"The worst gift is a fruitcake. There is only one fruitcake in the entire world,
and people keep sending it to each other"
State 23: Utah - December 13, 2017
We woke up at a Walmart in North Las Vegas, NV well rested and ready for a new day. We spent the past 6 days exploring the suburbs of Las Vegas, and catching up on blog posts in the library. Today, we drive 134 miles Northeast to enter the 23rd state on our cross country journey to discover America and find a new state to call home; Utah. We saw the dotted line on Michelle, our GPS, signifying our approach to a state border, and began our traditional celebratory countdown! A few moments later the state welcome sign finally came in to our sights! Welcome to…
Arizona??? We weren’t scheduled to be in Arizona for another 2 weeks! Apparently, Utah wanted to play hide and go seek with the Cross Country Couple, so tag Utah! Your IT! Apparently, I-15 briefly dips into the Northwestern corner of Arizona before crossing into Utah. After driving 15 miles through Arizona, we finally entered the 23rd state on our cross country journey to discover America and find a new place to call home; Utah “Life Elevated” This slogan not only fails to say anything specific about the state, it says absolutely nothing at all! Life Elevated could be a slogan for almost anything. Red Bull; “Life Elevated”! American Airlines; “Life Elevated”! Otis Elevators; “Live Elevated”! It could even be our slogan! Cross Country Couple; “Life Elevated”! If anything, “Life Elevated” makes the citizens of Utah sound conceded! What’s even more tragic is the Utah government spent 14 million dollars in 2006 to develop and market this ambiguous slogan! Who knows, perhaps we will feel our life has been elevated after spending a week in the state, and will end up calling the Utah our new home!
Our first scheduled stop of the day was Hurricane Pioneer Museum to visit the Cross Country Couple's “Roadside Attraction” for the State of Utah; A 110-year-old Fruitcake! Tis the season, so why not? Nowadays, the fruitcake is a ridiculed dessert, but this wasn’t always the case! In the 19th century, fruitcakes were rare treats, and often used to celebrate weddings and other special occasions! Back in the day, it was not uncommon for newlyweds to have a fruitcake as their wedding cake! Some couples even saved a slice, a tier, or even the entire fruit cake, to commemorate their special day!
Today, the fruit cake makes the list each year as one of the frequently re-gifted items, but this one takes the cake! This now 110-year-old fruit cake was the wedding cake of Emily Wood and Joe Shaw baked in 1907! As was once customary, the couple saved the top two tiers of their wedding fruitcake as a memento, and placed it in a glass cake plate on the mantle where it sat for the next 83 years! In 1990, this immortal culinary creation was donated to the museum in Hurricane, UT by the couple’s granddaughter, where it can still be viewed to this very day! See the pictures below.
So what is the shelf life of a fruitcake? That depends on what ingredients it is made of? Today's mass produced fruitcakes are made with low quality ingredients, and have a relatively short shelf life. However, traditional fruitcakes from the 19th century were soaked in alcohol, covered in powdered sugar, and wrapped in an alcohol saturated linen preserving it for a very very very long time! But how long exactly? In 2003, Jay Leno sampled a piece of fruitcake baked in 1878 on the Tonight Show, and as we all know, he is still alive! Like a fine wine, fruitcake connoisseurs
(I kid you not) believe the flavor actually improves with age!
My family once had a very interesting Christmas tradition involving the fruitcake. My late father was the only person I have ever met whom loved fruitcake! It was one of his favorite foods, and looked forward to eating it each year! Every year each of his sons would wrap a fruitcake up, place a bow on top, and give it to him for Christmas! One year, I forgot to buy him a fruitcake, and he actually had the gaul to call me a fruitcake! How rude! Throughout the entire following year, he took every opportunity to remind me of my oversight! Finally, he forgave me when I doubled up on my fruitcake gift the following Christmas! Although he did ask about an interest payment for the fruitcake that was 1 year past due! That was my father!
After departing Hurricane, Utah, we drove 131 miles Northeast to Bryce Canyon National Park. Named after Ebenezer Bryce whom homesteaded the region in 1874, Bryce Canyon National Park is a 35,835 acre park in Southwest Utah. On June 8, 1923, President Harding declared Bryce Canyon a National Monument, and was re-designated a national park by congress in February 25, 1928. Due to it's remote location, Bryce Canyon receives significantly less visitors than the more popular Zion and Arches National Parks. The most magnificent places I have visited on my cross country trip are those which are most difficult to reach! Therefore, I had high hopes for Bryce Canyon National Park!
I apologize in advance for the geology lecture, but understanding the following will help garnish a greater appreciation for the rarity and beauty of this geological national treasure. Despite its name, Bryce Canyon is actually not even a canyon! A canyon is formed by erosion by a central stream. For example, the Grand Canyon was formed by the Colorado River flowing through it over time. Bryce was formed by headward erosion where water seeps into the rock from the surface, and erodes the rock from within during frost and thaw seasonal cycles.
The ground in Bryce Canyon consists of hard rock on the surface with softer rock beneath, and the soft rock erodes away easier than the harder rock above. The end result of such erosion patterns is the parks distinct and unique geological structures called a hoodoo. Hoodoo’s have a totem pole appearance, and range in size from an average human to as tall as a 10-story building! Just like people, no two hoodoos are identical! Erosion patterns, type of rock, minerals within the rock all result in a unique colorful appearance for each hoodoo!
As headward erosion progresses and additional hoodoos are formed, the result is the creation of a natural amphitheater. A natural amphitheater is a space located in a steep mountain or a particular rock formation which naturally amplifies or echoes sound. A colorful choir of thousands of hoodoos lining a natural amphitheater is a spectacular site to behold! There are few other places in the world where such a sight can be seen!
It was a painfully long, but breathtakingly beautiful drive to Bryce Canyon. Specifically, the drive along Scenic Byway 12 through the Red Canyon in Dixie National Forest will be forever memorable! They even carved 2 shallow arched tunnels though the red rock, when they could have easily just blasted the rock instead. What an experience! Please see the pictures below.
Upon our arrival at Bryce Canyon, we first stopped at the visitor center to plan our visit.
We would explore the park via the Rim Road Scenic Drive; an 18 mile out and back paved road offering 13 viewpoints above the parks amphitheaters! We began by driving to the end of the road, and then stopped at the view points on the way back. The most distal overlook point on the scenic drive is Rainbow Point at 9,105 feet! Since the drive to Bryce Canyon took so long, we arrived as late in the day as the sun was casting shadows over the canyon. Please excuse the picture quality, which is lower than my usual high standards. Please see the pictures below!
Black Birch Canyon
Sheep Creek Swamp Canyon
I saved the best for last! This is the vantage point over the Bryce Amphitheater, which is the largest natural amphitheater in the park! Words don’t exist to describe the natural beauty we saw here!!! I just wish the pictures came out better. Please see the pictures below!
After departing Bryce Canyon National Park, we drove 102 miles North to a Walmart in Richfield, UT where we slept for the night.