September 22: From Nowhere through Capitol Reef down Highway 12 to Tropic
Update: Dad is doing okay. Read below.
Congratulations to Garrett and Carol on their Wedding Anniversary today.
We left the Rodeway Inn and were sad to say goodbye to the resident dog, Sadie. She so wanted a room at the inn! (She belongs to the manager.) I took a photo of the dunes around the inn. Such a strange place.
Capitol Reef National Park has no gate, so we missed a few things before the entrance, for example, the white sandstone Capitol Dome and the Fruita Schoolhouse. However, when we saw a sign for petroglyphs, the car quickly turned in. We saw many petroglyphs, but in the photo I included, the figures were quite high on the face of the rock. I wondered how they really got up there so far.
Capitol Reef is actually a giant wrinkle in the earth’s crust that is called a Waterpocket Fold. The layers of rocks today were actually layers of sediment formed by seas and tidal flats and they laid horizontally until a great force shoved the entire Colorado Plateau upwards about 65 million years ago. That upheaval created a landscape of cliffs, domes, spires, canyons, and even some arches.
The Fremont River runs through this desert country which was home to Native Americans and a small group of Mormons who founded the village of Fruita. They came to this place for a warmer climate that could support their gardens, farms, animals, and orchards. Evidence of the Mormon presence there is evident today by the pies and other handicrafts in Gifford House and the orchards they planted. They were hardy, handy, and independent-all necessary pioneer qualities, especially in this remote and isolated place. (And yes, we bought two individual pies-peach and strawberry/rhubarb. Bless Ken. He said that my pies were better!!!)
As we drove along scenic drive the grandeur of the landscape unfolded. At the end of the scenic drive, the ranger told us to take the gravel road down to Capitol Gorge. “Totally worth it,” she said. Let me just say that this was quite an experience because you are driving through a tight canyon with rocks overhead that could become dislodged at any moment. Ken kept asking me if I really wanted to go down this road. Well, of course I did. At the end was a hike that I didn’t go on because we were concerned about moving on. (No reservations again!) As it turns out, we were smart to leave because other tourists starting pouring in and the parking spaces were gone. It was crazy.
It was here that I think I indentified the rock known as the Golden Throne although I’m not completely sure. Look also at my photo of the Egyptian Temple. Don’t those rocks look like they could tumble down and smoosh you at any time?
I really enjoyed Capitol Reef. I guess because there were about eight to ten families that settled this land, it seemed a bit more civilized although it’s easy to see how hard life was here for these pioneers.
All the time that we were touring around, I was wondering about Dad. So when we got out of the park, we found a great little cafe in Torrey with outstanding food and good cell service. I was able to talk to both Carol and Dad and get an update on how things are going. Dad was quite chipper actually and was happy that the pain had subsided even though he told me, “it wasn’t really that bad.” I reminded him that the pain was bad enough to send him to the hospital. It looks like he will remain in the hospital over the weekend so that doctors have time to dissolve the blood clot in his lungs.
To get to Bryce for tomorrow, we traveled down Highway 12, an All American Highway. It was such a gorgeous drive. We saw the Waterpocket Fold country from on high. At one point around Boulder, we were at 9,600 feet elevation. (Good thing there was no snow in the forecast for today.) We also drove through the forbidding landscape of the Grand Staircase-Escalante Monument. I included a photo of Powell Point which is a pink cliff that forms the topmost layer of the Colorado Plateau’s Grand Staircase.
War Story #2. No reservations. Lots of people traveling. Weekend. Very small towns of under 100 people. So what are the chances of our getting a hotel for the night? Not so good until we got to tiny Tropic, just before Bryce. One hotel room at America’s Best Value Inn had just become available because someone else didn’t want it. We plunked down $150.00 senior rate and were glad to have a place for the night. Unfortunately Tropic does not live up to its name. With an elevation of 7,100 feet, the temperatures are more arctic at 44 tonight than tropical.
Once we got settled, I talked Ken into driving out to Kodachrome Basin State Park. About 70 monolithic spires dot the basin, and they are quite lovely, especially in the evening light. At Chimney Rock (not pictured), I read that National Geographic named this park after a photo shoot in 1949 because the photos were taken with Kodachrome film.
Tomorrow on to Bryce. We will drive to Zion later in the day, and guess what? We have some reservations for a hotel room this time.
Mosquito Update: They are all in Alaska.
Beehive Commendation: To my Dad. His body is working hard to get well, and he maintains such an optimistic and plucky attitude. We’re all praying for you, Dad.