We spent last night at another WalMart in a small town in northern Arizona. When we pulled in, we realized that camping at this particular WalMart was a popular thing to do. Charlie counted 16 campers in the parking lot when we pulled out this morning. He’s pretty sure there were some that had left earlier too. Usually we only see three or four others at the most.
We start our day nice and early because we want to get to Bryce Canyon and do some hiking. Annette has been asking us every day if we will be doing some hiking today, so she was very excited to hear that today was the day. As we head to Bryce Canyon in Utah, we find more and more trees and grass. At first we see a good deal of irrigation, but as we drive farther we even begin to see creeks with rushing water. We drive through Red Rock Canyon in Dixie National Forest. I had to wonder why in the world there is a national forest with the name Dixie all the way out in Utah. Utah isn’t exactly known for being part of Dixie, and as far as I know, Dixie is only synonymous with the South. The mystery was solved when I read in a book that St. George, Utah (which is in Dixie National Forest) has an unusually warm year round climate. It was even warm enough to grow and mill cotton during the Civil War. That explained it for me.
When we get to Bryce Canyon, we first kill some time in the gift shop while Ryon tries to find some WiFi again so that he can log in to his last history class for his oral presentation. Boy, that was a zoo trying to find him a place to use WiFi when we were on a short time frame before his class began. We let the kids look around in the gift shop (we won’t be doing that too much anymore), but a couple of them did choose to buy hiking sticks with their money, which, in the end, we decided was a good idea. We ate lunch, packed our supply backpack, and caught a shuttle to one of the trail drop off points.
We finally get it all worked out and head off for a hike. We did a 2.9 mile hike from the canyon rim down to the canyon floor and back up. It was beautiful. The kids were all such troopers. We started out going down into the canyon with Dominic on Ryon’s back, Damien on Nicholas’ back, Charlie with the supplies backpack, and AnaClaire on my back. The hike down went well. We were hiking right along the edge of cliffs so we were holding hands of all littles that were likely to have difficulties. They all listened and obeyed so well, and we heard next to no complaints. When we reached the canyon floor, we let Dominic and Damien walk – they did great. We stopped for a snack under an overhang and enjoyed watching a ground squirrel (I believe) begging us for food. Knowing how important it is not to feed the wildlife, we resisted its begging despite its cuteness. Back up the canyon we went through lots of switchbacks. It was not an easy hike up, especially for those of us carrying kids. We eventually let Dominic walk holding a hand, so that Ryon could have a break. I, of course, was bringing up the rear, huffing and puffing my way up that canyon. Ryon hiked with me and was so sweet to offer to carry AnaClaire for me so that I could have a break. I persevered in the end, and we made it out. Yes it was tough, but I look forward to doing much more. I’ll be able to handle those hikes better at the end of this trip than I did yesterday.
After the get back to the van and camper, we head out. I would have liked to drive around the park some to see more of the sights but it wouldn’t have been easy to drive around with the camper attached. I also had wanted to stay for a stargazing show that they had that night, but it was looking rather cloudy, so I didn’t think the stars would be very visible. On our way out, we see some mule deer as well as some prong-horn deer on the side of the road. Seeing wildlife that we are not familiar with is always a treat. I took pictures of some plants, birds and such that we wanted to identify later. I have a great app on my phone that helps to identify birds and am hoping that I get the chance to use it. We had no signal the one time I tried.
We decided to go ahead and make some headway toward Zion National Park and will see what beauty it has in store for us tomorrow. We are hoping to come across an RV campground along the way. We saw several nearby the entrance to Bryce Canyon, so we figured that finding one near Zion wouldn’t be a problem. God always provides!