Friday, September 17, 2010

September 15, Day 13

We headed to Canyonlands first thing in the morning, after our first adventurous breakfast attempt. Usually we just have instant oatmeal (or, in a pinch, poptarts in the car) but this morning we had pancakes! It reminded me of the Warren Dunes camping trips of my childhood, eating pancakes cooked on a Coleman stove. It was surprisingly easy to do. And they tasted delicious.

Our friends from Capitol Reef (the ones who found the water tanks, remember? California?) had insisted that when we came to Canyonlands we had to see Mesa Arch. So, we hiked it. With the senior citizens.

All the people we see on this trip are either bikers, Europeans, or certifiable AARP members. There's no one our age, unless they're German. Odd. But pleasant. Old people are usually quite happy to take our picture for us.

Anyway, Mesa Arch was a little bit of a walk, only like 0.2 miles or something, and then the view was fantastic! We looked over miles and miles and miles of canyony-land. The explorer who found it called it a "wilderness of rock." And I agree. It's sort of freaky, really, and it seems to go on forever. It's like there's the river, and then there's just ROCK. Mesa Arch is a low standing arch right on the edge of the Mesa. It's actually sort of peeling off from the mainland, and the drop directly on the other side is dizzying - looks like the sort of arch you want to climb out on the top of... until you get there and see the other side. Then you back up slowly from the edge and sit down. Don't worry, Mom, we didn't climb out on it.

We drove to some more overlooks and appreciated the bizarre view. Then we left Canyonlands and happily left the state of Utah! We are so excited to start Eastward for real and quit this zig-zagging around business.

Before we left the state of Utah, we stopped for an oil change and some lunch in Moab. Now, Colby and I have pretty similar (but slightly different) philosophies about eating out. We are both interested in finding interesting, weird restaurants full of personality. Colby, being a guy, is mostly interested in food heartiness - quantity and decent taste. I am completely just interested in atmosphere and adventure. Our last attempt at eating out sort of erred on the food quantity side, and I pouted, so Colby left this one up to me. I picked "Milt's Stop & Eat." What could have more personality than that? It turned out to be a teeny burger joint. With like the best french fries ever. And huge baskets of onion rings. And I ate a BLT and I was happy. And Colby ate a huge quantity of more-than-decent tasting food. And he was happy. Food success.

Our next stop was Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. Be honest, have you ever even heard of this place? We hadn't, till we found it in our ever-so-handy national park book! But it turned out to be one of our favorite places yet. If you ever go to western Colorado, this place is a necessary stop. It's a huge, deep, sharp canyon - the most dramatic thing I've ever seen, I think - it's just jagged and chiseled and the rock is dark grey. There's the Gunnison river at the bottom, and aspen and pinion pine and scrub oak at the top and dribbling down the sides. The colors were just starting to change - seemed to change even more overnight, actually, which was gorgeous - and it was just breathtakingly beautiful. I think it was just refreshing to us that there was so much vegetation and the rock wasn't red. It's sad, but we had gotten so we were kind of unenthused about red rock. Funny for me, because it's ordinarily my favorite thing.

Tonight we set up camp and stayed up late reading.

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