Bryce Canyon in the Winter

So, I’m pretty sure after our last National Parks vacation, I said something along the lines of “our next vacation is going to involve a hotel, relaxation, and no hiking” .  Something like that.  But somehow, this is what we always come back to because it’s what we love to do and it’s cheap! and close.  And in our situation we need cheap and close and nothing beats a national park.  (but this time we did at least stay in a hotel!) So after dropping Camryn off with Grammy, we headed out for 3 awesome days.  First stop:  amazing Kneaders breakfast:

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Completely last minute we decided to take the scenic route instead of I-15 because there weren’t any toddlers in the back to prevent such things and so why not?  We passed through so many tiny towns where we admired the cute Victorian houses and wondered “how do people live out here?”  We passed through Fountain Green, which would be of no importance to us whatsoever except that I’ve been do family history work and recently learned that my maternal grandmothers side have lived in Fountain Green, Sanpete county Utah for a loooong time.  So we decided to stop and check out the cemetery (is that weird?  I don’t know.  But I love cemeteries) and found a handful of Mower graves and I’m sure would have found plenty other family graves if I had known which last names to look for.  Thus began a series of stops at central Utah points of interest just because we had all the time in the world.

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the Manti temple:

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I’m obsessed with amazing temple door knobs.  Aren’t they cool??

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The Big Rock Candy Mountain. Which we weren’t aware existed, and the picture is terrible, but it really looks like it’s dripping in caramel and chocolate

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On all of our road trips, I bring our road atlas and highlight the places we’ve gone and roads we’ve traveled and leave sticky notes with the year and our vacation.  I like it.

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Next stop, Bryce Canyon!

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Isn’t she something?  The minute we got here, I remembered–oh yea, the most striking thing about his place for me isn’t even the sight of it–it’s the silence.  The silence is thick, heavy, jarring and will knock you right over.  It makes me feel like I should hold my breath.

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It’s never even occurred to me to visit the National Parks in the wintertime until I started following an Instagram feed of a photographer traveling through Utahs national parks and his photos were killing me!  Red rock, blue sky, white snow, it was gorgeous. So we decided to check one out in the wintertime and I’m so glad we did.  We had just as great of an experience as we ever have had except that no one else was there.  (bonus: escape the inversion) We had the whole placed to ourselves the whole time, and to boot, our hotel room (@ Ruby’s Inn) was 1/3 the cost you’d get it any other season.  The only other difference, obviously, being that it was freezing, but nothing 12 layers couldn’t fix.  AND unless you go during a record low precipitation level year like we did, the place has a lot of things to offer that you can’t do in the summer like cross-country skiing, snowshoeing through the canyon, and their winter festival.  That said, there was almost zero snow when we went which all the employees said was unheard of.  (side note: every last one of the employees we came in contact with at Ruby’s Inn seemed thoroughly depressed to be there and had no interest whatsoever in winter sports or hiking.  Which is a huge contrast from any national park city.  It was weird.)  Usually this cross-country trail would be covered in at least 6 feet of snowpack.

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After that we hiked the fairyland loop which was. . . well. . . magical.

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hoodoos!CAM00414

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Usually, in January, you’d being hiking this trail in snowshoes, but our boots did just fine.  And there was lots of spectacular mud which mad my husband giggle like a child and made our feet feel like that had bricks attached sometimes.

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I always always take a picture of the sign whenever we hike, because I my parents have dozens of photos of me camping/hiking/at national parks and they don’t remember where we were.  You know, they have vague ideas and are like, “i think this might be zions.  I’m pretty sure we took you to zions once.”  but I wish I knew exactly where I have and haven’t been before!

CAM00424  On the entire 5 hour hike, we saw no more than 3 human beings.  A nice missionary couple at the beginning, and an old man forest ranger near the end.  Other than that, there wasn’t a soul to be seen and it was amazing to have it all to ourselves.1390433909199

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and then we had a big dinner and a bigger dessert, which almost made me mad because REALLY, RUBY’s INN??  really, does your dessert have to be bigger than my head?  Because if sugar addicts Tanner and Dana Staples cannot finish your dessert after a long day of hiking then it’s about 5 times to big.   And you should just make it 1/5 the size and 1/5 the cost.

CAM00427 Did you notice there isn’t a single picture of the two of us together on this trip?  That’s because there wasn’t anyone else there to take our picture.  And so,  the couple selfie.

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Not pictured:  the night we drove out to the canyon for star gazing because it’s one of the #1 places in the whole country for star gazing because there isn’t any light pollution and wow.  It made me sad to realize how long it’s been since I’ve just simply looked at the stars.  We only lasted about 6 minutes because it was colder than cold, but that was long enough to let out a few breathy “woooooow”‘s and feel small and all that good star gazing stuff.

On our way home, we decided to keep up our “points of interest” stops and stop at the Historic Cove Fort (because the missionary couple we met were service missionaries who run the place and told us we should)  and it was actually really really cool.  I’m a history nerd and love things like that. Lots of old pioneer homes and rooms and authentic period antiques and I am happy as can be.  I learned how a telegraph actually works (how did I make it through college without ever knowing that?)  and also there was this room where they show and tell you that they would use this certain heavy fabric for their mattresses (stuffed with hay or whatever)  then when it wore a hole through, they’d cut it up and make pants for the men.  When those were worn out they’d rip it into strips and weave it into rugs.  When the rugs were done, they’d use them as fuel for there fires, gather the ashes and use the lye from the ashes to make soap.  Go you, pioneers.  And also, I think I’d really like to learn to make soap someday.

Anyway the moral of this post is go visit your national parks.  People from all around the world come to Utah for our incredible national parks and there is a reason for that.  If you go to college here for 4 years and never visit one—shame on you.  Your loss. And moral #2 is that there are a lot of things that are more fun with a toddler, but roadtrips aren’t one of them!

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