62. Moab, Utah

The only thing better than a friend who graciously invites you to her beautiful house in Utah is a friend who knows how to do outdoors activities and will patiently help you do them, too, inviting you to her beautiful house in Utah. What a weekend.

Overview:
I’m not exactly outdoorsy, so I can’t say with certainty that Moab is paradise for outdoorsy people. But it’s my really strong suspicion that that’s the case. It’s got red rocks, snow-capped mountains and the Colorado River, and in the three days I was there, I saw hiking, camping, climbing, rafting, horseback riding, mountain biking, canyoning and kayaking. That’s probably not even the half of it.

How I got there:
As I proudly proclaimed a few months back, this was my first time drawing from the well of frequent flier miles I’ve been hoarding. We flew from Dulles to Grand Junction with a stop in Denver, and from Grand Junction, we rented a car and drove about 1:40 to Moab.

That, of course, makes it sound much easier than it actually was. In reality, getting there was a clusterfuck, but it was our own fault. (Don’t tell United, though. I convinced them that it was their fault and we ended up spending the night in Denver for free–with one food voucher apiece that we immediately spent on beer.)

(Note: There are a couple different routes you can take between Grand Junction and Moab. We didn’t have time to take the more scenic one, but in case you want to, grab UT-128 off of I-70 after crossing the border into Utah. It snakes along for a bit alongside the Colorado River.)

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Where I stayed:
Jake’s friend Elizabeth hosted a group of us at her family’s amazing place in Moab, and it was perfect. Group trips with friends where everyone can stay in a house together are definitely my favorite kinds of trips. Also, look at this place.

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And the view:

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What I did:
Day 1 was Arches National Park. We got there in the mid-afternoon, so we didn’t do any of the longer hikes, but we still saw plenty–behold:

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The next day, Elizabeth’s brother, Will, took us all rafting on the Colorado. The rapids were tiny (I’m not sure exactly where we were, but it encompassed Onion Creek), so it mostly entailed floating along, drinking beer, taking in the glorious scenery and basking in the sun.

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Putting in

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We made a quick stop at Red Cliffs Lodge, too–there’s a small movie museum there where you can learn about all the movies filmed in the area (classics like Thelma & Louise among them).

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The third day was the harrowing one. We first drove out to Newspaper Rock, a rock panel featuring a collection of petroglyphs. It was awesome (plus a great spot to go with a group that was essentially McAllen Monitor reunion).

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We continued on from there, playing “hey cow” along the way until we reached the site of some Anasazi ruins Elizabeth knew about. (I have no idea where were, and I can’t imagine what I’m about to recount is going to make you want to find them on your own, but if it does, let me know.)

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When we found them, we headed for the side of the mountain and a “rock scramble” that Elizabeth assured me she had done as part of a school trip in cowboy boots.

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She’s all like, “this is a breeze,” while I’m like, “I’m going to die here.”

Near the top, Jake and I absolutely froze and had to take a long way around. Mortally terrified, we searched desperately for the path of least resistance while the rest of the group chilled at the top. I can say with certainty that it’s definitely never something we thought we’d do together. Not really big rock scramblers over here.

I do have to admit that despite the moments of intense fear–and the inability to straighten my legs the next day–the ruins were pretty cool.

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And the view from the top wasn’t bad, either.

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Damned if I’ll ever do that again, though.

Where I ate:
I hear Pasta Jay’s is the best restaurant in town (subjectively speaking), but the group went the night before we got there, so I never experienced it. As for what I did experience…let’s just say it gave us a really good excuse to cook at home.

What I missed:
Delicate Arch–you know, the one you see in all the photos from Arches National Park–was closed due to flooding. We were also pretty close to Canyonlands National Park but didn’t have a chance to go through it.


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