By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 11/15/2019
Occurred: 9/22/1997
Posted: 12/17/2016
Topics/Keywords: #Travel #Cross-Country #NewHampshiretoArizona #BryceCanyonNationalPark Page Views: 1072
My first visit to Bryce Canyon National Park, and a helicopter ride for Mom.

So, here we are, on this impromptu extension to our cross-country trip, wondering what to see next. Michael and I had just been to Zion National Park a few weeks earlier (on our reconoitering trip) and wanted to see something different. And it occurred to me that I had never seen Utah's Bryce Canyon, a place I'd fallen in love with while pouring over library copies of Arizona Highways as a kid. And so, we decided that's where we'd go.

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It took only about five hours to get from Grand Canyon Village, through Page, and up into Utah to the entrance to Bryce Canyon National Park.

Shortly past the entrance sign, the rock walls turned red, the color indicating a high iron content.

Also, the sky, which had been getting cloudier through the day, began getting even heavier.

Mom chose to wait in the car while Michael and I took a quick hike to, you know, actually see Bryce Canyon.

But then I saw a sign advertising helicopter rides over the canyon. I really wanted to do that, and I knew that, with Mom's fears, riding in a helicopter wasn't one of them. So I signed us up.

However, the weather had closed in to the point that our pilot explained we would not be allowed to fly over Bryce Canyon, itself. Instead, we would visit nearby Red Rock Canyon, which, while not part of the park, was "geologically similar".

Mom loves riding in a helicopter. Knowing her jet to Florida was leaving in just a few days, she said to the pilot, "Oh, I wish I could take a helicopter to Florida instead of the jet!"

As the clouds shifted above us, our pilot remained in close contact with his flight controller. "It's not raining here," he said, adding "Roger!" as pilots do while on the radio, since the high noise level in aircraft cockpits doesn't always allow the listener to know when the speaker is done transmitting.

After we had landed and said goodbye to our pilot, Mom commented that "Roger was such a nice man!"

"Roger?" I asked. "Who's Roger?%quot;

"Why, the pilot, of course!"

Eventually, we left the park (despite my stopping to take photos every 50 yards). And, eventually, the sun came out.

I tried to explain why she kept hearing the pilot say, "Roger!" but couldn't convince her that wasn't his name until we bumped into him at the Visitor's Center and I could ask.

His name was Paul.

From Bryce we headed back to Arizona, all the way to Phoenix, arriving the night before Mom's flight. So we sent her back to Florida for the winter, but with a full bag of memories of her cross-country trip.