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With the East-to-West time change still messing with the boys, as well as their heads unnaturally clear from a lack of boozing, they rose before dawn absolutely intent on achieving their first two objectives: visiting both Zion and Bryce Canyon on Day Three of newly minted Heber Jones Memorial Tour, as well as being in a position at days end to hit the Grand Canyon. So grabbing quick cup of Java for the road, the boys were off !!!
Early Morning Clouds in St Cloud
Leaving the stink hole of St. Cloud in a cloud of dust and natural gas (you figure what is meant by natural gas), the Boys continued East and observed with elevated interest that the terrain was elevating into the mountains, and despite it being in the 90's and 100's during the day, that in the Mornings at an certain elevation, the temperature could be a wee bit chilly.
As the boys grew closer to Zion the Dawn Sky brightened and the awe-inspiring reds of the Utah Mountains began to simply radiate their color and beauty.
Ain't no Lying, its Awesome in Zion !!!
Pulling into Zion National Park, the Boys pulled over to survey the incredible scene.
Words are used to describe events, people, and places. It was hard to find the right words to properly describe Zion Canyon that Morning, as the Sun slowly rose upon the red cliffs.
Words that might partially capture the scene are words such as: Magnificent, Awe-Inspiring, Grandeur. You could "feel" the air and the high-desert dryness, you could "hear" the quiet of the mountains, and unfortunately you could "smell" the unnatural, natural gas of the Mike and Bone's emissions !
A Bone in the Morning in Zion
Being the early morning hours Mike and Bone were by themselves in this huge National Park, with no risk of traffic, and despite being on a tight schedule, the boys decided to take of short hike along side the Zion River. During the hike the boys visibly noticed the very different climate. Being in the extremely dry desert air with all the Red Sandstone was of course a very different climate, considering how Mike and Bone grew up in the humid Mid-West. Despite the differences in the climate, there always seemed to linger a wafting smell of stale beer smell wherever the boys went.
Hiking along the Zion River
As they continued their hike, another word sprung to mind to describe Zion, which was Enormity, the sheer, red Sandstone cliffs are simply enormous, and definitely places a perspective of the significance of a hiker in the valley. Despite a deep desire to continue hiking Zion, the boys knew that to achieve the lofty Goals of the Heber Jones Memorial Tour they would have to take their leave, so after only a short 45 minutes in "God's Country", they jumped back in their "tour-mobile" and headed further east to Bryce Canyon.
The Zion Mountains in full Day Light
Are you going in or coming out !?!
Once leaving the Zion, in true Mike and Bone fashion, they discovered that the road they took from St. Cloud, took them into the Park the wrong way, hence the picture above of Bone at the entrance to the Park, just as they were leaving! Fortunately a mile out of the park was a Gas Station/Party Store. As they gassed up they discovered that they were now in an enlightened area of Utah and were able to also refuel the Hall of Shame with a Case and a half of Corona's.
Dixieland Park ,,,, in Utah !?!
Now re-gassed and refueled, it was approaching 9:00 AM, as the Boys now continued east on the Heber Jones Memorial Tour in a classic Mike and Bone fashion. The next stop on the tour was the amazing red-rock phenomenon, strangely named Dixieland National Forest. The Boys rambled and chortled for hours about how Dixieland named so far west of the old Confederacy !!! Choosing to only slow down for pictures of Dixieland, the Boys continued onward to towards Bryce Canyon.
Tuning and Tunneling
Enjoying the breeze and brews the Boys continued on through the incredible Red Rock country. The Air was warm, gritty and very dry, which was the excuse for continuous malt beverage hydration !!
Bad Foreshadowing in the Desert !!
From 10:00 AM on the boys chit-chatted about the upcoming College Football Season on who would be Michigan's Quarterback (Scott Dreisbach or Brian Griese), when finally around 2:00 PM, the boys came upon a vista that seemed more appropriate to Mars then on Earth, Bryce Canyon !!!
Bryce is certainly worth the Price !!
The very unique cathedral-line rock formations of Bryce Canyon are a result of the wind and rain on the soft red sandstone, which has been "whittled" into one of the most interesting places on the planet. Once in the Park, as far as the eye can see, there are mile after mile of these unique rock formations.
Unlike Zion in the Morning, by 2:00 PM Bryce Canyon was packed with crowds of foreign tourists on European "Holiday", and American families all babbling and squawking. Despite the crowds. Mike and Bone decided to hike one of the many numbered trails through the Park.
Mars doesn't have anything on Bryce !!!
The hike took them through the spires and cliffs of Bryce with the deep, deep red of the sandstone cliffs silhouetted against the clear, deep blue sky. As they hiked high into the spires, the Boys could almost "taste" the gritty red sandstone in the very dry air, and despite being in the high 90s, with the air was so dry, that the boys were "bone-dry" from perspiration.
The Spires of Bryce are In-SPIRE-ational !!!
