Monday, February 28, 2005

05-14 S Utah, Kanab, Zion National Park

Southern Utah

Kanab, 4th of July
Zion National Park
Kanab, Movies, Westerns

Week 14 of 52
July 3-9

I took a few days off from touring and hiking, but there’s just so much to see and do, it’s hard to take too long of a break. Mt Zion was on my list of to-do’s. I work so hard, it’s not easy trekking all over the place to make sure I see as much of the west as possible. And I’m only doing the four corners area this year!


Mt Zion is only about 45 miles from where I’m staying and the ride to it is through more gorgeous country. Including the Pink Sand Dunes State Park. Unfortunately, most of Utah’s state parks do not have electric at the campsites. Limiting my use of them greatly.

The east entrance to Mt Zion include two tunnels, one being a mile in length. Fun. It all begins with spectacular scenery like the checkerboard mesa and continues from the top of the canyon leading down into a magical basin with the Virgin River flowing through it, one of the last free flowing rivers in the US, waterfalls and some great hikes. My favorite part was not having to drive once I got into the park. They have free shuttles to get you to all of the best viewing and hiking sites throughout the park.

So after a visit to the museum and short film to orient myself to the park, I took a few short hikes to places like Weeping Rock, Emerald Pool Trail and The Temple of Sinawava. Surprising to see water in the middle of the desert dry country. Waterfalls cascading over cliffs and coming out of seemingly no where at the tops of sheer mountains. Just a tip, bring sandals or other water shoes so you can jump in the Virgin River at the end of the trails. Believe me you’ll want to. With the sun and heat, the water if soooo refreshingly inviting. Even with my healing toe, I took off my boots and jumped in. Ok, I tippy toed in. But what a great feeling, that cool refreshing water.

I wish I could share all the photo’s with you, but I would fill your e-mail to the limit if I did. From tourists splashing in the water dodging small rocks and boulders, stretching our necks to see up to the tops of all those mountains surrounding us. Views of the Lodge and the grassy lawn and trees with those shear cliffs and mountains peaking between each tree and porch column. The Virgin River flowing along the road way leading to all the trails throughout the park. Horse back riders riding along the rivers edge.

I finally take a break and have lunch in the Lodges second floor dining room with it’s stone and log walls, it’s big chairs and tables made out of stripped logs and trees, varnished clear and smooth. The young waiters from all over the world, working here for the summer. Having a chicken Caesar salad with Chinese rice noodles, ice cold ice tea.

It would take days, if not weeks to see it all. I may go back next week.

The 4th of July

How could I not enjoy the 4th of July any other way than to watch a parade in a small western town of Kanab Utah. This town has many secrets to discover. From being the western movie capital for years during the era of the western. The family that has their reunion here every year and the whole family is in the parade, including their 100 year old patriarch of the family. She looked pretty good too. The fun of getting sprayed by the fire trucks in the parade, a tradition in these parts. Seeing young kids scrambling for candy as it’s thrown out at all the viewers. Yes, I even got a few pieces of candy. Yum!

Johnson Canyon Movie Set

If you like movies and old westerns, Kane County is THE place to be. Almost everywhere you turn you’ll find references to movies having been made here. The visitor center is a great place to start as always. They have a pretty good display of movie posters and signed autographs from all the movie stars who have made films here. The entire town of Kanab learned to act and were frequently used in many of the movies and TV shows produced here.

The list of movies produced here is endless, from The Lone Ranger to Westward the Women to How the West Was Won. I got a map of places to see and before even getting out of town, I visited the Parry Lodge where many of the stars stayed while filming in the area. A cool old motel all white colonial ranch style. Then I headed out to the Johnson Canyon movie set. It’s viewable from the road and isn’t open to the public at this time, but I couldn’t resist and climbed over the fence and walked down the dirt road, through the hay fields into the old movie set town. All by myself, no tourists to bump into. Just the silence, wind whistling, feeling the hot sun baking the old town, waiting for a brighter day to make it come alive again. The hang mans noose swaying in the breeze.

Surrounded by hay fields, golden in the bright sunlight on one side and canyon walls off in the distance to the other side. I couldn’t stop taking pictures of the neat old town created for all those movies and could feel the excitement of a movie crew getting ready to make magic for all us movie goers. The buildings barely standing up against the heat of the sun. Buildings that were made to last the length of a movie or two, still standing. Held to together by a few nails and boards. Many having lost their roofs, if they ever had them in the first place.

Gosh, not many people are able to experience an abandoned movie set out in the middle of a canyon without the commercial trappings of someone trying to make a buck. But a truck with an ATV in its bed was coming up the old dirt road and I finally had to run out to the gate to move my truck that was blocking the roadway. The cowboy was nice about it, being a nephew of the man who owned the property and had recently sold the movie town to some locals. The excitement of discovery. It’s worth exploring an area for more than a day or two. Treasures are out there, hidden down a side canyon if your willing to look for them.

I talked to the owner of the Movie sets/tourist place in Kanab and he told me how they firmed The Planet of the Apes over at Lake Powell. He remembers as a young man watching them lower the space ship into the lake, later erasing the cable suspending the space ship, from the movie. And seeing the half buried statue of Liberty on the shores of lake Powell, with the ape actors hanging around the edge of the lake, ready for the next shoot.

My last evening in Kanab ended with Dave, coming down from the mountain, and I going to dinner and hurrying to the towns park to watch the 4th of July fireworks. All the local restaurants and shops scurrying to close in time to join the festivities. Back dropped by the surrounding low mountains silhouetted against the dark blue/black sky, the colorful fireworks capped off an exciting weeks adventures. Along with the fireworks going off, we saw a helicopter take off from the road in front of the small hospital next to the park and later a burning bush, caught on fire from the fireworks. Note the religious overtones… after all, we are in Mormon country.

No comments: