Open Road

Thursday of Spring Break -- Middle of Nowhere and Getting Home

We found a little diner for breakfast in Monticello, and had bacon and eggs and enjoyed it with some really decent coffee. Then we went on a far less strenuous day than the last several had been...



Middle of Nowhere
We went out into the middle of nowhere. Literally. The GPS couldn't even figure out that we might have been on a road. *laughs* It was on the Bureau of Land Management land, and there were small signs that we were going to Needles Outlook, which was supposed to overlook Canyonlands National Park.

Given that we were all so sore by this point, we decided that hiking just wasn't in the cards anymore, and the overlook seemed small enough to just wander around. We'd get some idea of what Canyonlands was like and not have to strain already sore bodies. The really fun thing was that the road out to Nowhere was really cool and ran right through working ranchlands.

Jet got his first introduction to cattle guards and was suitably startled at the very loud sounds of the van going over the things. He was really worried about the cattle getting hurt in the things, but we reassured him that they didn't even try walking on them. He was intrigued by the whole concept of being able to just paint lines on the road to keep cattle from crossing once they were educated. He liked that and the fact that the cows were right by the dirt road.

Tiny calves were running around, too, with their moms. The little ones were a lot more unpredictable than the big ones, but they didn't run out into the road, thank goodness. A few were tucked into the drainage ditches on either side of the road, well hidden and in relative shade against the sun. Once we got to the actual overlook, there was a sign that reminded me that a lot of this land was bought by the Nature Conservancy from a lady rancher whose family had owned and worked this land for the last four generations. She's sold them the land to keep it out of the hands of developers. It was pretty amazing to see the actual, living land after having read about it in the magazine, and it was well worth saving.

Edge of the World
The parking lot was pretty small, and it didn't look that big, so I just got out of the van in my lavender Crocs! My feet were pretty swollen from the last two days, and the Crocs are just so comfortable. The textured bottoms are good on sore feet.

So I got out in them and found, pretty quickly, that they weren't particular good for scrambling around on slick rock. The views, however, were well worth the trouble, and instead of returning to the car, I just kept going on the rocks. The beauty of the whole thing was that the area was well fenced. John had talked to me about two different overlooks, and the Needles one had the white storm fencing all around all the edges. So it was relatively safe to climb, walk, and wander to the places where the views were the best. I think, however, that it was probably where I was most acrophobic through the whole trip! For good reason, I think, as the heights here were greater than most of those at Arches.

Mars?
The range of the views, however, were spectacular given the distances. And no where else was the red of the red rock so entirely apparent. The entire park was relatively small, and we had a lot of fun just sitting and watching the road below. There were off-road motorcyclists all following each other down a particular trail, and we could see them like a chain of motorized toys traveling some incredibly complex diorama below us.

There were only about a dozen people up there with us, and the weather was a lot cooler. It turned out that the Overlook was a few thousand feet above the two rivers and plains below. Two waterways formed those canyons, the Colorado and two creeks, North and South Creek. The creeks were seasonal waterways, only running in the winter and spring, drying up by the end of summer. It was pretty amazing to think of all those canyons cut

The entire spread was a lot of fun. There was a mound of rock near the center of the Overlook. John got brave, climbed to the top of it and took a picture all the way around while Jet and I sat down to just look all around. There was something amazing about being able to see that much of the world spread at our feet all at once, miles and miles and miles of distance, earth, and life. It reminded me of a birdwatcher friend of mine, who was once asked by someone relatively inexperienced, "How far can these binoculars let you see?" And he answered, "Well, you can see the stars at night, that's millions of miles away. How far to do you want to see?"

So long as the line of sight exists, you can literally see forever...

Needles Pano

When we were done there, we wandered back to Moab along the same route we'd taken out. We stopped at the visitor's center to refill our water, make our lunches, and I hopped back into the coffee roasters to buy a mug. I love my mugs. I use multiple mugs every day, for my morning coffee, for tea, for hot chocolate, and then herbal teas at night. So I love using them, and I know them all pretty well and it's fun to get something different now and again. The Moab Roasters has a bright orange mug, but they also had a brown one with a cream interior, and I like seeing the color of what I drink, so I got one of those.

Then we started driving home.

Pale Dune Reference
Many of the same kind of formations and red rock were on our way home, but there was this one pale formation out of white sandstone. It was like seeing the ghost of a plateau. I really want to paint this, sometime, too... along with the copper-green dunes right next to the slick rock at the start of the path up to Delicate Arch. I love the warm glow of the red rock, but this white stuff makes a strange impact as well.

I have a shaman in my character mix who likes these as well, and we'll see what comes of it. I am always bemused by how my experiences in all these places do show up in my stories, eventually, one way or another.

On the way home, we stopped at Glennwood Springs, a place we'd gone to for a very snowy spring break a few years back. We'd taken the train up from Denver, and soaked in the hot springs and watched steam rise from the bigger pool in freezing weather. There were quite a few more people at the springs this trip, but we decided to go in for the swim and the soak anyway. The hot water of the main pool really took a lot of the aches out of my legs and joints, and the long pool was just fun to get into.

There were lap lanes on the deep end of the pool, and I decided that I'd try to take a lap or two just to see what it was like. It was far too warm for real swimming, I decided. The water is over ninety degrees! And with all the minerals in it, the water actually pushed me to the surface. So that when I was swimming on my back, I was going far far faster than when I'm in our freshwater pool at home. It was like the sea, but so warm it was uncomfortable to move a lot or at any speed.

We soaked for a while in the hot pool, and then went into the lockerrooms, changed, and then hit the Glennwood Springs Brewery for dinner. It was, as it had been the previous time, really good pub food, and they brewed their own root beer as well. Both Jet and I drank a good deal of it.

From there we just drove home. John and I took turns at the wheel. Traffic was pretty light, and the right easy.. We got home a bit past Jet's bedtime, and still had a few days to recover before Jet had to go back to school. I'm really glad we took the time and effort to get out during Jet's Spring Break and do a few things that we wouldn't have otherwise done. I think we'll definitely go look at Canyonlands this summer, and we'll be even more thankful for Jet's Camelbak pack then! I really want to do a few paintings before then, too, and will definitely post them when the time comes.
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