Saturday, December 10, 2011

Westward American Road Diary: Utah, Part 3 (Bryce and Zion)

On the road to Bryce, we stopped at this quaint country store. Hard to find an authentic general store in New Jersey nowadays in our 7 Eleven world. I don't need a slurpee, give me a general store.

I was a little lonesome for Rick Steves, a born storyteller who is my tour guide via book on my European travels, but the Rough Guide to the Southwest USA was a good companion too. On Bryce Canyon National Park, they say, "The current name comes from the Mormon settler Ebenezer Bryce, who established a short-lived homestead nearby in 1874 and memorably declared it was "a helluva place to lose a cow." In fact, however, "Bryce's Canyon" is not a canyon at all but a row of crescent-shaped amphitheaters."

Rough Guide says..."Paiute Indians, who hunted in the vicinity for many generations, had an elegantly precise word for the landscape: Unkatimpe-we-Wince-Pockich, "red rocks standing like men in a bowl-shaped recess."

All the hiking on this trip was doable for a cubicle dweller like myself, just the elevation did impact me again here (later in the Grand Canyon too) and left me short of breath. The landscape took my breath away too.

As I look out my kitchen window while I type this, I view a sea of houses. My heart more fondly remembers looking through a window into the wilderness. Wilderness. Wild. I need more "wild." Civilization doesn't feel so civilized lately anyway.

You'll see little trail markers in all the parks, but someone decided to start a whole village of them, and you can add your own.

A Bryce raven knowingly looks into the distance.

Back on the road.

Not a sensible breakfast at all before hiking! Nor was the fettuccine alfredo with garlic bread I consumed for dinner the evening before at a little Americana restaurant we ate at twice. Some notes on pancakes from foodtimeline:

"Pancakes have long been a staple of the American breakfast table, and their history is as old as that of the Native Americans who shaped a soft batter in their hands and called it, in the Narragansett, nokehick (it is soft), transmuted by early white settlers into "no cake." Cornmeal pancakes were called "Indian cakes" as early as 1607. The Dutch in America made similar cakes from buckwheat, panekoeken, which by 1740 were called "buckwheat cakes." English settlers brought with them the feast of Pancake Tuesday, an old name for Shrove Tuesday, the day before the Lenten fast begins...By 1745 Americans were also referring to hoe cakes," perhaps because they were cooked on a flat hoe blade...One of the most beloved versions of this simple cake is the Johnnycake [also known as journey cake], specifically associated with Rhode Island...The word "pancake" itself was not in general usage until the 1870s."
- Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani.

Buffalo, once nearly extinct due to human greed.

Zion National Park is Utah's most popular park. From the Rough Guide,

"Isaac Behunin, who set up a log cabin in 1862 where Zion Lodge now stands, dubbed the canyon "Little Zion" in the hope that it would be a place of refuge for beleaguered Mormons. Some of his fellow farmers were soon taking things too easy; Brigham Young thundered that their indulgence in tobacco and wine made the name "Not Zion" more appropriate. In the long run, Zion Canyon proved too narrow to support efficient farming."

Our hike took me as far as Scout Lookout to photograph Angel's Landing. Six people have died scaling it since 2004. I'm surprised it's not more. You can't see it, but there are chains alongside which people use to get to the top. Steve reached almost the top and turned back. I got queasy just taking the photo and still feel so looking at it now. He said it was because he left me waiting for so long, had forgotten his camera and was a bit weak because we kept leaving our lunches we picked up at local supermarkets in the car and was hungry. But I think it was his gut feeling. When we were in Switzerland we passed a cemetery of people who died climbing the Matterhorn. Dying young doing what you love doesn't comfort me.

The people were the paparazzi, the target: Mother Nature. I have never seen so many tripods out with amateur and professional photographers and painters and sketchers. I love this celebration of nature. No one's sketching their iPads, right?

Water and the sun - both which give us life - come down on the land.

A deer treading quietly.

Next: The Grand Canyon.


  1. Bryce is amazing. Thank you for the lovely photos and for giving us the real name (I always wonder what the real name is!). Also? Steve! Be careful! Oh my lord.

  2. Thanks! We just loved Bryce and Utah in general. Thank goodness for library guidebooks! It really adds to the experience.

    I am definitely not a "thrill seeker" when it comes to heights and such. I climbed along some ropes to get where I stood to take that photo of Angel's Landing, and that was plenty for me!

  3. parisbreakfastsDecember 14, 2011

    WOW What an AMAZING adventure!!
    I couldn't climb anything except the stairs of an ice cream truck

  4. Admittedly, I didn't think I'd make it as far as I did. It was quite humbling to have people twice my age in far better shape!