Monday 18 May 2015

Road Trip Diary: Utah- Cedar City > St. George

6. Page, Arizona to Cedar City, Utah
Saturday 9th May 2015

We left Page but not before the motel owner Budd gave us some letters to give to a few people in England, with just their names on the front. Apparently he met them when he was over in the UK a few years ago. After a little digging on Facebook it looks like we've found them so we'll make sure they get to their rightful owners when we return home. We stopped for lunch in a very cute little town called Kanab and Ed had researched lunch at a cafe called The Rocking V. Great vegetarian pitta thing for him and a monster of a grilled cheese sandwich for me. We could feel the temperature was already cooler than previous days, sitting at around 8 celsius. We drove from Kanab to Dixie National Forest, higher and higher until the landscape noticeably changed from red rock and desert plains to an alpine-like forest and lush farmland.

What we hadn't fully prepared for in our planning for this trip was snow and temperatures that we would normally expect in January in the UK. Slowly ascending the Utah State Route 14 up the Markagunt Plateau we started noticing snow piles on the side of the road. We stopped off next to the picturesque Duck Creek where Ed went mad as he spotted an Osprey flying over the creek and another osprey calling to its companion. The temperature was much colder -about 4 celsius now. I was starting to feel a little panicky on the descent to Cedar City, there was some ice on the roads but we stuck to around 25mph and made it down safely. The huge variations in climate has been the one thing that's really shocked us so far on this trip. The way it can vastly change across both short distances and short time periods is crazy.




7. Cedar City, Utah
Sunday 10th May 2015

Not much to report from this day sadly. We were pretty tired and due to the cold weather and distance we decided to give Bryce Canyon a miss. I wanted to make sure Ed didn't start resenting the driving so we had breakfast in a tiny common room with other tourists and had a lazy day in the motel room whilst everyone else celebrated Mothers Day in America. We walked the deserted streets, with their pioneer-style facades. Two leather jacket wearing Brits looking a bit out of sorts. It wasn't the prettiest or most interesting of towns but it's a good stopover point.

8. Cedar City to St. George
Monday 11th May 2015

We stopped off at Kolob Canyon on our way to St George and drove the winding road up to the viewing point and looked out over more epic rockery. We were a bit early for check-in at the motel so we pulled over at a park for lunch, along with a Softball team who kindly gave us some of their cookies.

Utah is famously a predominantly mormon or Church of the Latter Day Saints state, with around 60% of the residents being members of the church. This has effects on lots of rules and regulations in the state including ones like only being able to buy alcohol in licensed premises when ordering food and state-operated liquor stores, plus many more. They are pretty strange and you can find out more about them here
We stopped by the beautiful St George Utah Temple, a huge all-white monument built in 1877 and still actively used by the local congregation today.

The inn was really nice, only costing us about £70 for two nights. It has a good sized pool which we took full advantage of since it was our first long period of warm weather and we ate at the Black Bear Diner, once again amazed and overwhelmed at the portion sizes and the waste that these places produce. We had a bit of an eventful evening after going to bed though. I woke up at about 2.30am to the sound of water dripping and assumed Ed must have left the tap on when he'd visited the bathroom. I woke him up and nagged him to go and turn it off, where he discovered the floor of our bathroom was flooded and there was water coming from the ceiling. We called the front desk and, very bleary eyed, were told upstairs had left their tap running. They very swiftly moved us to the room next door and we fell back to sleep.






9. Zion National Park
Tuesday 12th May 2015

I hadn't really known what to expect from Zion. I'd assumed it would be more beautiful rock and scenic views but I was blown away by it. You drive up through along a long road, full of tourist shops selling coloured glass and gemstones, through a couple of very pretty small towns- Springdale being one- and park up at one of the shuttle stops. The shuttle then takes you up through the bottom of the canyon and you can get on and off at many different stops. We left the shuttle at the Zion Lodge to do the Emerald Pools Trail, a nice easy hike to the waterfalls and small pools on the side of the canyon. It was incredibly green and shady and we spotted a few very serene-looking mule deer on the way back.

We jumped on the shuttle again and got off at the Temple of Sinawava to the the Riverside Walk, which again was stunning. We went off the beaten path and literally walked next to the river, dipping our toes in the water and fending off the local squirrels who wanted some of our packed lunch. We watched as some of the more seasoned hikers took to the water with their sticks and proper gear to hike The Narrows, a series of canyon walls very narrowly separated which apparently have spectacular light and scenes inside. We ended the day with a locally produced beer the the Zion Brew Pub (plus some onion rings courtesy of those pesky Utah drinking laws) and turned back for a much needed nights sleep- we were headed back to Las Vegas on Wednesday!



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