Second Time Lucky

Bryce Natural Bridge
Camera: Panasonic DC-G9 | Date: 06-10-2023 11:37 | Resolution: 8528 x 3567 | ISO: 400 | Exp. bias: 0 EV | Exp. Time: 1/320s | Aperture: 8.0 | Focal Length: 12.0mm | Location: Bryce Natural Bridge | State/Province: Bryce Canyon City, Garfield, Uta | See map

I made an early start and made the short drive to Sunrise Point. This one is aptly named – you see the sun rise over the distant plateaus, and then a minute or so later the rocks in the amphitheatre are progressively lit with strong, glowing light. However unlike some locations the show is over quite quickly with everyone departing within about 15 minutes.

Sunrise from Sunrise Point Overlook (Show Details)

After breakfast we had a second go at the viewpoints along the Scenic Drive. Second time lucky – it all worked perfectly and we saw stunning scenery in great light. Our favourite is probably Paria Views – a very wide gap in the Rim with cliffs pointing in several different directions.

After a few hours in the sun I decided to try Sunset Point at sunset. Plan A, to use the shuttles and avoid parking problems failed when I realised the last buses run well before sunset. I jumped in the Ag-war, and managed to get parked, but needn’t have bothered as most of the amphitheatre was already in deep shadow. Sunset Point should really be renamed Late Afternoon Point.

Fortunately I had a detailed National Geographic map, which confirmed my suspicion that part of the cliffs at Paria Views should point the right way. A few minutes later I was able to confirm this and spent a pleasant half an hour watching the last rays gradually leave the rocks.

Sunrise from below Sunrise Point Overlook (Show Details)

Heading Back

For sunrise I headed back to Sunrise Point, but this time took up position a few hundred meters down the Queen’s Garden Trail for a different perspective.

Sunrise from below Sunrise Point Overlook (Show Details)

After breakfast we packed up to move on, and tried to do a couple of remaining viewpoints with mixed results. Two were fine and at least Frances got to see the amphitheatre, but parking was already impossible at the others. The cause seemed to be the issue of America’s National Parks becoming completely overloaded at the weekends, a hypothesis we later confirmed finding Zion completely over-run with no possibility of repeating our successful viewpoint by viewpoint tour of the Eastern park, for example.

We gave up trying to get a coffee in Springdale as almost every parking space was full and all are charged for, the consequence of shifting the parking problem from Zion Park to the town. Instead we found a decent stop back in La Verkin, albeit a somewhat Bohemian one.

The Ag’s satnav got a bit confused in St George and we had to get the address of our hotel from a different one, but we eventually reached our destination. Dinner was at the nearby Mexican, with a highly entertaining Scottish/Korean waiter who quizzed us on all manner of topics including the perennial question of our favourite Premier League team. I chose exactly right with Liverpool – good guess!

Alleged Shopping

Nothing exciting was meant to happen today…

Our last full day in the US was set aside for shopping, but as usual Field Marshall Moltke was proven correct and our plan did not survive contact with the enemy.

We had a lie in, breakfast, and an hour in the sun, and then set off with our shopping list and addresses of the main malls in St George.

Our first stop was the Eddie Bauer store. We failed miserably to get a direct replacement for our favourite soft bag, but in their defence we did buy the original on our honeymoon in 1993! We did identify a possible replacement, and I found a very warm, very orange hat in preparation for my Iceland trip. Frances had hoped to keep it hidden from me, but reckoned without my skills to find the least tasteful but weatherproof item in any shop.

We reached the next mall a few minutes after its opening time, to be informed, by another customer, it had been evacuated due to a bomb threat. Quite who was threatening whom in Southern Utah was not clear, unless it was a protest at the licensing laws.

Back to shopping centre A we were becoming slightly desperate for a coffee and sandwich, but the best offer appeared to be fried chicken and frozen custard, hopefully not on the same plate. We were just about to abandon when Frances caught a glimpse of the Starbucks maiden hidden behind the chicken and custard joint. The only problem with the Starbucks was that the bright young lady on the till could take about one order a minute, and the bright young lady on the drive-in reception could take about one order a minute, regardless of complexity, but the bunch milling around inside could fulfill about one order every five mins. Our coffees took some time.

Delayed coffees imbibed, back to mall B. Sadly this was a bit of a wash-out against our list. The greatest success was at Buckle, where the state of the merchandise suggested the aforementioned bomb had gone off inside, but a rummage found a poncho for Frances and a great leather jacket but sadly not in my size.

We also found a bag for $300, so popped back to mall A for the Eddie Bauer version at $73 in their sale.

We then decamped to the local Cinema, where another helpful young lady, in a Halloween costume, drove the machine to dispense our seniors tickets, and we finished the afternoon with an almost private showing of the excellent A Haunting in Venice.

Last Day

The flight back suffered from similar stupid timing to the flight out, so we had a day to kill albeit with the 120 mile drive from Las Vegas to St George in the middle. After a lazy morning we checked out and decamped back over the road to the Mexican restaurant for lunch, where a very enthusiastic waiter was obviously in training as a concierge. He pointed out we were only a few miles from Snow Canyon, and could easily fit in a short visit, so we did. What was interesting was how the area around Snow Canyon has become a haven of multiple "weight loss institutes", but I suppose they have to go somewhere to work off the carb-heavy food. After all the amazing scenery of the last few weeks the canyon wasn’t jaw-dropping, but worth the short drive through.

Snow Spring, Snow Canyon (Show Details)

The drive back was uneventful, although we did get a bit desperate for a stop at one point. We eventually found a Starbucks just over the state line into Nevada, and were able to use a couple of vouchers I’d received the previous day as an apology for the much-delayed coffees.

Las Vegas airport is an exercise in usuary. We had to get a taxi from the car hire terminal, as it’s now miles from the passenger terminals. She dropped us right at the kerb, but a luggage cart to get our stuff the 100m from the kerb to the bag drop desk cost $6. Once inside a burger and a couple of drinks cost $100, and a couple of bottles of water were another $6 each. Mysteries of the Argentinian exchange rate aside, this is common to many airports, but Las Vegas was definitely that extra bit eye-watering.

Cost aside, everything worked smoothly, including the flight back, until we reached Heathrow where after a 10 hour flight the British Airways bus company parked us in a field so we could admire the Middlesex scenery on an extended ride to the terminal.

Home at last!

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