In 1967 my father bought a Pontiac Catalina and a dingy old travel trailer and took his girlfriend, my brother and me on a road trip. Over the next 8 weeks we drove 13,498 miles, visited 51 parks, and saw wonders like geysers, redwoods, grizzlies, and the Summer of Love in San Francisco. The trip made an indelible impression, cementing my appreciation for the natural world and the American landscape. This summer Pamela and I hope to repeat the experience for our family.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Dave: The gentle murmur of Japanese

When visiting Bryce Canyon, you're supposed to watch the sun rise. At least that's what all lthe guidebooks say. That seemed unlikely considering Lark's sleep needs, but, to my surprise, she readily agreed. (Normally you need dynamite to get her out of bed.) So we woke up at 5:45, pulled on clothes, and jumped in the car. Pamela and I even made the ultimate sacrifice of forgoing coffee.

We drove to Bryce Point, which is on the south end of the area they call the amphitheater, a natural bowl where the most hoodoos are found. (A hoodoo is what they call the strange, almost human forms carved in rock throughout Bryce.)

When we arrived at the parking lot for Bryce Point, we were disappointed to see two tour buses there already. Great. Now we would have to share a sublime moment with 120 blathering tourists. But, after making the short walk to the point, we found thet the people from the bus were all Japanese tourists.

That made it okay. The Japanese were blathering, but softly, respectfully, and in a foreign language. Together their voices almost sounded like the wind sighing.

The sun finally peeked above the clouds on the horizon thirty or so miles away and the carved walls around us burst into color and shadow. It was spectacular.

Later we took what the park service documents call "the best 3-mile hike in the world." I must say, it is pretty incredible. A trail that runs down through the hoodoos, with lots of windows carved through the rock, providing vistas of deep blue sky. One neatly framed the nearly full moon.

At one point people had starting making their own hoodoos out of cairns. Everywhere you looked was a cairn, including dozens up in the trees. Normally I balk at human interference when you're out in the wilds, but this was transient. And funny.

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