I thought I would try and post a few of my journal entries from my trip around the country. Here is one heading to Bryce Canyon:
After a LONG night of driving, we arrived in Bryce National Park on the morning of 8/13. We left Arches and and Island in the Sky on 8/12/07 with the thought of finding a forrest service road in the Dixie National Forrest that we could pull over and find a free place to camp as we have often done AZ. However, after driving all the way through Dixie NF we discovered this seemed not to be the case and saw a sign that indicated Bryce NP was only a couple hours further. We decided to drive on towards Bryce and see if we could find some place else to pull over for the night. We didn't. On the way, at about 10:30 pm I was driving with John navigating when all of a sudden a giant flying beast, quite possibly a Pteradactyl (although more likely a Great Horned Owl or a Golden Eagle) swooped down from the heavens above right in front of van as though it was intending to snatch us up in it's claws to take us back to it's nest. I slammed on the brakes just as it was about to crash through the windshield and we narrowly escaped an early demise. We decided to turn around to make sure we did not hit the winged giant and after driving back for a while did not see it's body on the highway so we headed back towards Bryce before the blood thirsty bird came back seeking vengence. No more than thirty seconds after turning around we saw to male deer up ahead on our right eating some grass in the cool evening air. As we started to pass them, they took off running along side us no more than 10 feet away from John on the passenger side of the van and galloped next to us for about 75 yards before heading off into the forrest. It was quite an experience and made our first drive at night pretty exciting.
We continued driving, passing by a few pay camp grounds but being the thrifty travellers that we are, decided that with a little perserverance we would find some place free to camp. We didn't. We finally arrived in Bryce NP at about 1:00am and found a couple park rangers that said there were some forrest service roads that we could use to pull over and camp nearby. We drove back out of the park looking for these magical roads where one could get a good nights sleep without having to fork over hard earned cash and found only dirt driveways that led to ranches. It was on one of these roads (driveways) that we saw headlights speeding toward us when we were about a mile in. Deciding we did not want to meet up with a shotgun toting rancher at 1:30 in the morning we kicked the van into off road mode got turned around and sped out as quickly as possible. Finally, at about 2:30am we found a parking lot for a hiking trail head and pulled over to sleep for the night in the van.
We woke up at about 8:30am on the morning of the 13th and began our trek back into Bryce to find our campground. After setting up we tok a drive to the end of the park and saw some incredible views. Bryce was a nice change from where we had been in previous days because at it's high point it has an elevation of about 9,000 feet and the temperature was in the mid 80's. There were the same beautiful canyon views that we have seen in the rest of Utah, but at this high elevation the canyon lands were covered with a coniferous forrest. After driving around and getting some great pictures and video of the vast canyons we decided to head back to our camp, hoping to catch some animals along the way that might be out for their evening dinner. We got more than we bargained for and have some great pictures and video that we hope to soon have on the website. The highlight was a pronghorned antelope that we were able to get within about 75 feet of. John first approached him to get some still photos and while the antelope did not seem to threatened, he was definately staring John down. After getting several pictures, John moved back and I went in with the video camera. I was able to get some great video of this beautiful animal when all of sudden he started shaking his head from side to side and took a couple steps in my direction, looking a little agitated. After I finished crapping my pants, I backed away and John and I made our way back to the van. It was really cool and we can't wait to get the pictures and video on the website. Well, we are about 20 mioes from Death Valley, CA so I am siging off for now and we'll talk to you soon.