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Bryce Canyon shim John & Kristie

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travel :: Thursday, November 26, 2009
Bryce Canyon
SOUTHWEST FAMILY VACATION DAYS 1 & 2 :: BRYCE CANYON NATIONAL PARK, UT :: This Thanksgiving we spent some time with my parents, but not just for a large meal that my mom slaved over at her house. This year we planned a six-day family trip to enjoy the natural wonders of Southwest Utah and the artificial wonders of Las Vegas. These are destinations my parents have never been to, and I was happy to play the part of the travel agent and tour guide.

Upon landing in Las Vegas the day before Thanksgiving, we drove immediately to Bryce Canyon National Park, which is about four hours away. We stayed at historic Ruby's Inn, conveniently located just outside the gates of the park. The hotel features every amenity you might need, including a very large gift/grocery store and a restaurant the serves very tasty, homestyle meals. Our rooms even included a hot tub (but we didn't use it). The plan was to settle in early so that we could depart for the Canyon an hour before sunrise the next day.

We had fabulous luck with the weather during our entire trip, but being at the cusp of winter and at 8000' feet elevation, it was extremely cold. Bundled in multiple layers of clothing, we waddled out of our rooms in pitch darkness at 6:00 AM, cringing at the thermometer that read 5 degrees. I promised it would all be worth it. And it most defintely was. The naturally orange walls of Bryce Canyon glow gorgeously in dawn's early light.

After enjoying the view from the canyon's rim, we chose to immerse ourselves in the otherworldly scene by descending into the Navajo, Queen's Garden, and Rim trails - a relatively easy and very scenic 3-mile loop. I was concerned about my mother's joints, however, which have been nagging her recently. The trail drops and climbs 550 feet, but she handled it like a champ - blazing forward and frequently insisting we hike further throughout the trip! The dry, desert air and the constant sunshine did wonders for her mobility and spirit. This really was the perfect escape from the Pacific Northwest's grey and gloomy winter weather.

The spectacle that is Bryce Canyon is hard to capture in words or photos. The dazzling colors, strange landforms and their immense scale are thrilling to experience. I had wandered through Bryce Canyon before, but I'm very glad I got to share it with Kristie and my parents. I was filled with warm fuzzy feelings whenever I saw their jaws drop in amazement, heard them exclaim a "Wow!", or simply smiled. That was the best part of this trip for me, and it'll be one of my favorite Thanksgivings ever!

I was also filled with a wonderful meal served back at Ruby's Inn! We loaded up on turkey, ham, mashed potatos, gravy, cornbread and pies before heading out to our next destination: Zion National Park.

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