It was 122 miles to Moab. Dave did not hook up the EvenBrake and the Rav’s battery did not go dead. We settled into the Portal RV Park on the north end of town ($42 per night) and watched the Giants lose to Kansas City. So it’s one-to-one now. The reason we’re staying here is that we can watch the World Series. It’s warm and cloudless here, so we’re focusing on hiking and revisiting some of our favorite haunts.
On Thursday, we got a late start to Arches National Park and so the light wasn’t very good. We walked the short trail from the campground (that we couldn’t get reservations for) to Broken Arch and reacquainted ourselves with the gorgeous terrain and red rock.
Then we drove about 1/8th of a mile and did part of the Devil’s Garden Trail, that visits about 10 arches. We thought it was pretty busy for a Thursday morning late in October. I heard German, French, Japanese, Russian (I think). We actually sat down and waited ten minutes for an Italian couple to get out of our earshot. The lady literally never stopped talking. Everyone else was relatively quiet compared to her. We walked as far as one of our favorite arches – Navajo, little off the main trail. About 8 or 10 people visited during the 20 minutes we were there. It’s funny to watch how people experience the arch. Some take a picture or two and leave. Some hang around to experience the ambiance.
The trail does involve some scrambling and some intimidating climbs but none of it is particularly scary when you have good hiking boots.
We ambled back to the parking lot and had a peaceful evening at home – no baseball obligations.
I wasn’t feeling too good the next morning, so Dave went hiking in Negro Bill Canyon and I lounged around and eventually, feeling better, I cleaned a little bit. It’s so hard to get cooking grease off the various kitchen appliances, especially the mini-blinds. It was a gorgeous day, so I was reading outside when Dave got back. I was making spaghetti for dinner, only it turned into Salsaghetti; I accidentally dumped half a big bottle of salsa into the sauce. The bottle was the exact same size as the Ragu sauce I buy. Dave often teases me that I never make the same recipe twice but this was a big change. Luckily, it tasted okay. Dinner wasn’t much consolation – the Giants lost. Now the Royals are ahead, 2 games to 1.
On Saturday, we didn’t get out early and spent an hour talking to our RV park neighbor from Ann Arbor, MI. It was after 1 p.m. when we took off to do the La Sal Loop, a 60-mile road that goes through Castle Valley and the La Sal Mountains. Our photographic expectations weren’t high and were met. No clouds and hazy conditions marred the wonderful views. But driving to the start of the loop, along the Colorado River was amazing, as always. And we found things to amuse us.
We were only halfway along the loop road when a couple on an off-highway-vehicle stopped us to ask for directions. Then they recommended a shortcut from the loop to Moab that went through some nice rock formations. Sand Flats was a dirt road and Dave had just got the Rav washed but we are always interested in new territory. The first 10 miles of the 16-mile road were okay – it descended through pines with intermittent views of Moab and the Moab cliffs. We had never seen Moab from this viewpoint.
Then the road dropped into sandstone formations that got nicer and nicer. There was a large amount of traffic on the road and we saw loads of people camping on what we assumed was BLM land. The finishing touch in the middle of the road as we were just outside of town: an entrance booth charging a $5 entrance fee. Weird.
On Sunday we had arranged to meet an old friend, Janet Curley. We have had some great adventures with Janet and her husband, Don. Don suddenly passed away in early 2013 and Janet has been perservering in running their homestead in the small town of La Sal. She suggested going on a hike to Corona/Bowtie Arches. Once we started on the trail, Dave and I realized we had never been on it before. It only ran 1.5 miles but went through great red rock formations.
Because it was Sunday, there were quite a few people on the trail. We ate lunch at Corona Arch and watched people come and go. One couple came over to where we sitting, on one side of the arch and said two French girls had asked them to please get out of their picture, that took around 5 minutes of various poses under the huge arch.
On the way back, we got to see the train going through the narrow canyon beneath us. It moves Potash out of the mine to civilization. All this occurs around Moab and the Colorado River. The potash is evaporated in large ponds. The intense blue color is dye, used to accelerate the crystallization process.
We returned to our rig around 3 p.m. cleaned up and hung around, waiting for Buck’s Grill House to open. We’ve been there several times; it’s good and has the benefit of being next door to our RV park. We were the first customers of the night and got seats on the patio, celebrating the mild weather with Lemon Drops, a very nice cocktail. Janet and Dave ordered the delicious Cowboy Porkchops while I had Elk Stew. Janet had the most innovative dessert – Mojito ice cream. It was very light and good. Dave and I went a little heavier with a chocolate brownie and pecan pie. Ooh, it was good! We waddled back to our campsite and bid farewell to Janet. The Giants game was still going and they won again. One more game and they win the World Series again.
Monday was our last full day in Moab. We got up at 6 a.m., heated up the coffee and drove away to Island in the Sky, the high-rise part of Canyonlands National Park. The clouds, too many or none, have an enormous impact on sunrise photography and it was no exception on this visit. We perched at the Green River Overlook and took all our pre-dawn images. The rising sun lights up the far-off mountains and buttes first and works its way to the huge canyons in front of us.
I was going at it, shooting, shooting, waiting for the sun light up the vicinity, when it went behind a big cloud bank. Darn!!! Back to pre-dawn conditions. Plus it was cold, a big drop in temperature from the past couple of days. Oh well. We ate our cookies, drank our coffee and drove from overlook to overlook, looking for great shots. Nothing looked spectacular but you never know until you look at those pixels.
We left Island in the Sky at about 11 a.m. and decided to visit Dead Horse Point State Park. It’s 4 miles off the west on the huge mesa and provides an eastern view of the canyons and the Colorado River. And they had a coffee kiosk that was nice because we had drank all our coffee. We downed our sandwiches with a large mocha. That fortified us enough to take a walk along the East Rim Trail, our last walk, probably.