On my last full day in southern Utah, I lit out of Zion on the Zion-Mt. Carmel Highway, heading in a northern eastern bearing. My destination was Bryce Canyon National Park.
“Otherworldly” is an adjective often used to describe the landscapes of Bryce Canyon. Over a long period of geologic time of freezes, thaws, and erosion, the sandstone and limestone pillars known as hoodoos, were formed.
I wanted to get up close and personal with some of these hoodoos, so I got out of my car and left the vista point at Sunset Point and hiked the Navajo Loop Trail. There among the hoodoos and alien moonscapes I perched on the edge of the trail (trying not to drop my sketchbook and/or pen) and sketched Bryce’s most emblematic hoodoo, “Thor’s Hammer”. I let the form of “Thor’s Hammer” stand unpainted as I painted in the background with a loose wet-on-wet wash.
After my hike I returned to my car and headed south on the Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive toward Rainbow Point. As I passed the many vista points along the way I realized that Bryce was a Winnebago Warrior type of National Park. That means it is full of big cars, trucks, and campers that see the park from the road. They spill out of their RV, walk 15 yards to the scenic vista point, take a few pictures, and return to their RV and drive off to the next vista point.
I met a group of these Winnebago Warriors at Rainbow Point. I stopped to admire one of my favorite birds, a raven that was perched near the vista point, quietly quocking to the hoodoos. I recorded the dialogue with a lady:
Tourist: What kind of bird is that?
Sketcher: Common Raven.
Tourist: So you think it’s a raven?
Sketcher: No, I know that it’s a raven.
Tourist: (To her friend) It’s just a raven. You don’t need to take a picture.
This conversation seemed so different from Zion where a lecture on Ravens was being advertised on the Park’s bulletin boards. The talk, which featured a reading of Poe’s poem, “The Raven”, was being held on an auspicious date, October 31st, Halloween at the Zion Lodge.