Eating a hearty breakfast is one the the great joys in being on the road. Anywhere in America — even in a little settlement like Escalante — we can get a great breakfast.
To my mind the best one is a special order of three fried eggs, a double portion of sausage patties, and two or three cups of hot coffee. This really fuels the day and has almost no carbs.
Low-carbing has even been easy for lunch and dinner. Usually I’m hiking at lunch time or at least away from restaurants. So I have canned fish — sardines, mackerel, or tuna. When I’m near a restaurant I’ll have a salad. For dinner, as tonight, I’ll get a steak. One of the great things I’ve noticed about the out-of-the-way restaurants that I have been eating in is how nice and quiet they are. Partly it’s because there are only a couple of other parties eating there in this off-season.
After breakfast at Escalante’s Golden Loop Cafe, I drove 50 miles further west to Bryce Canyon National Park in southwest Utah. At the visitor center I asked a ranger if anything at the park had changed since I came there with my parents and sister one summer about 60 years ago.
He took me seriously and answered that the roads are now better maintained and most facilities are now closed for the winter.
Up at 8,000 to 9,000 feet on the plateau, the temperature was just above freezing and the wind was blowing strongly, although the sun was bright. These conditions made me feel right at home!
The weather was quite acceptable to a Coloradan prepared to make a hike. Park guides recommended a three-mile loop from Sunset Point along the rim at about 8,000 feet to Sunrise Point and down about 1,000 feet to Queens Garden and then back up to Sunset Point via the Navajo Loop Trail through the “Wall Street” slot canyon. The guides call it “the best three-mile hike in the world” and the ranger concurred. How could I resist a hike described in such superlative terms! It won my vote too.
Down the trail here is the entrance to the Queens Garden:
In one way it was better hiking in winter than the summer. I met only two parties on the hike.
In another way it was harder. Almost every step of the way was either snow, mud, or occasionally ice. I was very careful. But once when I was setting up the shot below looking up the slot canyon (where you can touch both sides with your outstretched arms) I slipped on the ice and skinned my left knee.
The second of the two parties that I met on the trail were two young men from Japan. They were just starting down “Wall Street” so I stopped and warned them that the trail was icy and very slick just below them. One of the young men commented, “This is an amazing place!” I agreed that there is no other place like it in all the world.
Here is a shot looking down “Wall Street” as those two young men prepare to enter the slot:
Few visitors, of course, go more than a few steps from their vehicles. For them the park provides a well-maintained 18-mile-long road along the plateau. The road ends at Rainbow Point, where this raven welcomed me:
I stopped at almost all of the observation points along the road. But Natural Bridge was clearly the most stunning feature:
Tonight I am staying in a place that I have never heard of before, and I would venture to say that few people have. It’s Mount Carmel Junction, and the last time they bothered to count the residents (in 1990) 131 people lived here.
But it has the best (and most expensive) motel I’ve stayed in yet on this trip. This Best Western motel has a king-sized bed in a large attractive room with a view out the back to a golf course. It’s the closest settlement to the east of Zion National Park. And today I drove 102 miles closer to California.