Photography

USA road trip, day 8, a day of two halves

USA road trip, day 8, a day of two halves

This morning we awoke to snow falling. It wasn’t coming down heavy but we needed to get moving just in case it did. We’d seen signs the day before warning people they’d be fined if they didn’t have snow chains when they needed them and it seemed that if we didn’t get a move on we would be needing them and we didn’t have them! Getting stuck would have thrown a massive spanner in the works, we still had a tight schedule to keep to. So off we went and it wasn’t very long at all before we came down out of the clouds and out of the snow, much to our relief. Phil’s chest was still giving him some grief so we made a stop in New Castle so he could get something to make things a little more comfortable for himself. Our next stop was Grand Junction and it was on this stretch of road, between New Castle and Grand Junction on the I-70, that the landscape really started to change. In the space of three hours we had gone from snow capped mountains with greenery on their slopes to a landscape that was turning into desert. Once we crossed the state line and entered Utah the whole vista just opened up! It was absolutely amazing to see that expanse of nothingness, that’s the only word I can come up with to describe what I was seeing. We stopped at the very first viewing point we came across as you enter the state and from that vantage point there is nothing man made for as far as the eye can see. I don’t think I’ve ever been anywhere else where there hasn’t been something man made in view. The sheer scale of it was immense. Crossing the great plains was quite an experience but this was epic. The other thing to note was the public toilet. We were now in desert country so it seemed that the use of water to flush public toilets was a no no. It was a hole in the ground and the smell…that really was something else! Until we get to L.A. this was going to be a common theme at the National Parks we visit. On the one hand, the no flushing, I was a little surprised to be honest, but on the other hand we were in a desert so it makes sense. We pressed on, to Crescent Junction then a hard left down to Arches National Park for the afternoon. I’m so glad I got myself in shape (a little bit) before the trip because today it really was needed. The main sight to see here is Delicate Arch and to get close to it it’s a 1.5 mile hike which seemed to be a 45 degree climb all the way. We were also well above sea level so less oxygen in the air also made it harder. Greg was making light work of it, and getting lost, but Phil and I were taking it a little more leisurely, much more sensible. When we finally got there we were lucky it wasn’t the height of summer as the spot would have been rammed and to get a photo with nobody in shot of the arch would have been impossible. After taking it in for about 30 minutes we had to get back to the car to take in some of the other sights before sunset and getting to our hotel for the night. I’m also glad we took notice of the signs warning about not going too far without water. It’s high and dry there and you soon find out why it’s so important to keep hydrated. Some of the other sights we took in were Double Arch, Balanced Rock, Three Gossips, Landscape Arch…to name but a few. We managed to get most of it in in that whirlwind of an afternoon but taking a day or two would have been nicer. So off we went to our hotel for the night, possibly the best hotel of the trip, Red Cliffs Lodge, right next to the Colorado river, north east of Moab. We got there just as the sun was going down to witness how the hotel got its name. Dinner at the Cowboy Grill was interesting with Greg and Phil opting to have some testicles as a starter. My starter wasn’t as memorable. Looking forward to tomorrow, we get to experience two amazing locations and a Forrest Gump movie scene.

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