Day 3 – Kanab and Bryce Canyon

The next morning, we got up early to prepare for our day in Bryce Canyon. On our way out, we spotted a little museum that contained the sets from many old western films that were shot in the area. We just had to check it out.

All of the building had been relocated to the site of the museum and reconstructed beautifully.

We left the museum and arrived at Bryce Canyon after about an hour and a half of driving. My dad and I were so excited to hike here, and were eager to climb all the way to the bottom and hike some trails from the inside of the canyon. Luckily for me, he had brought two trekking poles, so we each took one and I was able to put my weight on it instead of on my bad knee. Bryce Canyon also uses a shuttle system, so we hopped on and took it to the farthest point, Bryce Point, and headed down amongst the hoodoos.

This place was full of these strange twisted trees

It’s unbelievable how all of these formations were created. Millions of years ago, all of that land used to be ocean. Then the sea receded and the land crunched together to create jagged moutains and mesas. When ice and snow accumulate around the rocks in the winter and thaw in the summer, the ice melt takes away bits and pieces of the rock, creating those spires called Hoodoos. As we saw many of these hoodoos, my dad would remark what they looked like to him, and I had to laugh because I was bothered that I completely saw the same crazy things. Great minds think alike, I guess.

We thought that hoodoo in the middle looked like Snoopy

The trail we took to the bottom was called the “Peek-a-boo” trail, and we quickly surmised that it was so named because every time we turned a corner, we saw an entirely new and incredible view.

We kept noticing as we were walking that there were huge boulders precariously perched over our heads. Even worse was the rubble around the trail where rocks had tumbled before! We kept joking that the road runner would come topple those boulders onto us.

Wile E Coyote

We decided to stop at one particular overlook (though really the entire trail was an overlook) and have a bit of lunch. It was FREEZING in the morning when we started our hike, but thankfully the wind had begun to die down and the sun was warm.

We finally made it to the bottom where we encountered a tour group on horseback and followed the trail as it meandered through the forest.

The loop we were on eventually joined up with the Navaho Loop trail. We took the middle path (of three) to make our ascent and view the Two Bridges formation along the way.

The Two Bridges

We ascended via switchbacks all the way back up to the ridge, where we took one last look from the edge.

We followed along the ridge, passing sunset and sunrise points along the way, finally back to the Welcome Center where my Mom and Grandma would be waiting.

We happily left Bryce Canyon after fulfilling our desire to get in a nice long hike, and headed back to Kanab. Later that night, we headed up the road toward the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary to view the stars, and boy we were not disappointed.

Day 4 – The Grand Canyon National Park

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Day 1 – Las Vegas

 

After being up at 5am for a 7am flight, we arrived after 7 hours of travel in Las Vegas at noon (time zones are so weird). We took some time to become human again (ie. a much needed shower), ate a super delicious home cooked meal, and headed out on the town. I never realized how ubiquitous gambling is in Vegas. That may seem like a stupid revelation, but I mean come on, WHY do you need a slot machine in the grocery store? In every gas station? They’re even at the airport, which is somewhat less surprising, but still.

Our first stop was to see the Welcome to Las Vegas sign, and pay our respects to the memorial for the recent shooting.

The Welcome sign, with the memorial and Mandalay Bay visible in the background

The memorial was incredibly humbling. Seeing the names and faces of all of the innocent victims of a senseless murder spree, the majority of whom weren’t even native to Las Vegas, hit home with a lot of the people visiting, especially when seeing mourning family members placing flowers on the crosses.

The memorial with the light from the Luxor shining vertically in the background

After that uplifting trip, we headed to the Bellagio to see their gardens.

Ceiling of the entrance to the Bellagio

The gardens were incredible! I can’t imagine how much work they put into building and upkeeping the displays. Next, we went outside to the fountains in the front to watch the show, synced with classical music.

We went on our way, heading downtown to explore the nightlife there. We entered a casino, where my family enjoyed playing the poker machines, and I lost $5 to a slot machine. I really don’t understand the appeal of gambling; I work very hard for my money, and don’t want to just feed it to a hungry machine! I’d much rather have something to show for it….so, naturally, my grandmother and I went to a little souvenir shop across the way and spent our hard-earned money on candy 😀 We spent a good deal of time hanging out in that casino, but the omnipresent smoke was really starting to get to all of us, and we took our leave and headed back. Finally, after being awake for ~21 hours, we passed out in our beds.

Day 2 – Zion National Park