The drive from Nevada to southwestern Utah yesterday, was lonely and somewhat dreary. We amused ourselves by guessing how far we could see into the distance. The flatness was interspersed with low mountain ranges and we concluded that each range was divided by about twelve miles of driving. As we got closer to Cedar City, things began to perk up. There were greenish plants and a few more cars. At the Walmart (gosh, it's been a long time since we've been to a store that wasn't part of a casino) we saw a number of women dressed like sister wives. In the Salt Lake City area the Mormon presence seems less visible, but in Cedar City there are many temples and crowds of people attending them even on weekdays. There was a lot of congestion around our campground that was sheep, not people. A massive flock of several hundred was being herded down our road to a holding pen. Final destination unknown. As I made dinner I discovered evidence that a mouse had taken residence under our sink. He had chewed up my silicone muffins cups. A quick trip to the hardware store for a trap and the stowaway was no more. We'll set the trap again to insure that he had no friends.
Our primary reason to stop here was to visit Cedar Breaks National Monument, a park we tried to visit a few years ago
, but it was totally shut down by snow. Although it is sunny and pleasant in Cedar City, it was 34º and breezy when we arrived at the national monument. We were at 10,000' elevation looking down at the colorful rock formations that drew us here. All ideas of hiking around disappeared and we drove from one viewpoint to another shivering and taking photos. Southern Utah overflows with colorful rock formations. The eroded rocks that look a bit like chessmen are called hoo doos and come in various bright shades of red, yellow, brown and purple depending on whether they consist of iron or manganese oxides.
We drove on to a little town called Parowan, that looked like Mayberry RFD. The visitor center lady said that their gimmick is cinnamon rolls. Each eatery has their own version - some come with bacon, some are as big as dinner plates. We went to a cafe for a smallish bit of doughy goodness and drove on to Yankee Meadow, another visitor center suggestion. The drive took us past more hoo doos and rock formations to a reservoir that recently suffered from forest fires that totally decimated the forest. The trees were still standing, but their black trunks gave a haunted Halloween feeling to what must have been a gorgeous spot.
The final spot on today's tour was Parowan Gap, a natural passageway between two parts of a large hill that looked like it could have been made by a highway construction crew. The natives in the area where in awe of this space and treated it as something sacred, carving petroglyphs into the desert varnish that coated many of the rocks. Supposedly there are 1,500 glyphs here that include geometric designs, animal and human figures. Since leaving your mark on a rock seems to be a universal human impulse, some folks who came along much later had also carved their names and date nearby. Explanatory signs provided all sorts of explanations for what the glyphs meant, but there clearly is lots of guessing involved.