26 July, 2012

Day 21, 743km: Canyons return

So I woke up in Torrey, Utah.
The plan for the day was to visit Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park and push to the Grand Canyon if time allowed.

It was another hot day! Plus the only clothing clean I had left was my hot clothes, although this would turn out to be an advantage towards the end of the day...

Highway 12 on the way to Grand Staircase
I left from the hotel around 9ish, was pretty tired as slept late the night before and didn't have breakfast. So it was a very slow way up the mountains. It was also Harley Davidson day, I met so many people on these bikes! Including a German gang of 5 bikes, seemingly enjoying themselves! The road was very nice, winding (I need to find a synonym for this verb) in the mountains.

Maybe that was Grand Staircase?
It was a pretty uneventful morning. Partly because I was tired and partly because there weren't many places to stop along the way so that made talking to people difficult! The road was very narrow and in at one point reminded me of the Vertigo in Bangkok. A thin strip of asphalt atop a mountain with scary drops on both sides. Scary. I didn't stop for a photo, I was too focused on making it in one piece!

Bryce Canyon from the Rainbow Point
And I did make it to Bryce Canyon in one piece! Thanks again Willie. Amazing colors in the canyon, from red to yellow to orange. There were a lot of hikes around the canyon, I didn't do it but I would recommend it for hikers, I could see them down there going under the arches and bridges.

A rock cathedral made of layers upon layers of sediments
The day was kind of long. I think realizing that I had done at most a third of the trip had a demoralizing side effect on long sections between two cities or parks. At that point I realized there would be hundreds of long sections like these! So I was looking for something funny to change my mind.

"Most uplifting occurred in the unimaginably distant past"
That was the funniest thing I have seen in the park (so not a very funny park!). Why not just saying WHEN it happened, for example 250 million years ago? For fear of displeasing creationist sources of funding?
I finished my loop in Bryce Canyon around 2pm and was starving, stopped in a picnic area that had been invaded by French. There were 6 tables, 4 of them were occupied by French. Talked with some of them who rented a car in California and were doing a loop in the south-western USA, so back on the road I looked at cars from California with a different eye!

Arrival in Zion National Park
Eventually made it to Zion National Park, which was already the 3rd "canyons" park of the day! Canyons returned, and returned hard. It was SO HOT inside the park, around 30-35 depending on the altitude. I did several "heat breaks", removing jacket and pants and lying down in the shadow. The place was amazing though. In the short montage (no jokes on my editing skills! :P) below you will see a few places of it.

After leaving the park, I was heading south-east towards Grand Canyon. It was around 6pm at that point, and my GPS told me I could be there an hour before the sunset. So including breaks, I would have around 30 minutes of sunlight. I decided to go there instead of looking for a hotel, knowing that I would then probably drive by night after seeing the Grand Canyon.

Entering Arizona
That was the first part of the road, until a junction where I turned south towards the Grand Canyon. The last part of the road was a 120km stretch inside a forest and the national park, towards the north rim of the Grand Canyon. So I stopped for fuel at the last station. There was a bicycle traveler there so I stopped to have a chat with her.

It always amazes me seeing people on bicycle on the road, the amount of determination (and physical shape!) you need to travel the world this way is beyond me. So there was Swinde (www.swinde.de), another German -they're everywhere!- who has been cycling from Ushuaia and will eventually go to Alaska. She is 2.5 years into her trip already. Amazing. We parted ways as she still had 1 year of travel ahead of her...!

So I was on the final leg of Canyon day, towards Grand Canyon. Didn't have time to stop for pictures along the road! That was mostly a forest road, parts of it recently burned. And many deers along the way.
By the time I reached the natural park's entrance, the booth was closed so I came in without paying anything hehe ... (There was a sign saying "Pass on through" so I guess this meant it was ok).

