So, we went for the astronomy show. Mom wanted to stay in car and catch up on sleep, and the rest of us went in to be enlightened. Trouble started almost immediately when our little princess wanted mom, then juice, and then she wanted out – bottom line, she was sleepy and it would not be easy for her to sleep while the show was going on.
The presenter started off with a description of Bryce, why it was not a Canyon, how it came about … basically everything except the stars. When he about got started on the Solar System, I realized it was time to leave as I was starting to get sleepy, plus little princess’ tantrum was about to pick up. Reluctantly, I informed the rest of the gang that we might as well head off – surprisingly, only kiddo and I really minded this decision.
Other than circling around the state of Utah, when I had scanned the map before our trips, I had seen only two alternatives to return to Hurricane from Bryce – Option A or Option B. Not wanting to negotiate the Zion-Mount Carmel Road (SR9) switchbacks at night, I opted for Option B. What was an uneventful drive until the turn-off onto SR 14 soon turned into a scary drive.
I had not realized that we would be gaining elevation on this route too. From a driver’s perspective, that was OK, and I motored along at 55-60 mph… until I saw a deer just to the right of the road. “Slam!” went my brakes. Once I eased up on the brakes and gained speed, I realized that I would have to be driving very carefully to avoid a repeat of what had happened a few years ago. That was broad daylight on an interstate freeway with a posted speed limit of 70 mph. This was pitch darkness – but for my headlights – and I was definitely nowhere near 100% awake.
Now on this mountainous road, I dared not touch even 50 mph. So, I lowered my speed to about 45 mph. I overtook not one car and no one overtook me either. We came across a few bands of vehicles travelling in the other direction that were definitely going faster than me, and probably above speed limit too, maybe – “natives” I cursed under my breath ;-).
Every few minutes, we would spot deer either to the right or left of the road. At one point, there was a deer on the other half of the road (we were on a two-lane highway), and I almost came to a complete halt before the animal nonchalently decided to amble off into the forest away from out vehicle. At one location, we saw a big family of deer, at least six to eight of them, quite close to the highway.
We went past a town or two, and it was getting really late. Finally, at about midnight or so, we saw signs that we were getting close to Cedar City where we could get onto the interstate (I-15). SR 15 into Cedar City was a really nice drive – well, maybe during daytime when hopefully not too many deer were around near the highway. We stopped to refuel, and the almost full moon was a sight to see as it came out as a backdrop behind the mountains.
Even after we got onto I-15 after refueling, I still had nightmares (though I was awake) of hitting a deer because deer alert signs were posted along the interstate as well. Fortunately, we made it back to our motel in one piece … at 1 am or so!!