9th Feb – Las Vegas to Bryce Canyon

Up quite eary & checked out of Bally’s by 8:00am. Set off up I15 to look for breakfast. The Dodge Intrepid soon showed its value – bags of legs and a superb cruise control. Didn’t take much notice of the ‘Last liqor store – stock up now!’ sign as we left Arizona and entered Utah (you clip its NE corner as you leave Nevada). Stopped at St. George for gas and the attendant recommended one of the two adjascent diners as having an excellent breakfast buffet. It was!

Found the turn off for Zion no problem and got there in good time. Bit put out that the minimum fee was a 7-day pass for $20 when we were only using the State highway to go through, so when we we saw the visitor centre we stopped to look. (Saw our first snow – just left-overs from clearing up.) Found a CD Rom and this set a trend to find these instead of still photo’s. Decided to get our money’s worth and drive up the canyon. Quite pretty but no more spectacular than Cheddar Gorge really. Saw lots of hikers & campers who must be enjoying themselves & getting $20 worth. As its a dead-end doubled back to highway U-9 and set off up the switch-back to the tunnel near the top of the pass. Lynne did very well negotiating the tunnel which had a size restriction, and when we got there, warnings about sharp bends!. We had heard about this tunnel, 1.1 miles longe & built in the ’30s to the contemporary vehicle size, with no lighting. (This becomes obvious when you get there – no power lines for miles!) But its a very interesting tunnel. It doesn’t so much drive through the mountain as run up the pass just inside the steep valley wall rather than on its surface. This allows intermittent ‘windows’ in the tunnel left wall for ventlation & illumination.

Continued to make good time up U-89 so stopped at Hatch for a drink & ‘restroom’. It seemed such a guiet place and the lady so pleasant we decided to have a snack – I found out what a Club Sandwich really is. Got to Ruby’s Inn at about 2:45pm and put the clock forward an hour to Mountain time. Got our first taste of Mormon Utah, the formula’s are all there but if you try to strike up a conversation they shut down on you. Opted for a ground floor room to save lugging cases upstairs and ‘cos it was nearer the main lodgec (all the rooms in the main lodge being occupied by a week-long ‘Quilt Retreat’). Lynne very dis-chuffed to find that the room had no shear (lace to you & me) curtains. When we queried it we found this applied to all rooms. So much for being a Best Western.

Got settled in and went overto the lodge to ‘suss things out. Bought some orange juice to go with the duty-free vodka – good job as well. Surprised that was no communal area. When we went into the restaurant for a cuppa it was easy to see that they really expected you to order food, eat & leave – they clearly had difficulty with us sitting over a cup of tea