Our Vantage Points
Beyond Bryce

On Friday morning we left Bryce Canyon. We had spent Thursday seeing the sights of Bryce, driving the 36-mile round trip to all the overlooks on the rim of the "Canyon." It was a pleasant drive despite the road construction. Then after returning to our tranquil campsite for lunch, I took off hiking down the Fairyland Trail that descends into the canyon not far from our campsite.

One of the photos I captured on that walk is what I call Abraham on Moriah. To his right, Isaac is kneeling. Directly in front of Abraham sits the ram, bleating loudly with his mouth skyward away from Abraham. God has provided the sacrifice, sparing Isaac and honoring the profound faith of his father Abraham. In front of Abraham, and beyond the ram, is the large altar that has been prepared with the firewood on top.

After walking a couple of miles downhill, the interesting red and white "statues" became less frequent and the landscape became relatively bleak, reminding me of the road to Jericho. Some of the hikers meeting me as they trudged uphill were probably priests and levites because they scarcely replied to my greetings. But there was one pair who, seeing my white hair, my slow pace and my lack of a pack, greeted me with a concerned, "Are you doing Ok?" They were surely good Samaritans, probably worried that they had no donkey for me to ride. But, encountering no robbers, I managed to escape injury.

Before turning back up the trail I was treated to a fabulous overview of the northwest corner of the 1.7-million-acre Grand Staircase / Escalante National Monument.
This view, showing the east edge of Bryce Canyon National Park, faces the small cities located in pockets excluded from Escalente National Monument. Looking closely, you can make out the tilled fields and roads of civilization.

It was on September 17, 1996, just weeks before the presidential election, that President Bill Clinton signed his Executive Order, effectively precluding all mining and other resource development in this 1.7-million-acre parcel. Without going into detail, it is sufficient to note that this action squashed specific plans that were in process to mine low sulphur, low ash coal for an export market to Mexico. This would have meant jobs for Americans and tax revenues for local and federal agencies. It would have added to a favorable balance of trade for the United States.

The signing was staged at the South Rim headquarters of the Grand Canyon, in Arizona, away from Utah. Representatives of Utah were trumped and unwary. But the public media were there. Visuals provided by television crews presented the fabulous backdrop of Grand Canyon, implying to the public that another scenic wonderland had been salvaged from the grips of "greedy environment destroyers." Democrats defended this maneuver by saying, "It's what presidents do! That's how Yellowstone, Yosemite and the Grand Canyon were set aside for public enjoyment." The rugged landscape of Escalante indeed has visual intrigue, but it is an ugly wasteland compared to the grandeur of the Grand Canyon. No! Here was another campaign "stump" that was the epitome of public deception.

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Our next major destination was to be the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, but our campsite reservation there was for opening day at the North Rim, May 10. We had three days to "burn."

Heading south on US-89, following the East Fork of the Virgin River through one of the more pleasant stretches of highway in Utah, we came upon the Zion-Bryce KOA campground. There it was, in a beautiful grassy meadow beside the small river. The campsites were not well kept. Picnic tables were weathered, the grass was high and the dandelions were tall. But the small store, laundry and showers were clean and adequate.

Apparently this campground had just opened for the season. Only two other camping rigs were checked in and the attendants were scarce. Even Mary came up missing for a couple of hours. I wasn't worried but suspicious. I found her in the office enjoying a visit with a couple of ladies. This was a friendly place.

I had hoped to be able to connect my lap-top computer modem to a telephone line. I tried several times to connect to a long distance access number, but could not hold the connection, failing to exchange e-mail.

This was indeed a wonderful place to just relax, but somehow it felt "deja vu,", that dream that keeps coming back. Examine this photo. You might see it.

Here we were, 47 miles from Bryce Canyon, but we have this lingering reminder.... It's a sort of pleasant geologic virus that "infects" certain escarpments of the area.

Echoes of Bryce Canyon

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