After an hour of observing the natural wonders of Bryce, the Boys thoughts drew back to the Tour, the Goal, and very tactically, a 'Rona !!! Having achieved the first two Tour objectives, per their dear friend Heber, the boys needed to make it to the heretofore unknown Capital Reef by nightfall, as to be lined up in the Morning to head south into Arizona through the Valley of the Gods, and west to the Grand Canyon.
Bidding a Mike and Bone adieu to Bryce Canyon National Park by dumping empty contents from the Hall of Shame into the local Park refuse, the boys headed deeper into the more remote sections of the Utah Desert, where all traffic and civilization seem to disappear.
Escape at Cedar Breaks
At Cedar Breaks the Boys took a bio and then a beer break (Output and Input), while wandering around at about 3,500 feet above Sea-Level, the boys observed a noticeable difference in temperature, from very hot to comfortable, with the terrain much more wooded with Pine Forests.
Heading further East on the Heber Jones Trail
Takin' a Break at Navajo Lake
As the boys continued ever east into the late afternoon, they entered the territory of the Navajo Nation. Much of Southeastern Utah (and Northern Arizona) are not considered a part of the United Stated, but the domain of the Navajo Nation.
Looking down on the Desert from Navajo Lake
Checking Out Navajo Indian Badlands
Mike in the the Desert
Twenty minutes later, a 1000 feet down, and 20 degrees Hotter !!
As the boys continued East, it seemed that every 50 miles the terrain completely changed, the road leading from Bryce continuously went up into the hills and then back down into the now hot, hot desert. All the while the boys could see the different plateaus and geologic plate systems, as shown in the pictures above.
The further east they went the more remote it became and supplies became a concern. Sitting inside a nice air-conditioned car with ice-cold 'Rona's was pleasant alternative to hiking outside in the 100 degree heat and the thought of having to hike this remote area due to running out of gas was as appalling and sitting in the air-conditioned car.
Experiencing Reefer Madness in Capital Reef
Fortunately by 5:00 PM they finally saw signs of civilization with a Gas Station, a Southwestern Restaurant, and a Quality Inn, with the added benefit of being within 10 miles of Capital Reef National Park. The Boys filled both the Car and the Hall of Shame, rented a Hotel Room at the Quality Inn, which was replete with dust-filled Jacuzzi, and bee lined to Capital Reef, to experience Reefer Madness !!!
"Yes Sir !!! Mr. Ranger, Sir !!"
Yogi Bear and Bone
Entering the Park the Boys stopped at the Capital Reef National Park Center, where Park Rangers were presenting a Question and Answer on the Capital Reef area. Being an extremely arid desert with the "cleanest, clearest" air in the world Capital Reef seemed to be an inappropriate name for a Desert. However it turns out that Capital Reef was at one point in the past in fact a reef in a very shallow ocean that covered the entire Southwest, and was also where two Tectonic Plates came together, hence the 500 - 600 foot cliffs. Telling the tale of the Park's natural history was a National Park Ranger woman in here mid-forties, who looked and acted like a hippie, with her long beaded gray hair, round frameless wired rim glasses, peace sign necklace, and her grave lecturing disposition on "polluting our environment." Of course being a preachy hippy drew Bone's ire (as her mutually drew her ire !!), so when Bone asked her if the environmental damage that man was continually inflicting on nature was referring were simply Mike and Bone's farts, it is ok because gas is simply natural and good, She didn't take to the joke and brusquely blew the boys off asking them to leave.
Having been thrown out of better places, Mike and Bone decided to tour the area while daylight allowed and then grab some dinner. Capital Reef was in many respects even more impressive than Zion and Bryce, since it is incredibly large, going on for miles and miles of craggy cliffs and desolate, beautiful desert flatlands. As the sun began to set, the Boys realized that both the Hall of Shame and their stomachs were empty.
Capital Reef, with the Rockies in the Background
As twilight approached, the boys sat outside on the Patio of the Southwest Restaurant for a couple of frosty margies and corn enchiladas. Contemplating the day, the Boys thought it would been neat to cap off the night with a night cap in the Desert with a few 'Ronas.'
An "X Files" Evening
"Mulder ?, Scully? is that you? With the cleanest, clearest air in North America, the boys drove out into the middle of the desert, off road with only a 12 pack of fresh "Ronas in the Hall of Shame to discuss the meaning of life, football, religion, and UFO's. As the Moon eerily rose to the middle of the hot dry Desert night the boys sat on the hood of the car, quenching their thirst, as they discussed X File type stuff as Area 51 (which they were close to), space aliens, and UFO's a lone, strange-shaped cloud moved unnaturally across the sky to a point that placed it in the middle of the Moon. There it stopped, and appeared to change shape into a long "string" down towards the desert floor, RIGHT ABOVE the Boys !
Neither Mike nor Bone would admit they were freaked out by the curious cloud, but strangely enough soon after the cloud started to drift down, the boys headed back to their hotel, providing a strange end to a fruitful and eventful day.