Our Cross-Country Trip
Jus’ Moseyin’ Across America!
Fri, March 7: Mt. Zion, UT
Driving east on SR 9 Scenic Road along the Virgin River, it was mostly desert and mountains as we passed through the little towns of Hurricane, Virgin, Rockville and Springdale, then north into the Zion National Park. We stayed in Canyon Trail RV Park and took the Tracker through the park past mountains with names like Angel’s Landing and the 3 Patriarchs. We stopped to take a picture of a group of Mule Deer grazing on the side of road. A one-mile hiking trail led us to the “Emerald Pools.” Then we took another short but steep hike up to the “Weeping Rock” where water from the mountaintop seeped through the sandstone layer until it hit the shale layer then traveled to the face of the cliff where it “rained” over the side of it and created a unique swamp at the foot of the mountain.
Last stop was the Temple of Sinawava with a beautiful waterfall into the Virgin River. Later, we had dinner at Majestic View Lodge with a grand view of Mt. Zion from our table. Then we returned to our motorhome to make our first campfire since we began the trip. It was a beautiful park and a beautiful day.
Sat, March 8: Heading for the Grand Canyon, AZ
The next morning we headed east on SR9 through the park up a very steep mountain to the Carmel Tunnel. It was scary because there was still some snow and ice on the road from a few days before. Because of the size of our RV, we had to be escorted by a park ranger through the tunnel while vehicles waited on the other side before coming through from the other direction. We finally saw the light at the end of the tunnel, and then had to make the same steep journey down the other side of the mountain. Below, the scenery changed from all desert to some evergreen trees.
We passed through the little town of Kanab, where over 100 movies have been made since 1924, including the Outlaw Josie Wales with Clint Eastwood and Maverick with Jodie Foster, Mel Gibson and James Garner. Several TV series were also shot there beginning with The Lone Ranger and 1950, then Have Gun Will Travel, Gunsmoke, Lassie and others. In a small coffee shop we found out where the original set location for Gunsmoke was and took a sidetrip to see it. Jim remembered most of the buildings from the series, such as the Longbranch Saloon run by Ms. Kitty, the Jailhouse, etc., so it brought back many memories.
A few miles later, we crossed the border back into Arizona, then about 5 miles further it took us across a bridge over a dam on the Colorado River. The dam created a large lake called Lake Powell. We stayed at the Lake Powell Campground and drove around the town of Page that didn’t really exist until 1950 when the dam was built. So the few businesses there were mostly boat-related, rafting tours, etc., and most of the shops were closed because of the season. The only restaurants were Mexican, so we opted to fix our own dinner at the motorhome. Later, we heard what sounded like young dogs yelping and looked outside our window to see two coyotes playing or fighting next to our motorhome.
Sun-Mon, March 9-10: Grand Canyon, AZ
Leaving Lake Powell, we drove right through some pretty incredible mountains heading south on 89 again. Eventually we ended up in the Navajo Indian Reservation just east of the Grand Canyon National Park (GCNP). There were small wooden houses about the size of our sheds back home and some six-or eight sided buildings, in keeping with the Hogan tradition, still used for ceremonial rites and burial crypts. We even saw tee-pees on some of the properties.
Near Cameron, Indians had stands set up along the road selling vases, jewelry and other Indian-made goods. We saw many dogs, most of which looked just like this one that was waiting at our motorhome door when we returned from one of our stops. We even bought some Juniper Berry Seed jewelry, believed by the Indians to ward off evil and bad dreams, from the son of Chief Yellowhorse.
We took SR64, Navahopi Road west where more Indians had set up shop right in the scenic overlooks since they were still on Indian Reservation land. The road eventually turned into Desert View Road and entered the Kaibab National Park before becoming the Grand Canyon National Park. We stopped at some of the scenic areas so that Jim could throw snowballs into the Canyon. We also visited the Tusayan Ruins, where Pueblo people lived in the canyons around 1100 B.C. Desert View Road got pretty steep here and VERY close to the edge in some places. We were happy to unhitch at the Trailer Village Campground and take our Tracker the rest of the way around Grand Canyon Village. The village roads were a little confusing the first day, but we went into the old El Tovar and Bright Angel Lodges, built as early as 1916, and had fun shopping at the Hopi House, Verkamp’s, and several studios, all on the South Rim. We had dinner at the Bright Angel Lodge with a nice view of the canyon but the food wasn’t so great.
The only way to see anything to the west of Canyon Village along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon is by foot-trails or the shuttle bus. The main road along the rim of the canyon (Rim Drive appropriately enough) is closed to all vehicles but park buses. Since the foot-trails were not paved and without rails or rock walls, we decided to hop on and off the free shuttle bus that stops at 7 different scenic overlooks. The views of the Grand Canyon, which is 277 river miles long, 10 miles wide and a mile deep, were awesome. We watched as huge black ravens soared from cliff to cliff. We even met a big elk that didn’t seem to mind being photographed. Last stop before heading back was Hermits Rest, where a nice big cozy fireplace and snacks were waiting for us. What a day it was!