Day 9: Togwotee, WY to Bryce, UT

One final breakfast at the Togwotee buffet prepared us for the long drive ahead of us. This was the longest driving day of the whole trip: about 9.5 hours driving, estimated 11.5 hours travel time, give or take a half-hour.

The drive took us by the other Sundance. The original Sundance is in the northeast corner of Wyoming. We went through the little town as we got off of I-90 to head north to Devil’s Tower. The Sundance Kid got his name because he spent 18 months in the Sundance, WY jail. He was born Harry Longabough, in Pennsylvania, though some say it was Ocean City, NJ. The folklore abounds. He moved with his family to Colorado, and by the age of 20 was working as a cowboy, and at a bar. Out of work in 1887, Harry stole a horse, a gun and a saddle from a ranch near Sundance. He was caught and sentenced to serve time there. He was always known as the Sundance Kid after that. In the early 1890s, the Sundance Kid hooked up with Butch Cassidy and began to be implicated in a number of bank robberies with him and his Wild Bunch. Cassidy had been born Robert Leroy Parker, the son of devout Mormon parents. He was led into a life of crime by Mike Cassidy, from whom he adopted the name “George Cassidy,” though he was known as Butch Cassidy. Mike Cassidy was a cattle rustler, but disappeared after killing a Wyoming rancher. Some say Butch Cassidy took Mike’s name so as not to bring shame upon his family.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’s hideout was a remote canyon in Wyoming, called Hole-in-the-Wall. In 1969, William Goldman’s screenplay of the story of these old-time gangsters (aptly named, of course) was directed by George Roy Hill. Goldman won a Best Screenplay Oscar for this classic American Western film. Paul Newman played Cassidy, and Robert Redford played the Sundance Kid.

Do you recognize Goldman’s name? You should (I’m talking to you, Brad Cathey). Goldman (as S. Morgenstern) wrote the novel, The Princess Bride, published in 1973. He subsequently wrote the screenplay for it, produced in 1987. If you’ve never read the book, read it. It’s my favorite all-time novel. I read it for Mark Springer’s 8th Grade Creative Writing Seminar at Radnor Middle School. Goldman also wrote, produced, and consulted on screenplays for: The Stepford Wives (1975), All the President’s Men (1976), Heat (1987), Misery (1990), A Few Good Men (1992), Chaplin (1992), and Good Will Hunting (1992), to name a few.

For Robert Redford, the Sundance Kid was a defining role. He subsequently named both his film festival in Utah and his four-season resort, after his character. On Day 5, we passed through the namesake Sundance, Wyoming. Day 9 took us through Redford’s town in Utah, honoring his character.

We also passed through Provo, home of Brigham Young University. What a beautiful town for a college, nestled in the valley between the mountains.

South of Provo, we saw a double rainbow. Some in our vehicle claimed it was a triple rainbow. Austin announced, “Our trip is complete!” We also saw the most beautiful fields where a company was growing lavender, though we didn’t stop for a picture.

Here’s the sun setting over the central Utah mountains. We drove into the Bryce Canyon area in the dark, our headlights only hinting at the canyons and red rock formations around us. Our lodging for the night was at Bryce Canyon Resort, just outside Bryce Canyon National Park. We stayed in one of the historic cabins. They are quiet and comfortable, though the marketing was inaccurate and the front desk staff’s response to the inaccuracy was less then responsive. I reserved a room with 2 Queens and a sofabed, enough for our family. Our confirmation indicated the same. When we arrived at the cabin, we discovered that it only had 2 Queens, no sofabed. I drove back to the Office, barely catching the desk clerk before he retired for the night. While he was able to offer us a rollaway, which worked fine for our family, his response to my inquiry was merely that a lot of the web sites state their information inaccurately. I reserved the room directly with the Resort, not with a travel service, so the information I was working with was their own web site, as far as I understood. The confirmation e-mail I was working from was directly from them. Clearly, they have a communication problem. I wouldn’t recommend not staying at Bryce Canyon Resort, but I would check and double-check the accuracy, if these sorts of issues will cause difficulties for your family. One thing I had discovered during the day may be a clue to the troubles here. Every number that is listed on the web site gets you to reservations agents who are not on-site. If you press further or ask a lot of questions, they can transfer you to the on-site Office, but they seem to be trying to handle reservations, plus a number of types of inquiries off-site. That could easily lead to mis-information being shared.

We were glad to be staying for only one night, though. We planned to spend the day at Bryce Canyon the next day and then drive down to Zion National Park in the evening.

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