Location: Hays, KS
After our travels through California, the plan was to make a beeline to Utah and visit several of the national parks there, including, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, and Arches.
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It took us a day and half to get from the Ancient Bristlecone Pines to Zion National Park. We overnighted on BLM ground near Beatty, NV. Apparently the BLM ground there is an effort to manage the conflicts between people and wild burros. Early that morning, I even spotted these wild burros at the nearby pond, getting a drink.
I wasn’t able to take a picture, so I stole one from the internet.
We arrived at Zion National Park around 3pm, and since we would be pushing the limits to see the national parks and make it on time for the wedding, we decided to go ahead and visit the park and go on a trail, especially since you can only visit the canyon on a free bus that makes stops throughout the canyon. After scoping out our options, we decided to start with the Emerald Pools trail and take the trail that led us to the Grotto, the next bus stop further into the canyon. It was a beautiful hike.
All in all, it was good hike and visit to the park, except for the fact that I left my fan in the bus and lost it. We bypassed the already-full campgrounds at the park and camped in BLM area along the Smithsonian Scenic Byway. It had quite the view in the morning when we got up.
Tuesday morning we decided to go to the end of Zion Canyon and see the hanging gardens and such. But, as we entered the fee area and showed our pass, the attendant said that they were closed today and we couldn’t go into the canyon nor leave our vehicles parked along the road. Confused, we decided to drive on through and move on to our next stop, Bryce Canyon. Along the way, I went to the park’s website to see if they listed the why the park was closed—we couldn’t see any reason why it should be. That is when we learned of the government shutdown. Nps.gov wasn’t even up; it redirected to site that said there was a federal shutdown. I mean, we knew our government had issues, but this was pretty bad. There were tons of people whose once-in-a-lifetime vacations were ruined by this maneuver. Our plans definitely had a wrench tossed into the gears. We weren’t able to visit or stay in a single national park or forest the rest of our trip. We could only drive near the remaining parks on our list.
We did find a trail that wasn’t closed off: the Arches Trail in Lossee Canyon of Dixie National Forest. There was a neat little trail that showcased 15 small arches.
Oh, and there was a stop in Capitol Reef National Park, where we could stop and gaze at Freemont wall carvings from afar.
After Utah, we made a beeline for Hays, Kansas. On the way, though, Chuck started acting up again. In Glenwood Springs, we stopped and picked up a fuel pump to see if that would fix the issue. It didn’t, but at least there wasn’t a high-pitched whine. Then, right before Limon, we decided it was the fuel filter. So Jonathan did emergency surgery and removed the filter to prevent destroying the fuel pump. Then, we picked up another fuel filter in Limon and installed it. After that, we were home free.