Our Honeymoon Journal
     Entry 19 - 8 September 2000
Semi-arid plains and mountains with some farms. The 8th was slightly cloudy and warm.  Click here to see what the weather is like today.
  Salt Lake City to Bryce Canyon

Chris By morning I was feeling better, however Vanessa was still a bit queasy. After having the motel's included continental breakfast, we checked out and went back to the supermarket I had been to last evening, as they had double charged me for the panoramic camera. The matter was sorted out without a lot of fuss, so we were soon on our way.
  Our first stop was to be the Salt Lake itself. Looking at the map, we probably should have done this yesterday as access to the lake would have been easier from the north.
Vanessa I also suspect that the northern end of the lake might have been more pleasant as the map seemed to indicate that it was surrounded by more residential-type suburbs.
Chris The oil refinery wasn't a pretty sight at all. We drove west towards the southern end along a freeway through an industrialised area that smelt very bad - most likely from the fumes burnt off at what we suspected was an oil refinery. It was weird to see horses and cows grazing in the paddocks right next to this foulness. We stopped at the Great Salt Lake Marina, which stunk of sour mud and rotten eggs and Vanessa took some photos before we returned to the city proper. There was a dreadful brown smog over the city which was not pleasant.
  The streets were an absolute nightmare, with roadworks everywhere causing closures and blocked lanes. This temporary chaos was probably all in preparation for the Winter Olympics to be held there in 2002. Eventually, we got into the central city area and saw the State Capitol Building and some very nice houses and gardens.
Vanessa Many of the houses and buildings in the streets near the State Capitol Building were of stone and seemed to be quite old. They certainly had a distinctive historic charm that appealed to me. The leafy gardens were also very pleasant to the eye. It was good to see that the city wasn't all roadworks and smelly industries.
  Salt Lake City is known worldwide as the headquarters and capitol of Mormonism. Apart from all the impressive temples and churches we saw as we drove through the centre of the town, the tourist brochures told us that there were also a great number of other interesting things to do and see - all of which we had to forgo as we simply just didn't have the time!
  There are lots of churches and temples in Salt Lake City. There was one place that I really wished we could have stopped to have a closer look at. It was a tiny church across the street from the State Capitol Building. It was so pretty, with pastel coloured roof tiles of various hues - reminiscent of a delicate butterfly's wing. The tiles themselves were scalloped and the entire building looked as if it was out of a fairytale.
Chris Leaving the central business district, we went south on the I15 where the speed limit in the city area was 55 mph, but as usual, everyone was doing about 70 mph. On the outskirts, we stopped to fill up. The speed limit then changed to 75 mph, so accordingly everyone was going at least 80 mph.
Vanessa The countryside south of Salt Lake City was fairly arid and mostly grasslands, but I saw some apple orchards at a place called Santaquin. The slopes of the hillsides were dotted with clumps of grass and bushes. Frequently the bare earth showed through, revealing patterns of pink and white. In some places, the soil was quite a strong red colour.
Chris As we approached Fillmore, we could see rain showers off in the distance. We just caught the edge of one shower before we stopped for lunch at a Burger King in Fillmore. The place was attached to a petrol station and general store. Further south, we saw more dark rain clouds and some amazing ground-stroke lightning bolts. The rain fell in a slight spiral pattern - almost like a small twister. Vanessa tried to take some photos of this and the lightning.
  To slow everyone down, there was the usual roadworks. Not the small stretches of resurfacing we had seen already, but one that was literally 15 miles long!
  We left the I15 to head towards Bryce Canyon. A pleasant surprise on the way was Red Canyon, a small canyon in the Dixie National Forest. Of course, it started dumping rain on us as we arrived, but fortunately this did not last long. The canyon itself was sculpted by wind and rain and was definitely very red in appearance. We took photos, but we were concerned about the light levels from the overcast conditions.
Vanessa I think we were actually fortunate that it had been raining, as the moisture really brought out the rich colours of the earth and rocks.
Chris Leaving Red Canyon, we could see pale cliffs ahead, glowing in a patch of sunlight through a break in the clouds. Storm showers moved across the landscape and we saw more distant rain and lightning.
  Our accommodation for the night was booked at Ruby's Inn, a small outpost just outside Bryce Canyon national park. Ruby's Inn is very tourist oriented with a fake western theme - including having toilets marked with "Cowboys" and "Cowgirls" on the doors and the foyer decorated with lots of stuffed dead animals. We arrived there at 4pm, with the rain once again pouring down and the wind blowing a gale. Luckily, we had our umbrellas handy.
  We could have saved ourselves some money if we'd only known about the special pass earlier. After a short rest in our room, we found the weather had dramatically changed and it was now quite fine. We jumped into the car again and drove to the park to see the late afternoon sun effects on the canyon walls. It was $20 to get into the park. We found out later that it would have been much more cost effective for us to have bought at the start of our trip another type of pass for $50, as it would have given us entry to all the national parks we'd seen, instead of paying for each of them separately as we had been doing.
  Bryce Canyon isn't an actual canyon. It's really a series of bowl-shaped amphitheaters carved out of the edge of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. Depending on the different times of day, the sunlight effects on the rocky cliffs and their weathered pinnacles (called hoodoos) can be quite spectacular.
  Chipmunks look a lot like squirrels.Our first stop was Sunset Point, a logical choice for the time of day. Once again, the cameras went into overtime. It was a glorious view. We had timed it well. The sun lit the canyon walls and rock pinnacles in magnificent colours of red, white, orange and pink. As we walked out to the point, we saw some chipmunks running around on the ground. Vanessa was delighted to see them.
  Next stop was Farview Point. This vista gave us more distant views, as the name suggests. By now we were starting to get deeper shadows falling across the landscape as the sun was sinking lower behind the canyon rim. Natural Bridge was after Farview, but we discovered that this was the wrong time of day to visit it. There were too many dark shadows stretching across the rock formations. We planned to return to the Bridge in the morning when the light would be coming from the other direction.
Vanessa On the way to and from Natural Bridge, we had to pass some roadworks. It seems that we can't escape it, even in a National Park! It was quite extensive in one area, but it appeared that the work was mostly carried out at night so as to not disrupt the tourist traffic.
Chris The sun was setting and it was time to head back. On the way out of the park, we stopped at Bryce Point, which gave an amazing view of Bryce Canyon. Bryce Point severely tested our vertigo as it is a narrow spur of land jutting out over a large, deep canyon. The sun was now too low and there were too many shadows across the landscape for good photos. Again, this was to be another place to return to in the morning. There were more chipmunks running around on the paths here.
  During the drive back to the hotel, we saw small herds of mule deer grazing at the side of the road.
  The geese were very friendly. When we got back to our room, I saw a pair of geese in the car park. They were following some other visitors who were feeding them, so I thought it would be a good opportunity for a photo. I had to chase after the geese for a short while, until the other visitors left and the birds stopped following them. The geese then realised I was the next nearest possible source of food, so they started towards me. To get the shot I wanted, I had to start walking backwards to keep the geese at the right distance. Eventually it worked, I got the photo and left them in peace. It was amusing to see them moving from one group of people to another. I suspect, from their plump appearance, that the geese been regularly fed this way for some time, but I didn't have anything appropriate for them. I also wasn't sure if it would be the right thing to do.
  Now, that's a steak dinner! We had dinner at the Ruby's Inn restaurant, the "Cowboy's Buffet and Steak Room". To keep with the western theme, we both had excellent steak dinners - which were again too big to eat. The service was commendable as well for, even though the place was packed, we received prompt service and delivery of our meal.