Polygamist Canyon

We woke up early and stopped in Cedar City for lunch, at a big coffeeshop/cafe called The Grind. We had delicious sandwiches and sat next to a nice knitting/sewing circle. Then we continued South on I-15. That particular highway has several stretches where the posted speed limit is 80mph, and it’s mostly straight and flat with visibility for miles. Since there wasn’t much traffic and it was sunny and warm, I decided to test out the capabilities of our rental Prius (which did fine once it got up to speed, but took a whole lot of effort to get there), and spent a fair bit of time hovering around 100mph. Fun!

Side note: I’ve decided that Priuses (Prii, Priora…) judge their drivers harshly for not driving ‘green’. In addition to the (really neat) little animated graphic on the dashboard that showed whether the car was using battery or gas power or both and/or charging the battery, the laboring sounds the engine made when accelerating (particularly uphill) sounded a lot to me like “UGH, THIS IS NOT ECO-FRIENDLY, WHY ARE YOU WASTING GAS AND KILLING THE EARTH, SLOW DOWNNNN” as opposed to the normal steady-pace engine sound of “Ah, coasting along, how peaceful and economical, lalala, look at that scenery, isn’t nature grand?” Thanks for the feedback, Prius.

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I’ve got views in high places

After our diner breakfast, we set out en route to Bryce Canyon. We stopped along the way in Red Canyon, which is impressive in its own right, and lives up to its colorful name. It was extra dramatic because it was cloudy at the time, and the sky added an ominous cast to the orange/red stone.

After scrambling around on the slippery, flaky red shale (probably not technically shale, apologies to any geologists in the audience), we drove on — and up; the rim of Bryce Canyon varies between about 8,000 and 9,000 feet.

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A side trip to the Sahara

After our crepe lunch, we stopped to gawk at the ‘best dam view in town’ (side note: small towns with hydroelectric monuments should be banned from making puns about them. There were two entire pages of ads in the hotel room binder for “the best dam restaurant in town” “the biggest dam shopping center” etc, and I love puns very much but even I sighed out loud over these). Glen Canyon Dam was one of the last large dams built in the US, and it created the second largest man-made lake in the country.

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Under the Desert

The next morning we woke up early, around 6am, and I picked up some snacks from the hotel breakfast station. Then we went to the Navajo reservation, and checked in for our tour of Lower Antelope Canyon.

I’ve had a picture torn out of a calendar from here since I was in my teens, so it’s been on my list of places to visit since then. There are two Antelope canyons — Upper and Lower. Both are part of the same wash (a.k.a. arroyo) — riverbeds in the desert that are normally dry, but flash flood after heavy rains, which may occur miles away.

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Managed burn, DO NOT REPORT

In the morning we left St George, Utah, for Page, Arizona. First we tried to have breakfast, but pro tip: if you’re visiting Utah, please note that *everything* is closed on Sundays. We finally found an open restaurant in St George, but due to the limited options it was packed, mostly with families towing packs of small blond children. We waited about five of the estimated 30 minutes for a table, and then bailed.

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Sunset in the Valley of Fire

After we left Las Vegas, we drove to our first destination; Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada.

Directions: drive on the main highway for awhile, then turn right. Be directed immediately with no room for argument through a complex obstacle course in a large dirt field, which is doubling as a parking area for an outdoor concert. After telling the various folks directing cars into parking spaces that no, you aren’t going to the show, in fact you want to go to the State Park, thank you very much, you’re directed back through the obstacle course in the other direction, and onto a small, but paved, state road. A half hour or so later, after lots of brown hills and scrub brush, go through a gate and pay the park fee, wondering where the ‘fire’ part comes in and hoping it’s worth the price of admission. Drive about ten more minutes, crest a rise, and find yourself on in a Dali painting set on Mars. The rocks are sculpted into tortured, organic, visceral shapes, and appear to be melting in the desert heat, their bright red intensified by the sun which is low in the sky behind you.

Yep, this was definitely worth the park fee.

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Bathed in Light in the City of Lights

The glitzy one, not the French one

Time for a road trip in the desert for Mom’s birthday!

First stop: Vegas. No, not for the gambling (I only lost $5, which incidentally is also the amount that I bet), and not for the showgirls. Partly for convenience to the places we wanted to drive, but mostly to see this. More on that later, though, as that happened on day two!

We arrived late and rented a car. I begged very prettily for a car with an aux jack for the stereo, since I had carefully curated a lengthy playlist on my old iPhone and *needed* to make sure we had good music for the drive, particularly on long stretches of radio-limited desert highway. They very kindly gave us the one car type that would *definitely* have an aux jack…. a Prius. Hurrah for eco-friendliness, boo for driving excitement. Oh well, at least we’d have music!

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