TravelWest Coast USA

Day 7 – Bryce National Park

Bryce Canyon

Over the next couple of days, we are stopping by two national parks.  We’re fully aware that we haven’t really left enough time to do the parks justice, and slightly ruing the extra day we spent at the Grand Canyon which we could on reflection have spent here.  But as we’re not in any event hiking on this trip for various reasons, a small taste is better than nothing at all.

Today we’re heading up to Bryce National Park which is about an hour north of where we’re staying near Kanab.  I confess to not having done as much research as I would have liked prior to this trip and I had no idea that at its peak Bryce is over 9,000 feet high – which is just under 3,000 meters in European money i.e. pretty high.  We’re traveling to the parks during labor day weekend which means they are busy although in most cases still possible to get a car in (although not necessarily to park it).

To keep those in our party bored by sight-seeing happy we decided to kick off our day with a little active adventure namely an ATV (All-Terrain Vehicle) ride through the forest adjoining the park we went with Ruby’s ATV Tours.  It’s a really good fun (if a little dusty) activity although not for the faint hearted especially when you throw in an enthusiastic 21-year-old and close proximity to trees. If you’re expecting to get great views of the park from different angles then prepare to be disappointed.  If you want a little adrenaline and some muddy fun then you will really enjoy it.  We paid $100 for a one-hour ride including two drivers and one passenger which felt like reasonable value for money compared to what we’ve seen elsewhere.

As we don’t really have the time for hiking in the park we are taking the least resistance route to seeing as much as possible.  The national parks association has a free rainbow bus tour of the park that lasts about three hours and leaves twice daily.  The tour is ok and takes you to the main lookout points in the park including Rainbow Point, Natural Bridge etc. and I won’t complain about our tour guide spending too much time talking about trees (after all the tour is free).  In Bryce, unlike in a lot of the other parks, you can bring your car into the park which may have been the better and faster option (note a number of the parks restrict their inner roads to shuttle buses so beware when planning a trip).  I would imagine that this will become increasingly a problem during the peak summer months as visitor numbers continue to climb placing an increasing strain on the environment.

As you can see from the photos Bryce is spectacular and although we have barely scratched the surface it leaves a very positive impression.

American food

This evening we’re dining in the Thunderbird Restaurant in Mount Carmel as there’s very little available locally or that is open and we don’t fancy another trek into Kanab. Their motto is “home of the Ho-Made pies”, maybe “Ho-Made” means something to some people but it means nothing to us.  Anyway, it gives me the chance to share a few impressions on food in America.  Worth a whole post on its own and this is completely unscientific and based on meals we’ve eaten so far outside of major cities and sometimes in a rush.  Verdict?  Awful.

It’s been written many times before (and often about things other than food) but having a sizeable portion is no substitute for quality.  We’ve eaten at a few diners (not chain restaurants) and you can say that the food is almost universally dry, tasteless, fatty and unimaginative.  A lot of the meals we’ve seen contain virtually a whole days calories and that really messes with your schedule as by the time you get to dinner you’re still digesting lunch (and probably yesterday’s lunch) but psychologically it’s difficult to skip meals.  Anyway, it’s clear that American and European eating habits are very different and I love the GiF in that piece which says “The meal is not over when I’m full, the meal is over when I hate myself”.  The unfortunate thing with current exchange rates is that it’s not even cheap.  If Jamie Oliver were American this would be a national scandal.  As we head towards the cities on the west coast we’re hoping that things will improve.  Anyway, you could argue that “you don’t have to eat it all” well…us humans are not renowned at self-control.

Reflecting on our two-night stay at Arrowhead Country Cabins we’re a little less rosy than some of the other guests who have stayed here.  It’s a nice location but the aircon in the cabins is much too noisy.  In today’s day and age not having Wi-Fi in the cabins is also a bit bleak (they have wi-fi in a central lounge which is only open until 9:00 pm).  So on this occasion, it’s only an average rating from us.

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