Moab, Utah is the gateway to Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. They are the last two Parks on the Grand Circle that Josie had not been to. So we drove out of the snows of Colorado back into Utah. When I visited this area 23 years ago with my friends Bekki and Hutch, Moab was a small town with a couple of bike shops to service the newly developing mountain bike phenomenon and a couple of rafting companies that took customers down the Green and Colorado Rivers. Today Moab, the parks and the lands around them are being loved to death. There now seems to be a bike shop on every corner and many more rafting companies. But the biggest change is the number of off road vehicles buzzing all over the town and the surrounding country side, they are everywhere. Two things that have not changed, the scenery and the number of Foreign Tourists. The Orientals come in tour buses, and the Europeans come in rented RV's.
Our first night in town we ate at Trip Advisors number one rated place to eat in Moab, The Quesadilla Mobilla. It is a food truck that turns out fantastic quesadillas. The next evening we went to the Moab Brewery, just down the street from our campground. I was hoping it was the same place we watched the Baseball All Star Game 23 years ago, but it was not. We did have a nice meal and I had a beer and Josie a root beer.
As I said before, like all great places this area is being loved to death. The line to get into Arches National Park was a half mile long and it took us 30 minutes to get through the pay station. Once in the park, we drove straight to the parking lot for the hike to Delicate Arch. It is the most beautiful and thus the most photographed of all the arches in the park. It is featured on many Utah licence plates. The lower viewing area for the arch was washed out so we set off on the 3 mile hike up the hill to the base of the arch. I don't remember the trail being that long 23 years ago but I was younger then. The trail went up and over a few hills then straight up a large slick rock section before flattening out near the top. Josie is afraid of heights so parts of the trip were difficult for her. But she was a trooper and we made it up and back. The views of Delicate Arch were worth it. The rest of the park is also very scenic, with other arches and balancing rocks.
One afternoon I played Moab Golf Course. As you can see below it is quite a beautiful place to play.
On our final day in Moab we drove over to Canyonlands National Park and drove the 30 mile long Shafer Basin Trail. I did the first 10 miles of this trail with Bekki and Hutch in my Bronco 23 years ago. Of course we did not have any idea back then what we were getting into and it was quite a thrill as you can see form the pictures below. The trail can be driven when it is dry without 4 wheel drive but you really do need a high clearance vehicle. The trail starts with a 1 mile drive along a steep canyon edge then into a two mile section of switchbacks. At times it looked as if we were going to drive right off into the canyon. A few hearty souls ride their mountain bikes up the trail and we passed a few when we were almost to the bottom. When we got down Josie, who may or may not have had her eyes closed on the trip down, got out to look at the wall we had just driven down. I do know when I was cleaning the Jeep out after the trip there were finger print indentations on her door handle.
Once at the bottom we decided to drive a spur road over to Mussleman's Arch. This trip was just as exciting. The trail was much thinner and you had to find pullouts for others to pass. I took the second picture below out of the Jeep window and as you can see I was looking straight down. The other side of the Jeep was right up against the cliff wall. You can walk out on this bridge but we chose not to do it. Josie identified the Porcupine Prickly-pear cacti, which were blooming everywhere, from her Audubon Field Guide to the Southwestern States that the Loomis's had given us during their visit. To give you a sense of how vast this country is, see if you can find the Jeep that was coming toward us in the final picture below.
We returned to the main trail and passed many hoodoos until we reached the the Gooseneck bend overlook of the Colorado River. 23 years ago my friend Hutch and I drove golf balls off the cliff here. So I decided to do it again for old time's sake. I hit two balls, one for me and one for Hutch. I am sure he would have hit his a lot farther then I did. The form is not as good as it was 23 years ago as you can tell by the picture from 23 years ago and the one from this trip. The trail was scenic the whole way until we reach the salt evaporation pools near the end.
We were going to go to Colorado tomorrow on our way east but decided to go to Albuquerque, New Mexico so we can meet up with my old Navy buddy Tom and his wife Paula who are going to be in that area.