After spending the night in Oklahoma city, I followed state highway 66, which follows the old Route 66 to the Kansas border, cuts through Kansas for 14 miles and then goes into Missouri. more “Road Trip: Route 66 to Chicago”
After spending the day in Bryce and the evening nearby, I woke up on Monday, December 4 and made my way to Zion National Park. Zion’s history is really interesting. The landscape and presence of the Virgin River lent itself easily to being farmed, and not just by settlers of European descent. There is evidence of the indigenous people farming on the land as well. In the mid-1800s Mormon settlers came to the area and named the area Zion, a biblical reference, and named many of the features with religious overtones: the Altar of Sacrifice, the Great White Throne, the Three Patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) and Prodigal Son among others. more “Road Trip: Zion National Park”
After leaving Death Valley I set my sights on Cedar City, Utah. There is no real direct route to that part of Utah from Death Valley because there is a large military area and the Nevada Test Site right in the way. The Nevada Test Site is an area, also known as the White Sands (that was a pub trivia question I got once), is where the US Government tested the nuclear bombs before dropping them on Japan. Most of the iconic mushroom cloud photos were made here. Testing stopping in 1992, honoring the articles of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (even though the treaty was not ratified by the US). more “Road Trip: Extraterrestrial Highway and Bryce Canyon”
- Joshua trees silhouetted in the moonlight.
- The moonrise over Telescope Peak (11,029 ft), the tallest point in Death Valley National Park.
- The moon move across the night sky.
- A sunrise obscured by mountains.
- Salt flats.
- A coyote on the side of the road.
- A spectacular sunset.
After getting thoroughly soaked and being unable to do a lot of the things I would have liked to and see generally anything in Yosemite I changed course. Additionally, I needed a new plan to get to Nevada and Utah since Tioga Pass had closed. Solution: use the National Parks Annual Pass even more than planned and hit up Death Valley National Park. After reading more about it in my National Geographic Guide to National Parks of the United States, I got even more excited about going. There is so much neat stuff there! And I did not feel like the pioneers who crossed the valley, who described their passage as filled with “hunger and thirst and an awful silence.” more “Road Trip: Death Valley National Park”
One of my main missions for this trip is to avoid interstate highways. Which made the drive from Sacramento to South Lake Tahoe to Yosemite extremely beautiful. more “Road Trip: Lake Tahoe, Highway 49 and Yosemite”
“Yosemite Park is a place of rest, a refuge from the roar and dust and weary, nervous, wasting work of the lowlands, in which one gains the advantages of both solitude and society. Nowhere will you find more company of a soothing peace-be-still kind. Your animal fellow-beings, so seldom regarded in civilization, and every rock-brow and mountain, stream, and lake, and every plant soon come to be regarded as brothers; even one learns to like the storms and clouds and tireless winds. This one noble park is big enough and rich enough for a whole life of study and aesthetic enjoyment. It is good for everybody, no matter how benumbed with care, encrusted with a mail of business habits like a tree with bark. None can escape its charms. Its natural beauty cleans and warms like a fire, and you will be willing to stay forever in one place like a tree.” – John Muir