Our home and workplace for the next 4 weeks was the Cowboy Bunkhouse-a large hostel based on a theme of cowboys and cowgirls and owned by JoAnne and Jeff. We started on labour day weekend, which meant that it was very busy, with visitors from all over the world. Our jobs included checking guests in, chatting to them (we were both great at this!), stripping and making beds, laundry, cleaning and serving breakfast. We absolutely loved it and would highly recommend this hostel to anyone visiting the area or wanting a volunteer placement in the area. Jeff and JoAnne were wonderful hosts and have made an excellent job of converting what was once an old hospital into a top class hostel. When we were working an evening shift-we put on an activity for the guests. Jen loved this and we had quizzes, name that tune and the obligatory English tea and scones!
Because of the shift patterns-we had lots of time off to explore Kanab and the surrounding area. Kanab is well located to visit some of the most spectacular national parks and other attractions in Utah-in fact the scenery we saw rivals anything we have experienced on our trip so far. When you cross into Utah a billboard proclaims-"Welcome to Utah-the greatest earth on show" and this is not an exaggeration!
We visited the national parks of Zion and Bryce. Zion is my favourite national park of the trip so far-with its spectacular red sandstone rocks-the world`s tallest- and a dramatic 16 miles river canyon sculpted of multi hued sandstone. We walked some of The Narrows-a walk through the Virgin river in a canyon where the 1,000 foot walls narrowed to just 20 feet across the water in places. We were walking through water thigh deep at times, got absolutely soaking wet but dried off in the desert sunshine afterwards! We did some other small hikes in the park, including Canyon overlook, the weeping wall and the Emerald pools.
Bryce canyon was like nowhere else we had ever visited-with its amphitheatre containing red sandstone hoodoos (spires) of unique shapes and sizes. We hiked down into the amphitheatre and walked among them, marveling at their size, colour and diversity. We also drove around the rim and saw the hoodoos from different vantage points.
This area is full of slot canyons which are narrow canyons formed by the wear of water rushing through rock. A slot canyon is significantly deeper than it is wide. Some slot canyons can measure less than 1 metre (3 ft) across at the top but drop more than 30 metres (100 ft) to the floor of the canyon. We visited Buckskin Gulch slot canyon, the longest and deepest slot canyon in the southwest, hiking there through Wire pass. Slot canyons are dangerous during rain-as flash floods quickly rush through them, so we had to keep an eye on the weather at all times. It was exhilarating walking along the river bed through the narrow walls of the canyon. We also hiked through part of Lickwash Canyon, another slot canyon with narrow and wider parts, which was at the end of a scenic drive along gravel roads.
Our favourite slot canyon, in spite of the huge number of tourists there, was Antelope Canyon. We went at mid day when the sunlight hits the canyon at certain spots to create wonderful colours and light displays within the canyon. We have never seen a canyon with such beautiful colours and rock shapes and we passed through it in awe. Antelope Canyon was formed by erosion of Navajo Sandstone, primarily due to flash flooding. Rainwater, especially during monsoon season, runs into the extensive basin above the slot canyon sections, picking up speed and sand as it rushes into the narrow passageways. Over time the passageways eroded away, making the corridors deeper and smoothing hard edges in such a way as to form characteristic "flowing" shapes in the rock.
We enjoyed Cedar breaks state park-with scenery similar to Bryce canyon but fewer visitors and hiked part way along the amphitheatre rim. We also visited Kodachrome state park, with 67 monolithic stone spires, called sedimentary pipes, accentuate multihued sandstone layers that reveal 180 million years of geologic time. The colour and beauty found here prompted a National Geographic Society expedition to name the area Kodachrome, after the popular colour film, in 1948.
We worked some double shifts at the Cowboy Bunkhouse to earn a few days away in Moab. We spent 3 nights in Moab in Eastern Utah, and visited Monument Valley on the way. Monument Valley, meaning valley of the rocks, is a region of the Colorado Plateau characterized by a cluster of vast sandstone buttes, the largest reaching 1,000 ft (300 m) above the valley floor. We drove around Monument valley-stopping at all of the viewpoints for the huge sandstone rock formations. This has been the backdrop to many film and TV productions, particularly Westerns.
From Moab, we visited Arches National Park . It is home to over 2,000 natural sandstone arches, including the world-famous Delicate Arch, in addition to a variety of unique geological resources and formations. It contains the highest density of natural arches in the world. We did a few hikes in beautiful scenery to see a variety of arches and other spectacular scenery. Next stop was Canyonlands National Park and the Island in the Sky section of the park, where the access road passes many breathtaking viewpoints of the deep twisting canyons at either side. We did a few hikes to different viewpoints and were amazed by the beautiful scenery.
On the way back to Kanab, we stopped Capitol Reef national park, The park is filled with brilliantly colored sandstone cliffs, gleaming white domes, and contrasting layers of stone and earth.
We have a few days left at the Cowboy Bunkhouse, before we head back to Los Angeles to collect Ruby and then we head to Death Valley for another workaway placement on a date farm!