Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Red Sands and Old Totems

After leaving our hotel in Colorado we got back on the highway to head to Utah. Thankfully it was only a 5 hour drive instead of the past 2 days of over twelve hours each. Although short, it made up for it with terrifying portions of road. Living in New England our mountains look like small hills compared to the Rocky Mountains. Which means driving at 65mph in the dark on the steepest road I've ever seen was no a fun time. When there are runaway ramps to save trucks after their brakes fail you know how steep that is. The smell of burning brakes filled the air around us as we drove for miles down the mountain, but finally it flattened out a bit. We were treated to most beautiful tree covered mountains a highway can offer. 

Cell phone shot through windshield (my wife took it while I drove)

The road curves through the rock monoliths on either side with the Colorado River next to it. Now the air smelled like balsam and cedar instead of nauseating brakes. After enjoying this for some time the mountains and trees melted away to scrub bushes and flat dirt wastelands. Nothing around for miles and miles the speed limit being 80mph makes it go by faster....but not much. 

At a rest stop the moon was setting behind this mountain (cell phone photo)

We crossed into Utah and continued through the barren landscape to be greeted by mountains in the distance. But we aren't headed there yet, so we took our exit and continued for another hour. As if by an invisible barrier the scrub lands instantly turned into a mesmerizing red land of sand and giant smooth rock formations. After passing some wild prairie dogs and pronghorn sheep we get to our destination, Arches National Park. 

Cell phone photo from passenger seat

This place feels so peaceful for being in such a harsh environment. It's quiet and timeless like it's lost in time. I envy the people who get to see this for the first time. Giant red stone walls and towers dot the land. Some look like people and animals such as the Three Gossips and Elephants on Parade. But the major draw of this place are the gravity defying natural archways. You need to see them to believe them and understand their size.  

Double Arch

We spent all afternoon exploring the park, shooting the cacti, lizards and of course the arches. We still had time to kill so we just sat in the car and relaxed in the silence of the parking lot of the Fiery Furnace. Finally only 2 hours till sunset we set off on the 1.5 mile hike to the arch that's on Utah's license plate, Delicate Arch. I really underestimated the walk as did most of the other people who were passing us when we took breaks. My wife I think still fantasizes about pushing me off the cliffs for making her do it. But she made it to the top and I was proud of her for not turning back.
Of course as my luck has it as we got to the Arch, the sun went behind some thick clouds so the dream shot I had of a nice lit up arch in the sunset was gone. I took a few shots just to document our trip and we decided to leave. Just as we did, it started to rain a little and the gusts of wind that appeared from nowhere were at least 65mph and sent all the sand and tiny rocks flying at us like little knives. Not a very nice way to end the day. All that work for nothing, my wife cursing me for nothing. Then I saw a break in the clouds near the bottom of the hike. The landscape started glowing in the setting sun and the sky turned a little purple and orange. So I pulled out my camera and tried to find a decent composition and fired away. 

Candid photo my wife took of me

Panoramic shot of the sunset
OK not so bad after all and at least we can say we hiked up to the most famous arch in the park. We checked into the hotel in Moab (home of one of my favorite photographers Joshua Snow) and decided we needed food. After stocking up on more drinks for the ride we settled on pizza again from a place called Zax and went to bed. The next day was going to be a very long one. Cause we needed to  get to San Francisco. But that's another post soon to come. We are only 4 days into our trip. 14 more to go!


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