Western States Part II
October 7, 2009 - Tropic, UT to Page, AZ
The weather system that has been pounding the western states with cold temperatures, wind, and some precipitation caught up with us a little bit today. We didn't hit anything major, but it was certainly cold in places! When we left Tropic, UT it was about 32° and was downhill from there for a while. Our first stop for the day was at Bryce Canyon National Park for our 15th National Park Passport Stamp of the trip. I only took a couple of photos because it was pretty cold ;)
We then headed through the Dixie National Forest again to Cedar Breaks National Monument. This was a very "Iffy" site for us to visit and we knew it ahead of time. The Visitor Center normally closes on October 13. It is located at 10,300' MSL and by mid-October the snow frequently prevents visitors from getting to the site. For us it was close. There were patches of snow beside the road, the road was wet, and the temperature was below freezing. We tip-toed around the corners and made it without incident though.
The last photo above shows my GPS and the elevation where we stopped is 10,378' MSL. I was watching it as we went through and it actually peaked at 10,600' MSL a couple of miles earlier. The temperature, according to the thermometer on AGirl's FJR, was 25° at that point. As can be seen though, the sky is mostly clear and blue but there was a pretty good breeze blowing that tended to make it seem a bit cooler.
We headed west toward Cedar City, UT and picked up Interstate 15 headed south. Other than a few miles on I-70 this is the first time we've seen interstate since Albuquerque. Colorado and Utah have all been on secondary roads and scenic byways. But now we need to pick up the pace a little.
We headed south on I-15 to the Kolob Canyons Visitor Center of Zion National Park and our next National Park Passport Stamp. Surprisingly we got two stamps there, the Kolob Canyons stamp as well as a Zion National Park Centennial stamp.
The Kolob Canyons VC of Zion National Park is on the north side right off of I-15. There is another Passport Stamp at the south visitor center at Springdale, UT so we headed south to get it as well. We stopped for gas and since it was getting warmer I started shedding some of my riding gear. The clouds still looked oppressive in places but the showers were scattered so I decided to shed my waterproof overpants as well. Needless to say it started sprinkling again within a few miles.
I've got a bone to pick with the National Park Service at this point. The Passport Stamps are normally kept out for anyone to use to stamp their book. When we stopped at Springdale the only stamp out was the same Zion National Park Centennial stamp that we had gotten at the Kolob Canyons visitor center. I asked one of the rangers there whether or not they had one specific to the Springdale VC and he said that they did not. He said that the only stamp there was the Centennial stamp. Dejectedly I headed out to the parking lot to let AGirl know that there wasn't a stamp specific to Springdale. When I got to the bikes she was talking to a rider on a Goldwing who also collects stamps. I told her there wasn't a stamp for Springdale and the rider on the Goldwing said, "Yes, there is. You have to ask the girl at the book store counter for it. It's in the back room but it is there, I just got it." By now it was raining pretty good so I stomped back into the VC, wet and annoyed, and asked the girl at the book store counter if there was another stamp. Sure enough, there was.
So, my question for the National Park Service is this: Why have a program such as the Passport Stamp program if you are going to hide the stamps? I've run into this several times before, but I haven't run into a situation where not only did I have to ask for the hidden stamp but I had to ask the right person. These are not national secrets, they have no intrinsic value other than to stamp a Passport book so WHY do sites hide them? I would really like to know.
We made our way northeast along Highway 9 out of Zion National Park to Highway 89 and then down to Kanab, UT just above the Arizona border. We dropped south to Fredonia, AZ and picked up another Passport stamp at the Pipe Spring National Monument.
We rode a few miles north to Kanab again, and then headed east on Highway 89 toward Page, AZ. We stopped a couple of times for photos, and eventually to get ready for the rain. The rain never hit us but we did get a little bit of mild crosswind. I'll never understand how we managed to completely dodge all the weather that has been in this area for the past few days but we did. A little light rain, some cold weather in the upper elevations, and some mild winds were all that we ran into. Contrast that with several inches of snow in places, heavy rain, and 50mph winds and it's easy to see how lucky we were.
We pulled into Page, AZ in the early evening, got a motel and some dinner, and planned for one more day on the road. Tomorrow will be relatively easy since it's mostly interstate but tomorrow evening we'll be back in Phoenix and AGirl will be back home after 10 weeks on the road.