Day 3 - Moab
|Monday, May 20, 2019: We awoke very early and were pulling out of the hotel parking lot before 5:00 AM.
|The nearly full moon lit up the sky for our first half-hour of driving.
|But not enough to get a non-blurry photo of the Welcome to Utah sign.
|By 6:00 AM, it was light out and we were entering the Colorado Riverway Recreation Area on scenic route SR-128, ...
|... then arriving at historic Dewey Bridge a few minutes later. Wikipedia tells us that there are only three bridges in Utah that cross the Colorado River. We saw all three during this trip and this one was the first.
|Debbie had been here with her family in 1978, so it was time to recreate a photo or two.
|Here's how this very same view looked back then. The only difference is that the new photo was taken from the new bridge, and this was taken from the historic bridge slightly further upstream.
|The historic bridge looked like this. On the right in this photo, you can see a bit of the new bridge, which was completed in 1988.
|In 2000, the historic bridge was restored and put into use as a hiking and biking bridge. This is the view of it from the south.
|Sadly, the historic bridge was burned down by a child playing with matches in 2008.
|RIP, historic Dewey Bridge.
|But wait, it's still there ... sort of. All of the metal structure is still intact. It's just the actual sides and bottom of the bridge that are completely gone. Here's the view from the north.
|Here's how it looked in 1978. With an 8-foot deck, it must have been terrifying to drive across.
|Debbie did her best to recreate a photo from this angle.
|Here's the 1978 shot from the bank she was going for, ...
|... and here's the best she could do from the new bridge.
|From there, we followed the Colorado River further. We got out to snap a photo of the river and accidentally ended up recreating ...
|... another photo from Debbie's 1978 trip.
|A few miles further downstream, we got out at Hittle Bottom Campground to get a closer look at the water for a second, ...
|... then we turned into the unpaved road that leads to Fisher Towers.
|But first, we turned our heads west to see this pretty scene, perfectly lit by a brief break in the clouds.
|Anyway, back to Fisher Towers, shown here.
|It was before 7:00 AM when we arrived, so we saw almost no one there except for a camper waking up to start his day at the rest room.
|Given an infinite amount of time and energy, you can hike several miles into the Towers.
|But we had three more parks to get to this day, so we just hiked a short distance to get a closer look at these amazing formations.
|Looking away from the Towers and off to the northwest, that's the valley where the Colorado River meanders toward Moab.
|Looking to the northeast is the parking lot and the valley we followed from Grand Junction to get here.
|This beauty is calochortus nuttallii, commonly known as the sego lily. It's the state flower of Utah.
|We were back on the road by 7:30 AM because we had places to be. Those are the La Sal Mountains in the distance.
|A road sign told us that we were passing Rocky Rapid on our right.
|That's it right there. Someday, we will have to come back and do one of the day trips that runs this stretch of the river.
|Perched on the edge of a deep bend of the Colorado River is Red Cliffs Lodge. The river curves around to the right, ...
|... and here's the view looking back at the Lodge's cabins on the other side of the bend. That's White's Rapid on the left.
|As we approached Moab, we spotted the new Moab Canyon Pathway, ...
|... a bike and pedestrian path that is built above the river's edge.
|As soon as we reached US-191 in Moab, we saw a sign for Moab Valley RV Resort and Campground, where we'd be staying for the next two nights. But we weren't going there just yet.
|Our three destinations were all within an hour's drive of Moab. Our original plan was to visit Dead Horse Point State Park around noon, but we had gotten such an early start and made such good time that we realized we could visit Arches National Park at the start of our day instead of saving it for last to avoid the crowds.
|So we pulled onto the road to enter Arches National Park at 7:55 AM, ...
|... and joined the line of cars waiting to enter at 7:56 AM.
|Fortunately, the line wasn't long ...
|... and we were long past the entrance gate five minutes later.
|Once we got on higher ground, we had a nice view of the La Sal Mountains to the south.
|Interesting formations greeted us immediately. On the right ahead is the Organ with the Courthouse Towers behind it, and the Three Gossips on the left.
|Here's Sheep Rock. Obviously.
|These are the Petrified Dunes.
|There's Balanced Rock, ...
|... and here it is from a different angle.
|The scenery was getting even prettier as we neared the turnoff for Delicate Arch. That's Fiery Furnace in the distance.
|Speaking of Delicate Arch, there it is. See it on the ridge in the distance? No?
|OK, well, then, we'll zoom in a bit to that ridge. Delicate Arch is the formation positioned sideways and slightly downhill to the left of center in this photo.
|We could have done the longer hike that takes you to the base of the arch, but we opted for the much shorter hike, given our time constraints. With only four other cars in the parking lot, we knew we'd be bumping into way fewer people than on the longer hike.
|The hike starts out gently, ...
|... gets a little steeper, ...
|... takes you up some very well-maintained steps, ...
