Friday, September 17, 2010
Parks and Driving, Driving and Parks...
Surprisingly well maintained road
I can totally commiserate with truckers. In my less than three weeks on the road, I have already surpassed 5,000 miles. I was hoping to cross the country and back in 10,000 miles, but now, it looks like it may be more like 15--poor Forest. After my night in Santa Fe, I journeyed toward Monument Valley via Petrified Forrest and Canyon DeChelly. Petrified Forest was underwhelming as a whole, but I still don’t understand how wood becomes petrified instead of simply decomposing--if you have the energy to google this, let me know. I was at Canyon DeChelly for the sunset which was pretty remarkable, but then it was dark and I had nowhere to stay…in the middle of nowhere. So, I went to a tiny Utah state park that I had seen on the internet the night before. Gooseneck Park between Monument Valley and the Valley of the Gods provided me with a place to rest my head. When I pulled onto the Mesa about 10:30 at night another campfire was going, so I set up my tent and went to talk to the folks around the fire. Dave and Dennis were two Canadians on their way across the Western US to see what they could, and there was a guy and a girl traveling from Chicago to San Francisco and back I think. They were already a couple of bottles of Canadian whiskey in, and so we talked for a couple of hours about TV shows, politics, movies, and just about everything else. I went to sleep that night with no rain fly on my tent, looking up at the Milky Way and the clearest night sky I had ever seen.
Yesterday, I went to Monument Valley, Four Corners, and Arches National Park. I made the mile and a half trek up to Delicate Arch for the sunset with about a hundred other people. A couple of other sojourners had rather noticeable Southern accents, Ed and Libby. Ed approached me because I was wearing a UGA hat. Apparently, he had just moved out to Colorado in the past couple of years from Atlanta. Eventually, it came out that I didn’t know where I was going to be spending the night. He told me that there was a campsite next to his about ten miles down the road from Arches on the Colorado River. Ed and Libby had also made friends with their camping neighbors--Mike and Bonita who were in between jobs like a lot of people I have met on this trip so far. Mike is a potter moving to somewhere in Northern California after the trip (he doesn‘t know where); Bonita is a massage therapist. We all ate dinner together, where I learned of the delicacy--peanut butter and horseradish on a cracker (you really need to try it).
The following morning I woke to the sun just barely touching the rim of the canyon above my tent. Ed and Libby took me to an awesome breakfast in Moab where we talked some more, and I hit the road for Mesa Verde National Park where I finally sprung for a National Park pass which gets me in to any park or monument in the country on the free. I feel like that might be useful on this trip. In any case, Mesa Verde is home to a hundred or so abandoned cliff dwellings from the thirteenth century. One of the most impressive ones was Cliff Palace which I toured.
I then went to the really cool gold/ski/college town of Durango for dinner. I met Chiego at a brewery that sort of reminded me of Copper Creek. Tomorrow we are heading to St. George, Utah via Bryce Canyon. Thankfully that will be my last day of intense driving until I get to Northern California. The road is starting to wear me down. I’m going to need the Pacific Coast Highway next week for rest and relaxation. Why is the West so freaking big? And, why are all of the places I want to visit so far apart?