By comparison, one of the shorter days of the trip. Steve needed to get back to Salt Lake and on home to Canada, so he headed up I-15 for the long push up the Interstate, while Amanda and I decided to ride through Zion National Park and back the way we came up Hwy 89.
Zion may not have had the 1000s of visitors the Grand Canyon was experiencing, but there wasn’t a parking spot to be had at the visitor center and people were parking down the street throughout Springdale.
Zion is one of my favorite places. We’ve spent countless hours hiking the trails, wading through the Virgin River to the slot canyons, and one time even took a wrong turn on a hike into the park from the plateau above with my sons and a close friend of ours—and got stranded on the plateau for the night a few years back. We definitely learned the value of carrying the right survival gear (the stuff we now carry in our day packs has forever been influenced by the night we bivouacked on the trail above Angel’s Landing).
Not long after leaving the canyon, we found ourselves at the Mt. Carmel junction with 89 and the Thunderbird Restaurant. Riding through here a few days ago, Steve had a chuckle at the sign advertising “Ho-Made” Pies and even took a photo of the sign on the road in Orderville.
The sign was hand-crafted during the era of the 1940s and 50s by what the restaurant describes as the “tin men.” They wanted the sign to say, “Home-Made Pies,” but there wasn’t enough room on the sign, so they guys abbreviated it “Ho-Made.” In recent years the sign started causing a little bit of controversy, so “…we figured why not grab the bull by the horns, embrace our heritage, and start merchandising.”
“At a time when women in business were rare and something of a scandal, Fern [Fern Morrison, the original owner and a homesteader in Mt. Carmel the same year the Zion-Mt. Carmel tunnel was constructed in Zion National Park] was a woman before her time. the Thunderbird stands today as a monument to Fern Morrison’s courage and determination.”
Amanda and I both had a hamburger and shared a Ho-Made coconut cream pie in honor of our riding companion of the last few days, Steve. The pie was great, our waitress Savannah, and the atmosphere of the restaurant was fun and friendly. We watched several groups of bikers come and go. It’s hard to miss the Thunderbird as you ride (or drive) through Mt. Carmel. You should definitely stop and have some pie.
I’m glad we opted for a return trip via 89 because the section of the ride we powered through in the rain just a couple of days before was breathtakingly beautiful today. I mentioned before that this lower section of the highway through Southern Utah is one of the most beautiful (at least in Utah) and it didn’t disappoint us today.
We’d been pushing hard for a few days and Amanda was starting to feel the pressure of the miles, so we stopped 40 or 50 miles short of our intended destination and decided to spend the night in Richfield (one of the bigger little towns along Highway 89 in Utah). After a good night’s sleep, we’ll start the journey home to celebrate Mother’s Day with family.