|... past the occasional flower growing out of the red rock (this is a dune evening primrose), ...
|... and then, bam, there it is!
|Where? Over there, across that ravine on the ridge. This is as far as this trail goes, ...
|... so we used all the power of our camera's 40x optical zoom to capture Delicate Rock in the distance.
|Then we turned around and walked back down to the parking lot, tucked right behind the low hill in this photo.
|The cactus were in bloom, ...
|... as were the yucca plants.
|We were listening to the GyPSy Guide Arches and Canyonlands Tour app which narrated what we were seeing based on where our car was.
|Our next stop was the Fiery Furnace. It looks like this from above, ...
|... and this from the side.
|The only way to get into see the formations more closely is to go on a ranger-led hike, so this was as close as we were going to get.
|Next, we headed to the Devil's Garden area. The parking lot was getting pretty full and it was only 9:30 AM.
|Off we go!
|We had a 1.6 mile roundtrip hike to Landscape Arch.
|The weather was overcast, which made the temperature perfect for a hike.
|After 20 minutes or so, we could see Landscape Arch in the distance.
|From here, we could see both Landscape Arch and Double O Arch, visible in the distance here.
|The soft red sand felt like we were walking on Mars.
|The Double O Arch trail continued another 1.2 miles through these vertical rocks ahead, and we could see tiny figures on it.
|Here's a closeup of Double O Arch, with the tinier arch visible inside the larger one. That little black dot is a seated person enjoying the view.
|Back to the star of the show: Landscape Arch. This is as close as you can get, due to safety concerns.
|Arches are created by portions of rock falling off, and the last major rockfall occurred September 1, 1991. Large boulders below the arch used to be attached until that date.
|The sign above included a photo of the break occurring.
|Exactly an hour after we started, we returned to the parking area. Our water bottle didn't fit under any of the water fountains, so Tom had developed a slow but effective method of refilling it using the cap instead.
|On our way to our next destination, ...
|... we passed Skyline Arch.
|There's Broken Arch in the distance.
|In the Broken Arch trailhead parking lot, we passed a rental RV with a huge photo of Landscape Arch on it. We've been there now.
|We passed the Garden of Eden, ...
|... with its funny rock formations.
|When we arrived at the Double Arch parking lot around 11:00 AM, it was completely full.
|On our second trip around the parking lot loop, we lucked out and found a spot.
|It's a short, easy walk to Double Arch in the distance.
|There it is!
|We passed some pretty little delphiniums ...
|... and some lupines, ...
|... and these animal hoofprints along the way.
|Debbie had been here in 1967. That small dot on the rock slope on the right in this photo is her at age four. Note that there appears to be no one else in this photo even though it was taken in the middle of the day. Arches didn't become a national park until 1971, so it wasn't as crowded back in 1967.
|Now there were people everywhere. We made several attempts to recreate that 1967 photo. We didn't quite get the angle right, but that's Debbie on the rock slope on the right in this photo.
|As we headed back to our car, we could see the Windows formations on the other side of the parking lot loop, but we didn't get a closer look at those.
|We passed Cove of Caves, with Cove Arch toward the left.
|There's Pothole Arch high up on this hill.
|By 12:15 PM, we were heading out of the park. The line to get in was significantly longer.
|We stopped at the visitor center for a bathroom break and to have a snack in our car.
|Delicate Arch? Got it.
|There were several animal sculptures, including this bighorn sheep ...
|... and this lizard.
|This was one of several colorful Escape campervans we saw.
|By 12:30, we were on our way, very pleased with what we had seen and by how well our schedule for the rest of the day was looking.
|We passed an oil rig on our 45-minute drive to ...
|... Dead Horse Point State Park.
|In the parking lot at the visitor center, we saw another colorful Escape campervan.
|We didn't go into the visitor center. We were just here to pick up some lunch at the Pony Expresso Coffee Shop.
|We each got the sack lunch combo: sandwiches (ham and roast beef), chips, apples, and Grandma's brand cookies.
|We drove out to the point. Here's the very narrow section that leads to the point, with sharp dropoffs on either side.
|We parked at the point and had a quick picnic lunch in our car.
|Then we walked out to one of several overlooks.
|Here it is: the only photo we took of this very famous scene. That's the Colorado River below us and we'd be rafting on that very water in just two days.
|Here's a view of the river much further in the distance. This is a zoomed-in view of the area just off to the left of the upper-left corner in the photo above.
|Here's a boat moving upstream. This is not the type of boat that we would be on. This is a closeup of the little white dot in the main photo above.
|Here's the view looking to the left (east), showing the Colorado River a little further upstream.
|We walked toward the east along the point rim to get a view of ...
|... the solar evaporation ponds for the potash mining operation.
|This sign nicely explained the process of pumping the water into the underground salt deposits, then pumping the salt water into large ponds to dry out.
