Wednesday, October 30, 2013

America: Red Rocks

Previous sections of our drive: South, Prairies, Mountains. Utah doesn't feel like the home stretch, it feels more like another planet. I really feel that Utahans are being too modest about their state; they need some Texan-style pride. This place is one National Geo photo after another, considering that, please excuse my instagrams.

5:54 PM Utah border: Destination -  the red arch in the picture. Because it's in the picture. I've seen this thing on license plates for years, it's time to see it in the rock.

10:12 AM Arches National Park, Utah: Looks like a toy or set backdrop.

4:32 PM Arch, Arches National Park: It took a little over an hour to reach the arch from the road. It wasn't quite a tourist march because the trail wasn't exactly marked, just large slopes of rock to walk over and shallow canyons to weave through. But the steep bowl at the top had tons of people perched precariously kind of like eggs on a countertop.

4:46 PM Arches, Utah: We tried not to look down as we climbed along the edge of the bowl with our expert climber's grip and over to the chimneys across the cliff.

11:11 AM Make a wish, Utah: Mie is unperturbed by the bus load of tourists that just blocked her view, because she has extra-sensory skills.

2:12 PM Moab: I couldn't go to Moab without doing some climbing, so we bouldered instead. It was really easy, but pretty high up

2:13 PM Moab: Note the height.

7:02 PM Overlooking Moab: Rainbows. This place is one jaw dropping moment after the other. There's something kind of relaxed about this city too. The hostel had some characters as they always do. The manager or concierge was the friendliest guy, full of advice and stories, a big happy grin. One not so small distraction though, he had a gruesome gouge where his right eye once was. It was red and hollow and so hard not to look at. I had to focus like a surgeon on what he was saying.

8:14 PM Moab: Our two mile hike put the fear of starvation in us, so we ate more than advisable at the Mexican restaurant with the rain moving in behind us. This took Mie so long to eat, I went for a walk and came back and she was still working. So much respect!

I stopped at the climbing store to add a little to my stash, still not equipped for a full mission by myself. But almost.

11:02 AM Monolith/Moai, HWY 24, Utah: On recommendation from the eyeless man, we skipped the I70 and took off through the center of the state on 24 & 12. Canyonlands veered off to the left, where Aron Ralston had to cut off his arm.

3:22 AM HWY 12, Utah:  A storm rolled in as we entered into the Indian Res. Being in the lowlands; I started to get nervous. We were following along beside a river that was already red with runoff. As we wound around a corner on the 12, we hit a patch of road with at least a 15 foot-wide flow across it. We waited for a while, building up stupid courage. One car plunged through it unscathed. It appeared pretty shallow. Though, I've heard that even two inches of flood water can wash a car away. But it was cross or drive a hundred miles back, so I clinched the steering wheel and plowed ahead. The road dropped off on the other side, so that was menacing as I tried to keep a grip on the wheel. We high tailed it after that, and fortunately started ascending again. Just then the radio beeped with a flood warning... laugh, you dont say?

4:21 PM Grand Staircase HWY 12, Utah: Just driving along and then suddenly we are on a sliver of a plateau with canyons on either side as far as the eye can see, no big deal.

5:23 PM Escalante, Utah: We ate at what looked like the only open joint in a 100 mile radius. It was empty when a guy with a big belt buckle seated us, but it started to fill up with people from who knows where. Then a band appeared and an old cowboy started playing Johnny Cash of course. I was the only person clapping, so he asked me what I wanted to hear, I suggested Hank Williams Sr, an ode to my cowboy grandpa, whom I really miss. We got a concert of Hank and Cash for the rest of the night, really felt like I was on the range.

11:03 AM Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah: We got used to the isolation and cowboy lifestyle in Escalante, back with the buses of tourists and the fees.

Superb tourist fashion

The volume of formations blew my mind, like each one is a tiny castle.

7:35 PM Paria Outpost, Utah: We found this cowboy outpost in the middle of nowhere and when I say that, I mean nowhere. It was awesome, the canyons, dust, tumbleweeds and sunset stretched on forever.

We booked up in this super inexpensive, very quaint, very clean little cabin for the night and then went up to the ranch to talk to the cowhands, who lead trail rides out into the canyons. That's on my list when we come back.  Utah is unbelievable.


samantha said...

awesome pictures! I want to travel crosscountry now. I live in the midwest so it's a half trip in either direction

LWD said...

tourist fashion, cracking up over that shirt!

Tim S. said...

great pictures, looks like a fun excursion