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Day 15, Saturday June 3, 2017:
Mesquite, Nevada -> Zion, Utah -> Mount Carmel Junction -> Kanab, Utah

This Saturday morning we got onto I-15 then Nevada 9 to Zion National Park. The park utilizes the Zion roadside as a parking lot. Shuttle buses loop along route 9 to bus stops getting visitors to and from the park. After the drive and shuttle it was approaching noon and there are no food concessions in the park. We stopped into a sandwich stop to get something to split latter. The next stop was waiting to get on the bus. Lorna understood that this was an exceptionally busy day. The serpentine line filled the shelter and extended out into the lot. This gave us time to review the map and strategize. The bus runs a straight shot to the back of the park with stops along the way. We decided to ride it to the back in one shot then work our way out. This would let us start with some concept of what was in there.

At the final stop there were facilities and the bus stop offered benches and shelter from the hot sun. We took time then to eat lunch before taking the Riverside Walk. What we learned is that one ritual is to walk to the end of the path then walk up the rocky bottomed stream. An outfitter just outside the park rents all you need including a walking stick. Along the way we found examples of weeping rock, porous sections of sandstone that trapped groundwater oozes from. The water was quickly evaporating from the wet walls and you could actually feel the evaporative cooling as you walked by. Nature's own swamp cooler.

There are 2 kinds of visitors to these places. Those like us that want to see the readily accessible spots and explore an interest or two and others that are there to dig in and hike into the deepest secrets.

The River Walk made for some good walking in a unique space. Zion is largely a river canyon with rock of one form or another towering around you. The walls and peaks are varied in form as are the textures from eroded sandstone to sheer faces. While many bus hops were standing room only the place was busy but I'll stop short of calling it crowded though we were never alone. I don't know squat about the geology so it was more of an eye candy experience. That was somewhat frustrated by tree growth. I decided to embrace the trees and use them to add perspective to photo's.

After the River Walk we hopped the bus and jumped off at each stop to spend a few minutes taking it in and getting pictures. The buses were frequent and if we didn't quite make one another was coming soon enough. We got back to the depot, snapped some selfies, got in line for the ride back to the car and scrounged around for a meal. Places were either packed or not to our liking so we headed down the road.

The route to Kanab was Route 9, A.K.A. the Zion-Mount Carmel Highway. It was a breathtaking soaring road into the sky with hairpin turns and dramatic views. Just when I was fully enthralled we went into a 1 mile tunnel through the top of the mountain. That and the descent may have been the highpoint of the day for me. By now the sun was getting lower and the red rock was really starting to pop with color. That continued to delight us on Route 9 as the search for dinner continued.

We landed in the little crossroad of Mount Carmel Junction where we found the Thunderbird restaurant. It was just the sort of quirky family run place we enjoy with lots of vintage memorabilia for décor and good home-style food and service. I had chicken fried steak with the gravy on the side and it was just right after a long day. I left some on the plate to ease the guilt of the pie that followed.

We got to our room in Kanab at dusk. We were both a little underwhelmed with our Zion experience and Bryce Canyon was planned for the next day. We did some web searching for comparisons and sided with going to Bryce, partly since it was already paid for with our national park pass. Once the camera downloads and back-up were done we called it a day and crashed.


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Created June 12, 2017