The Last Utah Hurrah

Today is our last day in Moab. Our last day of vacation except for driving. Boo! We decided to do a hike recommended to us by a park ranger yesterday. It was a 3-mile out-and-back to Corona and Bowtie arches, outside the national park in Bootlegger Canyon, a side canyon of the Colorado. No big deal, we thought. Well, it was no big deal until we got to a short but steep incline with a cable set into the rock to hauimg_20180629_093321323l yourself up on. There were footholes, but Steven said, “No way. I’m not doing that.” I said, “I get it. Do you mind if I go the rest of the way?” We could see the arches from where we were. “No,” he said, “See you in an hour.” Up I went. If you’re not afraid of heights, it’s really not a big deal. I scrambled up the rest of the way, took a few photos and headed back down. I wasn’t going

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Dinosaurs roamed here

to chill while he was sitting in the shade beating himself up over his phobia. As it turns out, he was feeling bad and was just done with everything and then I was feeling bad because this was our last hike (or so we thought). We stopped at another spot that was supposed to be a very easy 0.3 mile walk to dinosaur tracks, but again, the going was steep and the trail included scrambling over rocks. Steven was out. I made it and got to see the tracks, which was so cool for me. If I had gone a little farther, I would have seen petroglyphs, but again, I didn’t want to leave Steven worrying about my safety and I have seen petroglyphs before. We headed back to the B&B to regroup, since it was only 10:30 a.m. or so. By noon, Steven was suggesting another hike that was rated easy called the Grandstaff Hiking Trail (formerly the Negro Bill Trail and don’t get me started on that. At least they changed it?). The hike is mostly along a creek that feeds the Colorado to Morning Glory Bridge, a natural rock formation that is believed to be the fifth longest in the world. No sweat. Well, lots of sweat because it was middayimg_20180629_141344258_hdr. The 2.25 miles in seemed longer and I almost gave up this time because we hadn’t eaten lunch. We stopped in the shade for a snack. Steven said we shouldn’t continue if I wasn’t feeling up to it (I was a teensy bit dizzy) and then in my usual way, I said, “Let’s just see what’s around the bend.” Guess what? Around the bend was the end of the trail. We made it and it was worth it! We met a Boy Scout troop who had rappelled down from the top. At that moment, I wished I had done the same. Luckily, there was cloud cover (the first real clouds we had seen all trip) and the way back was much cooler and easier. Plus, we ended on an up note instead of a down. Yay! Then we relaxed. I hadn’t planned on an 8-mile day, but you gotta do what you gotta do.

We decided to have a nice dinner on our last night. Friday night date night! We had walked by La Sal House restaurant and thought it looked good. We were right! We had a harissa salad with butter lettuce, watermelon, and pineapple that I would never have thought to make, but blended fabulously. Steven had lamb and almost made me pass out when he said the vegetables were as delicious as the meat. I had a version of esquites that was also yummy.

img_20180629_204843854Finally, we watched the sun set over the mountains. A great last day in Utah.

A Whole Raft of Experiences

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Our campsite

We just finished our two-day whitewater rafting trip down the Colorado River through Cataract Canyon into Lake Powell. We planned this months ago, but the timing was perfect. We needed a break from all the hiking in the heat and two days on the water was perfect. Cataract Canyon is part of Canyonlands National Park and as you can imagine, it has steep red rock walls that rise from the river.

We arrived at 7:30am on Monday at Western River Expeditions in Moab and met the four other people on our tour.   There was one young couple, Zach and Megan, and one father and son pair, Gary (dad) & Cory (24 years old).  Our tour was supposed to be on a 26-foot motorized raft.  Due to the very low water levels, it was changed to be a fast run down the top (quiet) part of the river on a motor boat and then on to an 8-person self-paddled raft for the rapids and remainder of the trip.  We loaded ourselves onto the motor boat for a 2-hour run to the point where we met our guides, Daniel (on our boat), Nick & Anna who rowed the supplies down on inflatable rafts.

