Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Grandgirl Southern Utah Adventure - Day 1

I have three grandgirls and their on-line monikers and ages are: Squirrel, age 12; Bug, age 10; and Monkey, age 2. They live in Central Utah (Utah Valley) and I live in Southern California, so I don't get to see them as often as I would like. I decided I needed some adventure time with Squirrel and Bug (Monkey is still too young) and arranged with their parents to have a long weekend (Saturday, Sunday and Monday) with them toward the end of March. 
Bug, Papa and Squirrel - just before leaving.
I flew into Salt Lake City Friday night, late, and rented a midsize SUV for our adventure. Saturday morning, about 8:00 a.m. we left, without breakfast, because having breakfast together in a restaurant is the best part of starting an adventure. 
Squirrel and Bug and our adventure-mobile. 
I bribed them with money to keep a journal of our trip and let them know I would be doing blog-posts on our adventure and would use their entries as part of my posts. 

As a good omen the mountains near their home were covered in snow and billowy clouds nearly filled the blue sky. A beautiful day for an adventure. {Squirrel: "The mountain view from my neiborhood is amazing! We snapped some photos! What is a adventure without taking pictures? Photos are like memories."}[Bug: "The mountains looked beautiful this morning. I hope to see lots of awesome stuff. I've seen Buffilo, Elk, deer, snakes, Lizards, Ostreges, antilope, Emu, and other animals [with Papa]. But I hope to see somthing new."] 
Our first stop was going to be in Scipio, where I'd learned there is a children's zoo that includes a camel and zebra, as well as a Dairy Queen where we could have breakfast. Because we were going to be seeing lots of central and southern Utah, I decided we needed to talk about place names and learn how the names came about. Some names come from the scriptures: Lehi, Nephi, Moroni, Benjamin, Manti and Bountiful come from the Book of Mormon. The Jordan River, Mount Nebo, Goshen, Enoch, Ephraim and Moab come from the Bible. Some names come from early Mormon leaders and other famous people: Woodruff (Wilford Woodruff), Brigham City (Brigham Young), Taylorsville (John Taylor), St. George (George Albert Smith), Hyrum (Hyrum Smith), Snow Canyon (Lorenzo Snow), Grantsville (Heber J. Grant), Fremont River (John C. Fremont), Fillmore (Millard Fillmore) and Scipio, where we were headed, was a famous Roman soldier (as well as an early settler - I read that later). And some places are just fun, like Levan, which is navel spelled backwards, as it is in the center of the state. [Bug: "In the car we talked a lot about Pioneers."]

Well, the petting zoo wasn't open, but we could see some of the animals from the outside, and neither was the breakfast place, so we got in the car and drove through Scipio, then followed Hwy 50 southeast looking for a place to have breakfast, on our way to Capitol Reef National Park. Nothing materialized which really stretched-out breakfast and had the girls hungry. Finally, outside Salina, we saw an old sign for Mom's Cafe. We decided that might be a good place to have breakfast so we drove through Salina and almost beyond hope, we found Mom's, but it was about 10:45 a.m.{Squirrel: "We are going to a resturant for breakfast! I don't know what we are going to eat! Dairy queen is closed til 10:00. Who eats breakfast at 10:00? Anyways, I saw a petting zoo, and saw some animals there! Camels, Emus, llamas, chickens, geese, Peakocks, and a lot more! Hopefully we find a good food place. We are seeing so many resturants, but all of them are CLOSED. All of them."}  [Bug: "We spent a lot of time finding real breakfast. We stoped at a resterant called dairy queen but it was closed. there was a petting zoo by it. but that was closed too. but I saw a camell. there was also a beautiful lake."] 

We sat at our own table at Mom's and the girls ordered off the adult-menu, not the children's menu that the waitress tried to foist on them. I had a medium-rare ribeye, two eggs over-medium, hash browns and a sweet roll (we all shared the huge sweet roll). Squirrel had huge pancakes, eggs over-hard and bacon, and Bug had French toast, hash browns and bacon. It was a perfect small-town cafe and a perfect small-town breakfast, even if it was late. {Squirrel: "We finally found a resturant called Moms Cafe! I got a pankake, actually 2 pankakes (I don't know if i spelled it right!) Bacon, eggs, and shared a delicious scone with  each other. It was really good...A Very old grandma worked at Moms Cafe. Really old. She was very nice, but a little Strange too...By the way, when I said that its weird to eat breakfast at 10:00, we ate it at 11:00. Wow."} [Bug: "We finally found a place to eat called Mom's Cafe...there was a lady at Mom's Cafe. She was old but nice and a little weird."]  
Squirrel and Bug in front of Mom's
The huge shared sweet roll - full of wonderful frosting.
Squirrel's breakfast
Bug's breakfast - she took part of it to go and had some of it later.
A fond look at Mom's as we drove away.
We finished breakfast a little after noon (on adventures you are not on a strict time schedule - you take things as they come), and headed toward Capitol Reef. We followed Hwy 24 through Aurora and Sigurd and then southeast past Koosharem Reservoir (the girls would eat trout from this reservoir later in the day), Loa (we learned that the cheese factory I fondly remembered closed about ten years ago), Lyman (Amasa M. Lyman was another early Mormon leader who had a town named after him), Bicknell, Torrey and into Capitol Reef National Park. {Squirrel: I have already had a awesome day!...The view of all these places are cool! I am so exited to see what we find at capital reef! Not many people go there!...Wow. I am so entertained in the car right now. I have my Journal, my phone, my tablet, and my papa. Papa tells these stories, where he'll tell the story, then at a unexpected part, he goes BLAH! Really loud. They are fun, but Scare me outa my pants."} [Bug: "now we're going to Capital Reef National Park. not many people have been there. I wonder what we'll find there...we went through a long canyon on the way to the national park."]

