I left Vegas the following day and decided to burn time by going to Hoover Dam to look around. Apparently, half of Vegas agreed; US-93 going out was a mess. I gave up and turned around, but not before spotting Lake Mead from Boulder City. Not a bad viewpoint, though the pictures I took seem to be lacking something... probably need a better viewpoint. I turned around, drove up to Utah, took a few rock pictures, and spent the night in Kanab, having overpaid enormously for a plate of spaghetti with a deep-fried chicken breast with mozzarella melted on top.
The following morning, I wandered out to the BLM office to try for a Coyote Buttes North permit. So did 26 other people. Seeing as how there were ten, I wound up not getting one. I had mixed feelings about that; while I was disappointed about not going then, I was relieved not to have to worry about the big mud pit on the access road that a ranger had snapped pictures of the day before. I guess I should really see about renting a 4WD vehicle next time I go. (The Pathfinder I drove was 2WD only, go figure.)
With nothing to do I decided to drive an hour north and go to Bryce. That proved to be a great idea. Bryce was covered in snow, and while much of the park was closed to vehicular traffic, enough remained so that I could wander around in the snow and try for pictures. I wound up sticking around until a bit after nightfall, trying for everything from the rock formations below to nice pictures at sunset to star photos. Haven't gone through everything yet, but I had to pull this one out:
I should mention that I specifically bought ND grads to try out on this trip. This picture is a single exposure with a 3-stop hard-edged grad. I could probably have moved the grad up a bit more, but I'm pretty happy with this one as it is. It's the first time I've been able to shoot into the sun without totally losing everything.
I was a bit concerned about the drive back to Kanab (about 80 miles), but it turned out to be quite uneventful. Of course, I would arrive back after everything in town had closed. Fortunately, I'd brought my own provisions, and that wound the night down.
I was debating whether to try for sunrise at Bryce the following morning. That would mean getting up at 5:30 and getting out by 6 so that I'd get there half an hour before sunrise. In typical fashion, I half-assed it, got out at 6:20, and by 6:45 had decided I wouldn't get there in time, so I turned around and had breakfast instead. Too bad; I haven't seen a sunrise in awhile, and this one was quite nice even if the sky was clear.
I'd decided the night before to cut my stay short by a night (due to impending snowstorm arrival -- more on this later), so I checked out, and drove back up to Bryce. I wound up burning time in Red Canyon (about 15 miles away from it) and not getting to the hiking I was hoping to do; instead, I was doing rather irresponsible things like scrambling up a really steep slope trying for more pictures. It's amazing how much harder it is to go down one of those things than to go up. The descent was slow but controlled save for one dumb mistake where I decided to lean into a tree and had it snap on me; fortunately, I only slid maybe a foot or so.
Back at Bryce, I found out they were doing an astronomy night out that evening. Too bad, since I had already decided to flee to Vegas that night. I had decided to go check out the two viewpoints I missed from the day before. One of them wasn't bad, but kind of blah; the other one (Paria View) was a bit of work to get to as they make a point of not plowing the road to it in the wintertime. I caught this on the hike over:
I'd say overall it was worth the half-mile trudge through the snow, but those pictures are still coming.
After Bryce I hopped back to I-15 (everyone: UT-20 is very very very worth the drive, holy crap) and headed south, arriving back in Vegas a bit after nightfall. I guess I'll stop at that point.