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Helmets and PFDs (personal floatation devices), formerly known as life jackets.

Words can’t really describe the landscape, the quiet, or the sheer blast of running 32 rapids, a couple of which were classified as Category 5. We ran them all our first day. I have to give props to Western River and our guides–they were cheerful and clearly knewimg_20180626_090705089 what they were doing. We never once felt unsafe. Bonus was the food, which was surprisingly good for camp food. They even cooked steak for dinner on Monday night. We camped under a bright moon on a sand bar that won’t exist when the water rises. Sleeping was a challenge for everyone but Sue, who can sleep standing up on a cliff face when she’s tired.

Tuesday was a lazy day. Since we were finished with the rapids, we tied onto one of the supply rafts and motored at a leisurely pace to the put out point. I was happy to sit and enjoy the scenery and the company. We were a little sad to say goodbye to our guides, but ready for the 2.75-hour van ride back to Moab. Being on the water for two days in the sun is tiring for us old folks. We promised to exchange GoPro footage (which we will post once we edit) with everyone and went our separate ways back at Moab.

Our separate way was to a beautiful inn called Red Moon Lodge. They have their own water source, so there is a pond to hang out around once it cools off. Plus, there are real flowers. It is odd to see something in nature that is not red, brown, or tan after all this desert.

Finally, we headed to Moab Brewery for dinner, where we met up with none other than Daniel and Nick, two of our guides. We were happy to have another chance to tell them what a spectacular trip it was!

We Made It To Moab

A couple of days ago we lost our connection to the outside world and boy was it peaceful. (Fill img_20180624_175254676_burst000_cover_topin the blank with a word that describes how you would feel about it.) We drove from Kanab past Moab and up Mt. Peale to spend a night at the lodge at Mt. Peale Animal Sanctuary. We should have gotten there before we hit Moab, but we decided to go around the other way because Steven wanted to avoid scary roads.

The accommodations were basic, just a bed and bathroom, but they were comfortable. The WiFi was spotty, but we didn’t care because our deck overlooked more spectacular views (seeing a pattern here?). We could also see the animals living at the sanctuary plus deer leaping in and out of the yard. In addition, ouimg_20180624_161005564r deck-share neighbors were a couple from The Netherlands who were living in Golden, Colo., and were doing a last U.S. hurrah before they moved to Germany. They were good company. I love Steven a lot, but sometimes it’s nice to talk to other humans.

I asked about volunteering to help with chores, so I got to feed the horses and ride on a tractor, something this city girl has never done. Steven watched from the deck. They are always looking for volunteers and if you happen to be out that way, you should give it a try. Let them know you want to volunteer, and they will cut the cost of the lodgings. Oh, there’s also a full kitchen anyone can use and breakfast food. The sanctuary takes special needs animals (for instance, Willie the horse is blind in one eye) and take care of them in the hopes that they may be adopted. They also have a healing center, but I don’t know much about that.  We turned in relatively early as we had to get up at 6am to start our white water rafting tour.

Grandiose Plans

grand-canyon-2299751__340While Sue is getting ready for her trip to London, I will be gearing up for our next journey – a road trip to the Grand Canyon & then whitewater rafting in Utah.  We had scheduled this trip before we won the one to Hawaii; we don’t usually have two trips in consecutive months, just lucky this year. (So very lucky!) Our plan is to put the top down on the convertible and drive from Chicago to Santa Fe (with a stop somewhere around Tulsa), on to the Grand Canyon and then to Moab, Utah.  I have never been to the Southwest or whitewater rafting and I am really excited.  We originally planned to go for two weeks, but as we saw in Hawaii, I always want to extend the trip.  We are currently at 16 days, but I am thinking…maybe just one or two more (perhaps a stop in Denver on the way home?) (Mom mom used to say I had big eyes because I always put too much food on my plate. Steven has big vacation eyes.) …We will see.

All suggestions welcome. We are game for adventures.