Utah !?! – This isn’t the end ;)

Dusk, we cross the final state line for the cross-country adventure. We aren’t quite done yet, but Utah has welcomed us in 🙂

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Originally, I was planning to cross Colorado towards the southwest, so Dad and I could visit the four corners, Mesa Verde, and the Grand Canyon. However, just the drive to the four corners was 10 hours. So I made the choice to go to Moab to see Arches, Canyonlands, and Goblin Valley instead, since I had seen these parks before. Dad and I plan to go to the Grand Canyon and check out the sites missed on a trip in the future.

I have been to Moab twice before, once to go an a river trip and another time on a drive to Texas when Dad was super grumpy. So honestly, I never really had a chance to check out Moab. We head in and Dad can’t believe how big of town Moab actually is. But it’s dark and cold so we head straight to dinner at Twisted Sista Tapas. The baked brie and garlic flatbread is so tasty we order seconds.

After dinner, we head out to find camping. My guess is Moab is the camping capitol of the United States. Camping is pretty much available everywhere. We decide on Sandflat Recreation Area just on the outskirts of town. Since it was well after dark, Dad and I couldn’t get a good look at the surrounding areas, but we were definitely pleased when we woke up in the morning. The campground was surrounded by beautiful red-rock formations and sagebrush. So we hiked around on the rocks for a bit before returning into town to get the day started.

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First stop in Moab was the Moab Roasting Company. The coffee was good. The service was honest, dry-humored, and a bit in your face – very not Utah, but absolutely perfect! We then headed across the street to Lovin’ Muffin Cafe to get some breakfast. This cafe was totally my kind of place. Graffiti on the walls, good music, super tasty breakfast burrito, and fun people. We could already tell that Moab is not like the rest of Utah.

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Finally, we get ourselves out of Moab and make it into Arches. I’ve always seen pictures of the rock formations and arches that make up the park, but to see it in person was amazing. The sky was crystal blue and even though the temperature was only in the up 40s and low 50s the desert sun made it feel very warm. Dad and I drove past balance rock and through the Windows section of the park. But we parked and did the 3 mile loop hike to Delicate Arch. No wonder this formation is used in all of Utah’s advertising, my mind was blown by the beauty. The hardest part of the hike, but probably the most fun was walking up the slick rock face before getting to the canyon that leads to the arch. Finally, we made it and I sat up on a sunny rock to warm myself and rest. Dad who is more daring than I walked around the slick rock bowl to stand under the arch, so I got a picture of him posing under it.

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We return back to the car and then headed south to Canyonlands. I had been planning to do Arches and Canyonlands on separate days of the journey, but Dad really wanted to checkout the Green River for fishing. So we sped up these adventures so we could see both in one day. I even added the extra challenge that we were exploring the Needles area of Canyonlands which is more remote than the northern section of the park.

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We made it to Canyonlands right after the visitor center had closed. Luckily, a ranger came out and gave us advice on where to go check out with our hour and half of sunlight left. Since we wanted to cover as much territory as possible, we were exploring by car and not by foot. We headed down a dirt road to get a better view of the needles and then went down a rougher dirt road towards the Colorado River lookout. The second dirt road was so rough that I made Dad turn around and head back once it started to get dark. I didn’t want to get stuck high-centered on rock in the middle of no where that night. The moon was just a few days from full and huge on the horizon which did give us extra light, but I was definitely for taking the safer views than risk it.

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As it was getting really dark, we made it out of Canyonlands and returned north towards Moab. Dinner was at the Moab Brewing Company. Dad and I shared a fantastic meal of beer-cheese soup and pesto pasta. I had the Tripel beer from their roster of excellent brews and it was an excellent Belgian-style beer.  Then our waiter gave us one of the best tips of our trip. He said that since it was almost a full moon, Goblin Valley is extra special. Dad and I decided to make the two hour drive to Goblin that night 🙂

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We didn’t end up hiking through the goblins that night, but the moon lit up the path as we drove far into the Utah landscape. The mountains had an eerie glow that lead the way. We could see strange formations in the dark, but nothing really stood out. However, I could see how incredible it would be to go down to the goblins and run around at night.

But the next morning, we finally got to go exploring. I’ve wanted to go to Goblin Valley since I learned about it in high school. To finally get to see the goblins and walk around the rock formations was awesome. If Dad and I had brought a pack with food and more water, I could have played out there all day. But after a couple of hours of play, my stomach started to growl and we continued on our journey.

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I set the GPS on my phone to take us to Vernal so Dad could see the Green River.  The route took us through the valley that runs between the southern Wasatch and the Book Cliff Mountains. It was a very beautiful drive. When we made it to Duchesne, Dad had second thoughts about heading all the way to Vernal. We didn’t have to be home until the next day so we could have made it there that late afternoon and spent the morning fishing. But Dad decided he wanted to have a longer trip to fish the Green River and to get more information first, so we turned towards my parents house.

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We did take the longer scenic route back home through Heber, Kamas, Coalville, Morgan, and finally Huntsville.  When we pulled into Ogden, I made Dad drive past the Ogden sign to prove that we had completed the journey!

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Mom was not expecting that we were going to be home that night, so she was very surprised when we pulled into the driveway. Dad and I had been away for 60 days, and she was super glad to see us. I was super tired when we made it home so I just showered and went to sleep.

It was the next day I started to think about what we just did, and finally I could relax for a moment. But honestly all I wanted to do was drive on. Luckily, for me, this was just round 1 of the journey. I had promised to take Mom to explore the Northwest after I was done. So I spent a few more days hanging out in Ogden visiting with friends, catching up on my writing, and getting all my travel supplies reorganized.

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I’m now ready for Round Two, we are facing a winter storm before we head out. I also have to wait for my Mom to get ready. She is not a low maintenance as Dad or I, so this next part of the journey will be more plush. But the journey does continue!

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