Leaving the city of St George I headed for Zion National Park. When I got there I did a quick change in the car park, out of my motorcross boots and riding gear and into some walking clothes, and I’m glad I did. It was boiling hot! The park is actually set up quite well, with an air-conditioned coach that takes you through the canyon, stopping at trailheads for all the major sights. It’s a good way to plan what you want to see while getting to take it all in. I decided to keep the hiking to a minimum, because I didn’t want ot be riding later while suffering from dehydration. The first hike was a gruelling 1/4 mile to the lodge for lunch. Fortunately noone else was up to the challenge and I had the trail to myself. It was rather nice. After a swift bison burger and coke I had the coach drop me off at the trail that runs along the river for a mile or so, back to the visitor’s center. Once again, I was pretty much the only person walking, so it felt like the place was deserted. I’m not going to try and describe the park. Hopefully the pictures do it justice. I would recommend going there some day, it’s quite stunning.
After my jaunt in the park I took the road East,which takes you through a series of switch-backs up the hill. The views of the canyon are great – I highly recommend this drive. However, you do end up in a mile-long dark tunnel as you exit the park, so if you’re clostrophobic you may want to turn around at this point. If you’re brave enough to make it through the tunnel (which I am surprised the Top Gear chaps haven’t exploited with some exotic sounding engines yet) then the scenery on the other side is absolutely spectacular. The rock formations are all different shades of reds and oranges and they are all scarred and striped. The rocks are scattered with small connifers. Its really hard to concentrate on the road, the spectacle is so disctracting.
I had read somwhere (on the internet, so it must be true) that highway 143 across the mountain was suppsed to be quite a wonderful ride. Coincidentally I had planned this as the ‘long way round” to my stop for the night. The road didn’t dissapoint at all. It rose from the heat of the desery, up several thousand feet. I rode through a rain shower, along twisty, scenic roads with views of the green hills for as far as I could see. It was such a contrast from the arid canyon earlier that day.
After checking into the Bates motel (well that’s what it seemed like) I had an aweful dinner at the Flying M. The one saving grace about this dinner is that I learned a new phrase that I’m eager to put to use. The book I’m reading is by a lively chap from England. The phrase that perked me up was “Happier than a dog with a long neck and two dicks”. I’m not sure when I’m going to get to use that one, but I’ll fit it in somewhere!