September 30, 2012

#95 Moab and Red Rock Country

Moab and Red Rock Country

My first day in Moab I went river rafting.  Initially I wanted to do Cataract Canyon, but the thought of Class IV & V rapids made me a little bit nervous.  One of the guide companies had even assured me that the water level was low this year so they were more like Class II & III, but still...  I decided to due a Fisher Towers day tour, and while I had a good time, a great guide, and fun people in my boat the low water levels were obvious.  

It was basically flat water all day long.  Our guide, Abby, had to work waay too hard to make sure we all got wet going through the "rapids".  Most of the folks in my boat swam most of the way (including through at least one "rapid") and only had to get out of the water when the water was so shallow that there was a danger of getting a foot stuck in the rocks along the bottom.

I didn't take my camera this day because other rafting excursions I've been on had enough excitement and splashing to make it impractical, but we had incredibly long stretches of doing nothing, but sitting in the raft with no possibility of getting wet, and talking.

I've been trying to convince my family that we should all go river rafting and this would've been the perfect day trip!  In our group we even had a 3 1/2 year old!  

This day continued the "rocks that look like stuff" motif.  Abby pointed out several along the river that look like various things, including a gummy bear.  We also talked about how Johnny Depp had spent most of the summer in Moab shooting The Lone Ranger.  

On our boat we had Cynthia, Laura, and Mary (a group who live in Nebraska, Georgia, and England, but vacation together once a year or so -- side note:  I need travel buddies like this!); and an Italian family (Fabrizio, Florian, and Mattias).  They were travelling sans madre because she hurt her knee the day before and decided to rest instead of raft, but the boys made the trip.  They were from the area around Rome - Mattias was 18 or so and Florian was 22 -23.  Abby, our guide, was quite smitten with Florian and was funny all day long.  She absolutely refused to pull him back into the boat by his jacket lapels (which looks totally humiliating no matter how fit or good looking you are), and instead jumped in next to him and taught him how to launch himself back into the boat in the manliest way possible.  It was pretty amusing, actually.

On our way back through town the river guides gave dinner suggestions, and since so many of them recommended Milt's I decided to give it a try.  Milt's is a little drive-in burger and shake shack that reminded me a lot of Parker's in American Fork.  It was delicious and I'd definitely eat their food again.

The next day I went to Arches National Park.
Arches is home to the most famous Arch in America, Delicate Arch.  It was also super crowded.  I hate crowds so I was more than ready to get out of dodge by the time I'd been to all the points I wanted to see.  Unfortunately, I didn't hike all the "short" trails I'd marked because the parking lots were a jam-packed mess, but I saw enough to feel satisfied.

Park Avenue View Point & Trailhead



Courthouse Towers Viewpoint:
Rocks that look like stuff!  It's Sheep Rock...


Baby Arch



Petrified Dunes Viewpoint:


The Great Wall



Balanced Rock:


Garden of Eden:



The Windows Section:
This was a particularly bad parking lot.  It was completely full, so I mostly "parked" in not really a spot and took a couple of quick pictures.  I had planned to get out and hike here.






Delicate Arch Viewpoint:
This was another fully PACKED parking lot.  Actually the viewpoint parking lot was fairly empty, but the parking lot to hike to Delicate Arch was crazy full.



Fiery Furnace:


I could hear people talking the whole time I was here, but couldn't see them.  When I was reviewing my photos I discovered that I caught them on camera.

Sand Dune Arch:
Sand Dune Arch is aptly named.  You start down this totally flat, even, paved trail and then suddenly, you are ankle deep in sand.  

There was a Ranger standing by the Arch when I got there, and he said that just fifty years ago there was only about 4 feet of clearance between the apex of the Arch and the sand floor.  People used to jump from the top of the Arch to the ground with no problem.  I know that personally, I carried at least a couple of inches of sand out in my shoes.

You have to scoot through this opening to get to the Sand Dune Arch


Afterwards I was told that the hike to Broken Arch (which starts from the same spot as Sand Dune Arch) is a much lovelier (and easier) hike than the one to Sand Dune, but somehow I missed it.

Skyline Arch: