Be Still My Heart

We gathered our things, checked out of the hotel in Kanab and packed the car for our continuing adventures to Bryce Canyon. Never having been there before, I had no idea what to expect at Bryce. But what we found was nothing that could have been anticipated.

2016-09-20-10-12-26We left the relative lowlands of Kanab and started to gain elevation. But, first, we had to make a stop at a German bakery in Oderville, right along Highway 89. No proper trip or exploration is complete without an excursion to a German eating establishment. This was a bakery and deli, so it fit the bill. Located about about 30 minutes out of Kanab, we seemed to arrive at the same time that 30 or 40 motorcyclists also arrived. What could be the attraction, I wondered.

2016-09-20-10-42-21As we stood in line to order our sandwiches and baked goods for a picnic later in the day, I knew what drew these bikers. They were all speaking German! Nothing like a taste of home while in the U.S. on a vacation ride through Bryce Canyon.

We took our goods to go and continued on to Bryce. As we traveled, we feared that the day was less than optimum for the task as hand. It was cloudy and the weather reports advised to prepare for rain. This made the thought of taking pictures difficult, but undaunted, we went on.

We arrived at Bryce Canyon visitor center at about 1:00 (Mountain time) and fought among a crowd of visitors to find the passport stamps (which I collect) and wait in line to ask questions about the park. What we eventually learned is that Bryce has a shuttle bus system that encourages visitors to leave their car outside the park and take the shuttle bus between stops while sightseeing.

2016-09-20-13-09-33-1Thinking we would just move the car to the overflow lot so we could catch the shuttle, we drove across the road and circled several times before we gave up and left the park. We found parking in town at the shuttle station and waited for the next bus. We climbed on and road through several stops as folks got on and off. Finally, we were in the park again and on our way to Inspiration Point, where I wanted to take pictures. (Interestingly, one cannot see anything of the canyon from the shuttle. You HAVE to get off and walk a little way to the canyon’s edge.) We were assured we would want to walk the trail, which was flat and well maintained; and was an easy half mile walk to the next viewing point and shuttle access.

So, we got off the bus amid sprinkles of spitting rain. It was 50 degrees cooler than it was three days ago in Phoenix, and we were glad we had come prepared with jackets and hats. Well, we did meet another couple from Bellingham and we both agreed, this weather felt just like home.

2016-09-20-13-43-23And, then we were at the canyon’s edge and SAW the canyon! It was breathtaking! I mean it seriously felt like “I CANNOT BREATHE!” Part of it was a response to the beauty, and part of it was terror. We were standing at the edge (remember we don’t live on the edge . . . nor do we even like to walk along it!!!!) and looking down into a canyon that’s about a half a mile deep – with NO railings or rocks or barriers of any kind. Be still my heart! I took several deep breaths and observed the reds and sand colors of the rock, the spires and alcoves, the ledges and caverns which were all beyond description. I took plenty of pictures, even though it was cloudy, and even though it had started to rain. There’s no way someone can even imagine this spot without a picture to accompany it. And, the picture cannot do it justice. I simply wanted evidence I had stood there! If for only to recall the episodic memory.

2016-09-20-14-16-06Somehow the closeness of this canyon and the brilliant variety of colors made it even more stunning than the Grand Canyon. Or maybe it was just because I was here today and the Grand Canyon was yesterday! I am simply trying to soak in the marvel of creation that I’m standing before moment by moment. Not comparing them, but drinking them in and savoring each one in its uniqueness and unbelievable beauty.

2016-09-20-14-07-24Now, you must be wondering if we walked that trail. Well, . . . . . . . . .  We did! We went very, very slowly and stopped often! We had to laugh at one point that we were moving like Tim Conway as the old man on Carol Burnett – tiny, tiny baby steps and struggling for balance with each foot fall. I told a fellow walker that it’s awfully hard to look and walk at the same time and he agreed. If I wanted to look or take a picture, I had to step off the trail – to the landward side – and take a few deep breaths and then take the picture.

Randy stayed even more landward than I did! And, he joked that all he saw of Bryce Canyon was rocks on the path and the toes of his shoes. Yes, folks, for those of us who are afraid of heights – it was very, very scary. But beautiful enough that we couldn’t turn back. We did made it to Sunset overlook before we almost collapsed at the shuttle bus stop.

By the time the bus came there were enough people waiting to fill two buses. But we were all cold and wet and willing to smash into one bus. Thus, we made our exit from Bryce Canyon. And we elected to save our lovely German picnic for dinner in our hotel and stop somewhere for a hot lunch. We found a little diner along the road and did manage to warm up with some soup and hot drinks.

The next planned stop was an hour and a half away and we would just be able to make it before the visitor center closed. So, off we went toward Cedar Breaks National Monument.

2016-09-20-16-58-19We rose in elevation again and drove through high mountain meadows with larch trees turning yellow and copper. It was a beautiful drive. And the temperature dropped. But, we were driving West and away from the rain, so the sun started to peak out.  We saw lots of deer and the lovely landscape of the high mountains.

Our little Prius, Dixie, really groaned as we went higher and higher. At one point we stopped so I could take a picture and as I came back to the car I could smell how hot the engine was. But, we were almost there.

2016-09-20-17-52-19Finally, at ten to 6:00 we arrived at Cedar Breaks National Monument. I thought it would be some monument to high mountain meadows, but as we walked to the visitor center we could see beyond it to ANOTHER stunning rock face that was striped and variegated with colors of rock and jutting formations. It was a kind of mini Bryce Canyon. But, here the sun was shinning thinly through the cloud cover and the colors were brilliant.

2016-09-20-17-53-01At this point we were at 10,350 feet above sea level. Talk about taking your breath away! There are only two other places in the States that have paved roads that go to a higher elevation. One is in Hawaii, and the other is in Wyoming.

A 5,000 foot drop in elevation drive down into the town of Cedar City, Utah and checking into our hotel allowed us to rest for the day and still our quaking hearts.

It was a memorable day. Very memorable. When I look as the pictures, I still gasp.