|The water is tinted blue to speed up the evaporation process.
|Potash Road (BLM 142) is an unpaved road that leads from the potash mining center past Dead Horse Point. The ending of "Thelma and Louise" was filmed along this road.
|Our schedule (and tiny rental vehicle) didn't allow for us to drive it, but here's one lucky car that did.
|By 2:15 PM, we were back on the road, passing the visitor center ...
|... and some yurts at the campgrounds.
|We had a 10-minute delay due to road construction, ...
|... then we were on our way to Canyonlands National Park.
|Hooray for our America the Beautiful National Park Pass, which allowed us access to both Arches and Canyonlands. Dead Horse Point was a state park so that was a separate entry fee.
|Our first stop was the overlook at the Neck, a narrow strip of land with a view of Shafer Canyon. That's Shafer Canyon Road, which is just BLM 142 with a different name. Tom still was not tempted to drive on it.
|We stopped for a hike to Mesa Arch. The sky was starting to look a little ugly by now.
|These pretty flowers are pale evening primrose.
|It took less than 10 minutes to walk to Mesa Arch. It's a popular place but you don't realize at first that you're looking right at it.
|Then there it is.
|Let's get a little closer and wait patiently for everyone else to get their photo.
|Debbie had been here with her family in 1978, so of course we had another photo to recreate. Here's the 1978 version, ...
|... and here's the 2019 version. The surprising thing was how different the rock at the bottom of the picture looks. Sure, the angle isn't quite perfect, but you can tell that the arch itself is pretty much unchanged, but the rock below is has been significantly smoothed by thousands of visitors over the years.
|Our next stop was Green River Overlook, where teeny-tiny bits of hail or snow were blowing up at us from the mesa below. That's the Green River down there, obviously, on its way to meet up with the Colorado River. More on that in two days.
|Here's the view from Candlestick Tower Overlook to the west.
|It was really cold when we got to the coolest overlook: Grandview Point.
|Check out those cool canyons below. On our river trip, Debbie asked our guide what caused those white outlines on the canyon's edge. Stay tuned to see what they look like from the river.
|Here's another view from 1978 to reproduce. This photo was actually two different photos taped together, which is how people did panorama shots in the olden days.
|It started to rain just after we left the overlook, ...
|... but it stopped long enough for us to get a photo at Buck Creek Overlook. There's the Bundlings Weather Luck once again!
|It was a 45-minute drive back to Moab. We passed this tourist center several times during our trip, but despite the awesomeness of the dinosaur sculpture, we were not tempted to stop in.
|There's the sign pointing us to beautiful SR-128, which had brought us into town this morning.
|And right there was our home for the next two days: Moab Valley RV Resort and Campground.
|Instead of a cabin, RV space, or campsite, we had reserved the only Airstream they offered for rent. This vintage beauty was all ours for the next 36 hours or so.
|Let's look around! Here's the tiny living room, ...
|... with a small wall-mounted TV above a portable heater, plus a coffee maker, microwave, and refrigerator ...
|... in the kitchen area.
|The bed was very small, something we hadn't really considered, but hey, it's a new experience! Opposite the bed was a window and a small closet and shelves.
|Here's the tiny bathroom in the back of the trailer. By the way, this was the only unit you could rent that came with a bathroom. Every one else got to use the communal bathrooms if they didn't come with their own RV. Worth every penny, folks.
|Here's the view of the whole trailer looking back from the entrance to the bathroom.
|We got settled and then immediately jumped back into our car.
|We saw several other Airstreams in the park and felt like we were part of their cool club for one brief moment.
|We drove into town and passed the heavily advertised Sunset Grill on the hill overlooking the town.
|It's a good thing we didn't try to count the number of photos of Delicate Arch that are scattered around town. There are a lot, trust us.
|Oooh, a rock shop! This is definitely a tourist town.
|This hotel featured a yellow 4x4 as part of its decoration.
|Here's Main Street, the road that takes you from one end of town to the other.
|Looking to buy some property? These folks have glued together a half-dozen different local sights to make one magical scene that doesn't exist in real life.
|We traveled to the far end of Main Street, weighed our options, and decided on El Charro Loco Mexican Grill.
|Oh, yes, pretty and delicious, ...
|... even if there were beans on Debbie's plate.
|We passed Moab Adventure Center, part of Western River Expeditions. Western's river trips used to meet here, but now they meet at a hotel instead.
|Moab has lots of interesting sculptures around town.
|We drove past Moab Food Truck Park. It wasn't the high season yet so there wasn't a lot of activity there.
|Here's an interesting but terrifying mural.
|The abandoned Moab Scenic Tram sits across the road from our RV park. Once we got back to the Airstream, we spent the rest of the evening resting because Debbie had a terrible cold.
Copyright © Deborah Schilling/Thomas Bundy