Even though we were unable to hike Zion Narrows thanks to pending rain, we were still able to drive through the scenic park and capture some stunning images. The main highway through Zion, State Road 9, is worth the potential delays due to construction or traffic. The hairpin turns lead you through and park and literally through the mountains. One of the highlights of the drive is the Zion tunnel. Construction of the 1.1 mile Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel began in the late 1920′s and was completed in 1930.
We weren’t able to stay long in Zion as we only had one more day and Steve wanted to see Bryce Canyon yet too. Zion and Bryce are actually pretty close together, only a half day’s drive through some beautiful canyon land.
Our drive was constantly interrupted by “Can you stop for a quick picture?” We’d pull over precariously along the shoulder and both get out and shoot photos quickly and take off towards our destination again.
Our final destination was the very small town of Tropic situated 8 miles east of Bryce Canyon National Park. We knew we needed to stay near the park that night in order to get the best early morning photography light the next day and quite frankly the only choices for lodging outside the park (which was booked solid) was in the tiny town of Tropic.
We pulled up to Bryce Point Bed and Breakfast both a little leery. It was an older ranch style home situated in a residential neighborhood. This was clearly someone’s home turned bed and breakfast and we wondered just what we should expect. We parked the car and gingerly walked to the front door and knocked. A middle-aged woman greeted us warmly and invited us in.
As I stepped inside I only had one thought; this was just like my grandmothers old home. An old lazyboy which had seen better days, handmade afghans draping over the flowered couch, shag carpet, family portraits and pictures everywhere you laid your gaze, a TV blaring Wheel of Fortune, and finally an old man in a chair intently watching Pat and Vana flip letters. It felt more like I had walked into one of my relative’s homes rather than a bed and breakfast.
The woman introduced herself as Carol. And the other couple tore themselves away from the television and introduced themselves as LeMar and Ethel. For some reason to me – the whole situation felt a little odd. I’m not sure why; maybe I had just spent too much time in hotels recently and hadn’t quite adjusted to Bed and Breakfast accommodations yet. But it honestly felt like we were staying as a guest in my aunt’s house and less like paid accommodations. We made small talk about our day’s drive and we asked about all of the pictures and learned of LeMar and Ethel’s kids who grew up in this house. They were long gone now and their kid’s pictures adorned all of the bookshelves.
Regardless, they took our credit card and processed it and happily showed us to our big room – the Clark and Stacey room. This of course conjured up visions of my parents renting out my childhood home and naming my old room the Sherry room and adorning it with my picture. The Clark and Stacey room was sure enough the old room of Clark, their son. It looked as if it might have the same furniture from circa 1978; but it was large, had it’s own bathroom, and even had a wireless connection, so I wasn’t complaining. In fact – Ethel even took the time to show how to use the in room VCR and showed us the massive movie library of VHS tapes we could choose from!
Every passing minute I was in the Bryce Point B&B I was growing more and more at home and in love with the place. Sure, it was like visiting relatives, but at the same time, it was like visiting relatives. They were genuine good small town people who loved to carry on a conversation, were extremely helpful, and made a good pot of coffee.
The next morning I was pleasantly awakened by the smell of bacon frying (could that be the best aroma in the world?) and active conversation going on in the kitchen. We went out to join the other guests for breakfast and found out the B&B had a full house! We squeezed into the table and everyone introduced each other and made small talk with Carol as Ethel made her famous pancakes, with homemade apple syrup.
As I sat and learned more about Tropic, Ethel, LeMar and Cathy, I realized that what we had stumbled upon in this residential neighborhood was rather special. It was good, solid, old-fashioned hospitality. I felt at home and comfortable. I’ll take that any day over the Holiday Inn!