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We left Hurricane and rode 80 miles to Panguitch (still in Utah).

I had booked a room in The Lamplighter  Lodge Motel and when we pulled in, it seemed deserted. The office said, ‘Closed’ but gave a phone number to call. Then we noticed the ‘For Sale’ sign. Hmm, not looking promising.

First of all, as we had set off at 8am without having had breakfast, we decided to go across the road to a large diner called, ‘Flying M’. It was large and busy and we were 15 minutes too late for breakfast, so ordered a burger each.

Back at the motel, I tried the motel phone number three times – engaged. It was then that a truck pulled in and a lady got out and came over to us. Yes, it was the owner; she said the rooms weren’t ready yet.

I asked if I could take a look at the room anyway and she said, ‘sure’ and opened up room No 5 – right next to the office. I wasn’t impressed; the room was very small, the carpet looked dirty and the TV, fridge and microwave looked antique.

I came out of the room and Jan looked at me (I probably looked like I had a rotted trout under my nose). I suggested he take a look; but, being far less fussy than me, he said,’ Yes, fine. Can we leave our luggage here and take off for Bryce Canyon, please?’. The lady agreed and left us to offload; also, we changed out of our motorcycle gear – always a risk to ride in normal clothing but once in a National Park, we know we will be walking, it will be hot, and we know we daren’t leave our riding clothes draped on the bike. It was 22 miles to the park from Panguitch and we decided to change out of the heavy stuff. Jan packed his waterproofs in the side bag as he HATES getting wet; me, I reckon nobody died from getting a bit wet, so I just put a long-sleeved shirt on (still got sore sunburned arms).

There was a deep closet  in the room so we stuffed all our gear in there and left to let the lady clean the room.

It’s a nice ride to Bryce – the road passes an area called Red Canyon and yes, the rock really is red – these photos are straight from the camera (I’ve been meaning to explain something about the photos; whilst on the bike, I use Jan’s point and shoot Canon – the photos are all jpgs and have little room to improve (the camera is on ‘auto’; there is no way I could mess about with settings on my camera while riding at 70mph)

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Bryce Canyon National Park

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Bryce Canyon National Park is located in southwestern Utah; despite its name, it is not a canyon, but a collection of giant natural amphitheaters along the eastern side of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. Bryce is distinctive due to geological structures called hoodoos, formed by frost weathering and stream erosion of the river and lake bed sedimentary rocks. The red, orange, and white colors of the rocks provide spectacular views. Bryce sits at a much higher elevation than nearby Zion National Park. The rim at Bryce varies from 8,000 to 9,000 feet (2,400 to 2,700 m).

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Bryce Canyon area was settled by Mormon pioneers in the 1850s and was named after Ebenezer Bryce, who homesteaded in the area in 1874. The area around Bryce Canyon became a National Monument in 1923 and was designated as a National Park in 1928. The park covers 35,835 acres and receives relatively few visitors compared to Zion National Park and the Grand Canyon, largely due to its remote location.

Little is known about early human habitation in the Bryce Canyon area. Archaeological surveys of Bryce Canyon National Park and the Paunsaugunt Plateau show that people have been in the area for at least 10,000 years.

The Paiute Indians moved into the surrounding valleys and plateaus in the area around the same time that the other cultures left. These Native Americans hunted and gathered for most of their food, but also supplemented their diet with some cultivated products. The Paiute in the area developed a mythology surrounding the hoodoos (pinnacles) in Bryce Canyon. They believed that hoodoos were the Legend People whom the trickster Coyote turned to stone. At least one older Paiute said his culture called the hoodoos Anka-ku-was-a-wits, which is Paiute for “red painted faces”

The park has a 7.4 magnitude night sky, making it one of the darkest in North America. Star-gazers can, therefore, see 7,500 stars with the naked eye, while in most places fewer than 2,000 can be seen due to light pollution, and in many large cities only a few dozen can be seen. In honor of this Asteroid 49272 was named after the national park.

There's always the chance to learn about the stars in Bryce Canyon.

There’s always the chance to learn about the stars in Bryce Canyon.

The park service runs a free shuttle service – as in Zion. These shuttles are very frequent and stop at all the trailheads. On our two previous trips to Bryce, we rode the bike through the park but using the shuttle means Jan gets to enjoy the scenery as opposed to concentrating on the road.

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We stayed on the bus to Bryce Point (the bus doesn’t go to the very furthest – Rainbow Point during the afternoon and I think you have to book those rides the day before).

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Here, Jan and I split up – he doesn’t like to do the trails; I followed the ‘Peek-A-Boo Loop’

The trees here fascinate me – there is barely any soil/sand to give the roots a purchase and many of the trees eventually tumble-down into the canyon. The other tree-culler is the very frequent lighting that strikes many of them down.

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I found Jan waiting on a half-log bench waiting for me; we boarded the next shuttle and alighted at Inspiration Point.

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Jan noticed the darkening sky and, as I walked uphill on the edge, he warned me to watch out for lightning; the shuttle drivers repeatedly tell visitors that, in the event of lightning, NOT to shelter under trees and to make for the nearest building (there are none, actually) or to return to a shuttle bus.

I decided to go ahead as the thunder and lightning seemed some way off. Inspiration point was not in the best light of the day but I still took plenty of photos.

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Back on the shuttle and our next stop –  Sunset Point.

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This was the place I really wanted to do some hiking in; the Navajo Loop has some very interesting viewpoints and one of them overlooks ‘Thor’s Hammer’; I had to return there for a photo for Jan the Dane. The path is pretty good here – well maintained; but it is steep. I met lots of young people leaning against the rocks gasping for breath – after all, we were at over 8,000 feet; twice the altitude of Ben Nevis.

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It was interesting to watch people using their cameras (for the ‘People and Places’ module of my degree course I chose to photograph people taking ‘selfies’ for the ‘People Unaware’ assignment).

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I had an interesting liaison with a young man with an Eastern European accent. I had noticed him watching me taking photographs and also, asking lots of people to take his photo.

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He approached me and, in broken English asked if I would take his photo with Thor’s Hammer in the background; of course I would. His camera was a Nikon – easy. I looked through the viewfinder and all was blurred – the diopter, of course (me being as short-sighted a blind thing). I took two photos and handed the camera back to him. When I asked if the photos were OK? He sort of shrugged and said,’ They are OK’. I took that to mean they were not very good so asked if I could look at them – blurred. I then looked at the lens and, yes there were raindrops speckling it. I pulled out my lens cloth and started wiping his lens (filter). I said, ‘ you have raindrops on your lens’. ‘That’ OK’ he said, ‘I have a filter on’. duh! He explained he was new to photography. I told him he needs to keep the lens AND the filter clean and free of dirt and rain. He was very appreciative of any advice offered.

One lady’s dress caught my eye; I think she was from an Asian country; her dress matched the Anasazi dress of the people who lived here thousands of years ago and the colors were so matched to the colors of the rocks; she looked organic to this area.

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A little breathless and running short of water, I made my way up to ‘Sunrise Point – a half mile further towards the visitor centre where Jan and I arranged to meet. I saw this little cutie – I thought it was a chipmunk but Jan says it is a ground squirrel; whatever, it was very cute and not the least bit shy.

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By the time I got to the visitors centre, it was raining; not heavily but enough. Jan donned his waterproofs, I rolled my sleeves down and we rode the 22 miles back to Panguitch (and the ‘not-as-bad-as-it-first-looked’ motel).

I’ll tell you about that tomorrow – oh, and Independence Day (today) in Torrey, Utah.

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