Grand Canyon from the North Rim
And I arrived just in time, 20 minutes before the sunset! There was a walkway called Angel Walk or something, going along an edge of the canyon. Pretty scary drops on either side again, this time with no handrail so I have to admit I was trying my best to blend my body with the side of the cliff and avoided to look down.

Another view at sunset, majestic...

The walkway to the edge of the Canyon
Ok maybe I was exaggerating a bit, that walkway wasn't too bad. But I had vertigo still! The place was filled with couples in love, having a good time at sunset on the Grand Canyon. I started feeling pretty lonely, I have to admit.

Although the view made up for it
After Canyons begin and Canyons return: Grand Canyon, the dark night. Haha.

Yes, part of the reason why I pushed on to Grand Canyon despite the night falling was I thought that would be funny.
So there I was, at the grand canyon at 9pm with no booking whatsoever. This smelled bad. On my way back from the view to the parking lot, I crossed the "North Rim Lodge" with nice and comfortable cabins, again filled with couples having a good time. It was dark outside and the only light came from the cabins.
So I started my search for accommodation.

And wasn't very successful
So I decided to leave the park and head back towards the nearest city. That would be a 120km drive in the night, which I do not like at all, plus there were a lot of deers. But I didn't have a choice!
The temperature quickly dropped too, from 30 degrees C to 15 degrees C. That was probably the loneliest moment of the past 3 weeks, alone in the forest at night by 15 degrees C looking for somewhere to spend the night, after seeing all these happy people at Grand Canyon!
But it was interesting too, in a way. The moon was half-full and I remember looking at it at some point and thinking that at least I had her! 

Stopped halfway to the next city at the park entrance were there was a small hotel. There I met 3 Danes who did the same short trip to the Grand Canyon and were headed to Las Vegas the next day. Same as me so took their number I'll try to meet them for a drink!
Lodging there was $120 for a wood cabin with shared showers. No way. I decided to do the last 60km to the next city.

Eventually made it to Kanab, were I found an opened motel after a couple unsuccessful tries. Checked-in around 11pm there.
I didn't have dinner at that point so I did my finest motel cuisine, rice and beans microwaved in a 3L ice bucket (only microwave-able dish there was around).
Crashed shortly after that delicious dinner.

Tomorrow, Las Vegas!

Have a great day everyone,


  1. Hi Guillaume,

    it's been a while and it's cool to read your adventures, it makes break at work ;)
    Your last stories remind me holiday of few years ago, I was one of these french with a Dodge Charger rental car.

    The disadvantage is that it makes me furiously eager to travel and after great holiday in Asia in May I only have 2 weeks in Spain and France this summer.

    Enjoy Vegas baby and the rest of your trip (South America is gona be great too)

    Ben (used to be called Obiwan)

    1. Hello Ben!

      Comment ca a ete le Vietnam? La prochaine fois que tu vas te balader dans le coin arretes toi a Bangkok!
      Content de savoir que le blog te plait! C'etait comment avec la Charger? Des coins a recommender? ;)


  2. Si t'as le temps, cherche Horse Shoe Bend et Antilope Canyon (vers 11h pour ce dernier site).

    Marrant de voir qu'on a tous baroudé dans le coin ! J'y suis passé avec la camaro (moins pratique que la géhesse, j'ai perdu des bouts...)

    Biz et bonne route

    1. Yop! Suis passe par horsheshoe bed, antilope canyon ca sera pour une prochaine fois! Ils ont pas trop rale quand t'as rendu une camaro sans train arriere?

    2. C'est surtout l'avant qui a morflé quand on a tenté de passer sur le sentier qui fait le tour a monument valley... J'ai compris trop tard pourquoi les indiens font payer 60€/pers le tour en gros pickup ^^

      Mais c'est passé... Très impressionant ! Après il a suffit de retirer les morceaux qui trainaient et pour les rayures, 9000km de poussières ont suffit à maquiller la chose...

      En manque de wifi en ce moment ?

      Biz des Açores !