Friday, January 14, 2000

Stranded in Escalante, Utah!

Today was one of those days that looked good at the start.  Sorry I did not get to upload the report as I ended up in a motel that had a phone system that would not work with a modem.  However, that was the least of my worries. 

This morning I was able to see first light from "Sunrise Point" in the Bryce Canyon National Park.  It was a little cloudy, but that enhanced some of the colors in the sky, and it was beautiful.  It was also a little windy and cold...Guess I better get used to that!  After returning to the car (and running the heater) I drove to the end of the park road, which is about eighteen miles long.  There is one road through the park and it is suggested that since the overlooks are on only one side, it is best to start from the end.  I did not notice much wildlife except for a group of eight mule deer along side the road as I drove to the south.  On my return, I stopped at the overlooks, did a little hiking and took some pictures.  The rock formations and the hoodoos are spectacular.  Hoodoos are vertical rock formations created by the constant freeze - thaw cycle that happens in the area.  The region averages two hundred days a year of freezing temperatures.  The colors are incredible.  And the contrast to the snow in some areas was striking.  (Another Bryce Canyon N. P. site)

After departing the park, I headed east on Route 12 stopping at several historical sites describing mining sites and areas used by Indians as early as 800AD.  

The next city to see was Escalante, Utah.  This is in the vicinity of the new Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.  I stopped just west of town at a Bureau of Land Management Visitor Center and picked up a map.  I then began driving over a hill that would drop me into the town.  As I was approaching the crest of the hill, I felt the car lose power, yet I could accelerate the engine.  I allowed myself to drift to the downhill side and check all my gears.  No power.  I verified that there was fluid in the transmission and ensured that the linkage was working, but still no power from the engine to the wheels.  I noticed a Sinclair Gas Station (the one with the dinosaur on the sign) towards the bottom of the hill so I drifted the car and stopped near the station.  I learned from the clerk that they do no repair cars, but that the Phillips 66 station down the road did.  Unfortunately, it was not "down" the hill!  I pushed the car along the side of the road until I was near the other station.  I retrieved the mechanic and he did a quick look and smell of the transmission fluid and it smelled as if it was burnt.  I just had the fluid replaced last week.  This was not a good sign!  Also, this station did not want to work on it as it would probably take a week and they did not have the proper tools.  They suggested a transmission shop in Cedar City, Utah.  Cedar City is 130 miles away!  Yikes!!!  The station was going to try to set up their car trailer, but the person responsible had left and could not be found.  

After a couple of hours waiting for a towing solution, I was hungry, so I sat in the car and made some sandwiches.  When I finished, I had been sitting in the car for a while, when a police officer pulled up behind me.  I got out of the car and went to the officer's truck to explain the situation.  He was on his police radio talking with another officer.  He handed me the microphone and told me that he noticed my Amateur Radio license plate and that the other officer was also a ham radio operator.  I had a conversation with the other officer for a few minutes!  Quite a diversion for my current mental state!  

Anyway, the officer behind my car (Police Chief Murdoch) heard my story and asked me to have a seat in his truck while he called a Salt Lake City transmission company to see how long it would take to get one delivered to Escalante.  Chief Murdoch new someone else in town that might be able to help.  Unfortunately, the estimated time for the arrival of a transmission would be Wednesday of next week.  I did not particularly like that answer.  Chief Murdoch gave me the business card for a mechanic and garage he thought would do a better job than the Phillips 66 mechanics.  I called the other garage and after talking with the two groups, I settled on the second group to tow me to Cedar City.  I felt it was important not to have the car towed on the rear wheels for that distance.  The second garage could put it on a trailer.  It was also determined the best time to move the car would be the following morning.  We arranged to have the driver pick me up at 6:00am to start the journey.  Also, since Chief Murdoch was aware of the situation, he would have the patrol monitor my car overnight.  I was very thankful for that!

The only motels open were back through town and up the hill.  I grab my bags and walked to one of the motels and got a room.  There was only one restaurant, the Golden Loop Cafe, opened in town, and they were going to close at 7:00pm.  So...I trudged back down the hill and into town and had dinner, followed by a hike back up the hill (with a stop at the bank machine in preparation for the tow) and to my room.  

Obviously it was a strange day for me.  However, as I was shopping in one of the grocery stores I overheard some people talking about two people from the town that had strokes today!  One had been taken off life support just a short while ago.  Also, the original mechanic that was going to tow my car had a mother who appeared to have a stroke so he was taking her to the hospital.  David Letterman had an unusual day, too! 

As I was getting ready to go to bed, I went to grab my Walkman radio which I listen to sometimes when I am in new places.  I did not have it, realizing I must have left it in the motel room in Tropic!  I will ask the tow truck driver if we can stop there in the morning, as we need to go that way to get to Cedar City!  

Routes traveled today: 12 - 63 - 12

Thanks for reading, and GOOD NIGHT!!!  ;-)

Hotel: Prospector Inn, Escalante

Gas: None

Click on picture to get enlarged view:

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Bryce Canyon National Park - Sunrise Point

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Some snow on the trails, but worth the challenge!

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Another view looking east.

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View towards the southeast.

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Hoodoos visible at the bottom and to the right side of the picture,

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Another Hoodoo amidst spectacular scenery!

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An arch created by freeze-thaw cycles.

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More beautiful scenery along the road, looking southeast.

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Hoodoos and windows looking northeast from a trail.

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Another view of windows

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The colors were even more beautiful in person!

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Along a trail, looking southeast, at an endless view.

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Looking east towards Tropic, Utah.

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The snow really enhanced the grooves in the landscape.

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Incredible lancdscape!

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A ridge trail, looking north.

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More Hoodoos!

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One last look to the south.

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Lodging available near the entrance of Bryce Canyon National Park.

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Copyright 2001 Igor N. Nikishin

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