We spotted a sign for Goosenecks and turned off on to a dirt road. Most of the tourists, maybe ten cars, were stopped a short ways in and standing on a large rock. But as adventurers, we kept driving down the dirt road where there was only one other car parked and walked a rocky trail up and over to the Goosenecks where we saw an amazing winding river canyon deep below us carved by Sulphur Creek. The girls, being true adventurers, climbed up and over rocks, wowing at the view. {Squirrel: "It is 1:18 right now, and I am at a point called goosenecks. It is beautiful! It is very rocky!"} [Bug: "We stoped at goosenecks, were we stood on the edge of a cliff."]
Sulphur Creek in the bottom of the canyon.
One of the bends in the canyon. 
The canyon continues on in a relative straight line. 
Squirrel and Bug.
Squirrel taking a selfie.
We got back in the car and drove a short ways, then stopped at a fantastic looking area below "the Castle." We got out of the car and walked in a ways and the girls were fascinated with the glittering rocks embedded in the molded clay dirt. {Squirrel: "We are next to a cool place to hike! OMG! It was amazing! Stepping on the crunchy sand was like ASMR! Wait...This whole place is Capital reef! It is amazing here! It is soooo...beautiful!"} [Bug: "We saw some cool rocks and we saw two beautiful black crows flying."]
Squirrel and Bug below the Castle.
We drove a little further and stopped to hike to Hickman's Bridge, a two mile round trip hike with some elevation gain. Squirrel ran over to check out the Fremont River which passed close by and the trail followed the Fremont River for a short distance before going uphill. We took a pretty leisurely hike up to the bottom of Hickman's Bridge which the girls sat under for a photo. They found little indentations in the rock and liked to climb into them. This one tested their endurance a little bit, but they made it. {Squirrel: "We just walked up to Hickman arch. It was really hard. It felt like 1000 miles, but it was really 2."} [Bug: "We went on a hike to Hickmen Arch, it was hard, tiring, but beautiful. We found some interesting things. big Holes in the rocks I could fit in them, they were just like caves exept they wern't."]
Hiking by the Fremont River.
Fun rock formations along the trail.

Hickman's Bridge

Sitting underneath Hickman's Bridge
A fun rock formation behind. 
We were pretty hot and sweaty from the hike, so it was nice to get the adventure-mobile window open with the moving car to cool us down. It was not too far before we stopped to check out some cool petroglyphs. {Squirrel: "When your car is hot, and outside is only 55 degrees f, then roll down your windows while driving. (It helps a lot)...We are now going to look at petroglifs. Those were so fun!"} [Bug: "We saw Petrigrif and they were So cool."]
I think it was Squirrel that finally figured out where the petroglyphs were. It took us a little while to see them. 
It looks like the Native Americans saw lots of bighorn sheep. 
Well, it was now time to get back in the car and go up Boulder Mountain. However, we had no reception and Google Maps was not working. So, relying on the memory of the map in my head we set out. But we drove and drove and it started to look more desolate. I started to question where we were headed. I checked on Google Maps and had reception - AACK - we'd been traveling the wrong direction! We had continued east on Hwy 24 toward Hanksville (another Utah town named after a pioneer), when instead, we should have gone west on Hwy 24, then turned south on Hwy 12. This detour cost us more than an hour. However, we did see a storm brewing to the south and we saw some fun rock formations, including some that reminded me of black cherry soda. [Bug: "when we were going to a town, papa went the wrong way so we had to drive an extra 55 miles to get to the town. Papa told us a bla story, it scared me out of my Pants. it was kind of stormy when we were traveling to the town. Papa made some pretty anoying voices on the way to the town we were going to. the rocks at capital Reef were the most amazing rocks I've ever seen in my life, they looked like black cherries."]  
Storm in the distance.
Black cherry formation.
Boulder Mountain in the distance. That is where we want to go. 
We got turned around and eventually onto Hwy 12 going steeply up hill toward Boulder. We eventually hit snow and it got deeper as we got higher. Then it actually started to snow! The temperature got below 32 degrees and I started to get a little concerned about ice. We got above 9,000 feet before we started going down hill again and eventually hit Boulder which was below snow level. {Squirrel: "We are up in the mountains, and there is a lot of snow! We are thinking boulder city will have snow! Now it's snowing! No it's not. Everybody is talking craziness in the car. We have seen cows on the side of the road...The snow besides us is 4 feet! Wow! We are arriving to Boulder city in 23 minutes!...We are getting there in 14 minutes. Yay! We are getting there in 7 minutes! 6 minutes! Five minutes! Four minutes! Three minutes! Never mind. We are going to Hell's backbone grill! My grandpa said: 'If you are good, you can go to Hell. Hell's backbone grill.' We all laughed! We arrived! Yay."}[Bug: "it was kind of stormy when we were traveling to the town. Papa made some pretty anoying voices on the way to the town we were going to...Papa was making up jokes about the place we were going to eat. the place that was called, Hell's Backbone Grill."] 

