This glorious day could not have been more different from the wet and dreary drive from Boulder to Grand Junction yesterday. Brilliant sunshine lit my way through the Colorado National Monument in the morning and Arches National Park in the late afternoon.
In between visiting these magnificent places for the first time I drove several hundred miles. But I got only 50 miles closer to California. In other words, I didn’t take the direct route and am now spending the night in a motel in Moab, Utah. In fact, I paid for two nights.
The extend of my planning on this trip is to look at a map and guide book and decide where I want to go next. I thought yesterday that today would be as wet and overcast as it was then. And if it had been poor weather I would have driven straight through to Cedar City, Utah. I love having the flexibility of making moment by moment decisions!
The Colorado National Monument is just south of Grand Junction. This is plateau and canyon country that is much more like the Southwest than the Colorado that I know. Ever since I was a boy growing up with Zane Gray’s idealized Western novels, like Riders of the Purple Sage, I loved this country then, and it is a love that I never lost.
After crossing into Utah, I took a back road to Arches National Park, which is just north of Moab. Much of that scenic byway ran right alongside of the Colorado River. That was a pleasant surprise.
At Arches National Park the ranger in the visitor center told me that I was too late to attempt the 3 mile strenuous hike to Delicate Arch, the most famous arch in the world and the literal peak experience of the park. I made the hike anyway, and actually returned to my SUV only a few minutes after sunset.
When I turned to leave Delicate Arch, I noticed these two ravens right behind me. They had so little fear of humans that I could get quite close. Seeing this life among the beautiful rocks caped the day for me.