Monday, December 10, 2007

Honeymoon - Day 13 (the end)

Day 13 12-09-2007

We finally rolled out of the tent around 7:45am. What a beautiful morning! The wind had calmed, the sun was shining (sort of), and there was a light dusting of snow. I couldn’t grab my camera fast enough to take pictures before the early morning light faded. Since we got up later than we wanted, we skipped breakfast and quickly broke camp. After a quick stop to buy postcards at the visitor’s center, we were on the road again by 10:20am.

To save time we hopped on I-70 and stayed on it until we reached Highway 89 – a beautiful stretch of road. There was lots of snow left by the storm that had moved through the night before, but the roads were clear and the sun was shining. We made good time to Bryce Canyon National Park, but unfortunately the park rangers (or whoever) chose not to plow the roads leading through the park. Over ¾ of the park was closed so we couldn’t get a real sense of the park’s beauty, but the ranger was more than happy to take our money before he’d let us enter – we were still using our parks pass, so the $25 entrance fee was waived.

Is it me or does anyone else find that rather greedy? Only one viewpoint was open, yet they charge the full price to enter. We had the parks pass, but what about those people who didn’t? $25 is a lot of money to experience only a fraction of the park, maybe 3-miles to one viewpoint in this case. The same thing happened at Mesa Verde. Mesa Verde should have been closed altogether. Visibility was severely limited and the road extremely dangerous, but the ranger was more than willing to let us in as long as we paid. I know the money goes towards a good cause, but when over half the park is closed or you can’t even see the park because of snow, maybe a discounted entrance fee during the winter season should be instituted….

What we did get to see once we got to the viewpoint was very beautiful and on our way out of the park we saw several deer. Since most of the park was closed we didn’t dally. By now it was getting late and we wanted to reach Zion National Park before dark. Near Zion we saw a bison herd lounging behind the Buffalo Grill restaurant, which was part of the Zion Mountain Resort. Robert commented they were tomorrow’s special. It was quite funny at the time.

Zion National Park was open, but it was late and the light was quickly fading. The entrance booth was closed, so we didn’t have to flash our parks pass. Highway 9 runs all the way through the park and I don’t think thru-traffic has to pay to enter. We stayed on the main road all the way and the drive was beautiful. We saw plenty of deer and drove through a long tunnel in a huge rock. So long that it took us about 3-minutes to get through it. The rock itself was pretty spectacular.

We were cruising along on Highway 9 through Hurricane (north of St. George) minding our own business when all of a sudden blue and red flashing lights fill our rearview mirror! “You’re shittin’ me!” I exclaimed, but all I could do was laugh. The young officer explained that Robert was driving 53 in a 40 mph zone and asked the obligatory questions of where were we coming from and where were we headed. Robert identified himself as a Deputy and told him we were on our honeymoon. The officer congratulated us and kindly let us go without a ticket. He was rather nice and said he stopped us because he was bored and just looking for something to do. Another highlight of our trip.

It was dinner at Denny’s in Las Vegas and a quick zip down I-15 toward home. We’d been on the road almost two-weeks and I was missing my little Poka and Cierra kitties. I’ve never been apart from them for that long and I couldn’t get home fast enough. At 12:45am we were pulling up to the house. We had a fantastic time with lots of pictures and great experiences, but it's good to be home. It may be the end of our trip, but it's just the beginning of our new life together.

Total mileage for the entire trip: 2,542
Total driving time: 168:26 hours
Average speed: 37 mph
Pictures taken: 1,145

States visited (not counting CA): 7
National Parks/Monuments/Historic Areas visited: 11

Wild animals seen: red fox, pronghorn deer, mule deer, coyotes, pheasant, Canadian geese, wild turkey, free-range cattle, horses, burros, buffalo, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, sheep, rabbits, various birds (including hawks and vultures).

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