October 3rd, 2002
Day 169 (page 1)

Start: Bicknell, UT
Finish: Bryce Canyon, UT

Miles Today: 166
Miles to Date: 16623
Trooper Mileage: 185544

I believe that all those who have spent months, or even years, traveling an unpredictable path to distant places - taken there by the choice of a personal quest, to seek fortune at sea or enlightenment in a distant land, or coerced by the imperative of war - they all feel that instinctive growing urgency that comes as they get closer and closer to home. It is so much different than, say, returning from 2 weeks holiday with a know itinerary. There is something profoundly different about returning after months of wandering a path and encountering fates that are not altogether predictable. There is a time threshold that you cross at some nebulous point where you no longer subconsciously assume that everything is as it previously was - you wonder what it will be like when you get back (even in this age of instant communication). But an unmistakable Urge grows, and you break into a run - metaphorically, at least - knowing that Rest is just over a few more horizons.

My final days of traveling are taking me through some of the most rugged - and most spectacular - terrain in the American Southwest.

I spent the night in the motel in Bicknell, Utah. It turned out to be another good night not to be camping. The rain that had been falling since late the previous afternoon turned to snow, and the wind was blowing. I spent the evening uploading some website files and relaxing. Since the restaurants closed early and I tend to eat late, I set up my propane stove in the room and cooked dinner there.

In the morning it was still snowing lightly. I cleared the snow off my windshield and headed south on route 12 through the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. This name is a little redundant, since the English part of the name and the Spanish part of the name mean roughly the same thing - kind of like "Table Mesa" north of Phoenix, "mesa" being the Spanish word for table.

For the first half-hour or so, the weather remained kind of sloppy, but eventually cleared. I was traveling through some high country which was dressed in the new snow. In some places it looked like lace draped across the rocky ridges.

As I moved south and west, the weather cleared. This part of the country has some of the cleanest air to be found on the lower 48 states. Combine this with the fact that southern Utah as literally thousands of square miles of canyonlands, and you get spectacular views.

Driving through these canyonlands, I sometimes had a hard time keeping my eye on the road. Every hill I went over, every mountain curve I rounded, even every change in the cloud cover and sunlight treated me to yet another grand vista. I had to stop a number of times and just look ...

Here's an All-American landscape if there ever was one - red, white and blue stripes over a green forest.

By mid afternoon I reached my intended destination for the day, Bryce Canyon ...

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