I threw on some clothes, then sat reading about Utah geology for a while, filling in the extra time. Eventually it was time to go. On the way out of the parking lot I noticed this:
It's pleasing to see a vegan option advertised so boldly. I didn't know Utah cared!
The tension in this room was dramatic! We were all assembled to try our luck in drawing one of the ten available slots for hiking through The Wave.
The ranger drew a group of 2, then a family of 5, then another group of 2, leaving one slot open. Then successive groups - three or four - passed on the single slot as they were drawn, because they couldn't bear to be split up. So being a solitary hiker was working to my advantage. But alas, there were at least five other solitary hikers, and eventually one was drawn, and he accepted the permit immediately. I left the station feeling like I had definitely had a fair shake ... There had been 55 applicants, and fully 2/3 of them had left the assembly area before the lottery even ended, since it was down to one slot.
Would I do this again? Probably not, what with the statistics. Was I willing to stay here another day and get entered in the lottery for the next day? No, my schedule was too tight, and I would have felt like quite a chump hanging around there doing nothing for an entire day just to lose the lottery again. I was in town for about 14 hours - enough to sleep and refuel myself - and that was enough.
I went with Plan B, and drove north towards Bryce Canyon, listening to my Ennio Morricone playlist some more, and taking random pictures. For example:
A tourist trap carved into a convenient roadside rock formation.
A photo for my friend Mr. Hatch.
A formation along the way into Bryce Canyon. Lovely!
At this point I had switched from Morricone to Arthur C Clarke, and was listening to short stories about early moon explorations as I perused the stripey rocks. Very amusing.
Perched on a rock to get a closer look!
Amazing, epic stuff.
It seems as insubstantial as a sand castle, yet it took 16 million years to carve.
A blustery day near the outcrop!
Mmmmm melty ice cream.
Whoooooo adventure! Check out those stormclouds. Just after I had the tripod set up, the sky began pitching fat drops of rain onto my head and my camera. Between the weather and my fatigue from lack of sleep, I decided that a hike down into the canyons was not a good idea that day.
A very prickly friend. I bet it's all covered with prickles so that it's harder for flying insects to parasitize.
Sittin' on a rock, waaaaay out here in the land o' melty ice cream!
I drove north out of Bryce Canyon, taking the more scenic route through farmlands. The stormclouds burned away. Cows moseyed across the road, in their own sweet time. The road wound through a gorge, brimming with wildflowers, and I stopped for a while to sip water and enjoy the air and the sun. I crept farther north, eventually running into interstate 70. From there I needed to turn east again, but since it was already late in the day I decided to check into a cheapass motel and get some extra sleep.
The motel was owned and managed by a short, deeply tanned asian woman with a thick accent. I could tell she was the owner because she kept enormous framed photographs of her grandchildren hanging in the foyer. Once I had my key, she left through the back door of the office and climbed onto an oversize tricycle, then rode it across the parking lot to the front door of my room. She went inside and rummaged around, then told me the room was ready, wished me a good night, and rode her tricycle away. This is how we do business in Salinah, Utah.
A few hours later I went walking out to the local burger joint, for some grub. While waiting for my food, I observed a trio of ATVs rolling down the main street, then into the restaurant parking lot. They looked like souped-up gasoline powered golf carts. Five people got out - all of them in their late 40's or 50's - and moseyed up to the ordering window, and each of them bought a big soft-serve ice cream cone. Then they trooped back to the cockpits of their ATVs and sat down, licking ice cream and trading neighborhood gossip.
SUCH EXCITING LIVES WE LEAD, here in Salinah, Utah.
It was amazing to think that I was traveling from a city whose younger residents would complain - actually complain - about how they'd only managed to fly out to one foreign country for vacation that year, rather than the two or three they'd been hoping for. Our "needs" really do scale with the available options, don't they? For a while, in Oakland, I felt like a luddite because I didn't own a passport. Then I got one and used it for a few things. (Thank you Katy, wherever you are, for helping me navigate that bureaucracy so quickly.) Now it sits in a plastic bag, ready for the next time, but ... well, I haven't even been to the Oakland museum yet. Blowing two grand on a chunk of plane fuel doesn't seem like the right decision these days.
That said, the travel bug was with me before I became such a cosmopolite, and it's clearly as strong as ever - hence this road trip. I still fantasize about squaring away my finances to the point where I can embark on a truly world-spanning adventure. Especially one that can be accomplished without flying, or with minimal flying. Cargo container ships, for example. But ... I really do love my job ...
We'll see. Meantime, the current adventure continues!