. Sarah said she's going to recreate Bryce at the beach this summer. The views were phenomenal but Sarah got a little nervous if we got too close to the edge - she says it's the child-care worker in her. There weren't really any short hiking trails in Bryce so we drove through, stopped at a couple of the lookout points for short walks to view Paria View, Bryce Point and Inspiration Point. Then it was on to Zion, it was a short drive but an eventful one - we went through a rather violent hail storm and then, of course when Liz was driving, we entered the park and had to drive through a 2-mile long tunnel that was very narrow and had absolutely no lights in it. Zion was beautiful as well - no real special formations, just a huge canyon with beautiful views. We have been so wow'ed by Bryce and Zion Canyons that we're not sure we'll be able to contain ourselves when we finally get to the Grand Canyon. We took our first real hike here - a 2 mile jaunt to Emerald Falls - we went up the middle trail which took us up about 100 feet in elevation and returned via the lower trail - as the falls were more like trickles due to the lack of rain lately, we decided to skip the upper trail all together. After the hike, we headed to our campsite - and shortly after beginning to cook dinner and set up camp, there was a HUGE downpour. We tried to stick it out like troopers, but ended up eating our spaghetti in the car while we waited for the storm to pass. After the storm, and learning that once again, we had no shower facilities, we packed up our toiletries and towels and headed to the river for a "country-style" shower in the in the Virgin River. It was a little chilly but it definitely felt good to be clean again. Back at camp, we finally had a real camp experience with guitar strumming, song singing and birthday s'mores (even though we had to cook them on the gas grill due to the open fire ban). Tomorrow, it's a long day's drive to Lake Tahoe to begin the "luxury" portion of the trip - reals beds in Lake Tahoe, San Francisco and Sonoma!!
ATTENTION, ATTENTION - This morning we woke up to find that Sarah has turned another year older!! Liz even made her a beautiful birthday sunrise and woke her up to see it. After discovering that Arches campsite has no showers, we got on the road early today as we're planning to hit both Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks before camping for the night. We were all a little zombie-ish for the first hour of the drive - before hitting the mega-metropolis of Green River, Utah. We stopped at a cute little coffee shop for some caffeine and breakfast. As the signs warned us, Green River was the only place with amenities for the next 106 miles. There was even a sign at the coffee shop that read, "106 miles to the next services - Stop - Hell, you're here." More beautiful country as we as we made our way west through Utah to Bryce - lots of cows and horses around here - even some free-range ones who just cross the road wherever and whenever they feel the need. Bryce took our breath away. The hoodoos (or pillars of rock created from erosion) are simply spectacular - all different shapes, sizes and colors - but they all seem to remind us of "drip" sand castles you used to make at the beach as a child