Hell's Backbone Grill has one of the highest Zagat ratings in Utah and was a James Beard Award semifinalist in 2017 and 2018. They have an impressive list of awards and publications they've been featured in. As they note on their website, Boulder has a population of 225 and is one of the most remote towns in the United States. They focus on locally sourced ingredients. We did not have a reservation and were lucky to get in. We saw both Blake Spalding and Jen Castle, the owners, and Blake stopped by our table to talk. She noted that she did not have a grandfather growing up and that it was fun to see a grandfather with his grandchildren enjoying the restaurant. We started out with some rolls and hot chocolate, which tasted really good because it was getting quite cold. Being on Hell's Backbone, we decided the "she-deviled" eggs would be appropriate. The girls both ordered "local koosharem steelhead trout baked skin-on in lemon tarragon butter," cilantro-pepita green chile rice and organic vegetables. We'd passed Koosharem Reservoir earlier in the day and that it was fun to eat fish caught there. I got a Utah elk sirloin, cooked rare, with a sour cherry red wine sauce, organic vegetables and lemony mashed potatoes. It was a fun atmosphere, creative food cooked nicely, and very fresh ingredients. We decided to skip dessert and get some in Tropic when we stopped for the night. {Squirrel: "We just came out of Hell's Backbone Grill, and it was delicious! I got trout."} [Bug: "Hell's backbone Grill is really popular, and it was so good there. so I understand why it's popular."]  
Hell's Backbone Grill in Boulder.
The girls got paper and colored pencils.
She-deviled eggs on Hell's backbone.
Hot chocolate on a cold evening.
Steelhead trout, rice and veggies.
Elk, mashed potatoes and fantastic veggies.
From Boulder we continued going south on Hwy 12. I don't think we took the actual Devil's Backbone Road, but Hwy 12 hit a point where it was literally the road and then a deep drop-off on both sides. It was pretty impressive. {Squirrel: "The side of the roads have no railing. And, It's really deep."} [Bug: "we came to this road were if you drove off the road you would fly off a cliff."] 
On Hell's backbone. This wasn't the most narrow place, or the steepest, but it did provide a pullout for the car. It was nippy outside. 
Squirrel mimics a swan dive on one side of the road.
This is the other side of the road.
We passed the Hole-in-the-Rock Road we'd hoped to take, but ran out of time, went through Escalante (named after an explorer priest), then later Cannonville (more on that later) and Tropic, where we spent the night at Bryce Canyon Log Cabins. Our cabin was made of logs with two large beds and a bathroom. After checking in, we drove a short distance to Rustler's Restaurant in Tropic for dessert. The girls got blueberry pie and I got cheese cake. We got there right before it closed for the night. Our waiter said that Cannonville, which we'd just driven through, was named after the girl's great-great grandfather, George Q. Cannon, another pioneer and early church leader. We asked how Tropic got its name and were told that people who came from Panguitch, which was really cold, felt like the weather here was tropical, thus the name.{Squirrel: "So, we arrived at the cabins, and they are small. But, I like em. We went to eat dessert, and I got a blueberry pie. It is 9:22 pm."} [Bug: "we got to our cabin. and then we went to get desert. Then we got back to our cabin, and took off our Shoes and I sat on a bed waiting to call my mom and dad. I called my mom and dad about today and they said it was great!"]
The inside of our log cabin in Tropic.
The girl's utilized eye coverings from Nana's travel bag and we put on a noise machine to drown out Papa's snoring. 

1 comment:

  1. What an adventure! This post is such a treasure. The girls are going to love having this record as a memory of their wonderful trip with you.