On my fifth day of this Sage and Sandstone Tour, I found myself a little sluggish. So I decided on an easy day. That meant sleeping in, puttering around and doing RV chores and driving out to a nearby state park at 10 AM. That’s where the easy ended.
I headed to Coral Pink Sands State Park which boasts miles of powdery sand and dunes. When I say powdery, I really mean it. Little did I realize that walking around the park would be like walking through talc. Which means a lot of slogging and one step forward, half a step sliding back. I walked around for hours and my step counter showed a pitifully low step count. I guess you don’t get credit for taking steps over after you slide back.
The thing is Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park allows ATVs and dune buggies on the sand. The Visitor’s Center is quite defensive about that policy. They claim the buggies are carefully monitored and must only ride in areas that won’t hurt fragile parts of the ecosystem. I suspect the park makes a lot of money from the ATVers. As it takes a special kind of hiker to slog around in red sand. Luckily there were few people and even fewer buggies there when I visited.
By the way, are you thinking: “Coral Pink? Those sands look more orangey not exactly pink.” Well, you wouldn’t be alone. One of the funniest reads on the Internet is checking out the Yelp reviews of National and State Parks. People complaining about everything from bears and moose that don’t hold still for photographs to “inconveniently placed parks that require walking”. Yup, Yelp is full of complaints from people who felt ripped off because they didn’t see pink sands here. Although I suspect at different times of the day — say at sunrise or sunset, you’d see very different colors.
By this time my calves were burning from hiking in sand, so I decided to finish my day exploring the little town of Kanab. I will admit, I was worried about Kanab. Driving in through the Arizona Strip, I got a very creepy FLDS feeling, especially as I drove through Colorado City, former home of Warren Jeffs and site of the infamous Short Creek Raid. Kanab was also the hometown of LaVoy Finicum, one of the Bundy gang who trashed the Malheur Wildlife Refuge and was shot for his troubles.
Instead, Kanab is one of the friendliest little towns I’ve been to. It’s cute and Western, but hasn’t gone all hipster like Moab. It’s also known as Little Hollywood because of all the films that have been shot hereabouts. I couldn’t begin to list them. The excellent Visitor’s Bureau gave me an A-4 sheet single spaced and typed both sides with hundreds listed. Kanab embraces this heritage and has plaques lining one of its two main streets honoring cowboy stars who filmed here. I love little towns that rely on preserving natural wonders, so when I’m in one, I like to spread some dollars around. I bought some supplies at Honey’s Market, visited a gallery and bought some sandstone coasters, and stopped at the Little Hollywood Museum and Trading Post. The museum is mostly composed of abandoned sets collected from various films, but heavy on The Outlaw Josey Wales.
Just as interesting were some local auteurs making their own film in the middle of the reconstructed town of abandoned movie sets. I wanted to chat with them, but they seemed annoyed that I was taking pictures of their production.
One of the most interesting “sets” wasn’t in the museum. Seems the only film to feature the complete Rat Pack (besides Ocean’s Eleven) was Sergeants Three filmed in Kanab.
I ended my tour of Kanab with dinner at the best restaurant in town. Kanab’s restaurants tend toward steakhouses, BBQ and Mexican. Sego is a San Francisco type small plates restaurant. So sue me. I come all the way to Utah and get a San Francisco type meal. But it was excellent.
I started my meal with a Martini with a locally produced Utah Gin called Madam Pattirini. Interesting story. Brigham Young’s 35th child was a cross-dressing opera singer who performed with such a convincing falsetto that many people in Utah had no idea they weren’t hearing a woman.