Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Capitol Reef, Glen Canyon and Natural Bridges

Oh Utah, you are so beautiful.  Today I explored a triple threat: a National Park, a National Recreation Area and a National Monument (Capitol Reef, Glen Canyon and Natural Bridges, respectively).  I'm not clear on what the difference is between the three things, but I liked them all.

The day started off in a shit-hole town called Nephi.  In all fairness, the town might be fine, but after my experience with the worse hamburger I've ever been served (J.C. Mickelson's) and the prison style Motel 6 I stayed in, I really have no reason to ever return.

First stop was to get gas at a Chevron. I pulled up to the pump but the credit card swiper had a piece of paper taped over it that said "please pay inside". So I go inside and she tells me that I need to give her an amount before she can get me started. And if I over estimated the amount, she couldn't return the change to me, it would stay as a charge on my card. I couldn't quite believe what I was hearing. She was telling me that her intention was to steal from me. I have never heard of a gas station unable to adjust the charge based on how much gas was actually dispensed. But rather than pick a fight with her, I just moved my car to a different pump; one that had a functional credit card reader. I filled up my tank, washed my windshield and got the hell out of there.

Next stop was at a burger drive-in. I had to get that bad J.C. Mickelson's taste out of my mouth and restore my faith in hamburgers. Reed's Drive-in was able to do that by selling me a good burger, piled high with bacon. It wasn't an award-winning burger, but it was good. Nothing tasted off or funny. I'd go back to Reed's but NEVER to Mickelson's.

So then I got the hell out of that town and enjoyed some delightful sights in southern Utah.

The experience of these parks is immersive. At times I felt like I was standing on top of the world, looking into it and at other times I felt like I was being swallowed up by the earth and could only see the walls surrounding me.

The walls were multiple colored and textured rocks. Some were red, some yellow, some orange, some pink, some white, some brown, some green! Some of them looked like they were sculpted by an artist, some looked like they were melting. Some looked like they were shattering into shards and others seem to be crumbling into dust. But no matter which way I looked, I was impressed by the awesome beauty and the rich history represented by these rocks.

 This first picture was taken before I got to Capitol Reef. It is a beautiful scene despite how drab it looks in this picture. I almost didn't include it in the blog, but I wanted to show it as such a stark contrast to the photos taken of Capitol Reef. Considering that the first picture is amazing, majestic and beautiful, look at the next eight photos and you'll get an idea of the magnitude of gorgeous we're talking about

Capitol Reef National Park:







He seemed a little spooked already by how many people were running around, but River really didn't trust the boy running along the path. I distracted him after this and everyone was OK.  We got back in the car and continued our adventure.


 "petroglyphs"

"a lonely cabin"

On the website, I saw that there was a $10 entrance fee for Capitol Reef, but I didn't see anywhere to pay.  I assume that if you go to the visitor center and request a map, that you can pay there, but I don't usually go to the visitor centers at the national parks. I try to minimize the amount of time I leave River alone in the car.  So I didn't pay (although I wouldn't have paid anyway, since I hold an annual pass) and I didn't get a map.

My next stop was supposed to be Natural Bridges National Monument.

I got on UT-24 and was delighted at how scenic is was. I switched to UT-95 in Hanksville and soon after that was stunned by the setting.

 Hanksville

Eventually I saw a sign that explained that I was driving through part of....

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area:

I was surprised to encounter this recreation area. On the map it looks as if it would be a huge detour for me.  And I guess if I wanted to visit the center of the Rec Area, I'd have to take a jaunt to the south, but the route I was taking did go through a section of it. I didn't even know it was there, and I certainly didn't realize I was going to be passing through it. And since I didn't look at the website in advance, I don't know if this place has a fee requirement, but as with Capitol Reef, I saw no place to pay or present my card and I couldn't find any maps. But I just drove through.

I had to stop at one point to delete things from my iPhone as I had taken so many pictures and videos at Capitol Reef that my hard drive was full. After purging, I got back on the road. But not before stopping here to take in the grandeur of the canyon called Glen.




And then we got back in the car and headed to Natural Bridges National Monument.

Again I knew that there was a $10 fee to use the place, but there was no road side toll booth, so I didn't pay and I didn't get a map at the visitor center. I drove the loop and stopped to take in the vista.

 It's hard to see in this picture but right in the very center is a bridge. Because of the position of the sun, the shadows seem to obscure the opening, but if you look carefully you can see it.  It's right above the green trees in the very center of the shot.
 I let River get dangerously close to the edge of the canyon.
It was still another three hours drive to our final destination.  A LONG day of driving, but it didn't seem long because of how entertained we were along the way.  It was dark before I got to the Motel 6 in Farmington, New Mexico, where we're going to be staying for the next three days.


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