Thursday, July 1, 2010

# 11:  I have returned after a fantastic tour of the western canyons. Then I washed the monster (Ford F350), washed the Wyoming fifth wheel and also scraped and painted my deck. Hopefully now I will settle down for a while and get caught up on a few things, including visiting readers of the Urantia Book and writing this blog more often.

South Carolina ETV’s “The Grandest of the Canyons Tour” arrived in Las Vegas on Friday June 4. Fortunately I had flown to Atlanta the day before and was on the same plane as the rest of the group as we flew west. The airline was overbooked and five tour members were not able to make the flight; they did not get to the hotel in St. George, Utah until about 1 AM the next morning. This was the only blemish on a truly Grand tour.
There were fifty on the tour including the ETV naturalist and his wife, a cardiologist, a pediatrician, a lady lawyer, teachers, a librarian and one retired chemist (me). During the tour I gave out several cards identifying myself as the Wandering Urantian and giving my blog address, but I had little success talking about the Urantia Book. After all the purpose of the tour was to enjoy our beautiful country and I didn’t want to be a pest, at least not yet.

At dinner the first night I sat next to the cardiologist and we had some discussions about the new revelation but the next day he did not appear to be interested in any further discussions. I talked to one man who was a retired Biology teacher and who said he was comfortable with teaching evolution, but that evening at dinner with his wife they said they were Southern Baptists and were not interested in further discussions.

Before we left St. George Utah we stopped outside the Mormon Tabernacle which had been the only one in the west for many years before the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City was built. The grounds were immaculate with lush grass and several large trees; this was one of the few green places in the region. In one tree across the road we saw a nest with three baby Cooper’s Hawks. I got a decent picture of them; the mother was in another tree but too far away for a picture.

The first stop on the tour was at Zion Canyon (photograph above). We left our bus at the entrance and rode a shuttle bus into the canyon. There were cottonwood trees along the stream at the bottom of the Canyon and the limestone cliffs rose on each side. The park has several interesting trails; one trail, called the Narrows Walk, left from an area called the Temple of Sinawava and went alongside the North Fork of the Virgin River. At one point there was water seeping out of the canyon walls and blossoming Columbine vines cascaded down the walls. As we left the park there were tunnels which were so narrow our bus had to go down the middle of the road (yes, the traffic coming our way had been stopped just for us).

That night we stayed at Ruby’s Inn which is a tourist town near Bryce Canyon which had several motels and even a small Rodeo. As I walked about after dinner with my camera trying to take pictures of cliffs in the distance, I could hear the announcer at the Rodeo. The next morning I found a small lake behind the motel and took a few pictures, including one of a Yellow Headed Blackbird. I only took about 1600 pictures on the entire trip.
At Bryce Canyon we drove along the top and occasionally stopped at overlooks to view the spectacular scenery spread out below. At one overlook there was a large Raven showing off, he would strut about and pose for pictures. I could almost imagine him doing a song and dance on Vaudeville. It did pay off for the bird when somebody fed him.
This entry is long enough for now, so the trip will be continued into the next issue, stay tuned!