a choice of several walks – Navajo Knobs or Hickman Bridge. We chose the Bridge, it was less arduous than the Knobs, and I was already giggling like a fourteen year old just at the sign, I would get hiccups if we did the whole walk (who names these things?). The Hickman walk is a self guided trail, with an information leaflet – which was missing, so at every point I looked around for an obvious scenic spot or just made stuff up – every time I remember burble overload habit, I feel more and more sorry for Ursula, but she has known me for a few years, it was hardly new. Hickman Bridge is a natural bridge where the stone underneath it has eroded away, leaving a 125 foot arch. We nearly missed it – it being the same colour as the rocks around it. The rocks on the way up there were smoothed into folds and beautifully lined with colours, characteristic of the colours that line the Navajo
Camera shy ... but always where the cameras are!
sandstone. It reminded me of Neopolitan ice-cream, in fact most rocks we saw reminded us of food – snow on them was icing, there was quite a bit of neopolitan ice-cream, layered cake, chocolate cake … I just don’t see how skinny people can appreciate Utah’s scenery.
Our final stop in the park was Goosenecks Overlook. We saw gooseneck rivers in several of the Parks, some dried up, some still running. Where the water current is particularly strong when its path is blocked it just erodes away at another path, winding around in ‘s’ shaped bends.
We were too full from lunch for a proper dinner, so at our landlady’s suggestion we went into Bicknell to the Sunglow Café for a slice of pie. By the time we got there, we decided we could eat a little something, and both ordered chili verde. This was not a little something, it was a massive stew served with flour tortillas and sour cream. Ursula at about a quarter of hers, to my shame I nearly finished mine. We didn’t have room for pie – but that was what we had come for so we had pie ‘to go’. Sunglow has pies
74 Trail signs
The sign says it all
in weird and wonderful flavours, and they do a sampler dish so we ordered that – a half slice of each of four pies (and they were big half slices) - pickle pie, pinto bean pie, oatmeal pie and buttermilk lemon pie. The café does not serve alcohol, which was why we suspected our landlady recommended it so highly, so we had pie back at the motel with our wine. The buttermilk lemon and pickle pies were excellent, the oatmeal ok and the pinto bean didn’t taste of much, but we gave each slice a good shot.
We liked our little motel in Torrey, and we liked Torrey and were sorry to leave it. We had a view of the boulders, a view of the sunset, a restaurant across the street (which served alchohol) a table at which to drink and play cards, very clean room and breakfast. All our needs were catered for. In between all the eating and drinking we had taken in some stunning scenery and been on the odd walk with our cameras.
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