Thursday, September 16, 1999
We left Moab this morning and headed for Capitol Reef National Park. We found a motel room at the Chuck Wagon Motel in Torrey. It was in a log cabin, and inside everything was made of wood – very cosy! The owner was friendly as well, and he also owned the only shop in Torrey. Besides, there’s only a “Subway” and a gas station for the tourists who stay in Torrey while visiting Capitol Reef.
After checking in, we went on to the National Park on Highway 24 that leads from Torrey through the park and on to Hanksville. A scenic drive brances off the highway at the Visitor Center of the park. After our stop at the Visitor Center, we went for a little walk on the Hickman Bridge Trail which started near Capitol Dome.
Next, we visited the old Mormon settlement in the park called Fruita. Mormon pioneers came to Capitol Reef early in the 19th century, built a village and planted fruit trees. When the area became a National Monument in 1937, the settlers moved away gradually. But the orchards are still there, and in season visitors can eat all the fruit they want – for free – or pick some and take home for only 50 cents a pound!
Besides humans, the muledeer are frequent visitors of the orchards, and they let you get as close as 30 or 40 ft (10 m) before they walk away. Here are two muledeer on the lawn of one of the old Fruita houses.
Now we went back to the Visitor Center and turned onto the scenic drive. We went into the two large washes: Grand Wash and Capitol Gorge. They both get very narrow so that you have to drive directly in the wash after a while, and huge rocks on both sides of the wash make you feel really small.
Unfortunately, we stayed in Capitol Gorge a little too long, so we missed the sunset.
When it got dark, we went back to Torrey and went to the Café Diablo (here’s a review) for dinner. It was one of the two restaurant in town, so we didn’t have much choice, but I think we got the best food of the whole trip there!
The previous year, the Café Diablo had been rewarded the best Southwestern restaurant or something, and the food was excellent! We really can recommend it! I had Pecan Chicken, and one of the side dishes looked like yellowish vegetable shreds. When I asked what it was, the waiter told me it was spaghetti squash. I told him I didn’t know what that is, so he went to the kitchen and came back with a squash to show me! By the way, the waiter even spoke a little German, and he passed our table several times to ask whether I have another question about the food: “Haben Sie noch Fragen?”
They also had a large selection of desserts: about ten different cakes, and several home-made ice creams. Delicious!