Southern Utah/The Arizona Strip

Who knew that the northern part of Arizona was called the Arizona Strip? That was one of many things we've learned over the past few days--again, without Internet, cell, TV. I think we're planning on staying put somewhere for a few days soon, so perhaps I'll catch up on the brief essays rolling around in my head (Pipe Springs NM and its lessons from history, people's reviews of Coral Pink Sands SP, small town diners). But till then, a list of photos must suffice. (The writing bug escapes me right now.)

Tuesday: After our rainbow in Sand Hollow State Park, we drove very beautiful back roads through UT and AZ (with the darn time changing constantly). We visited Pipe Springs National Monument: what a surprise. Our National Park service guide, a Paiute Indian, gave us a very interesting tour. On these trips, we keep learning so many things that they don't teach in school....

No photos because the weather was uncharacteristically cool and stormy, but we managed to keep dodging the big downpours--just seeing them framing the amazing scenery off in the distance all day.

After lunch in Kanab--which bills itself as Utah's "Little Hollywood" for all of the Westerns filmed in the area--we played around on some of the movie sets.

Then we camped for the evening in gorgeous Coral Pink Sands State Park, 23 miles north of Kanab and worth the golden-aspen-tree-lined drive. Those sand dunes are a heck of a cardio hike! Lisa made it farther than I did; I was having trouble acclimating to altitude. The dog, however, was in sand-romping heaven. Our campsite also had the first real trees he's seen in a week.

The storm clouds made for a very lovely sunset:

Wednesday morning:
Started the day off with Christmas shopping at the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Angel Canyon. The work these folks do with 1800+ rescued animals is something. We didn't take the tour because one of us wasn't interested ;-)

Since the weather had cleared and it was a crystal clear day, we made a day-trip run down to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. All of the services there are closed for the winter now (except for the lodge's gift shop and the visitor center--these remain open till 11/30 or if snow closes the roads). We were a bit nervous about the drive--there are signs everywhere warning that the road isn't snowplowed nor is it patrolled at night--but we didn't have snow and we were driving in the day (!). All was well. What an overwhelming view, though. Hazy (lots of controlled burns going on) and high noon, so photos aren't that great, but it took our breath away--numerous times.

Then we headed off to Page, AZ, via a very scenic drive around Vermillion Cliffs National Monument and over the Navajo Bridge--an unexpected surprise. A 1927 engineering marvel (which is now only a foot bridge) over the Colorado, hundreds of feet below. (Find the raft down below.)

Spent the night in a crummy CG, but got laundry done and watched some Weather Channel. Thinking we may need to cut the Colorado portion of our trip short, given the weather. We see 40s/teens (high/low) coming by Wed. of next week.... Too cold for us.

Off we go today to Monument Valley and the Navajo National Monument. May end up in Cortez, CO tonight; may not. We'll see. We've been enjoying making it up as we go.

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