Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Moab Utah - The Arches, Canyonlands and the Sunset Grill

The winds had abated by morning. This is beginning to sound like a familiar story. Slammer and Toby were going riding and then were going to pack up and head south for Monument Valley. We’ll see them tomorrow in Kanab.

Scotty, Marlene, Sandy and I headed into Moab for breakfast at Mickey D’s and then headed a few miles north to The Arches National Park. It is known for unusual and interesting formations carved by water and wind from red sandstone.

When we finished it we had some time before our noon rendezvous with Utemike in Moab, so I led them on a ride up Highway 128, the one we came down yesterday. The road was more fun without the trailer on and Scotty was impressed with the high red rock canyon walls on both sides of the Colorado River. Rafters were floating downstream and looked like they were having a ball.

We got back into town and parked the bikes in front of the Visitor Center, which was our assigned rendezvous spot. Since we were still a bit early, we headed across the street to a juice bar and ordered ice or smoothies, depending on our preference. Just as soon as we sat down outside, Mike pulled in across the street.

After refreshments, we headed north again for Canyonlands, the other national park near Moab. There is a long access road and, after we got up onto the mesa, we could see a couple of local rainstorms, which were shedding frequent lightning bolts. The further we rode, the more it looked like our paths were going to intersect. Finally, thirty miles in, there was a sign indicating the park gate was one mile ahead. We made ¾’s of that when large raindrops started to fall. The ranger at the gate looked at our park passes and waved us through so we hightailed it to the visitor center, another mile down the road. Amazingly, the heavy rainfall stopped about one hundred yards short of the parking lot, but not before lightning struck very near us. I’m trying not to take this Utah weather personally.

After waiting a bit, we figured it was clear out in the park so we headed for Grand View Point Overlook, another twelve miles down the road. In fact, it was the end of the road since it was at the tip of a promontory surrounded on three sides by huge canyons. It is hard to look on something of this magnitude and not be consumed with awe. While the original storm was behind us, another was moving in and started shedding some precipitation, so we headed back. On the way, we checked out other scenic lookouts. I didn’t mention the road before, but it has many twists and curves rated at 25 MPH, although Mike led us through them at a more sporting pace. Part way back, he took another road to the Upheaval Dome parking lot. This is significant because you can’t see the dome, caused by a subterranean salt layer, from the lot. Oh no. It is a ¼ mile walk uphill to the viewing point. Mike and I walked up while the others opted to remain at the bottom. It was interesting, but I have no pictures since I forgot my camera in the bike.

When we got back down, Scotty and Marlene had already headed out. Rain was starting again, so we hightailed it back to the main road and then headed out. It was necessary at one point to pass a very slow car in the middle of three consecutive 25 MPH switchbacks to maintain out momentum. We caught Scotty and Marlene just before the main highway.

In town, Sandy decided she had enough riding and so we set up a meet time with Mike for tomorrow morning and headed back to camp to do laundry and get cleaned up.

Scotty decided he wanted to have supper at the Sunset Grill, a restaurant high over the north end of town. We rode down there and climbed an atrocious hill to the place. It was originally the dream home of a man named Charlie Steen who had discovered uranium in Moab in 1952. Food was good and view was great. On the way back, I saw a familiar face in front of a motel in town. Brillo, Deb and Batman from Iowa and Ace from Hamilton were settled there for the night. Ace mentioned having met Six Pack Jack Ward at a highway intersection in the middle of nowhere. I guess we really are taking over Utah:-)

We’re pre-packing tonight to be ready to leave at 7:00 AM. Next stop, Kanab.

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